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What to know about the growing world of WNBA fantasy basketball

Breaking down the one-day WNBA fantasy formats at FanDuel and DraftKings, including tips on putting together a team. These leagues can convert casual WNBA fans into bigger fans over time.

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WNBA Finals - Game Three
Elena Delle Donne (R) will certainly be a popular pick in fantasy basketball for the 2019 season. Natasha Howard (L) should also be a popular pick.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Historically, WNBA basketball hasn’t had the depth of coverage that the NBA has. Even if more people were interested in the WNBA, it can be difficult to watch games on television or read on advanced statistics within the league.

There is also a gap between the WNBA and NBA in fantasy basketball, where participants can select their own lineups. If someone wins a league, then they may only have bragging rights. Or in other cases, the winner could win money and gain better knowledge about the WNBA and how players perform night in and night out.

Fortunately, the WNBA has gained ground with fantasy basketball. Which companies provide WNBA leagues and what types of players work best in them? Let’s find out!

Which companies offer WNBA fantasy basketball leagues?

The WNBA partnered with FanDuel as its official fantasy partner in 2017. DraftKings also offers WNBA fantasy basketball.

Both FanDuel and DraftKings offer a one-day fantasy basketball format where participants can select players to perform just for one day. After that, they can select a different group of players in a new one-day league.

How many players can be on a WNBA fantasy basketball team?

The player limit varies between FanDuel and DraftKings. On FanDuel, the limit is three guards and four forwards for a total of seven players. On DraftKings, the limit is two guards, three forwards and one player regardless of position for a total of six players.

There is also an arbitrary salary cap in both leagues. On FanDuel, a participant must fit all seven players within a cap of $40,000. On DraftKings, the cap is $50,000.

What are the scoring formats in WNBA fantasy basketball?

Rules FanDuel DraftKings
Rules FanDuel DraftKings
Points Scored 1 point per actual point scored 1 point per actual point scored
Made Three Pointer N/A 0.5 per made shot
Rebound 1.2 points per rebound 1.25 points per rebound
Assist 1.5 points per assist 1.5 points per assist
Steal 3 points per steal 2 points per steal
Block 3 points per block 2 points per block
Turnover -1 points per turnover -0.5 points per turnover
Double-Double N/A 1.4 points if player gets triple-double
Triple-Double N/A 3 points if player gets triple-double
FanDuel and DraftKings

Besides MVP-caliber players, which types of players could be better fantasy performers?

Top players like Elena Delle Donne or Brittney Griner are among the first a participant would want to select. However, they will cost more money. Sometimes, it is better to avoid picking the best individual player because of the high salary she would take up relative to a fantasy basketball salary cap.

Here are the types of players that are often “good buys” besides the WNBA’s best:

  • Starters of mediocre or poor teams — Stars on the WNBA’s best teams generally cost more than players who are on worse teams. If Delle Donne or Griner is available at a suitable price relative to the cap, take her. But one shouldn’t simply go after players on contending teams like the Mystics or Mercury. The Liberty and Fever also have plenty of good options for fantasy formats.
  • Volume scorers, regardless of efficiency — Some players are known for scoring many points but shoot a low percentage from the field. There is no penalty for missed field goals in fantasy basketball, so a player like Kelsey Mitchell can be a good value option because she averaged 12.7 points per game despite making only 34.6 percent of her shots in 2018.
  • Backup players to non-American players during EuroBasket Women — One-day fantasy basketball leagues allow participants to change rosters daily. But the relative salaries within a league may not fluctuate as quickly when a player is injured or if a key non-American player is abroad for a tournament. EuroBasket Women takes place from June 27 to July 7, 2019. Several players, including Emma Meesseman, will be away. It is important to look at other players who are likely to take her minutes. They are often available at a low rate.
  • On FanDuel, look at players who can block and steal more — These statistics are generally more difficult to get relative to points, assists and rebounds. Since steals and blocks are worth more points on FanDuel, picking a slightly less prolific scorer who is a good blocker or stealer can be the way to go.
  • On DraftKings, three-point shooters have a slight edge — A three-point shot is worth 3.5 points in this league. Players who make many three-pointers provide a slightly better advantage than those who don’t, all other things being equal.

How will fantasy basketball help the WNBA’s popularity?

Playing fantasy basketball will help casual fans learn more about the players in the league beyond MVP and All-Star level players. Though their initial familiarity with the league will be in simple statistics, their performance will encourage at least some casual fans to watch more games on television, WNBA League Pass and in person.