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Three Up, Three Down: Moriah Jefferson resurrects WNBA career in Minnesota

Veteran point guard Moriah Jefferson looks revitalized after signing with the Minnesota Lynx. She’s one of the 2022 season’s early examples of potential waiver wire pickups who can help you win your fantasy basketball league.

Minnesota Lynx v Las Vegas Aces
Moriah Jefferson (left) has gone from a low-usage minutes split in Dallas to a situation in Minnesota that is much better for her fantasy stats.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

Have you been scouting your WNBA fantasy league’s waiver wire?

No matter how well your league drafts, there will inevitably be a player or two who slips through the cracks and ends up overperforming relative to their preseason projections. Fantasy managers who pay close attention and identify these players before their competition will often reap great rewards.

Veteran point guard Moriah Jefferson is a classic example. Jefferson was recently signed by the struggling Minnesota Lynx as a stop-gap — a player who could give a team sorely in need of WNBA-proven guard play competent minutes.

That may seem like a low bar, but Jefferson has seized the opportunity with the Lynx, resurrecting her WNBA career after reaching what seemed to be a dead end in Dallas. With no immediate competition at the position and the Lynx clearly happy with their pickup, Jefferson has been scooped up in countless fantasy leagues as one of 2022’s waiver wire bargains. She highlights this week’s installment of “Three Up, Three Down.”


Three Up

Phoenix Mercury v Las Vegas Aces
Kelsey Plum has finally been unleashed in Las Vegas, and the results have been spectacular.
Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces)

Plum scored a season-high 24 points on Saturday, hitting 8-of-15 shots from the field and 3-of-6 3-pointers in the Aces’ win over the Mercury. All three of Plum’s 20-point efforts in 2022 have come against Phoenix; Las Vegas is a perfect 3-0 in those games.

Outlook: Whatever the best-case scenario was for Plum in Becky Hammon’s first season as Aces head coach, she’s reached it. The fifth-year guard is currently posting career-highs in points (18.3) and assists (5.4) per game, knocking down 44.7 percent of her 3-pointers while averaging 32.9 minutes. Las Vegas doesn’t have much in the way of guard depth, which means Plum will continue to have the green light as the team’s primary perimeter threat.

Moriah Jefferson (Minnesota Lynx)

Jefferson was picked up by the Lynx after getting bought out by the Dallas Wings and has made an immediate impact. In four games as Minnesota’s starting point guard, Jefferson has averaged 15.5 points, 5.5 assists and two steals and has hit 6-of-11 threes (54.5 percent).

Outlook: What a turnaround! Jefferson’s career had seemingly come to a dead end in Dallas, but she’s proving that she still has plenty left in the tank for a Minnesota team that is struggling to find continuity in its lineups. Jefferson has historically not been a high-usage player during her career, but while the numbers she’s put up thus far in Minnesota aren’t sustainable, she’s still in an infinitely better spot for fantasy production than she was in Dallas and should be rostered.

Nia Coffey (Atlanta Dream)

Coffey recorded a double-double in Atlanta’s recent loss to Washington, scoring 12 points and securing 10 rebounds in 29 minutes of play. She shot 5-of-10 from the field and 2-of-4 on 3-pointers.

Outlook: Coffey hasn’t been shooting the ball well (33 percent from the field in 2022), so seeing her score it efficiently was nice. The rebounding, in a way, was even better. Coffey is currently averaging a career-best 7.3 boards per game and with Monique Billings (health and safety protocols) out until further notice, she’ll get plenty of frontcourt minutes and opportunities to pad her rebounding stats in the coming days.

Three Down

Dallas Wings v Phoenix Mercury
Teaira McCowan has yet to make the kind of impact the Wings expected when they traded for her.
Photo by Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

Teaira McCowan (Dallas Wings)

McCowan has struggled to carve out a role with her new team. The big center, who the Wings traded for in the offseason, is currently playing just 7.6 minutes per game, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds while failing to block a single shot. Most recently, she was limited by foul trouble in a matchup against Sylvia Fowles and the Minnesota Lynx, scoring two points and pulling down three rebounds in six minutes of play.

Outlook: This is a frustrating one. McCowan was a highly efficient fantasy player during her time in Indiana thanks to her rebounding and shot-blocking ability, and even though she rarely played heavy minutes, we assumed that she’d at least split time at center with the rest of the Wings’ bigs this season. So far, that hasn’t been the case. McCowan was a late arrival to the team, so it’s possible she’s still getting acclimated, but don’t rush to play her until there’s a clear sign that the Wings are ready to play her serious minutes.

Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever)

Mitchell has been wildly inconsistent lately, sandwiching a 23-point effort on May 20 in between five-point outings on May 17 and 22. To Mitchell’s credit, she did record five assists in each of those games.

Outlook: Inconsistent shooting is just something you’ll have to live with if you have Mitchell on your fantasy team, and, to date, she’s still having her most accurate 3-point shooting campaign (40.5 percent). Lack of peripheral stats have made Mitchell a somewhat risky fantasy play in the past, but her 4.3 assists per game are easily a career-high, so she’ll be much more dependable in formats that don’t only reward high usage if she can keep that up moving forward.

Katie Lou Samuelson (Los Angeles Sparks)

Samuelson went scoreless in the Sparks’ most recent loss to Seattle, shooting 0-of-5 from the floor (0-of-4 on 3-pointers) and recording one rebound in ten minutes of play.

Outlook: The Sparks’ rotation was uncharacteristically short against the Storm as head coach Derek Fisher tried to get his team back into a game it had trailed from the start. With Brittney Sykes playing 34 minutes and Nneka Ogwumike playing 33, there weren’t many minutes left over for Samuelson or Jasmine Walker. Unfortunately for Samuelson, it also highlighted her limitations as a fantasy player; as a 3-point specialist, her playing time will fluctuate depending on individual matchups and the flow of each game she’s playing in, and if her shot isn’t falling, she probably won’t contribute much else to the box score.