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Three Up, Three Down: Kennedy Burke, Han Xu excelling with more minutes

Kennedy Burke has recently stepped into a spot starter role for the Washington Mystics and contributed on both ends of the court, making her a good choice for a midseason pickup if she’s available in your fantasy basketball league.

WNBA: MAY 28 Washington Mystics at Connecticut Sun
Both Kennedy Burke (left) and DiJonai Carrington have seen their roles change since the start of the 2022 season. Which one should you be looking to play in fantasy basketball?
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Throughout the course of a fantasy basketball season, the value of players will inevitably fluctuate based on a variety of circumstances: injuries, team success and outlook, and so on. Players who may not have been big on everyone’s radar prior to the start of the season can end up playing larger roles than expected as the summer drags on, which is why it’s important to monitor those circumstances that may be to their benefit — or detriment.

Take Washington Mystics wing Kennedy Burke for example. Now on her third team in four seasons, Burke may not be as big of a name as some of her teammates, but she’s made some key contributions to the Mystics since signing there as a free agent, and the game-by-game volatility of Washington’s wing situation may make her a more intriguing fantasy player as she gets the occasional spot start and/or bump in usage. She’s one WNBA player on the upswing, as we’ve identified in this week’s “Three Up, Three Down:”

Three Up

Phoenix Mercury v Atlanta Dream
Diamond DeShields put up 27 shots in the Mercury’s last game. That isn’t sustainable, but she’s still in line for decent production for the rest of 2022.
Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images

Diamond DeShields (Phoenix Mercury)

DeShields scored 23 points (8-of-27 shooting) in the Mercury’s blowout loss to the Dream, chipping in five rebounds and recording five steals in 36 minutes of play. She has eclipsed double-figure scoring in every game she’s played as Phoenix’s starting small forward.

Outlook: DeShields didn’t shoot it well, but that’s largely a result of her being tagged as the team’s primary offensive initiator after Skylar Diggins-Smith, Diana Taurasi and Tina Charles were benched for the day. While Sophie Cunningham (health and safety protocols) should be back in the Mercury lineup soon, DeShields will continue seeing minutes in the high-20s and low-30s, keeping her relevant in most fantasy basketball formats.

Han Xu (New York Liberty)

Xu scored a career-high 13 points against the Storm on Sunday, filling out the rest of her stat line with eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot. She’s currently averaging 11.2 points and five rebounds in 17.8 minutes of play.

Outlook: Xu benefitted both from a large Storm lead and ineffective Stefanie Dolson minutes, and the way New York’s season is going, she may be in line for a more consistent role moving forward. Productive centers can be harder to come by in WNBA fantasy basketball than guards or forwards, so watch Xu’s minutes closely; she could turn out to be an impact player if the Liberty are out of the picture later in the season.

Kennedy Burke (Washington Mystics)

Burke put together a solid stat line against Connecticut, scoring a team-high 13 points while knocking down three 3-pointers and recording three steals in the absence of Alysha Clark (health and safety protocols). In five games with the Mystics, Burke is averaging 9.8 points, 1.2 made threes and 1.8 steals per game.

Outlook: Burke isn’t going to be a high-usage player for Washington, but with Clark and Elena Delle Donne likely set to miss a handful of games throughout the season for rest, she’ll have her moments as a spot starter. Even on a healthy Mystics team, Burke provides valuable perimeter defense, so she should play enough to record a few rebounds and steals regardless of her role.

Three Down

Dallas Wings v Connecticut Sky
DiJonai Carrington has recently slid back into a lower-usage role in Connecticut.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

DiJonai Carrington (Connecticut Sun)

Carrington recorded one point, one rebound and one steal on Saturday, attempting just two shots from the field. In her last five games, Carrington’s scoring output has been inconsistent, putting up 13- and 11-point efforts while also scoring just five points twice.

Outlook: Carrington’s minutes have consistently stayed in the high-teens since May 17, but her role in the Sun’s offense has diminished considerably since the team welcomed back DeWanna Bonner and Courtney Williams. The way Connecticut’s offensive hierarchy is set up, don’t expect many big offensive performances from Carrington unless something changes in the team’s lineup.

Allie Quigley (Chicago Sky)

Quigley went just 1-for-10 from the field (0-of-4 on 3-pointers) in Chicago’s most recent loss to Las Vegas, scoring eight points and recording four rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. She’s currently shooting 32.6 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent on 3-pointers.

Outlook: Quigley has been uncharacteristically cold from behind the arc and hasn’t hit a three in her last three games. The good news is that her minutes (25.2) haven’t taken much of a hit, even with the emergence of Rebekah Gardner as a key bench piece for the Sky. It would be a shock if Quigley’s shooting struggles continue for much longer, though holding onto her in fantasy leagues might get frustrating if they do, considering that she doesn’t contribute much in other statistical areas.

Rebecca Allen (New York Liberty)

Allen had a rough two-game trip in Seattle, shooting a combined 6-of-18 from the floor (3-of-13 on 3-pointers). She contributed seven rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in a whopping 40 minutes in her first game against the Storm, but was held in check the second time around (four rebounds and two assists).

Outlook: With Betnijah Laney’s (knee) short-term outlook still cloudy and Jocelyn Willoughby (quad) out for quite some time, Allen is going to get all the minutes she can handle for New York — if the Liberty can keep their games close, that is. Allen is certainly prone to poor shooting efforts, but she can rack up defensive stats at a higher rate than most other perimeter players, so she’s still a fine choice in most fantasy basketball formats.