The first week of the 2023 WNBA season — and the 2023 fantasy basketball season! — is in the books. Let’s check in with Swish Appeal’s six-team fantasy basketball league and see how each team is doing.
Team Zack (Zack Ward) defeats Team Draves (Zachary Draves) 794.9 - 760.7
This was by far the closest matchup of the opening week, with Team Draves making a furious comeback on Sunday (235.5 fantasy points to 98.1) but falling just short. While Kelsey Mitchell (77.4 fantasy points on the week) had a few too many turnovers (10) and not enough 3-pointers (seven) to overcome that, Zach got stronger contributions from players like Napheesa Collier (155.9 fantasy points), Allisha Gray (116 fantasy points) and Rhyne Howard (111.5 fantasy points). Collier recorded seven steals and seven blocks — each of which are worth three fantasy points in our league — contributing to her impressive fantasy point total.
Ultimately, though, Team Ward had a major advantage in games played (34 to 24), which, as most fantasy basketball veterans will tell you, is often the difference between victory and defeat. Despite getting little from Amanda Zahui B. (6.6 fantasy points; nine total minutes played) and Erica Wheeler (12 missed shots, nine turnovers and 20 points in 61 minutes), four-game slates from DeWanna Bonner (141.5 fantasy points), Jessica Shepard (91.3 fantasy points) and Courtney Williams (127.5 fantasy points) were just enough for Zack to overcome the rest of his roster’s letdowns. Zack replaced Zahui B. with Shepard two days into the season.
Also of note for Team Ward: the green light Jewell Loyd has on offense (89.1 fantasy points in two games) is a great sign moving forward for when the Storm play more than two games in a week. Zack also has to be pleased with Brittney Griner’s production: 64 points, 24 rebounds and 11 blocks in three games for his first-round draft pick.
Team Nemchock (Eric Nemchock) defeats Team Leite (Chelsea Leite) 965.5 - 790.5
The injuries are piling up early for Team Nemchock, which has yet to get anything from Myisha Hines-Allen (who is working her way back from offseason knee surgery) and had to put Teaira McCowan on its injured reserve (IR) just 16 minutes into the season when she suffered a knee injury of her own. Eric replaced them with Alanna Smith and Rebekah Gardner, the latter of whom played just one game for his team before suffering what appeared to be a foot injury.
Despite currently rostering more injured players than available IR spots, Team Nemchock won comfortably over Team Leite, thanks to solid performances up and down its roster. A’ja Wilson (183.5 total fantasy points in four games), Brionna Jones (140.2 in four) and Arike Ogunbowale (124.1 in three) have been Eric’s most productive players, while Brittney Sykes’ ability to rack up steals and assists yielded 118.4 fantasy points in four games. Jones, in particular, was crucial for Team Nemchock, as she ensured that Eric had another highly productive center in McCowan’s absence.
Team Leite, meanwhile, has several Las Vegas Aces players in Chelsea Gray, Candace Parker and Kelsey Plum, each of whom played four games this week. In a way, the Aces’ early season dominance has kept Team Leite from reaching its full potential, as their blowout victories have meant extra time on the bench for their stars, Parker in particular. And speaking of time on the bench, Han Xu’s ambiguous role for the Liberty totaled her just 3.5 fantasy points in 13 total minutes for Team Leite; we’ll see if the Liberty make any changes to their rotations in the coming days.
On the bright side for Team Leite, Ezi Magbegor is producing at a high level for the Seattle Storm now that she’s back in their starting lineup, totaling 62.8 fantasy points in two games. Rookie Aliyah Boston has played well for the Indiana Fever, too, totaling 96.1 fantasy points in three games. The arrows for both of these players are pointed directly upward, and will hopefully lead to more success for Team Leite next week.
Team Cat (Cat Ariail) defeats Team Josh (Josh Felton) 1,045.2 - 747.2
When you have Alyssa Thomas and Elena Delle Donne on your fantasy team and they both play four games in a week, you’re going to be in pretty good shape. Team Cat enjoyed this luxury in the first week of the season, getting 185.1 fantasy points from Thomas and 162.1 fantasy points from Delle Donne as they more than lived up to their early draft positions. Thomas, in particular, has been mentioned in early-season MVP conversation, and her ability to stuff the stat sheet continues to be on full display: She recorded 59 points, 45 rebounds, 19 assists and 10 defensive stats (eight steals and two blocks) for her monster stat line.
Cat also got major contributions from Satou Sabally (133.2 fantasy points in three games), who looks primed for a breakout season for the Dallas Wings, and Shakira Austin (136.9 fantasy points in four games), who’s presented with a similar opportunity in Washington. Watch out for Team Cat as the season progresses.
Team Josh, on the other hand, had the highest-scoring performance of the week from any player in Breanna Stewart, her 45-point outburst last Sunday contributing to 193.9 total fantasy points in just three games. Josh also got a big week from Jackie Young, who knocked down 13 threes and recorded 17 rebounds, 12 assists and 9 steals en route to 170.2 fantasy points.
Depth has become a concern for Team Josh, however, which dropped Azurá Stevens and Isabelle Harrison in favor of Lexie Brown and Karlie Samuelson, respectively. While Harrison is likely out for the season as she recovers from meniscus surgery, Stevens would make for an interesting waiver-wire pickup for another team down the line when she returns for the Sparks.