Fantasy women’s basketball: Top players to draft on the Atlanta

Fantasy women's basketball: Top players to draft on the Atlanta
Apr 20, 2022

  • Andre SnellingsESPN

This is part of a 12-team series of fantasy women’s basketball previews leading up to the 2022 WNBA season. For more information on ESPN’s newest fantasy game, check out how to play fantasy women’s basketball.

Head coach: Tanisha Wright (1st season)
2021 record: 8-24
2021 offensive efficiency: (97.5, 9th in WNBA)
2021 defensive efficiency: (104.0, 9th)
2021 pace: 96.33 (4th)

Jump ahead: Offseason moves | Key stats | Top fantasy options | Sleeper

About the Dream

The Dream lived up to their aspirational nickname last season, off the court, earning the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year award for their work on “an array of civil rights and social justice issues.” On the court, they dealt with a series of injuries, suspensions and personal leaves from many of their core players that led to them initiating an offseason rebuild.

The Dream enter this season looking dramatically different than the team that finished last, including a new ownership group, head coach and a franchise player in top overall pick Rhyne Howard. It is difficult to go from second-worst record in the league to contenders, but the Dream enter this season hoping that all of their moves have set them up for success.

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Offseason moves

The Dream had a huge offseason, in which they reconfigured their organization from top to bottom. They welcomed a new ownership group last year, including former WNBA All-Star Renee Montgomery as the first former player to become both an owner and an executive. They changed coaches, bringing in another former player in Tanisha Wright to instill a winning culture full of accountability and player development.

2 Related

That last point is key, because they traded two draft picks (No. 3 and No. 14) for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA draft, and used it to bring in all world wing Rhyne Howard as their new franchise player. They also swapped lead guards with the Los Angeles Sparks, sending Chennedy Carter out for a package including Erica Wheeler and two draft picks.

The Dream had the second-worst record in the WNBA last season, and this organizational rebuild should put their key players in position to succeed. They needed scoring, so Howard should get plenty of shots right out the gate. Wheeler should have the ball in her hands a lot, giving her the chance to challenge career bests in scoring and assists. New starters like Monique Billings, or young players like last year’s No. 3 overall pick Aari McDonald should also be given every chance to produce for the rebuilt Dream.

Key stats

The Dream had difficulties on both sides of the ball last season, finishing ninth out of 12 teams in both Offensive and Defensive Rating. They did like to run when they could, with the fourth-fastest pace in the league, but this season’s team features a new head coach, a new point guard and a new centerpiece in Howard so it’s difficult to know what their new team strengths and weaknesses will look like.

They have an interesting mix of strong veterans, players in their prime and high-upside young players that should be fun to watch and conducive to individual player production. All five starting slots are filled with players capable of averaging double-digit scoring, their starting center is an excellent offensive rebounder with nightly double-double potential, and they’ve got multiple versatile wings that can score, defend and stretch the floor with 3-point shooting.

The team has potential, but their lack of experience could cause some growing pains as they strive to reach their level.

Top fantasy options

Erica Wheeler, G (29.1 projected FP/G): The Dream traded to bring Wheeler back to Atlanta on the heels of one of the best seasons of her career, where she averaged personal bests of 13.6 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 32 starts for the Sparks. Wheeler runs the point and projects to lead the Dream in assists and steals this season. Wheeler will be late joining the Dream during training camp, as she plans to remain in Poland until the end of her season overseas. It isn’t clear whether the delay will cause her to miss any games, but when she returns she should provide leadership and productivity on a rebuilding Dream squad.

Tiffany Hayes, G (26.0 FP/G): Hayes is returning for her 10th season, all with the Dream. She averaged a solid 14.7 PPG and 3.2 RPG last season, and set career bests with 3.0 APG, 1.6 SPG and 1.6 3PG. Hayes played a career-low 21 games last season, after sitting for two months in the middle of the campaign with a knee injury. Hayes should slot in again as the starting shooting guard next to new acquisition Erica Wheeler with top overall pick Rhyne Howard on the wing, but she’s another that will join the team late in camp after she finishes an overseas season (in Turkey).

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Monique Billings, F (25.3 FP/G): Billings took over as the starting center for the Dream during the last month of last season, getting the opportunity after injuries and player absences opened up the job. Billings upped her numbers significantly in the starting lineup, averaging 12.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.2 BPG and 1.0 SPG in 30.0 MPG during the last nine games of the season. She’s expected to remain the starter this season, giving her the chance to continue her production improvement as a nightly double-double threat.

Cheyenne Parker, F (25.3 FP/G): Parker ended last season early in preparation to give birth, which she did in late December. She is expected to reclaim her starting job this season, likely as the power forward next to Monique Billings in the post. Parker had missed the start of last season due to COVID-19, but once she recovered and entered the starting lineup she posted marks of 11.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 BPG and 0.8 3PG in her first 10 starts before playing an abbreviated last game and sitting the rest of the campaign.

Rhyne Howard, G (24.2 FP/G): Howard was the top overall pick in the 2022 draft, and should enter the starting lineup right away as the new franchise player on the Dream. Howard is a 6-2 swing, likely slotting in next to veteran wing Tiffany Hayes and power forward Cheyenne Parker. She is a versatile scorer who can fill it up from behind the arc, but can also finish at the rim and has a deadly midrange game as well. In her last collegiate season, Howard was the only player in the nation to post more than 600 points, 200 rebounds, 100 assists, 70 steals and 35 blocks.

Sleeper

Aari McDonald, G (15.9 FP/G): Drafted with the No. 3 overall pick last season, McDonald had an inconsistent rookie season, but is still a huge part of the Dream’s long-term plans. She is likely to start the season coming off the bench behind veterans Erica Wheeler and Tiffany Hayes, but McDonald is a scoring lead guard with the potential to earn a key role as a spark plug offensive boost as a sixth woman.

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