Finally, the Rock, I mean, the WNBA, has come back to Phoenix. There is only one game on the docket both Friday and Saturday, but I won’t let that dampen my enthusiasm. The WNBA is back, and Friday’s matchup between the Dallas Wings and Phoenix Mercury should be a good one. To be honest, I would probably be excited about any two teams matching up, just because I am ready for the WNBA season to start and ready to watch more basketball on TV since the NBA took Thursday off. That being said, we get an awfully intriguing matchup to start the season.

Both the Mercury and Wings were playoff teams a year ago, and both have added significant depth while returning almost everyone who got them to the playoffs. The Wings added one of the best centers in the game in the 6’8” Liz Cambage and also added one of the best centers in the draft in Azura Stevens. Combined with incumbent forwards Glory Johnson and Kayla Thornton, the Wings should be awfully formidable up front.

Dallas doesn’t have quite as much depth in the backcourt, but what they lack in quantity, they make up in quality. Skylar Diggins-Smith is arguably the best point guard in the WNBA, while Allisha Gray is the reigning Rookie of the Year. They are probably more reliable fantasy options than their teammates just because they are more assured of playing time.

Speaking of playing time, I am fascinated to see how the Mercury divvies up time amongst all of their options. MVP-candidate Brittney Griner is the only Mercury player assured of 30+ minutes per game. Phoenix added DeWanna Bonner, Sancho Lyttle and Briann January in the offseason, and they will compete with the likes of Diana Taurasi, Leilani Mitchell and Camille Little for minutes. Griner will probably be the only consistent fantasy option on this team, but everyone else has the potential for a big game every time they step on the floor.

Before we get to some of the players I am targeting for Friday’s Tip-Off contests, we have a bit of housekeeping. Our plan for the 2018 WNBA season, as it was in 2017, is to produce a WNBA Playbook and Optimal Lineups every day that features three or more WNBA games. We will have another Tip-Off preview for Saturday’s Chicago Sky-Indiana Fever game, and we return to normalcy after that. As always, if you have any questions regarding one or two-game slates (or anything else, for that matter), hit me up on Twitter or in the comments of any of my WNBA articles. 

Player  FanDuel Price   DraftKings Price  Comments
 Liz Cambage, F, DAL   $    5,000  $        5,400 Cambage is one of the best centers in the league, and the only reason her price is so low is that she has played overseas the last four years. That being said, she has a tough matchup against Britney Griner, so temper your expectations somewhat. 
Sancho Lyttle  $    8,000  $        8,700 Lyttle may have some competition for playing time, and I don't love her matchup against Glory Johnson, either. That being said, she costs at least $3000 less than Johnson, and a double-double is certainly a possibility. 
DeWanna Bonner, G, PHO  $    4,000  $        3,000 Bonner averaged 14.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in 2016 before sitting out last season for the birth of her twins. Playing time is a bit of a concern, but her upside is obvious at this price. 
Skylar Diggins-Smith, G, DAL  $  10,500  $     12,800 The Mercury have a lot of bodies to throw at Skylar Diggins-Smith, but I still think she has the best matchup out of any of the top players in this game. She averaged 13.4 FGA per game last season, and even if her shots aren't falling, she will still contribute in other areas. 
Allisha Gray, G, DAL  $    6,500  $        8,300 Gray may never be the focal point on offense, but she can do a little bit of everything, and as I stated above, none of the Mercury guards scare me a whole lot defensively.
Brittney Griner, F, PHO  $  12,000  $     13,900 By getting Bonner and Cambage so cheap, we can afford Brittney Griner pretty easily. Cambage is one of the few players in the league who can guard Griner one-on-one, but Griner is still likely to get hers. Even if she isn't efficient offensively, her ability to rack up blocks makes her awfully safe for fantasy.