What are the biggest first-half surprises?

Why Aliyah Boston is already a fantasy star (1:00)

Liz Loza breaks down why Fever rookie Aliyah Boston is already such a valuable fantasy player. (1:00)

  • Fantasy staff

Jul 12, 2023, 03:23 PM ET

Who and what are the biggest surprises in the WNBA so far this season? As we hit the All-Star break, our experts list what has stood out to them.

Here are André Snellings, Eric Moody, Liz Loza and Jennifer LaCroix with more.


The play of Satou Sabally

Sabally has had high expectations for years, since being drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in 2020, but injuries had held her to only 34 total starts through her first three seasons. This season she’s been healthy and is living up to the expectations. She has easily been a top-10 producer in fantasy hoops this season, arguably top-5. In one league I drafted her in the middle rounds, and she’s the biggest reason my team is a monster. Very pleasant surprise. — Snellings

Injury bug

The amount of injuries that have occurred this season feels surprising. It feels like starters and role players for a lot of teams have been out a lot due to injury or illness this season which has really impacted fantasy rosters. Especially your league only have one IR spot and you have multiple players on your roster out due to injury, then you have to make the choice to drop a player and pick up someone temporarily in their place or keep them and eat the points until they come back.

I mean eight of the 12 teams in the league have multiple players out due to injury right now. Just take a look at the notable injuries right now:

Rebekah Gardner, CHI – Foot
Isabelle Harrison, CHI – Knee
DiJonai Carrington, CON – Illness
Brionna Jones, CON – Achilles (out for season)
Diamond DeShields, DAL – Knee
Lexie Hull, IND – Nose
NaLyssa Smith, IND – Foot
Lexie Brown, LAS – Illness
Chiney Ogwumike, LAS – Foot
Dearica Hamby, LAS – Ankle
Karlie Samuelson, LAS – Foot
Candace Parker, LVA – Ankle
Riquna Williams, LVA – Back
Aerial Powers, MIN – Ankle
Jessica Shepard, MIN – Illness
Jewell Loyd, SEA – Ankle
Natasha Cloud, WAS – Ankle
Shakira Austin, WAS – Hip
Elena Delle Donne, WAS – Ankle

— LaCroix

Jackie Young’s rise on stacked Aces roster

Young’s continued ascent has been awesome to witness. The 25-year-old shined brightly in 2022, but with Candace Parker and Alysha Clark added to the Aces an increase in opportunities seemed unlikely. Young’s versatility and dominant play, however, have kept her in the starting line up (averaging 30.9 minutes per game, just behind Chelsea Gray) and have resulted in a player impact estimate of 15.5 (second only to A’ja Wilson). Drafted in the third round of most leagues (18th over all), Young is currently the 10th most productive fantasy player (613 FPTS) in ESPN’s game. — Loza

Big things from Alanna Smith

Smith’s breakout season has been an absolute delight to watch. She has emerged as a top-30 player in fantasy basketball leagues, captivating managers with her impressive stats: averaging 10.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. Smith exemplifies the art of identifying breakout candidates who shine overseas during the offseason, as their success often translates seamlessly to the WNBA when they are in a spot to secure significant playing time. Smith’s ascent is even more remarkable since she went undrafted in a large number of ESPN leagues. — Moody