Waiver wire pickups: Bench players taking advantage of extra minutes

The Sky's Alanna Smith is making the most of her playing time and is worth a look in fantasy circles. Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

We are just over a week into this WNBA season and already we're seeing plenty of cool storylines play out. The two superteams are as advertised; since the New York Liberty were upset in their opener, they have combined with the Las Vegas Aces to win their last six games by a total of 130 points. At the other end of the spectrum, the Fever broke a 20-game losing streak on Sunday behind a combined 36 points and 19 rebounds from NaLyssa Smith and Aliya Boston, the second pick from the 2022 WNBA draft and the top pick in 2023. And in the midst of all of the action, we get to see many players outplay their expectations and provide an impact to their teams and fantasy hoops managers everywhere.

That's why we're here today.

As fantasy managers, we must pay close attention to the players showing they are ready to produce. Adding productive players early in the season can, at worst, help your team get off to a good start. At best, you may find a diamond in the rough that ends up helping lead your team throughout the season... and beyond.

So, without further ado, let's do some waiver wire work.

Lexie Brown, Los Angeles Sparks (37.3% rostered in ESPN leagues): Brown has started all three games for the Sparks thus far, while a good chunk of her teammates in the backcourt have had to sit one or all of the early games. Brown has taken advantage of her opportunity to put some good numbers on the board. She struggled a bit against the dominant Aces in a game the Sparks got blown out, but in her other two games Brown has averaged 14.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.5 RPG, 2.5 3PG and 2.0 SPG in 26.5 MPG. She is worth attention and a potential fantasy hoops roster spot for as long as she maintains this role.

Alanna Smith, Chicago Sky (27.7% rostered): Smith played well off the bench to start the season and got her first start on Sunday. She responded with 14 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a 3-pointer in 28 minutes. Smith started in place of Morgan Bertsch (out, ankle), and the Sky are also missing Isabelle Harrison and Ruthy Hebard from the frontcourt. In their absence, Smith is showing that she can produce and is staking a claim to more playing time moving forward.

Sug Sutton, Phoenix Mercury (11.6%): Sutton is playing in her second WNBA season and her first since 2020. She has scored double-digit points off the bench in all three games and is averaging a solid 12.3 PPG, 2.7 APG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG and 1.0 3PG in 30.0 MPG thus far for the Mercury. With Skylar Diggins-Smith and Shey Peddy both out for extended periods, Sutton has the chance to solidify major minutes if she continues to play well.

Karlie Samuelson, Sparks (9.3%): Samuelson, like teammate Lexie Brown, has gotten extended run for the Sparks early in the season due to all the injuries. But, unlike Brown, Samuelson has proven productive even when coming off the bench. In three games this season, two of which came in a reserve role, Samuelson has averaged 12.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.7 3PG and 1.3 APG in 26.7 MPG.

Tiffany Mitchell, Minnesota Lynx (9.2%): Mitchell has started the last two games for the Lynx in place of Kayla McBride (personal) and has played well in both games. In those two starts, Mitchell has averaged 14.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.5 RPG and 1.0 3PG in 32.5 MPG. Mitchell has been a productive starter for much of her career and should be able to produce for as long as she can hold onto the starting role.