Autostraddle’s WNBA Fantasy League Proves You Cannot Win Without The Gays

Back in March, news broke that ESPN would launch a full-scale, season-long fantasy WNBA game. Corners of the WNBA fandom had been developing their own fantasy competitions for years but this was the first time the “worldwide leader in sports” would join the fray. Soon after I posted a link to the news into the Autostraddle Slack, Carmen jumped in to express her surprise at her and immediately committed to playing once the game launched.

“LISTEN I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT SPORTS BUT I AM SO READYYYYYY!! How do I pick Candace Parker for all five starting line up spots?” Carmen exclaimed, cementing her metamorphosis into a full-fledged “sports gay.”

Of course, Heather and I were quick to join in on the fun. Later — closer to when the WNBA season started — we reached out our Autostraddle team and checked to see who’d be interested in joining our fantasy league, which we affectionately dubbed “Future Trophy Spouses.” ESPN’s fantasy system only allow for 10 teams, so we added seven more Autostraddle writers to our league: A.Tony, Carly, Chinelo, Darcy, Nic, Sally and Shea. Everyone had their own reasons for wanting to participate: some are longtime WNBA fans, others are newcomers and some are just here to fawn over beautiful, athletic women.

We held our draft on May 5th….and, much to Carmen’s chagrin, she did not secure the rights to Candace Parker. Shea was able to draft the reigning WNBA triple-double leader with the overall #1 pick. ESPN set the draft order and with every successive round, the draft order snaked back on itself…so, for example, the person who picked last in the first round got to pick first in the second round.

Future Trophy Spouses: Fantasy Draft – Round #1

  1. Shea – Blacktop Ballazzzzz – Candace Parker Chi, F
  2. Darcy – Team Crystal Gems – Tina Charles Phx, C
  3. Natalie – Carolina Cyclones – Breanna Stewart Sea, F
  4. A.Tony – Let Me Be Their Trophy Wives – Chennedy Carter LA, G
  5. Heather – The Summitt – Arike Ogunbowale Dal, G
  6. Carly – Air Swoopes – A’ja Wilson LV, F
  7. Carmen – The Queen’s Dynasty – Courtney Williams Conn, G
  8. Nic – Betnijah Trois – Skylar Diggins-Smith Phx, G
  9. Sally – Tall and Gay – Jonquel Jones Conn, F
  10. Chinelo – Idemilli Pythons – Jewell Loyd Sea, G

Everyone came into the draft with different strategies: Sally tried her best to get as many gay WNBA players on her roster as she could. Carmen tried to get all the gay rookies on her roster. A.Tony honed their strategy from watching their dad do fantasy football leagues over the years: don’t put all your eggs in one basket, they advised. Through nine rounds of picks, we all filled our rosters with the best looking WNBA players.

“Wow, this was a rush!” Chinelo said after making all their picks. “The draft picks went fast, and towards the end I panicked and clicked randomly which I think is the exact opposite of what you’re meant to do. Ultimately, I have no idea what I did, but I had a lot of fun, so that’s great.”

We’re in our seventh week of fantasy play and…well…to be frank…Sally and Nic are kicking everyone’s asses. Both are undefeated so far this season. What’s interesting about their success has been that they’ve employed two different strategies: Nic drafted really, really well — their entire roster was set back in May and hasn’t changed since — while Sally stays on top of WNBA games and stats and picks up free agents as her roster needs them. Both their performances have been admirable.

Overseas commitments meant that some players that were drafted — like Dallas’ Satou Sabally or Chicago’s Kahleah Cooper — couldn’t contribute to fantasy scores for the first few weeks of the season, leaving team managers (myself included) with a quandary: dump the player for someone who could contribute right away or put the player on the bench and pray that they make amends later in the season? Also, COVID continues to be a fickle, fickle beast: Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird and Natasha Cloud are just a few of the players that have been sidelined this season by the pandemic. For someone, like me, who’s never participated in this kind of fantasy league, it’s been a real learning experience.

Want a peak inside our fantasy league? Here’s a look at the league’s rosters, as of Friday evening.

Nic – Betnijah Trois (6-0)

Sally–Tall and Gay (6-0)

Pictured: Jonquel Jones with the WNBA ball in her left hand Team Name: Tall and Gay Top VI (fantasy point winners): #35 Jonquel Jones (CON), #20 Sabrina Ionescu (NY), #22 Courtney Vandersloot (CHI), #10 Jessica Shepard (MIN), #32 Cheyenne Parker (ATL), #2 Natisha Hiedeman (CON) The Bench: Marine Johannes (NY), Gabby Williams (SEA), Moriah Jefferson (MIN) & Han Xu (NY, Injured Reserve) Orange We are BG logo in the bottom right.

Natalie–Carolina Cycles (4-2)

Pictured: Breanna Stewart on the dribble with the ball in her left hand Team Name: Carolina Cyclones Top VI (fantasy point winners): #30 Breanna Stewart (SEA), #7 Ariel Atkins (WAS), #3 Diana Taurasi (PHX) , #33 Emma Messeman (CHI), #9 Natasha Cloud (WAS), #4 Queen Egbo (IND) The Bench: Alysha Clark (WAS), Jordin Canada (LA), AD (ATL) & Satou Sabally (DAL, Injured Reserve) Orange We are BG logo in the bottom right.

Heather–The Summitt (3-3)

Pictured: Arike Ogunbowale, driving the lane with the ball in her right hand Team Name: The Summit Top VI (fantasy point winners): #24 Arike Ogunbowale (DAL), #25 Alyssa Thomas (CON), #6 Natasha Howard (NY ), #3 Marina Mabrey (DAL), #2 Aari McDonald (ATL), #14 Allie Quigley (CHI) The Bench: Teaira McCowan (DAL), Jantel Lavender (SEA), Bridget Carleton (MIN) & Napheesa Collier (MIN , Injured Reserve) Orange We are BG logo in the bottom right.

Shea – Blacktop Ballazzzzz (3-3)

Pictured: Candace Parker, dribbling up the court with the ball in her right hand Team Name: Blacktop Ballazzzzz Top VI (fantasy point winners): #3 Candace Parker (CHI), #10 Rhyne Howard (ATL), #35 Victoria Vivians ( IND), #0 Shakira Austin (WAS), #11 Elena Delle Donne (WAS), #21 Brianna Turner (PHX) The Bench: Tiffany Mitchell (IND), Lexie Brown (LA), Kristy Wallace (ATL) & Jackie Young (LV, Injured Reserve) Orange We are BG logo in the bottom right.

Darcy – Team Crystal Gems (3-3)

Pictured: Kelsey Mitchell, dribbling up the court with the ball in her left hand Team Name: Team Crystal Gems Top VI (fantasy point winners): #3 Kelsey Mitchell (IND), #31 Tina Charles (PHX), #24 DeWanna Bonner (CON), #2 Myisha Hines-Allen (WAS), #21 Kayla McBride (MIN), #3 Danielle Robinson (IND) The Bench: Jasmine Thomas (CON), Damiris Dantas (MIN) & Rebecca Allen (NY) Orange We are BG logo in the bottom right.

Carmen – The Queen’s Dynasty (2-4)

Pictured: Chelsea Gray tosses a no-look pass to her right.  The WNBA ball is on the fingertips of her right hand.  Team Name: The Queen's Dynasty Top VI (fantasy point winners): #12 Chelsea Gray (LV), #1 NaLyssa Smith (IND), #10 Courtney Williams (CON), #21 Emily Engstler (IND), #30 Azura Stevens (CHI), #2 Kahleah Copper (CHI) The Bench: Destanni Henderson (IND), Elizabeth Willians (WAS) & Ruthy Hebard (CHI) Orange We are BG logo in the bottom right.

Carly – Air Swoopes (2-4)

Pictured: Cut-out of A'ja Wilson going to the basket for a layup.  The WNBA ball is in her left hand.  Team Name: Air Swoopes Top VI (fantasy point winners): #22 A'ja Wilson (LV), #34 Sylvia Fowles (MIN), #13 Ezi Magbegor (SEA), #20 Isabelle Harrison (DAL), #10 Sue Bird (SEA), #35 Rebekah Gardner (CHI) The Bench: Katie Lou Samuelson (LA), Briann January (SEA), Dijonai Carrington (NY) & Betnijah Laney (NY, Injured Reserve) Orange We are BG logo in the bottom right.

Chinelo–Idemilli Pythons (1-5)

Pictured: Nneka Ogwumike holds the ball above her hand, with both hands.  Team Name: Idemilli Pythons Top VI (fantasy point winners): #30 Nneka Ogwumike (LAS), #15 Allisha Gray (DAL), #24 Jewell Loyd (SEA), #31 Stefanie Dolson (NY), #17 Erica Wheeler ( ATL), #12 Nia Coffey (ATL) The Bench: Chiney Ogwumike (LA), Natalie Achonwa (MIN) & Kia Vaughn (ATL) Orange We are BG logo in the bottom right.

A.Tony – Let Me Be Their Trophy Wives (0-6)

Pictured: Brittney Sykes brings the ball up the court, dribbling the ball with her left hand Team Name: Let Me Be Their Trophy Wives Top VI (fantasy point winners): #15 Brittney Sykes (LA), #5 Dearica Hamby (LV) , #3 Crystal Dangerfield (NY), #25 Monique Billings (ATL), #7 Chennedy Carter (LA), #15 Tiffany Hayes (ATL) The Bench: Amanda Zahui B. (LA), Layshia Clarendon (MIN) and Candice Dupree (ATL) Orange We are BG logo in the bottom right.

We’re almost halfway through the WNBA season but there’s plenty of basketball yet to be played. Can anyone break Nic and Sally’s unbeaten streak? Will Carmen ever forgive Shea for drafting Candace Parker before she could get the chance? Will Satou Sabally return from injury to give the Carolina Cyclones the boost they need heading into the final stretch? Will Napheesa Collier pull a Candace Parker and return from maternity leave this season to bolster The Summitt? Will the new coach in Los Angeles build a team that’ll allow the Ogwumike sisters — and the Idemilli Pythons — to dominate? So many questions left to be answered…I can’t wait to see how the season and our fantasy league shakes out.

Are you playing WNBA Fantasy? How’s it going?


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