Triple Threat Fantasy Challenge Preview

May 4 - After the initial success of last year's inaugural game, the WNBA Triple Threat Fantasy Challenge is back for 2006. You are likely anxiously awaiting the start of the WNBA season. You may also be awaiting the launch of the only official WNBA fantasy game. Well the wait is over. You can sign up now and begin strategizing for the upcoming season.

If you haven't played fantasy before, now is the time to start. If you know WNBA players, this is your chance to prove it. The game is here, and ready for you to play.

The goal of this game is very simple: Pick one player per day and record fantasy points for each point, rebound, and assist (PRA) your player accrues during that day. You can play by yourself, join a public league with similar interests, or invite friends to a private league.

Maybe you're new to fantasy. Maybe you're still trying to get a hang of who the top players are in the WNBA. Well, we are here to help.

The first step is signing up. Then take a look at who the top players were last season according to this game's scoring system:

Lauren Jackson, F-C, SEA - 17.6 Points, 9.2 Rebounds, 1.6 Assists (28.5 PRA)
Since being drafted first overall in the 2001 WNBA Draft, she has done nothing but impress, leading the league in scoring and rebounding in her very first year. Entering her sixth season in the league and with the Storm, Lauren Jackson will be among the league leaders in both categories again despite being hobbled by those stress fractures. Every year, Anne Donovan says she would like to play Jackson fewer minutes, but we'll believe it when we see it. When you have the chance, pick Jackson. She won't disappoint.

Chamique Holdsclaw, F, LOS - 17.0 Points, 6.8 Rebounds, 3.2 Assists (27.0 PRA)
If Jackson is consistently at or near the top of the scoring and rebounding charts, the Holdsclaw is right there with her. After being traded to Los Angeles prior to the 2005 season, Holdsclaw returned to All-Star form with Sparks. And despite playing alongside Lisa Leslie, her numbers did not drop. This season, with a full year under her belt and a great, young point guard in Temeka Johnson, 'Mique should be a regular on your pick sheet.

Tamika Catchings, F, IND - 14.7 Points, 7.8 Rebounds, 4.2 Assists (26.7 PRA)
One of the best all-around players in the game, Tamika Catchings led the Fever in points, rebounds AND assists again last season, the only player in the WNBA to accomplish that feat. Quite simply, Catch is amazing. She can beat you in so many different ways, whether it's shooting the three or putting the ball between her legs and creating her own shot. Last season, she got some more help and the team made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Sheryl Swoopes, F, HOU - 18.6 Points, 3.6 Rebounds, 4.3 Assists (26.5 PRA)
Few athletes in any sport have sustained the dominant level of play that the WNBA ten-year veteran Sheryl Swoopes over that span. Well into her 30's, Swoopes was selected as the All-Star and WNBA league Most Valuable Player in her ninth season. With her teammate, Tina Thompson, out for much of last season, Swoopes was simply amazing. Throw in the motivation to win a ring for retiring teammate and longtime friend Dawn Staley and Swoopes could be dangerous on a nightly basis.

Lisa Leslie, C, LOS - 15.2 Points, 7.3 Rebounds, 2.6 Assists (25.1 PRA)
Everything we just wrote for Swoopes can be written about the world's best center, Lisa Leslie. Still going strong in her tenth season, Leslie is just one season removed from winning the WNBA M.V.P. Award. Throw in the fact that there is less pressure on her to score and rebound thanks to the presence of Holdsclaw, Leslie is still unstoppable in the low post.

Diana Taurasi, G, PHO - 16.0 Points, 4.2 Rebounds, 4.6 Assists (24.8 PRA)
An All-WNBA star in both of her first two seasons, Diana Taurasi is the offensive key for the run-and-gun Phoenix Mercury this season. She has a variety of moves to beat defenders of all sizes, yet has te creativity and passing skills of a top tier point guard. And at 6-0, she can even post up smaller guards or grab rebounds over them. She can score, pass and rebound? Sounds like the ultimate Triple Threat.

Deanna Nolan, G-F, DET - 15.9 Points, 4.7 Rebounds, 3.7 Assists (24.3 PRA)
This All-WNBA selection last year got out to a blistering start, recording a triple-double in the very first game of the season in 2005. A great shooter, Nolan is so quick that she can score by beating everyone down the floor or in scoring off the dribble. The fact that she will get some time at the point guard this year will also bolster her assist numbers. And while there are no bonus points for slam dunks, this sub-6-footer can get up and throw down. In fact, there isn't much she can't do.

Yolanda Griffith, F-C, SAC - 13.8 Points, 6.6 Rebounds, 1.5 Assists (21.9 PRA)
Think the hunger in this champion is gone? Wrong. Despite leading the Monarchs to a title last year and winning the Finals M.V.P. Award, Griffith is as fierce and competitive as ever. Yo is a big body with a nice offensive touch, yet virtually unmoveable in the paint and a force on the boards. Hard to believe this momma has a teenage daughter.

Nykesha Sales, G-F, CON - 15.7 Points, 3.7 Rebounds, 2.2 Assists (21.6 PRA)
In her eighth WNBA season, Nykesha Sales is still one of the best (and most underappreciated) stars in the WNBA. As a 2-3, she creates matchup problems both on the perimeter and driving to the hole. A perennial All-Star, Sales still manages to make the top 10 according to this game's scoring system.

Other Players to Watch:
-Tina Thompson, Houston
-Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Connecticut
-Swin Cash, Detroit
-Cheryl Ford, Detroit

While all of these players will make excellent choices in this game, don't ignore the rookies. The key to picking rookies is understanding who is going to play. The following three first year players are expected to have a significant impact and should be considered when making your selections for the Triple Threat Fantasy Challenge:

Seimone Augustus, G, MIN
Not only will Augustus start, she very well could be an All-Star as a rookie. That's how good she is. As one of her new teammates described her, Seimone is just smooth.

Cappie Pondexter, G, PHO
Cappie Pondexter was the second pick in the Draft, but robably would have been first in many other seasons. She is the perfect fit for Paul Ball and could put up big point and assist numbers on any given night.

Monique Currie, G-F, CHA
While we don't know this for a fact, Currie should be a starter this season. If not on Opening Day, definitely in the early going. She has a big body for her position and can score, rebound and pass the ball.

While pure player performance is a good guide, other factors need to be considered when you are given a tough choice between equally valued players. First of all, most players perform better while on their home court. Second, there are some teams that typically allow more points, rebounds and assists; also, some teams will use their stingy defense to limit your player's PRA.

Following is a record of defensive team statistics from most to least favorable, according to 2005 statistics. Note that the Chicago Sky are new to the league for the 2006 season, so they are not listed here:

Team Pts Reb Ast PRA
San Antonio Silver Stars 70.6 31.0 16.6 118.2
Seattle Storm 70.8 30.0 16.7 117.5
Los Angeles Sparks 69.0 30.6 16.7 116.3
Charlotte Sting 68.7 31.0 14.6 114.3
Minnesota Lynx 67.3 31.0 15.8 114.1
Washington Mystics 67.8 30.1 16.0 113.9
Phoenix Mercury 69.2 30.1 13.8 113.1
Connecticut Sun 66.0 31.7 14.6 112.3
New York Liberty 67.2 30.3 13.9 111.4
Detroit Shock 67.3 29.9 13.9 111.1
Houston Comets 66.6 28.3 15.9 110.8
Indiana Fever 62.7 29.1 12.8 104.6
Sacramento Monarchs 61.6 28.4 13.6 103.6

Good luck, and remember to get involved early and stick with it. Not only are there weekly prizes ($50 Gift Certificate), but also a season-long grand prize... a trip to the 2006 WNBA Finals and a chance to hang out with us!