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Fantasy women's basketball: Sophie Cunningham among top waiver wire pickups

Cunningham has become a huge factor in the Mercury offense. Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

This week's article is full of players who typically come off the bench, but have made the most of their playing time of late.

One player became a full-time starter earlier in the season when her teammate went out for the season, while another was promoted when a teammate was released. Multiple players have received increased short-term opportunities due to injury or illness, while one of the players still comes off the bench but just has several scoring detonations of late.

Let's dig further into each of their stories, and why fantasy managers should have each of these players on their radar.

Sophie Cunningham, Phoenix Mercury (41.9% rostered in ESPN leagues): Cunningham was in this space last week for her strong play since entering the starting lineup for the Mercury, then she responded with one of the biggest games in the WNBA this season: 36 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals, 6 3-pointers, 2 assists and 1 block in an overtime game against the Lynx. Cunningham has now scored in double digits in each of her last nine starts, and is averaging 16.6 PPG and 5.9 RPG during that stretch.

Chiney Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks (14.1%): Ogwumike has started the last two games for the Sparks, once in place of her sister Nneka (illness) and the other in place of Liz Cambage (currently in COVID-19 protocol). Ogwumike notched double-doubles in both starts, putting up 12.0 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 1.5 BPG, 1.5 3PG and 1.0 APG in 31.0 MPG. It isn't clear how long Cambage might be out, but Ogwumike is playing well right now with three double-doubles in her last four games, including one of 12 points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench in the games before either of her frontline mates were absent.

Natisha Hiedeman, Connecticut Sun (12.3%): Hiedeman has played well since the All-Star break, with three straight double-digit scoring efforts. She increased her scoring production Sunday with Jonquel Jones (COVID-19) out, scoring 16 points with 4 3-pointers, 3 assists and 3 rebounds against the Aces. Hiedeman has settled into her starting role in the backcourt, and she combines with Courtney Williams to give the Sun some punch out of the backcourt.

Rachel Banham, Minnesota Lynx (7.4%): Banham is the spark scorer off the bench for the Lynx, and she's been particularly hot of late. She's scored at least 24 points in three of her last seven games, and double figures in a fourth. She has knocked down 20 3-pointers during that stretch, and added 23 assists as well. Her role off the bench means that there will be some lean games mixed in with the explosions, but the overall net for her production is very positive over the last few weeks.

AD Durr, Atlanta Dream (2.9%): Durr has moved into the starting lineup for the Dream in place of Rhyne Howard (shoulder), and has scored 12 points in each of those starts. Durr has been a sparkplug scorer off the bench, with three 20-plus scoring efforts and now seven double-digit scoring efforts in their past 12 games.