WNBA fantasy and betting tips for Thursday

Shey Peddy of the Phoenix Mercury drives to the basket. Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

Each day of the WNBA season, our team of fantasy and betting experts breaks down every game on the slate, making note of everything from injuries and lineup changes to recent trends and more.

All odds are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. Times are ET.

Here's what to look for during today's slate:

Phoenix Mercury at Connecticut Sun
7:00 p.m., Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT

Line: Sun (-11.5)
Money line: Sun (-700), Mercury (+500)
Total: 164.5 points
BPI Win%: Sun (78.2%)

Questionable: Diana Taurasi (quad)

Ruled Out: Kia Nurse (knee), Bria Hartley (knee)

Fantasy Need to Know: This will be the second game between these two teams in the last two days, they played at Mohegan Sun on Tuesday and the Sun blew out the Mercury 87-63. This was the Mercury's second straight loss by 20 or more points. The Sun have already clinched a playoff spot and have a 99.4% chance, according to ESPN BPI, to finish top four in the regular season standings which would give them home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Mercury currently sit in seventh, but are followed closely by four other teams who are all within a game of them. This is going to be a big leverage game for Phoenix who currently has a 62.7% chance to make the playoffs.

Let's take a look at Phoenix first, as they have been using the same starting lineup since June 25 when the team parted ways with Tina Charles. Sophie Cunningham filled in the spot of Charles and has been phenomenal since she was inserted into the starting lineup (available in 32.8% of leagues). In her last 13 games, all as a starter, she's been playing the most minutes on the team and she's averaging 16.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG and is hitting over three three-pointers a game. If you have the opportunity to add her to your team, do it now.

Shey Peddy would be the biggest steal if you can get her, she's pretty widely available in most leagues even though she's a starter (available in 68.6% of leagues). She has had 20 or more fantasy points in each of her last nine games. And it's not just from being a scoring threat, but she's a great rebounding guard over the last nine games (11.1 PPG & 6.1 RPG). She also has contributed facilitating and defensively during that span adding 3.0 APG and 2.2 SPG.

Another player to keep an eye on for this game is Diamond DeShields (available in 27.6% of leagues). If she's on your roster and was on IR, think about putting her in the lineup because there is a chance she plays today since she is no longer listed on the injury report ahead of today's game (missed last 5 games due to a hip injury). She's the third leading scorer on the team with 12.5 PPG and 3.9 RPG, both her bests since 2019.

The Connecticut Sun have four of their five starters rostered in 90% or more of leagues right now (Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner, Courtney Williams). But the one starter who isn't rostered by many leagues is Natisha Hiedeman and she has been on fire lately (available in 84.3% of leagues). She's coming off Tuesday's game where she had a game-high 16 points and she went 4-6 from 3-point range. Since the beginning of July, Hiedeman has gone 11 straight games hitting a 3-pointer and shooting 47% from beyond the arc, which is the second-best in the league during that span.

Best bet: Sun (-11.5)

The Mercury this season 1-5 against the spread when underdogs by eight or more points, 0-6 outright, and all six of those games have been on the road. They've been awful on the road this season with a 4-13 record, second-worst in the league. And over the last two games the Mercury have lost by an average of 22.0 PPG.

Las Vegas Aces at Dallas Wings
8:00 p.m., College Park Center, Arlington, TX

Line: Wings (-8.5)
Money line: Aces (-440), Wings (+335)
Total: 171 points
BPI Win%: Aces (57%)

Questionable: Arike Ogunbowale (ankle)

Ruled Out: Satou Sabally (ankle)

Fantasy Need to Know: This game will be the Aces' fourth of a five-game road trip. They have already clinched a playoff spot, but are currently second in the standings and hoping to steal the number one seed from the Sky.. Dallas is in a good spot as well currently sitting in the sixth spot, and while the Wings haven't clinched a playoff spot yet but ESPN's BPI gives them a 96.7% chance to make the playoffs.

Nothing much has changed for the Aces, they are still extremely top heavy with their starters so there isn't much to choose from there (all five of their starters are rostered in 88% or more of leagues). But if you have any of these starters on your team, definitely play them any time because they will get you major fantasy points. They don't have much of a bench that you can pick up players from since the bench this season is only averaging 13.2 PPG from their bench which is the lowest in the league. The Wings definitely have more players to choose from, specifically Kayla Thornton (available in 55.1% of leagues) and Veronica Burton (available in 98.2% of leagues). Thornton has started in 29 of the teams 30 games this season and is averaging 7.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, and 1.1 SPG. She's been on a tear as of late averaging 23.6 fantasy points a game over her last seven games.

Veronica Burton hasn't been outstanding this season, but with Arike Ogunbowale missing the team's last game due to an ankle injury, Burton started in her place and made a splash in her first start with 8 points, 9 assists, 3 steals and a block. If Ogunbowale misses today's game, it's likely Burton will start again in her place again. I would expect her to get a little more playing time as well even if Ogunbowale is back in the lineup.

Best bet: Under 171

I'm picking the under because in recent weeks, head coach Becky Hammon has said that defense is their main focus right now. And in their last eight games they have shown they can play lockdown defense, only giving up 77.0 PPG to their opponents which is second fewest in the league during that span. They've also hit the under in seven straight games. What helps is that the Wings play at the second-slowest pace in the league and will most likely try to slow the pace down to stay with the Aces so that bodes well for this game hitting the under.

Best bet: Aces 1H -4

This is all about the scheduling spot and talent disparity. The Wings upset the Sky in their last game, even without their best player, Arike Ogunbowale, so I expect a flat start from a team still riding high off the win. Plus, Ogunbowale is expected to sit out again with an ankle injury and Dallas will also be without Satou Sabally. Meanwhile, the Aces are arguably the league's best team and just lost to the Mystics. The playoffs are nearing and Las Vegas is jockeying for the top seed, so I expect a focused and determined performance from the start. The Aces should dominate this game and finish off the season sweep. -- Doug Kezirian