The only constant in sports (and life) is change. While consistency is key to a winning strategy, the ebb and flow of production often can't be avoided.
Tracking the endless ups and downs over 40 games and nearly four months can become a heady operation. Segmenting the journey, however, into weekly updates allows managers to live (and play) in the now.
That's exactly what my Risers and Fallers column aims to accomplish.
Dana Evans, Guard, Chicago Sky (11.5% rostered, +1.8)
It's still early but the forecast calls for surprisingly blue skies ahead in Chicago. Despite key departures, the Sky have remained competitive, winning three of their past four games and recording a top-four field goal percentage (43.2%). James Wade has engineered a fluid offense (Top 3 in assist percentage, 71.7%) which has given Evans an intriguing role.
Even with Marina Mabrey back in the fold, Evans posted double-digit points in three straight efforts. The Louisville product has converted inside the arc at an impressive clip (61.1% over her past three) while logging over 20 minutes off the bench in back-to-back games. Her fantasy relevance is on the up assuming her playing time sticks.
Jessica Shepard, Forward, Minnesota Lynx (91.1% rostered, +6.4%)
The Lynx have taken four straight Ls to begin the regular season. While that's problematic for the franchise, it's kept the team's starters busy playing catch up. The key to this equation has been Shepard, who has averaged 31.9 minutes to begin her fourth pro campaign. Minnesota's investment in the 26-year-old's growth is evident, as she's managing nearly six more minutes per game than she did in 2022.
Admittedly, Shepard is heavily rostered. Yet, her scoring numbers have underwhelmed. With zero three-point attempts on the season and an average of just 8.3 PPG, Shepard's value is potentially flying under the radar. There's room, however, for an increase in fantasy production via rebounds and assists. Shepard has managed a pair of double-digit rebound performances and has handed out seven assists twice over the past four games. She's proven to work as a steadying force for the Lynx with 20 dimes and just four turnovers in 128 minutes.
Queen Egbo, Center, Indiana Fever (22.3% rostered, -1%)
The Fever have struggled to start the 2023 season, but the team showed signs of life in their third contest, managing a three-point victory over the Dream. Egbo performed solidly in that effort, leading all players in rebounds (9) while managing 10 points and 2 blocks in 14 minutes. A path to increased playing time could open up for her due to the squad's early season strife. Keep her on your watch list.
Aari McDonald, Guard, Atlanta Dream (45.3% rostered, -5.5%)
The Dream's 2023 start has been anything but, securing one win (against the winless Lynx) over the team's first three outings. It's not the offense that's the problem, though. Atlanta is currently ranked in the Top 3 in points (82.7) and Top 5 in pace (98.40). It's the team's defense that has struggled, recording a bottom-five defensive rating (102.4). Regardless, McDonald hasn't been the answer on either side of the court.
McDonald has missed 20 of 25 shots, which is likely part of the reason her shot attempts have declined each game. Additionally, she has yet to record a defensive stat throughout three contests. Her value -- from a fantasy perspective -- exists in her time on the court. While she's managed 30 minutes per effort, her numbers have underwhelmed, as she's averaged just 12.7 fantasy points per game (No. 74).
Brianna Turner, Forward, Phoenix Mercury (85.0% rostered, -2.9%)
Turner investors were hopeful that the 26-year-old would be at least a temporary answer to the many questions facing the Mercury at the top of the season. That hasn't been the case in Phoenix, however. Turner has only taken two shots over three games. Her three total points have come via a single field goal and a free throw.
Admittedly, the former Notre Dame standout has excelled on defense, recording double-digit rebounds in back-to-back efforts (28 total so far over 2023). But that's not enough to justify her roster percentage. Not with Britney Griner averaging over 21.3 PPG (No. 6), Diana Taurasi averaging 14.6 FGA per contest (No. 9) and Sophie Cunningham returning to health. Without any offensive role to speak of, there's more risk than reward in starting Turner.