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, as we utilize ESPN's metrics database for a deeper look at the numbers.
Lindsay Allen, Guard, Minnesota Lynx (7.6% rostered, +2.8)
Allen regained starter status in late June, recording 15 consecutive starts and averaging more than 29 minutes per game over the last five weeks. She scored 16 points in back-to-back contests at Connecticut before serving up 10 dimes versus New York on Friday. That second stat is key, as the 28-year-old has improved as a facilitator for three straight seasons and her assists per game average (4.4) currently sits at a career-high. It doesn't hurt that she's also registered a total of four steals since July 30.
The Lynx have the second least efficient defense in the league (105.7 DEFRTG), which means that they have to work that much harder on offense. While that doesn't bode well for the 13-15 squad, it does boost the fantasy stocks of the team's players. Keep an eye on Allen - who flashed late in 2022 - down the stretch.
Tianna Hawkins, Forward, Washington Mystics (46.2% rostered, +1.6)
Hawkins has, once again, caught fire over the past week. The Maryland native followed up a double-double performance at Atlanta on July 30 by sinking three 3-pointers versus Los Angeles this past Sunday. Coming off of a 23-point effort (her second 20+ point effort in the last month), Hawkins has recorded at least 17 points for three consecutive contests. She also has at least one steal in seven of eight games (and four multi-steal games over that span of time).
Washington is the worst rebounding team in the league (47.1 REB%). Hawkins prowess on the glass (5.1 rebounds/game), therefore, boosts her overall fantasy value while stabilizing her overall floor. She'll take on the 7-20 Mercury team on Tuesday. Hawkins registered a total of 15 rebounds over her two prior outings against Phoenix this season.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Forward, Connecticut Sun (5.5% Rostered, +1.0)
Nelson-Ododa's role has increased significantly since Brionna Jones suffered an Achilles injury in late June. The UConn product most recently double-doubled at Indiana, managing 10 points and 10 rebounds in her 28 minutes. Nelson-Ododa's 26 fantasy points on Friday marked her fifth straight game with a block. She's additionally recorded a steal in six of her past seven efforts.
Recording at least 17 minutes in five straight outings, the 22-year-old (who turns 23-years-old on August 17) has averaged over 18 fantasy points per game since late July. Given that her per minute numbers have been well above average, an uptick in playing time would likely result in a surplus of fantasy production. Coming off such a dominant effort, Nelson-Ododa's minutes figure to expand.
Natasha Cloud, Guard, Washington Mystics (96% rostered, -0.5)
Cloud is inside the top-35 fantasy producers so far this season, averaging 26.1 fantasy points per game. She's not a drop candidate, but there's no denying her recent struggles. The former league champ recorded a season-high five turnovers in Washington's loss to the Sparks on Sunday. Cloud has additionally failed to register more than 13 points in four straight efforts, shooting 14-45 from the field (31%) and 1-8 from beyond the arc since July 28.
Cloud can run hot and cold, as evidenced by her single point effort at Chicago ahead of Memorial Day Weekend. In fact, twice this season the 31-year-old has been held under 10 points in consecutive games. Noting the recent dip in her field goal percentage and issues with 3-point efficiency, Cloud investors would be wise to balance their rosters with high upside players or consider benching the vet until she exits her current slump.
Brianna Turner, Forward, Phoenix Mercury (73.4% rostered, +0.6)
Turner is a defensive marvel, averaging 5 defensive rebounds per game (top-16) on the season. But her offensive numbers have depressed her overall fantasy value. The 27-year-old has yet to attempt more than five shots in a game so far this year.
While a field goal percentage of 67.2 looks great on paper, a career-low number of field goals attempts (2.3 per game) tells the other side of the story. Registering no more than 6 points in any game since late June, Turner offers little upside over the final month (and fantasy push) of 2023.
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