Fantasy women’s basketball – Liz Loza’s risers and fallers

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.

Risers

Chennedy Carter, Guard, Chicago Sky (35.4% rostered, in ESPN leagues +3.2)

Carter, who was out of the league in 2023 and averaged fewer than 9 points per game in 2022, wasn’t even on the fantasy radar a month ago. A dust-up with Caitlin Clark thrust her into the sports media spotlight earlier in June, but the 25-year-old has remained seemingly unfazed, turning heads by continually crushing on the court. Coming off her first start of the season, Carter has averaged 14.6 points per game over the past five games, ranking No. 25 among all players during that span.

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A large part of Carter’s success has been her efficiency, as she has a career-high 52.5% field-goal percentage in her first year with the Sky. She also has a knack for finding her way to the free throw line, sinking 2.6 3free throws per game since June 1. With her minutes expected to hover near 30 per game and her steady contributions to secondary categories (she ha recorded a total of nine dimes and five steals during the past three games), Carter’s fantasy stock is soaring. Grab her while you can.

Aari McDonald, Guard, Los Angeles Sparks (12.8% rostered, +6.4)

McDonald began the season fighting for playing time in a crowded Sparks backcourt, recording fewer than 20 minutes in each of her first five games. Since then, the California native has thrived off the bench, managing the second-highest number of minutes (behind only Dearica Hamby) over the team’s last five outings (25.9 minutes per game). While Layshia Clarendon remains in the startling lineup, the vet’s minutes have dwindled in alarming success, allowing McDonald to shine.

The 25-year-old McDonald been consistent since receiving increased playing time, logging between 14 and 16 points in each of her last four games. Her work as a facilitator has additionally benefited fantasy investors, as McDonald has led her team in assists with 4.2 per game since June 7. As a bench player, McDonald’s ceiling is admittedly capped, but all signs appear to indicate substantial usage moving forward.

Fallers

Karlie Samuelson, Forward, Washington Mystics (39.2% rostered, -6.2)

I was loud about Samuelson’s breakout potential heading into this season, believing my own hype and drafting her on my fantasy squad. That hasn’t exactly worked out. While the 29-year-old has posted a handful of 20+ fantasy point showings, her production has mostly underwhelmed. The good news is Samuelson has remained in the starting lineup and has averaged a career-high 28.8 minutes per game. Unfortunately, her numbers don’t reflect her bump in playing time, as she’s outside of the top 50 players in terms of points per game (8.8).

Samuelson is second on her team in total field goals attempted but has managed to sink only 42 of those 114 shots. Her 36.8 FG% ranks No. 10 on the Mystics, suggesting a potential move down the depth chart. The former Stanford standout is coming off of her first double-digit point total in four games (just her fifth of the season, though) and has registered at least one 3-point shot in each outing this year, so there is some room for optimism. Still, with inconsistent contributions to secondary categories and considerable inefficiency issues, Samuelson’s ceiling has been woefully lowered.

Natasha Mack, Forward, Phoenix Mercury (20.5% rostered, -8.8)

Mack opened the season with promise, making her first career start during the Mercury’s season opener at Las Vegas. The 26-year-old went on to register nine more starts, averaging over 20 minutes per game over the first three weeks of 2024.

Once Brittney Griner returned from injury, however, Mack was relegated to the bench. In fact, Mack has recorded exactly nine minutes in back-to-back outings while Griner has cleared 30 minutes in each of her last three contests. Mack’s fantasy relevance appears tied to Griner’s health, indicating a substantial lull for the time being. Fantasy managers can feel secure in dropping the Oklahoma State product until further notice.

Prop to watch this week

Seattle Storm at Las Vegas Aces OVER 167.5 points.

Seattle and Las Vegas are expected to come in hot, after each squad took an “L” over the weekend. The teams rank second and third, respectively, in the Western Conference (fourth and fifth overall), suggesting a closely contested matchup (5.5) on Wednesday. Both teams play fast, sitting atop the league in pace, with Vegas managing 98.80 possessions per game and the Storm close behind with an average of 98.57 possessions. Given each team’s offensive prowess and with plenty of buckets likely to be scored, a point total of 170 appears more probable than possible.

Follow Liz on X (formerly Twitter): @LizLoza_FF

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