The 2022-23 season is underway, and player workloads are starting to come into focus. While several players have been more involved than expected, some star players -- like Kawhi Leonard and Zach LaVine -- have already had their minutes restricted over the first few games of the year.
While stars from the teams with two games should still start in most fantasy leagues, it's best to consider players with four games instead of some of the less reliable contributors.
Teams with four games: BKN, CHI, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, MIA, MIN, NYK, ORL, PHI, SAN, UTA
Teams with three games: ATL, BOS, CHR, CLE, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIL, NOR, OKC, PHO, POR, TOR, WAS
Teams with two games: SAC
All roster and start percentages via CBS Fantasy Basketball
Consider starting: Mike Conley, UTA (86% rostered, 56% start)
Opponents: @HOU, HOU, @UTA, MEM
Somewhat surprisingly, Conley has seen plenty of playing time for the rebuilding Jazz to begin the regular season, averaging 35.0 minutes per game after averaging just 28.6 minutes per game last year. The 35-year-old has shot just 28.6 percent from the floor over the first three games of the 2022-23 campaign, but he's still averaging 10.6 points along with 9.0 assists per game. If he can be more efficient against a favorable slate of matchups this week, he'll have the chance to be a strong fantasy contributor.
Consider sitting: Russell Westbrook, LAL (98% rostered, 60% start)
Opponents: @DEN, @MIN, DEN
Westbrook performed better from a fantasy standpoint than he did in real life last week, as he shot just 28.9 percent from the floor and 8.3 percent from beyond the arc but managed to salvage some fantasy production due to his results in other categories. Given the Lakers' 0-3 start, the team could change some of its players' usages soon in an attempt to right the ship.
It's been encouraging to see Westbrook take on a starting role so far, but given his three-game week and early-season inefficiency, he's a risky fantasy option once again. Coming off of yet another late-game meltdown, Westbrook's minutes could start to vary from game-to-game.
Consider starting: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, DEN (32% rostered, 14% start)
Opponents: @POR, LAL, UTA, @LAL
Caldwell-Pope tallied just two points during last week's regular-season opener, but he was more productive on the scoreboard over the weekend, averaging 19.0 points per game. The 29-year-old has had a somewhat inconsistent role over the last several years while playing for the Lakers and Wizards, but it appears as though he'll be more involved to begin his time with the Nuggets. He posted consistent fantasy production last week while shooting 46.7 percent from the floor and lines up for a four-game week with some favorable opponents during Week 2.
Consider sitting: Darius Garland, CLE (100% rostered, 53% start)
Opponents: MIN, DEN, MIN
It's rare for Garland to be considered a player to sit since he's among the most elite fantasy contributors in the NBA when at full strength. However, he sustained an eye injury during Wednesday's regular-season opener, and although he was targeting a Friday return, he's been forced to miss the last two games. The Cavaliers also play just three games this week, making Garland an even riskier play since it's not yet clear when he'll return or whether he'll face any limitations once he's back in action.
Given how early he was drafted in most fantasy leagues, managers might not have much of a choice but to start him. However, managers who have viable alternatives -- especially guards with a four-game schedule -- should consider leaving him on the bench given the risk that he carries on a three-game week.
Consider starting: Jaden McDaniels, MIN (61% rostered, 30% start)
Opponents: SAS, SAS, LAL, @SAS
The bulk of McDaniels' fantasy potential comes through his scoring ability, and he scored in double figures in each of Minnesota's first three games of the season while shooting 53.8 percent from the floor. The 22-year-old has also propped up his fantasy value by averaging 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game this year. He was somewhat inconsistent on the boards but topped 35 minutes in two of the Wolves' first three matchups. Despite his slight inconsistency, McDaniels lines up for a favorable four-game slate in Week 2.
Consider sitting: Harrison Barnes, SAC (89% rostered, 50% start)
Opponents: MEM, MIA
Not only does Barnes only have two games this week, but his fantasy production steadily decreased as Week 1 progressed. He topped 30 minutes of playing time in each of the first two games of the year, but he played just 21 minutes Sunday against Golden State since the Kings elected to rely more on some of their bench players. The 30-year-old is shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor this year, so on a two-game week he's a fairly easy player to move to the bench. Long-term, Barnes' production will be worth monitoring, as rookie Keegan Murray already looks like the much more enticing fantasy option in the Kings' frontcourt.
Consider starting: Royce O'Neale, BKN (21% rostered, 9% start)
Opponents: @MEM, @MIL, DAL, IND
The Nets have been inconsistent as a team early in the season, but O'Neale has been a strong contributor on both ends of the floor. He hasn't produced elite numbers in any particular offensive categories over the first two matchups of the year, but he's averaged 2.5 steals and 2.0 blocks over 36.5 minutes per game. O'Neale has taken on a starting role for Brooklyn to begin the regular season and should continue to see plenty of minutes while T.J. Warren and Seth Curry are out.
Consider sitting: Kawhi Leonard, LAC (99% rostered, 86% start)
Opponents: @OKC, @OKC, NOP
Leaving a player of Leonard's talent level on the bench, even when his team has a three-game week, is certainly risky. However, his early-season usage hasn't allowed him to showcase much upside. The Clippers have understandably wanted to manage Leonard's workload early in the season given his injury history over the last few years, and they've brought him off the bench during his first two appearances of the season.
He played just 21 minutes in each of those games and rested during the first half of a back-to-back set Saturday. While the Clippers don't have any back-to-backs this week, they'll likely continue to ease Leonard into action, which significantly hinders his fantasy potential.
Consider starting: Walker Kessler, UTA (56% rostered, 24% start)
Opponents: @HOU, HOU, @DEN, MEM
Kessler has come off the bench in the first three games of the season, but he's been efficient when on the court. The 21-year-old has shot 71.4 percent from the floor and has averaged 8.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 21.3 minutes per game. The Jazz face several below-average frontcourts during their four-game week, including a pair of matchups against the Rockets, who are currently without Bruno Fernando. Even if Kessler continues to come off the bench, he's shown an ability to be a fairly reliable fantasy contributor early in the year.
Consider sitting: Jarrett Allen, CLE (99% rostered, 78% start)
Opponents: ORL, @BOS, NYK
Allen certainly has plenty of season-long potential, as he's averaged double-doubles in the last two seasons. However, the Cavaliers have a three-game week against a set of three opponents that rank among the top 10 fantasy defenses against centers. The 23-year-old is coming off his best performance of the year in which he totaled 15 points and 14 rebounds in 38 minutes against the Wizards on Sunday, but he logged just eight points and six rebounds in 29 minutes against the Bulls during the first half of the back-to-back set Saturday.
Sitting Allen is a risk, but fantasy managers with a four-game option may want to consider choosing that path just for this week.