We're less than a full week into the NBA season, but already Fantasy managers are scrambling to decide what's real and what could simply be an early-season mirage.
Looking ahead to Week 2, it's important to keep in mind that this season's schedule is much more balanced than in year's past. A condensed campaign means all 30 teams play three or four games virtually every week. On one hand, the lack of two-game weeks is a nice benefit for Fantasy managers. But on the other, it can make difficult lineup decisions even more difficult, as there are fewer significant discrepancies in games played.
As we head into the first full week of the Fantasy season, here are some notable players to lock into your weekly lineups, and others to consider keeping on the bench.
Three games: Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Golden State, Houston, Indiana, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Sacramento, Toronto
Four games: Atlanta, Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, Utah, Washington
Start: Jarrett Allen, Nets
Beginning the season with a pair of lopsided results, it's been difficult to get a feel for the Nets' real rotation. Despite coming off the bench, Allen showed well against Golden State and Boston, putting up 17 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, six blocks and a steal in 41 total minutes. In 25 minutes Sunday, Allen attempted just two shots but grabbed 14 boards and added a block. Thus far, he holds a slight minutes advantage over DeAndre Jordan, and he's the much better free throw shooter (15-19 FT) of the two. With a four-game week ahead that features no back-to-backs, Allen makes for a fine starter in most leagues.
Sit: Jimmy Butler, Heat
Butler is in the class of players who you'd almost never sit, but he enters Week 2 with a unique set of circumstances. For one, Butler was removed from the Heat's Christmas Day win over the Pelicans after just 16 minutes of action due to a right ankle issue. Butler benefits from three consecutive off days before Tuesday's game against Milwaukee, but that comes on the front end of a back-to-back. Miami also plays Friday in Dallas, so it wouldn't be a surprise if Butler is held out of at least one of those contests. Already on a three-game week, Butler's upside is pretty limited.
Start: Anthony Davis, Lakers
Davis' absence Sunday sent some Fantasy managers into a (rightful) panic, but the superstar's calf injury doesn't appear to be anything serious. The hope is that he can return for the second half of a back-to-back Monday (vs. Portland), but even if he sits that game, Davis will have three more chances to play in Week 2. Starting any injured player carries some risk, but with Davis, the potential reward is worth it.
Start: Montrezl Harrell, Lakers
After Harrell came over from the Clippers, there was some question as to how he'd fit in on a suddenly-deep Lakers roster. Through two non-blowout games, Harrell has fit in seamlessly, playing 30.0 minutes per game and putting up 19.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while shooting 16-of-20 from the field. He was quieter in Sunday's steamrolling of the Timberwolves but still notched 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting in 20 minutes. Anthony Davis shouldn't miss extended time, but the possibility that he sits out Monday against Portland could give Harrell a slightly higher ceiling. With the Lakers on a four-game week with advantageous matchups (POR, SAN, SAN, MEM), Harrell makes for a productive starting option.
Sit: Davis Bertans, Wizards
Bertans is one of the league's best volume 3-point shooters, but he's been limited to begin the year after arriving late to training camp. Washington appears intent on bringing him up to speed gradually, as Bertans played just 20 minutes in each of the Wizards' first two games and only 19 minutes in Sunday's loss to Orlando. Even in limited action, Bertans has been able to bomb away from 3, but he hasn't shot it well thus far, and he provides minimal production elsewhere. Bertans is best left on the bench until he nears a full workload.
Start: Kyle Anderson, Grizzlies
Anderson has long been one of the most enigmatic players in Fantasy basketball, but early on he's taken advantage of Jaren Jackson Jr.'s absence to post 13.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 block through the Grizzlies' first two games. He was fantastic against the Hawks on Saturday, going for 20 points and 14 boards in 36 minutes. Jackson isn't coming back anytime soon, so Anderson should continue to have plenty of opportunities on a four-game Week 2 that does not include any back-to-backs.
Sit: Draymond Green, Warriors
The Warriors sorely missed Green in blowout losses to Brooklyn and Milwaukee, and he'll miss at least one more game after sitting out Sunday's win over Chicago. The Warriors enter a three-game week, so even if Green makes his debut Friday against Portland, he'll have a maximum of two games. When healthy, Green is a great source of out-of-position assists, but I'm willing to give him a week to acclimate himself before locking him into my lineup.
Sit: Brandon Clarke: Grizzlies
For as great as Anderon's start has been, it's partially come at the expense of Clarke, who most assumed would soak up most of Jackson's minutes. A groin injury did limit Clarke, at times, during the preseason, but he's played just 26 and 20 minutes, respectively, over Memphis' first two games. In Saturday's loss to Atlanta, Clarke was a complete non-factor, going just 2-of-8 from the field and finishing with four points, three rebounds and four fouls.
Start: Keldon Johnson, Spurs
If Johnson is on your roster, you probably grabbed him off of the waiver wire after his impressive first week. The second-year forward had some moments in the bubble, and he already looks like an improved and more consistent player in Year 2. Johnson appears to be locked into the starting lineup, and he's played at least 28 minutes in each of the first three games. In Sunday's matchup against New Orleans, Johnson posted 14 points (two 3PM), 11 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. The Spurs have only three games in Week 2, but Johnson's all-around production is worth starting consideration in 12-team leagues.
Sit: Andrew Wiggins, Warriors
For the Warriors to compete in the Western Conference, they'll need major contributions from both Wiggins and Kelly Oubre. Three games in, suffice it to say that has not happened. Wiggins was horrendous in an opening-night blowout against Brooklyn, and he wasn't much better in Milwaukee's Christmas Day dismantling of the Warriors. Even if Wiggins' jumper starts to fall -- he attempted 34 field goals through the first two games -- he provides so little elsewhere that his Fantasy ceiling is quite limited. In 56 total minutes entering the weekend, Wiggins totaled just 25 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers. He looked better against the lowly Bulls on Sunday night -- 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists -- but Wiggins is too inconsistent to trust on a three-game week that ends on the front end of a back-to-back.es, help paint a more complete picture of a player's value heading into the postseason. Recent trends, rather than season-long figures, can often be more indicative of what to expect from certain players — and the same goes for teams.