Week 4 hasn't even begun and it's already shaping up to be one of the most challenging of the Fantasy basketball season. With multiple teams dealing with COVID-19 positives, a number of key players are likely to miss time, but in some cases it remains to be seen which players will be unavailable and for how long they'll be unavailable.
The uncertainty and apparent randomness of it all is frustrating, but as teams lose multiple rotation players, opportunities open up. The Celtics, 76ers and Mavericks are all expected to be without key pieces for part, if not all, of the week. The names and numbers might be different, but the games will still go on (well, probably), points will still be scored, and Fantasy stats will still be accumulated.
We'll discuss a few players from those teams below, as well as a handful of others to consider starting -- or moving to the bench -- for a Week 4 that brings a diverse schedule.
Two games: Timberwolves
Five games: Pacers, 76ers
Start: LaMelo Ball, Hornets
We're less than three full weeks into the season, and I've already done a complete 180 on Ball. I avoided him in drafts and spent most of the preseason preaching to others that they should do the same. Ball got off to a slow-ish start, but he's been fantastic over the last seven games. In that span, Ball is averaging 16.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.6 steals, while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from 3. He narrowly missed a triple-double in Friday's win over New Orleans, only to achieve the feat 24 hours later in a win over Atlanta (22 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists). Ball's efficiency is just as impressive as his counting stats. He hasn't been remotely close to the drag on FG% that I expected, and he's committed two or fewer turnovers in seven of 10 games thus far.
Sit: Darius Garland, Cavaliers
The Cavs head into a four-game week, but Garland has already been ruled out of Monday's game, and he'll likely sit Tuesday on the second half of the back-to-back. He could return Friday against New York, but it's tough to justify starting Garland based on that possibility -- especially with more than half of the league playing four or five games.
Start: Brandon Clarke, Grizzlies
Clarke got off to a slow start, and he was even dropped in some shallow leagues, but he's looked much better over the past week. He's coming off of a season-high 21 points in Friday's win over the Nets, and he's posted 15.7 points, 6.7 boards, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks over his last three contests. The counting stats are coming around, but his efficiency remains a concern. After shooting 61.8 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from 3 last season, Clarke's numbers currently sit at 45.3 and 28.6 percent.
Sit: Malik Beasley, Timberwolves
Beasley had another strong scoring game Sunday night, finishing with 24 points in the Timberwolves' win over San Antonio. He's been a nice source of points with reasonable efficiency, and he's racked up 13 made 3s over his last three appearances alone. With that said, Beasley should probably be left on the bench in Week 4, as Minnesota is the only team on a two-game week.
Start: Tyrese Maxey, 76ers
If you were lucky enough to pluck Maxey off of the waiver wire, he's worth an immediate start for the COVID-plagued Sixers. The situation in Philly is still very much clouded, but the Sixers will likely be severely shorthanded for part -- if not all -- of a five-game Week 4. So long as Seth Curry and Shake Milton are sidelined, Maxey will have a path to increased minutes. On top of that, Ben Simmons is dealing with a knee issue and will not travel with the team for Monday's game in Atlanta, which falls on the first night of a back-to-back -- one of two back-to-backs for the Sixers this week. Chances are, Simmons probably misses multiple games, meaning Maxey could have a few chances to replicate his 39-points-in-44-minutes performance in Saturday's loss to Denver.
Sit: Ben Simmons, 76ers
On a five-game week, it's not crazy to hope that Simmons' knee issue is nothing serious and he's back in the lineup Tuesday night. He's not a must-sit, unless the Sixers rule him out for multiple games. But as a more conservative Fantasy manager, that's not a risk I'd be excited to take. Given the schedule quirk and COVID situation, Simmons' injury couldn't come at a worse time for the Sixers, but that doesn't mean they'll rush him back and risk something more serious.
Start: Jeff Teague, Celtics
The Celtics have been hit just as hard as Philly in terms of COVID-related absences, as they'll head into the week with essentially half of the roster's status up in the air. What we do know is that Jayson Tatum will not play, while Kemba Walker will miss at least three more games before a potential debut. The status of Marcus Smart will be the key for Teague, but even if Smart is able to play, Teague will likely be thrust into a larger role, by default. I would wait until we (hopefully) get some more clarity from the Celtics before locking Teague into my lineups, but assuming multiple starters are ruled out, Teague makes for a strong streaming option.
Sit: DeMar DeRozan, Spurs
Currently away from the team while tending to a personal matter, DeRozan did not play in Sunday's loss to Minnesota and should be considered very much questionable for Tuesday's game in Oklahoma City. He's coming off of his best game of the season, but the Spurs are on a three-game week that could very easily turn into a two-game week for DeRozan.
Start: Justin Holiday, Pacers
One of the week's most popular waiver wire adds, Holiday is averaging 12.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.5 made 3s over his last six contests. Normally, he'd be pinpointed as a potential regression candidate, but Fantasy managers might as well ride the hot streak as the Pacers head into a rare five-game week. Holiday has multiple made 3s in each of his past four games, shooting a combined 12-of-20 from deep in that span.
Sit: Blake Griffin, Pistons
Griffin had a strong showing in Friday's win over the Suns, but on the whole he has the look of a player whose best days are way behind him. He struggled Sunday against Utah, finishing just 4-of-12 from the field and 1-of-7 from 3 on the way to 10 points in 33 minutes. Griffin has scored 15 or fewer points in five of seven games thus far, and he's already missed three games for rest purposes. With another back-to-back coming up this Friday and Saturday, Griffin is essentially on a two-game week.
Start: Danny Green, 76ers
Green was one of The Philadelphia Seven available for Saturday's game, and while he didn't set the world on fire -- 11 points, five assists, three rebounds, two steals, one block, two 3s -- he turned in a well-rounded effort. Green isn't a long-term add, but with several teammates set to miss time due to the league's health and safety protocols, he should be positioned for at least a few more high-minute outings during the Sixers' five-game week.
Sit: Draymond Green, Warriors
Green's return from injury has brought a renewed energy to the Warriors, but he hasn't done much to appease Fantasy managers. While Green's assist numbers remain strong for a forward, he'd scored just 14 total points through his first five games, while shooting 26.7 percent from the field. To Green's credit, he's coming off of a near-triple-double against Toronto on Sunday night. Nevertheless, entering a three-game week that includes a back-to-back, Green is probably best left on the bench in favor of a four- or five-game player.
Sit: Kristaps Porzingis, Mavericks
While there's a decent chance we'll get our first glimpse of Porzingis on Monday night, his minutes will almost certainly be limited over his first few games back. With four games on the schedule, he can still be started in a pinch, but I'd rather hold off for a week in anticipation of Porzingis being cleared for a full workload. (Quick aside: With multiple Mavs regulars expected to miss time due to COVID-19 protocols, James Johnson is a decent streaming option in deeper leagues. He finished Saturday's game with 12 points, five boards, three assists, two steals and a block in a season-high 26 minutes).