Fantasy Basketball Week 16 Start' Em & Sit 'Em and schedule analysis
A widely varied schedule makes even Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum nearly unusable for Week 16
There is plenty of variation in the Week 16 schedule, giving Fantasy owners leeway to stream players and bench potential All-Stars. On the extremes, nine teams have a four-game week, while five teams have two games and the Trail Blazers have just one matchup.
Teams with four games: ATL, BKN, BOS, CHA, DEN, IND, LAC, MEM, NY
Teams with three games: CHI, DAL, DET, GS, HOU, LAL, MIA, MIL, NOR, OKC, ORL, PHI, SAS, UTA, WAS
Teams with two games: CLE, MIN, PHO, SAC, TOR
Teams with one game: POR
Consider starting: Kevin Huerter, ATL (65% owned, 33% start)
Opponents: LAC, SAC, UTA, PHO
Huerter has missed the past two games with a neck injury, but there's nothing to indicate he won't be back by the beginning of Week 16. Assuming he's cleared, the rookie sharpshooter is certainly startable on a four-game week. Since Dec. 31, Huerter is averaging 15.9 points, 3.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 2.9 threes and 1.0 steal across 37.8 minutes. He's only played four games over the past two weeks, but he's been the 26th-ranked player over the time by average production.
Consider sitting: Damian Lillard (100% owned, 87% start) and C.J. McCollum (99% owned, 80% start), POR
Lillard and McCollum are obviously premier talents, but a one-game week makes them close to must-bench Fantasy players. Consider that a guard on a four-game week would need to average just 6.6 points, 1.6 assists and 1.1 rebounds to match Lillard's expected production. As an aside, we should acknowledge that Lillard is ranked inside the top-20 over the past month, while McCollum has ranked about 100th overall over that span.
Consider starting: Tyreke Evans, IND (62% owned, 22% start)
Opponents: GS, WAS, ORL, MIA
Victor Oladipo suffered a ruptured quad tendon Wednesday night, knocking him out for the remainder of the season. As a result, Evans is expected to step in at shooting guard, and he should carry a significant share of the ball handling duties. Evans was relatively underwhelming in previous starts -- he's been a disappointment this season, as a whole -- but he's played better since having fluid drained from his knee. Over the past seven games, Evans needed just 19.9 minutes to average 14.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Consider sitting: Jeff Teague, MIN (96% owned, 59% start)
Opponents: MEM, DEN
Teague is dealing with a foot injury, but even if he's cleared to play for Week 16, avoiding him would probably be for the best. Over the past 14 days, Teague has ranked 149th, shooting just 41.0 percent from the field and failing to crack 10.0 points per game. Banking on him bouncing back for a two-game week is extremely risky in anything other than deep formats.
Consider starting: P.J. Tucker, HOU (43% owned, 27% start)
Opponents: NO, DEN, UTA
Tucker has been on a defensive mission lately. He's combining for 3.3 steals/blocks per contest over the past two weeks, which has essentially vaulted him into the top 60 despite modest averages of 8.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in just over 35 minutes. The return of Chris Paul shouldn't affect Tucker's production significantly enough to worry about.
Consider sitting: Al-Farouq Aminu, POR (72% owned, 50% start)
Aminu is worth starting on three or four-game weeks, as he's ranked inside the top 100 over the past 30 days. However, with just one game on the docket, Fantasy owners should look elsewhere. There's no concern about his role moving forward, and he's essentially a must-own in 14-team formats.
Consider starting: Nicolas Batum, CHA (75% owned, 37% start)
Opponents: NY, BOS, MEM, CHI
On the whole, it's been a subpar season for the veteran who ranks just inside the top 110 and is at risk of failing to crack 10.0 points per game for the first time since 2014-15. He's also averaging his fewest assists (3.4 APG) since 2011-12. However, Batum has managed to produce enough to climb inside the top 70 over the past two weeks, fueled by a 52.4 field-goal percentage. On a four-game week, it makes sense to deploy Batum because he could end up with upwards of 40 points, 20 rebounds and 15 assists.
Consider sitting: Larry Nance Jr., CLE (74% owned, 11% start)
Opponents: WAS, DAL
Normally I aim for players who were started in 50 percent of leagues the previous week. But Nance is coming off an injury, so his start rate is artificially deflated. Fantasy owners will welcome Nance back with open arms, considering the big man has been the 75th-ranked player on the season. With that said, it's possible his minutes will be limited, so be sure to note how he's used over the next two games -- Friday vs. Miami and Sunday vs. Chicago -- before making a final call. On a two-game week, Nance carries some inherent risk.
Consider starting: Dewayne Dedmon, ATL (57% owned, 29% start)
Opponents: LAC, SAC, UTA, PHO
Dedmon has snuck into the top 50 over the past month, so it's surprising his ownership rate remains so low. During this stretch, he's averaging 13.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 threes and a combined 1.4 blocks/steals in just over 27 minutes. Not only should he be owned in almost every format, but the center is worth starting in 10-team formats on a four-game week.
Consider sitting: Jusuf Nurkic, POR (100% owned, 84% start)
Like all other Blazers, you're almost forced to sit Nurkic on a one-game week in all but the deepest formats. Instead of going into detail about that math, I'll use this space to note that Nurkic is ranked as the 20th-most-valuable Fantasy asset over the past 30 days. That's a far cry from where some had him projected for the year -- around 100 overall -- and he was a popular pick beyond the sixth round in many drafts. There's not much reason to expect significant regression from Nurkic going forward, but he can't be started in Week 16.
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