We're afforded another fantasy-friendly schedule in Week 17, as it's top-heavy with four-game ledgers. Injuries also continue to wreak havoc around the league, with the silver lining being that some previously middling fantasy options who languished on waiver wires have suddenly become viable and relevant.
Teams with four games: Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
Without further ado, let's examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for the coming week:
Start: Reggie Jackson, Clippers
12% start rate in CBS leagues
Jackson entered Sunday night's game against his old Pistons squad averaging 16.1 points (on 50.5 percent shooting, including 50.0 percent from distance), 3.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds across his previous nine contests. He then put up a well-balanced line of 10 points, seven assists, five rebounds and one block across 28 minutes against Detroit while shooting 50.0 percent from the floor. With Patrick Beverley slated to be out all week again while recovering from his fractured hand, Jackson is in for a four-game opportunity as the starting point guard. He's capable of offering some solid scoring contributions if he can keep the hot hand that's helped to career bests in both overall field-goal percentage and three-point percentage thus far this season.
Start: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers
4% start rate in CBS leagues
KCP has been one of the bigger recent beneficiaries of the dual absences of LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (calf), as he just put up a season-high 28 points against the Heat two games ago and is averaging 15.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists across 33.2 minutes over his last five contests. The veteran is scalding hot from distance during that span, shooting 56.3 percent from three-point range on 6.4 attempts per contest. While Caldwell-Pope's contributions in non-scoring categories always have a bit of hit-or-miss quality to them, he makes for a viable consideration on a four-game week, especially if you need to boost your three-point category.
Sit: Ben Simmons, 76ers
83% start rate in CBS leagues
Simmons makes a second straight appearance in this space after putting up a modest 11.7 points 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.7 steals across 32.7 minutes over three games this past week. Simmons has another three-game week on tap in Week 17, and the fact he averaged just 7.4 shot attempts per contest last week, despite Joel Embiid missing one of those contests, is concerning enough to keep him on your bench for a similarly talented four-game option.
Start: Josh Jackson, Pistons
27% start rate in CBS leagues
Jackson has drawn eight consecutive starts, and he has averaged 14.7 points (on 47.9 percent shooting, including 58.3 percent from three-point range), 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steal over the six games prior to Sunday night's clash with the Clippers. Jackson then proceeded to go off for 26 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks against Los Angeles, leading Detroit in points and rejections for the night. While Jerami Grant's current three-game absence due to knee soreness has undoubtedly played a role in bumping Jackson's usage up to an extent, he's been solid all season with averages of 12.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists across 24.5 minutes per contest even prior to Sunday's breakout.
Start: Dorian Finney-Smith, DAL
11% start rate in CBS leagues
Finney-Smith is one of those multi-category contributors who flies under the radar on the waiver wire in shallower leagues and often gets forgotten on benches in deeper formats. However, the veteran wing is a solid complementary presence on the Mavericks and has posted double-digit scoring performances in six of the last 12 games while putting up nine points in three other contests during that span. Finney-Smith also averaged 5.9 rebounds and recorded multiple steals in two games during that span, offering a glimpse at his ability to help in multiple areas of the stat sheet. Dallas' offense will naturally continue to roll through Luka Donic and Kristaps Porzingis, but Finney-Smith could offer deep-league teams a boost on a four-game week.
Also consider: Jalen McDaniels, Hornets (10% start rate in CBS leagues)
Sit: Aaron Gordon, Nuggets
67% start rate in CBS leagues
Gordon is another big name who doesn't have the brightest prospects going into the new week. The recent trade acquisition hasn't really done much of note fantasy-wise in Denver since his arrival at the deadline, except for a 24-point effort against his old Magic teammates. Otherwise, he's scored no more than 14 points and has mustered a trio of single-digit tallies during that span, supplementing the mediocre scoring with only 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists. A cold hand from distance has been part of his troubles -- Gordon is shooting just 27.8 percent from three-point range thus far with the Nuggets – and his mediocre numbers can therefore be surpassed by a talented four-game option, or perhaps even a three-game alternative that has demonstrated more consistent output.
Start: Jaxson Hayes, Pelicans
3% start rate in CBS leagues
Hayes has seen his involvement go up a notch in recent games, with the big man posting six consecutive double-digit scoring tallies and averaging 5.5 rebounds over the six games leading into a Sunday contest versus the Cavs when he went for eight points and three boards in just 15 minutes. Hayes had averaged 22.0 minutes per game (two starts) over the aforementioned sample, so Sunday's playing time may ultimately prove to be an outlier of sorts. It's also worth noting Hayes notched a block in five of those six contests and seems to be making some inroads into the playing time of Steven Adams, who's logged no more than 27 minutes in any of his last five contests.
Start: Kelly Olynyk, Rockets
44% start rate in CBS leagues
Olynyk and the Rockets have proven to be a near-perfect match thus far, with the veteran floor spacer averaging 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and just under a steal and a block per game over his first nine games in a Rockets uniform. Olynyk and Christian Wood have been working together in the frontcourt, and the former Heat big man's 39.1 percent success rate from distance since arriving from Miami is serving as an excellent supplement to his overall fantasy production. With Houston needing all the sources of scoring it can muster, Olynyk, who's averaging just under 11 shot attempts per game since the trade, should continue to be heavily involved.
Also consider: Andre Drummond, Lakers (58% start rate in CBS leagues)
Sit: Steven Adams, Pelicans
44% start rate in CBS leagues
Having just alluded to Adams' somewhat reduced profile in the Pelicans' attack, I'm suggesting him as a possible Sit candidate despite the four-game schedule. The big man just went scoreless over 27 minutes against the Cavaliers on Sunday, although he did put up eight rebounds, three assists and a steal. Regardless, Hayes and Willy Hernangomez both seem to have consistent second-unit roles behind him that could be expanding, and Adams has now been held to either single-digit points or scoreless in 12 of the last 14 contests overall. The big man can still bang the boards – he's averaging a solid 8.8 rebounds per game for the season – but even that figure is down to 7.5 per game in the aforementioned sample. He's also averaging under a block per contest for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign.