Week 18 is one of the most challenging weeks of the 2018-19 season, with the trade deadline ending the prior Thursday and only one team having more than two games due to the beginning of the All-Star Break. Let's check out how many games each squad will be playing:
- Team with three games: NYK
- Teams with two games: ATL, BKN, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOR, OKC, ORL, PHI, POR, TOR, WAS
- Teams with one game: LAL, PHO, SAC, SAS, UTA
It goes without saying that you should do everything you can to sit almost everybody on a one-game week, except elite players, and the same can be said for trying to get Knicks players in your starting group. So, I'll focus mostly on players affected by trades in recent days. Some of them are long shots, but with waiver wire orders likely flying, it's good to have some contingency plans.
If you're in a league where the Weeks 18 and 19 are combined into one to account for the All-Star break, these suggestions still apply. However, adding and starting riskier guys like Jabari Parker, for example, become bigger gambles, as you can't immediately pull them out of your lineup after two games of damage.
Consider starting: T.J. McConnell, PHI (6% owned, 3% start)
Opponents: BOS, NYK
The 76ers sacrificed depth to get Jimmy Butler earlier in the season and gave up even more to acquiring Tobias Harris. Jonathon Simmons and James Ennis will help fill some minutes, but it's reasonable to think McConnell could see his usage increase as a glue guy -- and only remaining point guard -- on the second unit. Starting him in a 12-team format incurs some risk, but he's been the 141st-ranked player over the past 30 days. So, his floor is relatively high if he doesn't get the increased run that we might hope.
Consider sitting: Donovan Mitchell, UTA (100% owned, 72% start)
The return of Ricky Rubio has thrown Mitchell back into a slump, like the one he was in at the beginning of the season. Over the past two weeks, Mitchell is shooting just 37.6 percent from the field, which has spiraled him down to the 115th-ranked player over that time. With just a one-game week approaching, it's best to avoid the guard.
Consider starting: Luke Kennard, DET (7% owned, 2% start)
Opponents: WAS, BOS
Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson have been traded away, opening a ton of minutes and shots on the wing. It fair to assume Kennard will absorb a share of those, considering he's a former lottery pick and has already drawn nine starts across 35 appearances. The best-case scenario for Kennard would be an uptick to around 30 minutes per night. Under that condition, for his career, he's averaged 18.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists. That kind of production is his absolute ceiling, though, and the addition of Wayne Ellington complicates things. Nonetheless, owners in deeper leagues should take Kennard into consideration
Consider sitting: Andrew Wiggins, MIN (99% owned, 84% start)
Opponents: LAC, HOU
There continue to be moments where it feels like Wiggins may have turned a corner. But it never sticks, and the former No. 1 pick is back to his old tricks. Over the past 14 days, he's shooting an abysmal 35.5 percent from the field and 70.4 percent from the charity stripe. That's tanked his value to the 134th-ranked Fantasy asset over this stretch, despite his raw numbers of 18.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and a combined 2.5 steals/blocks.
Consider starting: Jabari Parker, WAS (72% owned, 24% start)
Opponents: DET, TOR
Parker hasn't exactly been in the favors of his past two coaches, but it's possible Scott Brooks gives him a chance for a Washington team that's 22-32 and headed for the lottery. We know Parker doesn't need much court time to be productive, as he's managed to be a top-120 player in under 18 minutes per game over the past two weeks. The upside could be worth taking a chance on.
Consider sitting: Harrison Barnes, SAC (95% owned, 65% start)
With just a one-game week, there's not much incentive to play Barnes. However, even if he was on a two-game week, I'd be hesitant. He'll be joining an established Kings rotation that's already headed toward the playoffs, and his scoring abilities may not be as needed in Sacramento as they were in Dallas. In general, he's been a fringe starter all season and has slipped outside of the top-200 over the past 30 days, largely due to his 35.5 field-goal percentage over that stretch.
Consider starting: Bobby Portis, WAS (77% owned, 49% start)
Opponents: DET, TOR
The Wizards presumably want to get a quality look at Portis, who is a restricted free agent this summer and has shown 20-and-10 upside at 23 years old. Like Jabari Parker, Portis can also fill up the box score in limited action. He's played a solid 27 minutes per night over the past two weeks, which has resulted in him being the 71st-ranked player on the back of 19.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 assist. At the very least, Portis should absorb all of Ian Mahinmi's workload. At best, he could crack 30 minutes per game between center and power forward, eating into a variety of frontcourt players' roles.
Consider sitting: Pascal Siakam, TOR (98% owned, 77% start)
Opponents: BKN, WAS
Fading Siakam in anything deeper than a 10-team league is like shooting a pull-up 30-footer in transition. You'll look amazing if it pans out, but a miss could land you on the bench. Siakam has ranked around the top-50 or top-60 for most of the year. However, we have yet to see how coach Nick Nurse will handle the addition of Marc Gasol. There's a chance Siakam continues seeing minutes in the low-30s and stays similarly productive. However, there's a worst-case scenario in which Gasol plays 30-plus minutes, Serge Ibaka cuts into Siakam's time at power forward, and Siakam gets lost in the usage shuffle of more-skilled offensive players. The reality will probably land somewhere in between, but the possible hit to Siakam is at least worth mentioning.
Consider starting: Cristiano Felicio, CHI (1% owned, 0% start)
Opponents: MIL, MEM
I can't believe we've reached this point, but I think Felicio may be the Bulls'... starting center? He and Robin Lopez are the final two remaining centers on the roster, and there is a strong chance Lopez ends up in the buyout market. You may not be able to maneuver Felicio onto your roster in a 12-team format, but owners in deep leagues should understand the Bulls' predicament. Felicio has played 30-plus minutes just five times in his four-year career, but he's is averaging a solid 11.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.0 assists under that condition. The potential is at least worth more than 1% ownership.
Consider sitting: Serge Ibaka, TOR (99% owned, 81% start)
Opponents: BKN, WAS
Like Siakam's case, the addition of Marc Gasol could throw a wrench in what we've come to expect from the Raptors' rotation. My money's on Ibaka to be the most adversely affected, and I think there's a greater than 50 percent chance Gasol starts and sees minutes in the high-20s, if not low-30s. And I'm also not sure coach Nick Nurse wants to take away time from Siakam to give Ibaka more run. The whole situation is cloudy right now, and it will eventually be cleared up, but owners with shares of Ibaka should keep a sharp eye on his usage.