We head into a big Week 18 in Fantasy Basketball with a lot on the line as the fantasy playoffs begin in a number of leagues. In terms of the schedule, things set up as more balanced between four- and three-game weeks, and we even have one team (the Raptors) with a dreaded two-game week.
Teams with four games: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards
Team with three games: Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz
Team with two games: Toronto Raptors
Without further ado, let's examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for the coming week:
Start: Kevin Huerter, Hawks
34% start rate in CBS leagues
Huerter has been enjoying a successful starting run at small forward during the extended absences of De'Andre Hunter (knee) and Cam Reddish (Achilles), and although the former appears to be getting closer to a return, he'll likely be managed very carefully even if he suits up at some point during the Hawks' upcoming four-game week. Huerter had scored in double digits in his last eight starts heading into Sunday's contest against the Pacers while producing a well-rounded line of 14.8 points (51% FG), 4.1 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 0.9 steals. He then proceeded to put together one of his most complete games of the season Sunday, compiling 23 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block across 40 minutes.
Start: Grayson Allen, Grizzlies
12% start rate in CBS leagues
Allen enters the new week with a 41.7 percent success rate from deep for the season, as well as averages of 15.7 points (on 43.8 percent 3-point shooting), 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists across his last 10 games. The third-year wing has already flashed a 30-point ceiling this season, and although he doesn't offer a great deal in non-scoring categories, he seems to finally have some job security as the starting two-guard. Allen is capable of giving your squad an offensive boost on a four-game week that includes a couple of particularly favorable matchups against the Trail Blazers.
Also consider: Jordan Clarkson, UTA (38% start rate in CBS leagues)
Sit: Dennis Schroder, Lakers
63% start rate in CBS leagues
The Lakers will play only three games in the coming week, making Schroder's potential production replaceable by a four-game option of similar caliber. The veteran guard has been turning in relatively solid numbers during LeBron James' absence, putting up 15.3 points, 7.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds in his last eight contests. However, the scoring numbers are offset by below-average efficiency, as Schroder's 43.2 percent shooting is his second-lowest figure over the last five seasons. Schroder isn't a must sit on a three-game week, but there's a good chance you can find a safer, four-game option.
Start: Trevor Ariza, Heat
3% start rate in CBS leagues
The veteran has hit the ground running in Miami, starting 13 straight games and putting together four consecutive double-digit scoring efforts heading into the new week. Ariza can also contribute across the stat sheet. He has a steal in five of his last seven games while pouring in 2.1 threes per game during that stretch. If Jimmy Butler (ankle) misses any additional time, it would only raise Ariza's ceiling.
Start: Will Barton, Nuggets
43% start rate in CBS leagues
Barton is averaging 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.3 steals per 36 minutes with Jamal Murray (knee) off the floor this season, and he'll have four games to work with this coming week. Barton does start the new week in a modest shooting slump, having gone just 5-for-18 from the field in his last two games. However, the veteran wing boasted averages of 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals across 34.4 minutes in his other 17 post-All-Star-break games. Barton will continue to handle increased offensive responsibility as the Nuggets enter their first full week without Murray.
Also consider: Taurean Prince, Cavaliers (5% start rate in CBS leagues)
Sit: Pascal Siakam, Raptors
82% start rate in CBS leagues
Siakam is one of several Raptors currently embroiled in a bit of a controversy between the team and the league regarding the NBA's rest policy. Siakam has sat out the Raptors' last two games due to rest and an alleged shoulder injury. Healthy or not, with only two games on the schedule, Siakam is too risky to start over a four-game forward.
Start: Brook Lopez, Bucks
34% start rate in CBS leagues
Lopez starts the new week with three consecutive double-digit scoring tallies and averages of 16.3 points (on 56.8 percent shooting, including 42.4 percent from behind the arc), 5.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over his last seven games. Giannis Antetokounmpo's six-game absence played a part in those numbers, but Lopez did post a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double and a 17-point tally in Giannis' first two games back. With four games on the schedule this week, Lopez has a chance to give lineups a boost in scoring, rebounding, blocks and three-pointers.
Start: Isaiah Stewart, Pistons
16% start rate in CBS leagues
Stewart is going to be one of the week's most popular waiver-wire adds. The rookie had been on the radar as the Pistons moved closer and closer to full-on lottery mode. Then, he started in place of Mason Plumlee on Friday against the Thunder and went for 15 points, 21 boards, three assists and two blocks. He followed that up with 19 points and 12 boards in 24 minutes off the bench against the Wizards on Saturday night. The Pistons have already announced Plumlee will be rested again Monday, giving Stewart at least one guaranteed start on a four-game week. The chance that Plumlee is rested again later in the week is more than enough to warrant plugging Stewart into your fantasy lineup.
Sit: Chris Boucher, Raptors
61% start rate in CBS leagues
As is the case with Siakam, the biggest knock against Boucher this week is the two-game schedule. On the court, while the big man has provided some individual eye-popping performances this season, he's also underwhelmed. There's no better example of both scenarios than the last six games -- a sample that began with Boucher's 38-point, 19-rebound double-double on April 8 and was followed by relatively modest averages of 10.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.0 blocks over the ensuing five games. Look elsewhere for sources of scoring, rebounds and blocks this week.