We're off and running with a new NBA season, and there are already several surprises in the standings on both ends of the spectrum. Fantasy season is kicking into high gear this week with the first full scoring period upon us. Fortunately, we start off with several four-game weeks to work with.
While we're still dealing with very small sample sizes, and there are always some early season stars who ultimately regress, deploying those breakouts in your lineup while they're hot can certainly help kickstart your season.
Without further ado, let's examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 2:
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs
TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Phoenix Suns
Start: Tim Hardaway, Mavericks
40% start rate in CBS leagues
At this point in his career, there's no doubt Hardaway is who he is as a player, so not much should be expected to change from year to year. Nevertheless, it's always been good to ride the streaky veteran wing when he's hot, and he's opened the season in encouraging fashion. Hardaway has shot a blistering 52.0 percent overall, including an even better 52.9 percent from three-point range on 8.5 attempts per game. Again, we're only talking two games, but the 29-year-old has a four-game week ahead of him and a couple of particularly favorable matchups in the form of the Rockets and Kings, making him a consideration if you need an early boost in scoring and threes.
Start: Chris Duarte, Pacers
48% start rate in CBS leagues
Caris LeVert is tentatively slated to miss at least the first four games of the season with a stress fracture in his back, but there's a possibility the team takes a cautious approach with him given his medical history and the nature of the injury. Duarte's play thus far enables them to do just that, considering the rookie has averaged 20.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals while draining 45.8 percent of his 8.0 three-point attempts per contest. The 13th overall pick in 2021 is clocking 39.7 minutes per game over his first three NBA appearances, and even if LeVert comes back at some point during Indiana's four-game Week 2, he'll likely be eased into action.
Sit: Kemba Walker, Knicks
61% start rate in CBS leagues
How a veteran with chronic knee issues like Walker would be managed by a coach like Tom Thibodeau was a major question coming into the season, but thus far Thibs has taken it easy with Walker. Through three games, Walker is averaging just 25.7 minutes per contest on his way to 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Walker has been excellent from three-point range thus far (8-14 3Pt), but he's provided little else for a team flush with guard depth. As the season wears on, Walker could start to look more like his old self, but it's difficult to justify starting him in most leagues on a three-game week.
Start: De'Andre Hunter, Hawks
42% start rate in CBS leagues
The book on Hunter is that he's well equipped for a breakout season if he can just avoid the injury bug, and he's off to a strong start as the Hawks enter a four-game week. The young wing is averaging 11.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 blocks over his first two games, and his scoring is due for a boost once he shakes off some early-season rust. Hunter is coming off of a rough showing against the Cavs on Saturday (12 points, 5-16 FG), but with four games on the schedule in Week 2 he's a good bet to get back on track.
Start: Franz Wagner, Magic
18% start rate in CBS leagues
Wagner has hit the ground running to begin his NBA career, taking the reins of Orlando's starting small forward job and averaging 12.7 points (on 50.0 percent shooting, including 38.5 percent from three), 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals in three games. The rookie eighth overall pick is being given plenty of run on the rebuilding Magic, logging between 32 and 39 minutes in his first three contests. Wagner has scored in double figures in all three games, and he finished Sunday's win over the Knicks with seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. In Friday's game (also against the Knicks), Wagner knocked down four of his five three-point attempts. At least until Chuma Okeke is back from injury, Wagner's workload looks like it'll be sustainable.
Sit: Andrew Wiggins, Warriors
68% start rate in CBS leagues
Wiggins hasn't been poor by any stretch over his first three games, but the combination of a three-game week and a reduced offensive role makes him a candidate for the bench. The veteran wing is averaging 12.7 shot attempts in the early going, a notable decline from the 14.9 per game he put up last season as the starting shooting guard. Jordan Poole has slid into that role for Golden State and is sending up 16 shots per game over the first three contests. When combined with Stephen Curry's outsized role, it leaves the more-passive Wiggins as the third scoring option. His averages of 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists could likely be topped by a four-game option on your roster.
Start: Isaiah Stewart, Pistons
38% start rate in CBS leagues
The big man is off to a reasonably good start with averages of 9.0 points and 10.0 rebounds in his first two games, and he'll have an opportunity to continue growing into his starting role over the Pistons' four-game Week 2. Stewart is undersized at 6-foot-8, but he still averaged 1.3 blocks last season across 68 games and continues to round out his body at just 20 years of age. Stewart has only one block through two games -- he's also yet to record a steal or an assist -- but it's far too early to give up hope on one of the year's most popular breakout candidates.
Start: Precious Achiuwa, Raptors
29% start rate in CBS leagues
Achiuwa was deemed worthy of the 20th overall pick in 2020 by the Heat, and he's getting his first extended opportunity as a pro now that he's in Toronto. The 22-year-old has responded well, averaging 10.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals across 25.7 minutes. Achiuwa has even taken a trio of three-point attempts, and he appears to have a firm grip on the starting center job over Khem Birch and Chris Boucher. With four games on the schedule, and Nurse publicly throwing Boucher under the bus over the weekend, Achiuwa is a viable starting option -- particularly for fantasy managers seeking rebounds.
Sit: Deandre Ayton, Suns
65% start rate in CBS leagues
Ayton is on the only team saddled with a two-game schedule this week, and his production thus far hasn't justified starting him with the disadvantage. The big man is averaging a modest 10.3 points, along with 8.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals across 30.3 minutes through three games. He finished Saturday's blowout loss to Portland with just eight points, three rebounds, one assist and one block in 26 minutes. A serviceable three- or four-game option should offer more upside in Week 2.