We're down to the penultimate week of the regular season and championship week in many Fantasy leagues, making this an especially critical period. We aren't quite as fortunate as last week in terms of five-game schedules, but we still have the Pistons, who are unsurprisingly giving their young players more run and resting veterans down the stretch.
The bulk of the remaining teams have four-game schedules, making for a very strong player pool at the most important time of year.
Team with five games: Detroit Pistons
Teams with four games: Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
Without further ado, let's examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for the coming week:
Start: LaMelo Ball, Hornets
37% start rate in CBS leagues
Ball made a successful return from his extended absence due to his wrist injury Saturday, posting 11 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal over 28 minutes. He followed that up with an even better effort Sunday, supplying 14 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals and one block in 30 minutes. The fact he's jumped right back into a solid workload is certainly encouraging, as is the fact that he was immediately back in the starting five. With four games to work with and the Hornets fighting for playoff positioning, Ball's involvement should only increase this week.
Start: Cole Anthony, Magic
41% start rate in CBS leagues
The Magic have no postseason aspirations, but Anthony is going to continue getting plenty of run over the upcoming four-game week. Fresh off of a game-winning 3-pointer Saturday night, the rookie has averaged 17.1 points, 5.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds while starting the last nine games. He's shooting a stellar 41.5 percent from 3-point range in the process. Just as important is the fact Anthony is averaging 13.3 field-goal attempts per contest during that stretch, a level of usage that should continue leading to strong all-around production.
Also consider: Reggie Bullock, Knicks (19% start rate in CBS leagues); Killian Hayes, Pistons (8% start rate in CBS leagues)
Sit: Kemba Walker, Celtics
64% start rate in CBS leagues
Walker missed his fourth straight game Sunday against the Blazers due to his oblique injury, and although the Celtics don't play again until Wednesday, it remains to be seen if Walker will be ready to suit up or if Boston will continue taking a more cautious approach with its starting point guard. Brad Stevens' squad only has three games on the schedule to begin with, which makes Walker an unnecessarily risky start on such an important week.
Start: Saddiq Bey, Pistons
35% start rate in CBS leagues
Bey has enjoyed a strong rookie season in his own right, and he also is finishing off the Pistons' non-contending season with plenty of momentum. Bey most recently lit up the Hornets for 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, and he's averaged 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals over his last 14 games while draining 39.1 percent of his shots from deep. The young wing has also stepped up his role in the offense, averaging 12.8 shot attempts over the last eight games while avoiding being rested alongside some of Detroit's other regulars.
Start: Thaddeus Young, Bulls
47% start rate in CBS leagues
Young has enjoyed a strong second campaign in Chicago, seeing significant improvement over last season in several categories. The veteran is prone to an occasional clunker, but he's been highly reliable for the most part and is averaging 12.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists across the last 21 games, despite averaging a modest 22.8 minutes per contest in that span. Young has also been making much more of a defensive impact of late, recording multiple steals in four of the last eight games and one apiece in another two contests during that span.
Sit: OG Anunoby, Raptors
67% start rate in CBS leagues
Similar to Walker, Anunoby is also nursing an injury as the new scoring period starts. The versatile wing is managing a calf injury, and although his absence from Sunday's game against the Lakers has been framed as an injury management day, Toronto only has three games to work with this coming week. If Anunoby suffers a setback or, more likely, is given another day off, he could make for a disappointing Fantasy option.
Start: Isaiah Stewart, Pistons
33% start rate in CBS leagues
Stewart has seen a significant role expansion during the second half of the season, and with Mason Plumlee being afforded frequent rest days in recent weeks, the rookie makes for a viable start on a five-game schedule. Stewart should see at least two starts during that span, especially since there are two back-to-back sets for Detroit. Stewart has logged seven starts over the last 15 games, averaging 11.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 1.9 blocks in those games.
Start: Moses Brown, Thunder
29% start rate in CBS leagues
Brown continues his starting run at center as the season winds down for the Thunder, and although he's had some unusual stat lines of late, he's still produced six double-digit scoring efforts, three double-doubles and one additional double-digit rebounding tally over the last 11 games. Granted, the rookie also has two scoreless outings in that sample, so his night-to-night floor is lower than you'd prefer. This week, Brown and the Thunder get two cracks apiece at the vulnerable frontcourt defenses of the Warriors and Kings.
Sit: Kristaps Porzingis, Mavericks
77% start rate in CBS leagues
This is one of the toughest calls of the week. However, Porzingis is heading into Monday having missed five of the last six games due to ongoing knee soreness. Even with the Mavs battling for playoff positioning, there's an extremely good chance Porzingis misses more time during a four-game week that includes a back-to-back set. Moreover, Porzingis has offered solid-but-far-from-irreplaceable production over the last four games he has suited up for, averaging 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal across 30 minutes. While he's capable of putting up a monster stat line nearly any night, Porzingis hasn't looked like himself of late (zero blocks in five of last six games), so the considerable risk simply isn't worth the reward.