Fantasy Basketball: Week 26 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em, schedule analysis
Who can help you in this Fantasy crunch time? Yes, some leagues play until the bitter end.
The final week of the NBA regular season is almost here. Though most Fantasy leagues come to a close before Week 26, some go until the last buzzer sounds. Every team has either one or two games, and here's how it shakes out specifically:
Teams with two games: CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, MEM, MIA, MIN, NYK, OKC, PHI, POR, UTA
Teams with one game: ATL, BKN, BOS, CLE, HOU, IND, LAC, LAL, MIL, NOR, ORL, PHO, SAC, SAS, TOR, WAS
Since it's the last week and many teams, real life and Fantasy, are decimated by injuries and rest, I'll also be including a small wrap-up of each player's season.
Consider starting: Wayne Ellington, DET (13% owned, 4% start)
Ellington spent a large chunk of the season collecting DNPs for the Heat before being traded to the Suns and subsequently waived. He then trekked north to Detroit, where he's averaged 12.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.0 steal in 26.7 minutes. He's played better as of late, racking up at least 20 points in five of the past nine games and drilling 3.8 3s per game over this stretch. Detroit is on a two-game week, which also helps Ellington's case.
Consider sitting: Will Barton, DEN (89% owned, 57% start)
Barton has seen his minutes take a downturn compared to last season, which has ultimately resulted in reduced Fantasy value. While Barton has scored double-digit points in 11 of the past 12 games, he's only contributing 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists over this stretch. Despite the Nuggets having two games in the league's final week, Barton isn't a must-start by any means.
Consider starting: Delon Wright, MEM (30% owned, 20% start)
Wright came over to the Grizzlies in the trade that sent Marc Gasol to the Raptors, where Wright was playing a backup role that often saw him garner fewer than 20 minutes per game. His role has been expanded since joining Memphis, and he's started five of the past eight games. Over this stretch, Wright is averaging 12.3 points, 6.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds and a combined 3.4 steals/blocks. His defensive ability especially makes him an enticing start on a two-game week -- especially with Mike Conley currently banged up.
Consider sitting: Lou Williams, LAC (99% owned, 80% start)
Williams is on track to win the Sixth Man of the Year award yet again, as he's come off the bench to average at least 20 points for the second straight season. With the Clippers securing a playoff spot, however, Williams has played exactly 23 minutes per game across the past 3. That kind of workload limits his upside for Week 26, which was already low considering the Clippers are on a one-game week.
Consider starting: Miles Bridges, CHA (39% owned, 19% start)
Prior to March 19, Bridges was seeing just 19.1 minutes per game. But injuries and poor performance from surrounding players has resulted in coach James Borrego giving the rookie more time.. Across the past nine games, Bridges has leapfrogged Nic Batum in the rotation and is averaging 11.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 31.6 minutes. He's also shooting 50.0 percent from the field over this stretch. Despite scoring only 17 points across the past three games, Bridges on a two-game week is worth exploring as a starter.
Consider sitting: Serge Ibaka, TOR (96% owned, 67% start)
Since the Raptors traded for Marc Gasol, Ibaka has seen just 23.6 minutes per game compared to his mark of 28.7 minutes per game prior to the deal. Ibaka has still been productive on a per-minute basis, but that only gets you say far in Fantasy. His 12.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 assists across the past 20 games are solid, but it's best to explore other options with Toronto on a one-game week.
Consider starting: Jonathan Isaac, ORL (66% owned, 37% start)
Isaac was struggling to find footing until something clicked in February. He improved nearly across the board, and he's been averaging 11.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists and a combined 2.4 blocks/steals since. Though Orlando will play just one contest in Week 26, Isaac's defensive upside might be worth taking advantage of. He has four games with three-plus steals and 14 games of three-plus blocks under his belt.
Consider sitting: Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC (95% owned, 67% start)
Cauley-Stein's role has fluctuated all season, and his workload was especially low when Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles were picking up steam. Things haven't been too encouraging over the past 10 games, as Cauley-Stein is averaging 9.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals in 24.6 minutes. Those are solid numbers, but nothing stands out enough to make him a must-start on a one-game week -- even with Giles shut down for the season.
Consider starting: Mitchell Robinson, NYK (72% owned, 44% start)
Robinson was mostly a Fantasy afterthought until he broke out in early February, averaging 11.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.3 blocks from Feb. 1 through March 3. He subsequently saw his workload dip, tanking most of his Fantasy value. However, coach David Fizdale has played Robinson 30-plus minutes in each of the past four games, and the rookie has responded with 13.5 points, 13.5 boards, 1.0 assist and a combined 4.6 blocks/steals. On a two-game week with DeAndre Jordan effectively shut down, Robinson is essentially a must-start.
Consider sitting: Hassan Whiteside, MIA (97% owned, 70% start)
Whiteside started his first 53 appearances, but coach Erik Spoelstra has shifted over to Bam Adebayo since March 4. The result has been Whiteside seeing just 17.3 minutes per game. He's still managed 10.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in reduced minutes, though even with the Heat on a two-game week, Whiteside's upside is relatively low.
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