Fantasy Basketball Week 4 Preview: Tough to trust Ricky Rubio, Jonas Valanciunas this week
The schedule doesn't offer many clues, so how should Fantasy players approach Week 4?
We've been given a balanced Week 4, with no team claiming a five-game week and only one team having two games on the schedule. As a result, most moves will be on the margins, hoping to take advantage of one extra game or some more favorable matchups.
From a waiver wire perspective, you may actually be better off preparing for a wild Week 5, in which the Pistons have a one-game week and the Warriors have a five-game week and with plenty of variation in between.
But let's stick to Week 4 for now:
- Teams with four games: ATL, BOS, DEN, DET, HOU, IND, MIA, MIL, NYK, OKC, ORL
- Teams with three games: BKN, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, GSW, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIN, NOR, PHI, PHO, POR, SAC, TOR, UTA, WAS
- Team with two games: SAS
Consider sitting: Ricky Rubio, UTA
Opponents: TOR, DAL, BOS
Let's put aside Rubio's outburst for 28 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and a steal against Pelicans, who did not have Anthony Davis available. Minus that performance, Rubio is averaging just 5.8 points, 6.3 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 29.3 minutes. It's fair to expect his 31.1 percent field-goal shooting to rise, but he's still just taking 8.7 shots per game (2.0 fewer than last season), which includes the aforementioned outburst. It doesn't help that Rubio will be facing Toronto and Boston this week, two of the league's best defenses.
Consider sitting: Josh Hart, LAL
Opponents: MIN, SAC, ATL
Brandon Ingram has been back for the Lakers' last two games following his four-game suspension, and his return has drastically affected Hart's production. During Ingram's absence, Hart averaged 14.0 points on 10.5 shots across 33.3 minutes. Since Ingram's return, Hart has averaged 4.0 points on 5.5 shots across 20.0 minutes. Hart has firmly supplanted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at this point, and there's a chance he'll get more involved in the offense within the next week, but I'm not sure I'd take the risk.
Consider starting: Kent Bazemore, ATL
Opponents: CHA, NY, DET, LAL
Bazemore's production has varied drastically on a game-to-game basis, but he's scraped together quality averages. In 29.4 minutes per night, he's posting 14.9 points on 47.4 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 threes, 1.5 steals and 1.0 block. He may be able to improve his three-point production, as he's shooting just 32.6 percent from distance, which would be a career low aside from his rookie year. None of the Hawks' Week 4 opponents should scare Fantasy owners away.
Consider starting: Dwyane Wade, MIA
Opponents: DET, SA, IND, WAS
Wade is shooting an unsustainable 44.8 percent from deep, though has been aggressive in taking them, as he's on pace to set a career-high 4.1 attempts per game. Aside from his shots from deep, Wade is playing about as well as last season. He's playing a sixth-man role and averaging 13.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.9 threes per game. While those aren't world-beating numbers, it can be enough to start him on a four-game week against mostly modest competition.
Consider sitting: Rudy Gay, SA
Opponents: MIA, HOU
Gay is in the midst of a resurgent season, seeing 29.3 minutes per game and averaging 14.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 threes while shooting 52.5 percent from the field. While he's playing at a top-100 level this season, it may not be best to start him on a two-game week. If there are no four-game players available to deploy, Gay could probably still be started over some players who are on a three-game week, though.
Consider sitting: Dario Saric, PHI
Opponents: IND, CHA, MEM
Saric is less involved offensively for the 76ers than last season and is shooting poorly, which is, believe it or not, a less-than-ideal combination. He's shooting only 33.0 percent from the field and 24.0 percent from deep, while his field-goal attempts have dropped from 11.4 to 10.4 and his free-throw attempts have dipped from 2.7 to 2.0 per game. Philadelphia's Week 4 opponents are modest and Saric should find his rhythm eventually, but a wait-and-see approach may be safer.
Consider starting: Marcus Morris, BOS
Opponents: DEN, PHO, UTA, POR
As Gordon Hayward continues to be limited to around 25 minutes per night, Morris has helped pick up the slack. While he's shooting an unsustainable 50.0 percent from the field and 51.3 percent from deep, the Celtics being on a four-game week gives Morris plenty of upside, even if this is the week his shooting comes back down to earth. He's averaging 14.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.5 threes and 1.0 steal in just over 25 minutes per game.
Consider starting: P.J. Tucker, HOU
Opponents: IND, OKC, SA, IND
Tucker isn't a high-usage player by any means, but he's seeing 35.7 minutes per game compared to last year's mark of 27.8 minutes. While only scoring 9.0 points per contest, Tucker has been a top-60 value in many formats. He's been effective as a rebounder (5.2), three-point shooter (2.2) and especially as a defender (combined 3.1 steals/blocks). A four-game week means Tucker could end up with 10 steals and 10 threes, which is difficult to find elsewhere.
Consider sitting: Jonas Valanciunas, TOR
Opponents: UTA, SAC, NYK
We know Valanciunas is one of the most productive bigs on a per-minute basis, averaging 26.9 points and 14.3 rebounds per 36 minutes. But he's still only garnering 18.3 minutes per night. That makes him a high-risk option most weeks in which the Raptors aren't playing four games. Still, the lack of depth at the center position might make it difficult to bench Valanciunas for Fantasy owners who don't have multiple top-130 options or an available streaming spot. The matchup with Utah to open the week is a difficult one, but Sacramento and New York are far less concerning opponents.
Consider sitting: LaMarcus Aldridge, SAS
Opponents: MIA, HOU
Aldridge is another tough option to bench, even with two games. He's posting 20.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. However, his shooting percentages are all down from last season. Aldridge is shooting 44.3 percent from the field, 75.0 percent from the free-throw line and is 0-of-4 from beyond the arc compared to last season's 51.0 percent from the field, 83.7 percent from the free-throw line and 27-of-92 from long range (29.3 percent). He'll be facing some tough individual matchups in Week 4, going up against Hassan Whiteside and Clint Capela. If you have the personnel to bench Aldridge, it could pay off.
Consider starting: Alex Len, ATL
Opponents: CHA, NY, DET, LAL
Despite Dewayne Dedmon being re-integrated into the rotation, Len has continued to put up quality numbers. In the five games since Dedmon's return, Len has averaged 10.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 1.0 block on 54.3 percent shooting across 21.6 minutes. He's been especially productive over the past two games, totaling 33 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks, two steals and two assists in 49 minutes.
Consider starting: Mohamed Bamba, ORL
Opponents: CLE, DET, WAS, NYK
Bamba has struggled with consistency thus far, but his potential is clear. In 20.6 minutes per game, he's blocking 2.0 shots and hitting nearly a three per game (0.7). His scoring (5.7) and rebounding (5.4) numbers aren't eye-popping by any means, but he's reached double-digit scoring on one occasion (13 points) and has grabbed seven boards in three contests. If things go right, Bamba could post 25 points, 25 boards, 10 blocks and five threes this week, with blocks being the primary attraction.
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