Fantasy Basketball Week 5 Preview: Beware of schedule chaos
The schedule is the real x-factor for Fantasy Basketball Week 5.
Week 4 was pretty standard, with 29 of 30 teams playing either three or four games.
By comparison, Week 5 is pure chaos: Detroit has a one-game week, Golden State has a five-game week and four teams have a two-game week. Situations like this provide great opportunities for streaming, which can become more of a necessity as players rack up injuries, but is tougher to pull off when there is less disparity in games played.
Team with five games: GSW
Teams with four games: BKN, CHI, MEM, MIA, MIN, NOR, ORL, PHI, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
Teams with three games: ATL, BOS, DAL, DEN, HOU, LAC, LAL, NY, OKC, PHO, POR, SAC
Teams with two games: CHA, CLE, IND, MIL
Team with one game: DET
Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and especially Reggie Jackson can't be started this week. The amount of production they would need to outpace someone in a four-game week is extremely high and shouldn't be counted on. For instance, even if Andre Drummond collects a 20-point, 20-rebound game, Mo Bamba would only need to average five points and five rebounds over four contests to match Drummond's efforts.
With apologies to Dwane Casey, I'll be focusing on teams with at least two games this week.
Consider Sitting: Kemba Walker, CHA (100 percent owned; 83 percent start)
Opponents: CLE, PHI
Walker has been a top-10 Fantasy player this season, so it's important to note what other options you have on your roster before benching him. Guard is a typically deep position, however, so it's more manageable than attempting to bench an elite center. If Walker plays up to his averages, he should total around 58 points and 12 assists this week. A guard on a four-game week would only need to average 14.5 points and 3.0 assists to match that production.
Consider Starting: D'Angelo Russell, BKN (99 percent owned, 69 percent start)
Opponents: MIN, MIA, WAS, LAC
Russell represents the kind of guard you could deploy over Walker, as he's averaging 15.4 points and 5.1 assists per game. His production can be a little spotty, but things should even out across a four-game week. Two of Russell's matchups are extremely favorable as well. Washington and Miami are allowing the first and second-most Fantasy points to point guards this season.
Consider Sitting: Eric Bledsoe, MIL (100 percent owned, 83 percent start)
Opponents: MEM, CHI
On a Fantasy-point-per-game basis, Memphis and Chicago are above average at defending point guards. That makes Bledsoe a tough play in Week 5, especially considering his inconsistent production. He's scored in single-digits on three occasions and has four games with four or fewer assists. Bledsoe's steals production has also taken a massive dip (0.7 per game) compared to last season (2.0).
Consider Starting: Derrick Rose, MIN (88 percent owned, 42 percent start)
Opponents: BKN, NOR, POR, MEM
Jeff Teague (knee) may be back by the start of Week 5, but Rose has been productive enough throughout the year that I'm not worried about his playing time falling off when Teague is back. Even if we put aside his 50-point game, plus a contest in which he played just five minutes, Rose is averaging 16.9 points, 4.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 30.1 minutes. It wouldn't be surprising to see Rose tally 60 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds this week.
Consider Sitting: Gordon Hayward, BOS (99 percent owned, 71 percent start)
Opponents: CHI, TOR, UTA
Hayward continues to draw starts on Fantasy teams, but he hasn't necessarily been deserving of it. Being limited to around 25 minutes per night hurts his potential impact, and he's outside the top-150 in roto formats. Hayward is averaging 9.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Until we see sustained improvement, Hayward might have to be benched unless he's on a four-game week.
Consider Starting: Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM (84 percent owned, 34 percent start)
Opponents: UTA, MIL, SAC, MIN
Aside from two games where he saw below 20 minutes due to foul trouble, Jackson is averaging 13.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and a combined 3.2 blocks/steals in 27.3 minutes. Though he's only hitting 20.8 percent of his 3s on the season, he's remained aggressive from beyond the arc, averaging 3.8 attempts over the past five games. If he's able to knock some of those down, it would cement his value on a four-game slate even further. Plus, both the Kings and Timberwolves are struggling against power forwards. They allow the fourth and fifth-most Fantasy points, respectively, to the position.
Consider Sitting: Nemanja Bjelica, SAC (92 percent owned, 58 percent start)
Opponents: SAN, MEM, HOU
After averaging 27.2 minutes through the first nine games of the season, Bjelica is averaging just 20.0 minutes over the past two games. I'm anticipating that his workload moving forward will be closer to 20 minutes than 30 minutes, largely due to the return of Bogdan Bogdanovic, which may force Dave Joerger to employ more smaller lineups. And while the Kings got off to a hot start playing veterans like Bjelica and Iman Shumpert, the youth movement may kick in sooner than later. It's tough to predict anything with the Kings, but I'd look for other options if possible at forward.
Consider Starting: Taj Gibson, MIN (56 percent owned, 31 percent start)
Opponents: BKN, NOR, POR, MEM
Gibson continues to be a steady presence at power forward and is a prime candidate to be streamed any time the Timberwolves are on a four-game week. He's seeing 27.3 minutes per game and averaging 11.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and a combined 2.2 steals/blocks. As a result, he should be counted on for about 40 points and 25 rebounds this week, plus some defensive stats thrown in. Gibson has also played well over the past two games, averaging 15.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.0 assists.
Consider Sitting: Domantas Sabonis, IND (93 percent owned, 58 percent start)
Opponents: MIA, ATL
Sabonis has been a top-60 Fantasy player this season, outplaying his teammate Myles Turner. Despite Sabonis' 14.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest, playing him on a two-game week carries risk. His workload can fluctuate based on matchup and he can end up in foul trouble, as he's picked up at least four fouls in three contests, including fouling out against the Knicks. Miami and Atlanta are also around league average in Fantasy points allowed to centers, so he won't gain a massive advantage, in that respect.
Consider Starting: Derrick Favors, UTA (79 percent owned, 34 percent start)
Opponents: MEM, DAL, PHI, BOS
Favors is seeing nearly six fewer minutes per game compared to last season, but he's still productive enough to be worth deploying on a four-game week. In his 22.4 minutes per contest, he's averaging 11.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and a combined 2.3 blocks/steals. It won't be an easy four games, as Dallas is the only team under .500, but Favors benefits from sheer volume.
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