We're teed up for a Week 9 scoring period that has a majority of teams on four-game weeks, although two of those – the Raptors and Pistons – have been knocked down to three games in the wake of a pair of COVID-related postponements.
Both of those postponements center around the Chicago Bulls, who as of Monday have 10 players in the league's health and safety protocols. Their games Tuesday (vs. Detroit) and Thursday (vs. Toronto) have been wiped out, leaving Chicago with just one game (Sunday vs. LA Lakers) on its schedule. It goes without saying that all Bulls players should be pulled from fantasy lineups in weekly leagues.
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz
TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Oklahoma City Thunder
TEAMS WITH ONE GAME: Chicago Bulls
Without further ado, let's examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 9:
Start: Tyus Jones, Grizzlies
43% start rate in CBS leagues
Jones was already included in our Also Consider section last week, and he's proven worthy of an even more prominent profile in Week 9 after another productive stretch. The veteran point guard is slated to continue running with the first unit indefinitely while Ja Morant (knee) remains sidelined, and he's coming into Week 9 having averaged a well-rounded 11.7 points, 7.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals across 31.8 minutes over his last six games. Jones is taking just under 10 shots per game as well and sets up to make solid contributions again during a second straight four-game week for Memphis, one that features a trio of particularly favorable matchups against the Trail Blazers (twice) and the Kings.
Start: Garrison Mathews
25% start rate in CBS leagues
Mathews is still listed as a shooting guard for Fantasy purposes but appears to have shifted into a starting small forward role for the Rockets. He checks into the new week with averages of 17.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals on 48.8 percent shooting, including 43.8 percent from three-point range, over his current eight-game starting stint. With both Kevin Porter (thigh) and Jalen Green (hamstring) still without return dates, his usage should remain elevated.
Sit: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder
72% start rate in CBS leagues
Gilgeous-Alexander is still the clear offensive linchpin for the Thunder, but the Thunder's two-game schedule makes him a prime candidate for a one-week stay on the bench. The fourth-year guard's efficiency is also way down this season, as he's shooting a career-worst 41.0 percent, including 29.5 percent from three-point range. SGA does have a couple of 30-point efforts in his last four games, but he'll head into his light schedule averaging just 14.5 points (on 40.7 percent shooting) over his last pair of contests.
Start: Eric Gordon, Rockets
30% start rate in CBS leagues
The improving Rockets are heavily represented this week, as start rates are still modest on several players who are offering solid production. The reliable Gordon certainly qualifies, as he averaged 17.6 points (on 51.1% FG, including 46.5% 3PT), 4.4 assists and 1.1 rebounds over the seven games prior to a one-game absence due to groin tightness Saturday. Gordon is off the injury report for Monday's game versus the Hawks, and both his four-game week and some of the best shooting efficiency of his career make him a highly appealing streaming candidate.
Start: Cameron Johnson, Suns
16% start rate in CBS leagues
Johnson is still slotting into a second-unit role, but he's picked up steam as the season has gone on and is in the midst of a particularly strong stretch of play. The athletic big is averaging 13.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists on 49.0 percent shooting, including 46.9 percent from three-point range, over his last 11 games. Just as encouraging is the fact he's logging 25.9 minutes per contest during that span, a level of opportunity that should result in another productive multi-category week if it persists in Phoenix's upcoming four-game Week 9 schedule. The fact Devin Booker could still miss at least a couple of more games with his hamstring injury could indirectly benefit Johnson in the form of some extra offensive responsibility. Johnson has put up 10.5 shot attempts per game during Booker's four-game absence, compared to 8.0 per contest on the season.
ALSO CONSIDER: Pat Connaughton, Bucks (41% start rate in CBS leagues); Larry Nance, Trail Blazers (13% start rate in CBS leagues)
Sit: Julius Randle, Knicks
90% start rate in CBS leagues
Randle is rarely a good bench candidate, but you might contemplate sidelining him during his upcoming three-game Week 9 schedule. The big man has cooled off after a hot start to the season that saw him post four 30-point efforts in his first 11 games, as he's accomplished the feat only twice in the subsequent 16 contests while averaging a solid-but-replaceable 16.8 points on just 42.0 percent shooting. Randle is averaging 9.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists over that span, yet there's no getting around the fact he's putting up five fewer points per game than last season and currently holds his lowest field goal percentage (42.6) since his rookie 2014-15 campaign.
Start: Alperen Sengun, Rockets
26% start rate in CBS leagues
Sengun keeps our Rockets train going, and the rookie has earned his spot with averages of 11.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 block across 17.8 minutes over the last five games. While his bench role does up the chances of some volatility in his production, it's worth noting Sengun has posted double-digit scoring tallies in just over half his games (13 of 25) and has pulled down at least five rebounds in 12 contests as well, giving him a relatively solid floor. Additionally, he's averaging 1.1 steals per game for the season, a nice complement to his contributions on the scoreboard and the glass.
ALSO CONSIDER: Hassan Whiteside, Jazz (8% start rate in CBS leagues)
Sit: Jakob Poeltl, Spurs
62% start rate in CBS leagues
Poeltl is enjoying a career season across the board, but he's posted four single-digit scoring efforts in his first 11 contests back from a seven-game stay in health and safety protocols. The big man does continue to serve as a reliable source of rebounds and blocks, yet it's worth considering what role fatigue could play in his upcoming three-game week. San Antonio has played six games in the previous nine nights heading into Week 9. A two-day break to open the new scoring period will help some, but Poeltl will then be back on the floor for three more games in a five-day span. Most managers can probably find a more suitable four-game option.