We’re in the heart of the fantasy postseason and fortunate to have a favorable schedule that helps enhance the player pool of viable starting candidates. Most teams are on four-game weeks, and there are no teams saddled with two-game schedules, while there are still plenty of clubs fighting for postseason spots. Additionally, even non-contending teams can be a good source of options when they have full schedules, considering many give their young players plenty of run as the season winds down.
Each week, we’ll aim to highlight a pair of Start candidates for your Fantasy rosters – usually from teams with four games — that may shape up as some of the tougher calls of the week to make, with the focus typically being on players with a start rate (when available) or roster rate of 50% or less in Yahoo leagues.
Likewise, we’ll spotlight one Sit candidate at each position that would normally not be a consideration for a spot on your bench, with the focus there often on players with fewer game opportunities during the coming week.
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards
Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 23:
Start: Shaedon Sharpe, Trail Blazers
41% start rate
Sharpe not only comes into Week 23 running hot, but he could be locked into a starting role the rest of the way, with Damian Lillard likely getting shut down. Sharpe is averaging 25.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals over the last three games, all starts. The rookie has demonstrated some impressive efficiency as well, with 51.9 percent shooting, including 47.8 percent from three-point range, in that span. Given the opportunity in front of him, he’s an excellent starting option on a four-game week.
Start: Killian Hayes, Pistons
48% roster rate
Hayes is the first of three Pistons spotlighted this week. The third-year guard checks in averaging 13.9 points, 8.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals across his last seven games. Shooting efficiency is always a concern, but he projects for heavy minutes during this season’s penultimate week. He is also an elite source of steals, having recorded multiple swipes on 29 occasions. With a four-game week on his plate and coach Dwane Casey giving Hayes plenty of run, the point guard is a strong starting consideration.
ALSO CONSIDER: Bones Hyland, Clippers (20% start rate); Immanuel Quickley, Knicks (40% start rate)
Sit: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
81% start rate
As alluded to in Sharpe’s entry, Lillard is almost certainly looking at a shutdown. There’s no reason for Portland to force more minutes from its best player, especially considering the number of injuries he’s dealt with over the last two seasons. The Blazers are all but eliminated from Play-In contention, so don’t take the risk with Lillard at such a critical time of the fantasy season.
Start: Marvin Bagley, Pistons
29% start rate
Bagley has returned strong from a recent three-game absence due to an ankle injury, averaging 19.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks across 33.7 minutes over his first three games back. The 2018 second-overall pick has enjoyed a solid season while shooting a career-best 53.7 percent. He’s mostly a points and rebounds option in fantasy, but that’s fine when there are four games to work with.
Start: Kevin Huerter, Kings
48% start rate
Huerter is prone to the occasional clunker, but those are becoming fewer and farther between in his fifth season. The 2018 first-round pick of the Hawks is averaging a career-high 15.4 points on career-best figures of 48.8 percent shooting from the field and 40.7 percent from three. He also checks into the new scoring period with a blistering hot hand, having averaged 28.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals across his last pair of contests. With Sacramento looking to head into the postseason with as much momentum as possible and an opportunity to still get into the No. 2 seed, Huerter should be firing away plenty during the upcoming four-game week.
ALSO CONSIDER: Kenyon Martin Jr., Rockets (46% start rate)
Sit: Devin Vassell, Spurs
55% start rate
The combination of Vassell’s fragile health and the Spurs’ three-game week makes him a risky option. The talented but oft-injured 22-year-old has played in just 10 games since Dec. 29 due to knee issues and rest. Vassell could be handled with care again this week, and although he offers enticing upside, there’s risk for at least one absence.
Start: James Wiseman, Pistons
38% start rate
Wiseman’s career reset in Detroit has been a rousing success, with the 2020 second-overall pick of the Warriors averaging 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds across his first 16 games in Motown. The big man has been even more productive of late – 15.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.0 blocks across his last nine contests – and like his previously highlighted teammates Hayes and Bagley, he should remain in a high-volume role during the upcoming four-game ledger.
Start: Kelly Olynyk, Jazz
50% start rate
Olynyk has center eligibility in Yahoo leagues even though he’s operating primarily out of the power forward spot these days, and he’ll enter Utah’s key four-game week with no shortage of momentum. The versatile veteran is enjoying an outstanding March, averaging 13.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 51.1 percent across 11 games. Olynyk impressively has five double-doubles in that span and has even come within striking distance of a triple-double on a couple of occasions. Given his ability to stretch the floor and his hot hand, Olynyk could make for a rewarding start as Utah tries to push its way into the play-in level in the Western Conference.
ALSO CONSIDER: Xavier Tillman, Grizzlies (28% roster rate)
Sit: Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers
59% start rate
Like Lillard, Nurkic is a Trail Blazers veteran with an extensive injury history that enters the week dealing with a knee issue. The big man has already missed the last two games and 15 overall since Feb. 3, and it seems almost inevitable, given the team’s circumstances, that Nurkic doesn’t get on the floor for all four games this week, if he suits up at all.
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.