We go from a pretty ideal schedule in Week 16 to one overflowing with three-game teams in Week 17. Fortunately, there are still some appealing options that have full schedules, and with trade winds already starting to have an impact and the deadline looming Thursday, some opportunities specific to those developments are presenting themselves.
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 more challenging calls of the week to make, with the focus generally being on players with a start rate (when available) or roster rate of 50% or less in Yahoo leagues.
Likewise, we’ll also spotlight one Sit candidate at each position that would typically 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: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards
TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: New Orleans Pelicans
Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 17:
Start: Cam Thomas, Nets
51% roster rate
Thomas will undoubtedly be a hot commodity coming into Week 17, both for his jaw-dropping 44-point performance against the Wizards on Saturday and the fact Kyrie Irving is now in Dallas. Spencer Dinwiddie is expected to take over starting point guard duties in short order. Yet, Thomas is projected to draw another spot start Monday at minimum as Brooklyn hosts the Clippers. The second-year guard could also find himself on the first unit again, or at least with a sizable role, in Tuesday’s second leg of the back-to-back set against the Suns. It’s worth noting that Thomas had also posted 19 and 21 points in the two games before his breakout while coming off the bench. Given his ceiling and the potential for plenty of minutes overall as Dinwiddie gets acclimated, he’s worthy of starting consideration.
Start: Mike Conley, Jazz
53% start rate
Conley never sported start rates as low as he currently does in seasons past, but the veteran has unsurprisingly begun taking more of a back seat offensively as he’s gotten older, and Utah has surrounded him with a host of playmakers. However, while the 35-year-old may be taking just 8.7 shots per contest, he’s still produced double-digit scoring efforts in seven of his last 10 games while offering plenty of meaningful production in assists and steals. Conley is averaging a career-high 7.6 dimes per contest for the season, and he’s remaining aggressive with 5.0 three-point attempts per game, which he’s draining at an acceptable 36.4% clip. With four opportunities to take the floor this week, the 16-year pro could still shore up several categories for you.
ALSO CONSIDER: Malik Monk, Kings (39% start rate)
Sit: Brandon Ingram, Pelicans
55% start rate
Ingram primarily earns this designation due to his two-game week, but there are still injury concerns surrounding his troublesome toe. The 25-year-old sat out Sunday’s game against the Kings with left big toe soreness, and while New Orleans doesn’t retake the floor until Tuesday against Atlanta, the Pelicans may play it safe with their valuable star for another game. There’s also the chance Ingram takes the floor for both Week 17 contests at less than 100%, but even if he does play at his usual level, a four-game option of similar caliber is almost certainly going to outpace him this week.
Start: Keita Bates-Diop, Spurs
4% roster rate
Bates-Diop isn’t exactly a household name, but the fifth-year pro enters Week 17 amidst a six-game starting run, averaging a solid 10.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals across 28.5 minutes. Jeremy Sochan has already been ruled out for Monday’s game against the Bulls due to a back injury. Bates-Diop, who’s been starting alongside Sochan, should have plenty of role security for San Antonio’s four-game week. With the team’s defensive play often leading to high-scoring shootouts, Bates-Diop is an attractive option that should be available on many waiver wires if you need a solid four-game fill-in at forward.
Start: Isaiah Stewart, Pistons
37% start rate
Keep an eye on Stewart’s status ahead of Monday night’s tip-off against the Celtics, as the big man does carry a questionable tag due to a hip injury. If he’s deemed available, he’s certainly worth a look on a four-game week for the Pistons after averaging 10.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists over his last 10 games — a stretch where he’s posted five double-digit scoring efforts and three double-digit rebound tallies. Stewart is averaging a career-high 11.3 points per contest for the season and has proven serviceable in his first serious foray into spacing the floor, draining multiple threes in 19 of 43 games.
ALSO CONSIDER: Tim Hardaway, Mavericks (44% roster rate); Deni Avdija, Wizards (45% start rate)
Sit: Kyle Kuzma, Wizards
65% start rate
Kuzma would have three chances to take the floor this week, but that number is already down to two since he’ll sit out Monday’s game against the Cavaliers with the ankle issue that forced his early exit from Saturday’s contest versus the Nets. There’s certainly a chance of at least one more absence Wednesday versus Charlotte, given how ankle sprains can often linger. Kuzma was also amidst a recent scoring downturn, with 16 points or fewer in his last three non-injury-shortened games.
Start: Zach Collins, Spurs
16% start rate
Collins continues to offer solid contributions off the bench behind Jakob Poeltl, churning out averages of 10.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 53.0% shooting since New Year’s Eve, a span of 18 games. The veteran big man is averaging a serviceable 20.3 minutes per contest in that sample while posting 10 double-digit scoring tallies. Collins will have a four-game platform to continue producing this coming week. Additionally, with the trade deadline looming Thursday, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Poeltl to be moved elsewhere, which would likely result in Collins sliding into the top spot at center.
Start: Jalen Duren, Pistons
58% start rate
Duren and Stewart have made for a nice 1-2 punch down low for Detroit, with the rookie averaging 8.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists across 24.8 minutes this season, and even better figures of 10.6 points, 9.3 boards, 1.5 dimes and 1.0 block over his last 15 contests. Foul trouble has been an occasional issue – such as Saturday against the Suns – but the 19-year-old is doing a nice job overall in that department with an acceptable 2.7 whistles per game against him. With a full schedule on his docket, Duren could produce a double-double or two and offer you meaningful numbers in multiple categories.
ALSO CONSIDER: Isaiah Hartenstein, Knicks (39% roster rate)
Sit: Jonas Valanciunas, Pelicans
67% start rate
Valanciunas is not only dealing with a two-game schedule this week, but he’s also working through the quadriceps injury that forced his exit from Saturday’s win over the Lakers and already cost him Sunday’s game against the Kings. Valanciunas’ MRI did come back clean, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to sit out at least one more game. That risk is naturally one that can be avoided this week as long as you have even a similarly talented three-game option, not to mention a four-game player.
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.