We have a somewhat challenging Week 16 schedule ahead of us, as there are far more teams on three-game weeks than those with a full four-game schedule. Additionally, we have the rare development of four teams playing just two games, narrowing our Start pool further for all practical purposes. Nevertheless, as is often the case at this point in the season, some notable injuries are opening up multiple opportunities for players with lower start rates to flourish.
Each week, we’ll aim to highlight a pair of Start candidates for your fantasy rosters that may shape up as some of the tougher calls of the week to make, with the focus usually being on players with a start or roster rate of 50% or less in Yahoo leagues. We’ll also typically target players with four-game weeks in an attempt to maximize opportunities for production.
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 often on players with fewer game opportunities during the coming week.
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards
TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz
Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 16:
Start: Brandin Podziemski, Warriors
34% start rate
Podziemski is enjoying a solid rookie season that only seems to be getting more impressive as it unfolds. The 19th overall pick has carved out a solid role in the Warriors’ star-laden rotation and enters Week 16 having averaged 12.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting 52.5% over his last eight games. Podziemski could also be in store for even more opportunity in the coming week, considering Andrew Wiggins suffered an ankle injury in the overtime loss to the Hawks on Saturday and is listed as doubtful for Golden State’s first game of the week Monday versus the Nets. Given the lingering nature of lower-body injuries, it’s certainly possible the veteran’s absence extends further into the week, brightening Podziemski’s prospects even further.
Start: Gary Trent, Raptors
33% start rate
Trent does carry the risk of being overly scoring-dependent for his production, but he’s been more active on the glass of late and does carry plenty of upside on a Raptors team that has plenty of opportunity to offer following the flurry of moves the team made in the last couple of months. Trent enters Week 16 with averages of 14.0 points (on 50% shooting, including 51.2% from 3-point range), 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists across his last 13 games overall, but he’s contributed 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals over his last three contests specifically. With the most vulnerable team in the league to 3-point shooting, the Hornets, on his four-game docket this week, Trent merits consideration if you’re running low on full-schedule guard options.
Sit: Bruce Brown, Raptors
54% start rate
Brown has yet to truly settle into his new Raptors digs, and he enters Week 16 having struggled to put up meaningful production of late despite multiple starts. Brown is averaging just 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals in his first eight games in Toronto, scoring in single digits on five occasions during that span. Two of the sub-10-point outings having come in starts, and with the Raps’ starting five now back at full health, Brown is heading into the week back in a bench role. Despite the fact he has a full schedule this week, there’s still the risk of Brown offering up some duds that make the amount of opportunity irrelevant.
Start: Kelly Oubre, 76ers
41% start rate
Oubre is one of several 76ers that’s due for significant bumps in usage due to Joel Embiid’s indefinite absence as a result of his meniscus injury. The veteran wing already checks into Week 16 with a head of steam, having put up 19.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.0 blocks across 34.2 minutes in his last five games. Making his solid scoring figure in that span all the more noteworthy is the fact Oubre has shot 17.4% from 3-point range, a figure that’s bound to go up when considering he came into that sample with a 35.8% success rate from behind the arc for the season. Oubre is still locked into the starting shooting guard role for now with De’Anthony Melton (back) set to miss his 12th straight game Monday, and he may not relinquish it even when the latter is healthy enough to return.
Start: Trey Murphy, Pelicans
32% start rate
Murphy continues to hold down a steady role that has recently included some spot starts, and he heads into Week 16 with averages of 11.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists across 25.5 minutes in his last 11 games. The 2021 first-round pick has seen minutes in the low 20s at minimum during that span, and he could begin the Pelicans’ four-game schedule with at least one more start Monday against the Raptors, considering Herbert Jones is listed as questionable with the adductor injury that’s already cost him the last two games. Zion Williamson holds the same designation for Monday due to his recurring foot issues, meaning there could be plenty of additional usage available for New Orleans to open the week.
60% start rate
Gordon is a victim of a two-game week, and he enters the sparse schedule having generated replaceable production of late on what is a healthy Nuggets starting five. The big man has a trio of single-digit scoring efforts over his last nine games, along with averages of 11.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 blocks in that span. Given his secondary scoring role when Denver is at full strength, there’s a real risk of very modest cumulative contributions from Gordon on a two-game week.
Start: Paul Reed, 76ers
43% start rate
Reed is the most direct beneficiary of Embiid’s aforementioned forthcoming extended absence, as he inherits the starting center role. The fourth-year pro hasn’t always parlayed his starting opportunities this season into big numbers, but there’s a good chance he settles into more of a rhythm within the first unit as a multi-week starter. Reed has shown plenty of upside as well, having posted eight double-digit scoring tallies and a pair of double-doubles this season, including a 30-point, 13-rebound effort against the defending champion Nuggets on Jan. 27. With four games to work with this week and a lot of available usage on Philadelphia’s starting five, he’s a very viable option.
Start: Nick Richards, Hornets
40% start rate
Richards has seen a bit of a downturn in production in a couple of recent games, but he should remain firmly entrenched in the starting role on the Hornets during another four-game week for Charlotte. The big man still enjoyed a serviceable Week 15 despite a pair of modest performances, averaging 8.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per contest. Richards has demonstrated ample ability to contribute double-doubles during his extended starting opportunity, and with Mark Williams (back) still without a firm return timetable, Richards could bounce back with even better scoring and rebounding numbers this week.
Sit: Walker Kessler, Jazz
68% start rate
Kessler has put together some solid performances throughout the season, but he continues to come off the bench behind John Collins at center and has just two games to work with this week. The big man has also scored in single digits in eight of the last 11 games, putting up a very replaceable 7.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists per contest in that span. While he also does have 3.1 blocks per contest in the same sample, that redeeming number isn’t enough to warrant rolling with him on a two-game week, especially when considering his minutes are also prone to fall below 20 for multiple games at a time.