Monday, May 23, 2022

Fantasy Basketball: Week 15 starts and sits, plus position by position breakdowns

Week 15 brings a fairly balanced schedule, as 27 of the league’s 30 teams play three or four games. The trio of two-game schedules helps clarify which top-end options to consider making the tough Sit call on this week.

There’s a particularly thin selection of guards given the combo of four games and lower starting rates in Fantasy lineups this week, which led me to pivot to one three-game player at the position. Otherwise, we have a solid array of four-game selections who are capitalizing on key injuries and boosts in role.

TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz 

TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors

TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Washington Wizards

Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 15:

Guards           

Start: Chris Duarte, Pacers

51% start rate in CBS leagues

Malcolm Brogdon will be shut down for the entirety of Week 15 with his lingering Achilles issue, while Caris LeVert has already missed two games with a troublesome calf and could open the scoring period Monday with a third consecutive absence. Domantas Sabonis (ankle) and Myles Turner (foot) are out for the foreseeable future, and all those factors make Duarte a very appealing streaming candidate.

Duarte already offers the safety of a dependable second-unit role even if LeVert makes it back at some point during the Pacers’ next four games, and he checks in averaging 19.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals across his last four contests, a stretch during which he’s shot a stellar 53.4 percent, including 50.0 percent from distance. 

Start: Patty Mills, Nets 

31% start rate in CBS leagues

Mills has only three games to work with, but he does carry plenty of appeal. Kevin Durant remains sidelined, while Kyrie Irving is slated to miss all three of the Nets’ Week 15 contests, as two are at home and one is in San Francisco, which carries a similar vaccine mandate to that of New York City. Mills is averaging a solid 18.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.0 steal per 36 minutes without his two star teammates, and he enters Week 15 shooting 52.2 percent, including 51.1 percent from behind the arc, over his last six games. 

ALSO CONSIDER: Terence Davis, Kings (10% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Bradley Beal, Wizards

81% start rate in CBS leagues

Beal is one of those stars on a two-game week in Week 15, which automatically dims his outlook. The veteran is having a strong season overall, but he does come into the scoring period with a pair of sub-20-point tallies in his last four contests and a ragged field goal percentage (42.5% FG) over his last seven games. If you’re in a pinch at guard, Beal isn’t the worst player to have to leave in a lineup on a two-game week, but chances are you can find a four-game option with better upside.

Forwards        

Start: Marcus Morris, Clippers

50% start rate in CBS leagues

Morris finished off Week 14 with a clunker, but he has been solid otherwise of late with averages of 18.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists across 31.7 minutes over his previous 12 games. The veteran wing continues to hold down a key scoring role in the ongoing absence of Paul George (elbow), and although he’s struggled with scoring efficiency overall this season, he’s still putting up some of his best numbers in years in multiple categories. The Clippers draw a couple of particularly favorable matchups in Week 15 against the suspect defenses of the Magic and Hornets as part of their four-game schedule, brightening Morris’ prospects further.

Start: Nassir Little, Trail Blazers

13% start rate in CBS leagues

Little has enjoyed a productive January, averaging 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists across 31.6 minutes over his last 11 games while shooting a solid 37.5 percent from 3-point range. The 2019 first-round pick appears to finally be coming into his own, and he continues to produce even with the recent return of CJ McCollum. Damian Lillard’s ongoing absence due to his abdominal injury has naturally given a boost to the numbers of each of the remaining members of the starting five, and Little checks in with averages of 14.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 blocks per 36 minutes with his All-Star teammate off the floor. 

ALSO CONSIDER: Jarred Vanderbilt, Timberwolves (43% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Domantas Sabonis, Pacers

56% start rate in CBS leagues

Sabonis has no guarantee of taking the floor for any of the Pacers’ four games in Week 15, as coach Rick Carlisle indicated his star big man would be out “a few games” after suffering an ankle injury Thursday. Sabonis has already missed two contests with the ankle and would conceivably have a chance of returning toward the latter portion of Week 15. But the risk of a full absence is certainly there and isn’t one worth taking.

Centers       

Start: Goga Bitadze, Pacers

33% start rate in CBS leagues

Bitadze is another member of the Pacers who’s already benefiting from the team’s multiple first-unit absences. In the big man’s case, it’s the injuries to Sabonis and Turner that are impacting him the most, as Bitadze has moved into a starting center role over the last two games and averaged 14.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 block across that pair of contests. Bitadze’s size should continue to afford plenty of rebounding and block opportunities, and although he’s been far from efficient on the offensive end, the elevated workload alone is enough to make him an appealing option as long as Sabonis and Turner are sidelined.

Start: Ivica Zubac, Clippers 

37% start rate in CBS leagues

Zubac has been a fairly frequent streaming suggestion this season with good reason, considering he’s averaging a career-high 9.9 points and 8.2 rebounds while occasionally contributing more on the offensive end in the absences of George and Kawhi Leonard (knee). Zubac enters Week 15 with four consecutive double-digit scoring tallies and a trio of double-doubles in that span, and he just put up a season-high 32 points three games ago against the Nuggets in an overtime thriller. Zubac also posted a three-block game Sunday against the Knicks and is averaging a career-high 1.1 rejections per contest this season.

ALSO CONSIDER: Bismack Biyombo, Suns (10% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit:  Christian Wood, Rockets

65% start rate in CBS leagues 

Just as with last week, Wood is only on a two-game schedule, once again saddling him with a Sit designation. The young big did post strong averages of 16.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steal during his pair of Week 14 contests, but his cumulative production could once again be exceeded by a three- or four-game option this coming scoring period, even if he churns out a similar caliber of numbers. 

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