We have a highly appealing schedule for fantasy purposes in Week 16, as there are a pair of rare five-game weeks on tap and just eight teams with three-game schedules.
There are rising fantasy stars across the league, with a combination of injuries and successful acclimations to new teams following the trade deadline affording plenty of options at each position.
This is also the time of year when non-contending teams begin to give young players more run, which can produce strong streaming alternatives down the stretch of the fantasy season.
Teams with five games: Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors
Teams with four games: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
Team with three games: Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings
Without further ado, let's examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for the coming week:
Start: Theo Maledon, Thunder
23% start rate in CBS leagues
Maledon finished the week with a 1-for-12 dud from the field against the Trail Blazers on Saturday, but he only played 22 minutes in a blowout loss. However, the rookie averaged an impressive 15.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 39.6 percent from three-point range over his previous seven games. Offensive efficiency is admittedly a significant issue for the 19-year-old at this point, but as the primary ball handler for OKC ,and with a seemingly locked-in starting role with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot) out indefinitely, Maledon's well-balanced contributions and volume could still make him a valuable multi-category asset on a four-game week.
Start: Gary Trent, TOR
36% start rate in CBS leagues
Trent is one of those beneficiaries of a five-game week, and he seems to have hit his stride in Toronto. The 22-year-old scuffled with his shot during his first two games with the Raptors, but he's averaging 23.3 points – on 51.0 percent shooting, including 55.6 percent from three – along with 3.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals across 34.7 minutes in the last three contests. Trent appears locked into the starting small forward role, and with Kyle Lowry potentially missing the week due to his foot injury, Trent should continue to enjoy elevated usage. Trent will mainly be an asset in the scoring column, but it's also worth noting he's recorded multiple steals in two of his last three games entering the new week.
Sit: Ben Simmons, 76ers
92% start rate in CBS leagues
Simmons has a three-game week coming up and hasn't exactly been offering irreplaceable production recently. He was averaging just 10.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.6 steals across 29.6 minutes over the five games prior to Sunday's loss to the Grizzlies, when he was even quieter with seven points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block across 26 minutes. Simmons put up just six shots in the contest despite Joel Embiid's absence, and he's taking a career-low 10.8 attempts per game this season. Simmons' assists and steals are also down compared to last season. It's not often that there's an argument to sit Simmons, but in deeper formats it's worth considering.
Start: Miles Bridges, Hornets
35% start rate in CBS leagues
Bridges is another player set to benefit from a teammate's injury, only in his case he's even more directly impacted. Gordon Hayward's foot sprain is expected to keep him out approximately four weeks, which means Bridges will be holding down starting small forward duties for the time being. The third-year pro turned in a 23-point, 10-rebound double-double over 31 minutes Friday in the game Hayward suffered his injury, and although Bridges shot just 3-for-9 in a loss to the Celtics on Sunday, he came into the contest boasting a career-best 49.9 percent success rate from the floor. Bridges has the ability to make viable contributions in defensive categories as well – he's recorded a combined three steals and five blocks over the three games prior to Sunday – and he's averaging 13.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 block per 36 minutes without Hayward on the floor this season.
Start: Kevin Love, Cavaliers
21% start rate in CBS leagues
In seasons past, deploying Love in your starting lineup was a no-brainer, but thanks to a host of injuries, he's no longer an automatic proposition like he once was. However, this coming week appears to set up well for the multi-time All-Star, as Jarrett Allen remains in concussion protocol for the moment and Love is therefore handling starting center duties. Love just returned from a calf injury in his own right, but he's averaged 11.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists across 21.5 minutes in his first two games back. His playing time should continue bumping up over the upcoming four-game week, and even if Allen does return at some point during that time, Love projects to shift over to his customary power forward role and remain in the starting five.
Also consider: Jaden McDaniels, MIN (14% start rate in CBS leagues)
Sit: Harrison Barnes, Kings
67% start rate in CBS leagues
Barnes has been all over the place with his production recently, posting single-digit scoring tallies in five of his last eight games while shooting a pedestrian 43.7 percent over that span. He also contributed a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double and 26-point effort in that sample, so while he definitely can offer you some nice upside on any given night, he's a risk with only three games to work with this week. Another red flag for Barnes this season is his reduced usage – his 10.8 shot attempts per game are his lowest since his days with the Warriors back in 2015-16 .
Start: Wendell Carter, Magic
45% start rate in CBS leagues
I'm making an exception at a position that can be a bit thin for fantasy purposes and recommending a three-game-week player in Carter, who appears to be finding his way nicely in Orlando. The 2018 seventh overall pick averaged 14.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks across 25.8 minutes in his first four games with the Magic before generating 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block across 35 minutes in a tough positional matchup versus the Nuggets on Sunday night. Carter's recent multi-category contributions and rapid acclimation to his change of scenery therefore put him firmly in play, even over some four-game options that haven't demonstrated an ability to offer similarly well-rounded lines.
Start: Chris Boucher, Raptors
45% start rate in CBS leagues
Boucher has primarily been coming off the bench in recent games and generally running ahead of Aron Baynes in the rotation, although he did draw a start versus the Warriors on Friday. In that game, he produced a well-rounded line of 10 points, six rebounds, two assists, four steals and two blocks across 25 minutes. Boucher has been productive coming off the bench, as well, averaging 14.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks across 22.9 minutes in the 14 games prior. With five games to work with this week, Boucher has plenty of upside.
Also consider: Alex Len, Wizards (2% start rate in CBS leagues)
Sit: Andre Drummond, Lakers
36% start rate in CBS leagues
Many fantasy managers that have been patiently waiting for Drummond to return to action got their parade rained on rather quickly into his Lakers debut, as the big man suffered a toe injury just 14 minutes in. The issue already has already led to two absences for Drummond, and there's a good chance he could miss Tuesday's game. The Lakers have just three games on the schedule to begin with, so locking Drummond into your lineup with the risk that he only plays one or two games simply isn't worth it.