Saturday, September 30, 2023

Fantasy Basketball: Week 17 starts and sits, plus position by position breakdowns

We’re set for the last full week before the All-Star break, and the schedule is not the most favorable for Fantasy purposes. There are an unusually low number of teams on four-game weeks, and we’re also saddled with a pair of clubs with two-game slates.

As was the case in Week 16, I’m turning to one three-game option who’s earned a Start designation with his recent play. Fortunately, there are also plenty of other solid streaming candidates among the teams with four-game schedules, a couple which are taking advantage of teammates’ absences to step up their respective contributions. 

TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors

TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards

TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks

Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 17:


Start: Javonte Green, Bulls

17% start rate in CBS leagues

Green has begun to hit his stride since returning from a 12-game absence due to a groin injury. The third-year wing has averaged 13.3 points (on 61.1 percent shooting), 4.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks across 28.1 minutes over his last seven games while helping fill some of the void created by the ongoing absence of Lonzo Ball (knee). Green’s shooting efficiency will be difficult to maintain over the long term, but he’s a very viable candidate for a four-game week, especially with Zach LaVine (back) and Coby White (groin) both potentially set to miss at least Chicago’s first game of the week Monday.

Start: Evan Fournier, Knicks 

47% start rate in CBS leagues

Fournier’s production has been all over the map this season, but the veteran two-guard enters Week 17 on an upswing. Fournier has four consecutive double-digit scoring tallies and is averaging 17.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists while shooting 48.6 percent, including 48.2 percent from three-point range, over his last 14 games. The surge has boosted Fournier’s season-long efficiency back up to 40.0 percent, and although his production is very much scoring-dependent, he has a relatively high floor with four games on the schedule.

ALSO CONSIDER: Tre Mann, Thunder (11% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Cole Anthony, Magic

81% start rate in CBS leagues

The weight of constant losing and shouldering plenty of responsibility on a bad team may finally be starting to wear down Anthony, who’s shooting just 38.9 percent for the season and has three single-digit scoring efforts in his last 13 games. Anthony is shooting an even poorer 34.6 percent, including 24.1 percent from three-point range, over that span, and his averages of 13.1 points, 6.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds in the sample are very replaceable by a four-game option. It’s worth noting two of Anthony’s three Week 17 games come on the road against tough opponents in the Jazz and Suns.


Start: Darius Bazley, Thunder

34% start rate in CBS leagues

Luguentz Dort is dealing with a broken nose that could lead to a second straight absence Monday, but Bazley is an appealing streaming consideration in Week 17 irrespective of his teammate’s status. The 2019 first-round pick had recently picked up his production off the bench before starting the last two games, and he’s averaging a well-rounded 12.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks across his last five games overall.

Bazley has even flashed a hot hand from three-point range during that span (47.4 percent), and considering he’s averaging 14.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (ankle) and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (foot) on the floor, the young big merits consideration with a four-game slate on tap. 

Start: Jarred Vanderbilt, Timberwolves

49% start rate in CBS leagues

Vanderbilt enters Week 17 averaging 9.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.8 steals per 27.7 minutes across his last 15 games. Vanderbilt’s usage naturally takes a hit when Minnesota’s entire Big Three is healthy, but the fourth-year big is a viable consideration if you need a boost in rebounds and steals, in particular. Moreover, Vanderbilt draws four favorable matchups this week, as he sees the Kings twice before moving on to the Bulls and Pacers.

ALSO CONSIDER: Jonathan Kuminga (9% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Khris Middleton, Bucks

79% start rate in CBS leagues

Middleton will only have two chances to take the floor this week and enters Week 17 with good-but-not-great recent production. The veteran wing did shine with five steals two games ago against an overwhelmed Trail Blazers squad, but he’s averaged just 13.3 points on 43.5 percent shooting over his last four games. Middleton is normally as dependable as they come, yet the two-game schedule makes him a rare Sit candidate.


Start: Jaxson Hayes, Pelicans

12% start rate in CBS leagues

Hayes may finally be starting to deliver on his pedigree, as the 2019 eighth overall pick has put up 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.0 block across 21.1 minutes in his last 13 games. Hayes came off the bench Sunday against Houston after three straight starts and still contributed 21 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 28 minutes. He appears to be locking in a more secure role than at any other point this season. While he only has three games in Week 17, Hayes has proven capable of churning out useful multi-category numbers with relatively modest opportunity.

Start: Kevon Looney, Warriors 

23% start rate in CBS leagues

Looney has taken his contributions to a new level this season and is more involved offensively than in previous campaigns. The veteran big man is currently equaling his career-best of 6.3 points per game on a career-high average of 4.7 shot attempts per game. He comes into Week 17 with five double-digit scoring efforts in his last 12 games.

Looney is also pounding the boards more effectively than ever, as evidenced by his career-high 7.6 rebounds per game and even more impressive average of 10.8 boards over his last 12 appearances. While he’s a clear fifth option on the first unit, his rebounding and serviceable defensive numbers (nine steals, six blocks in last 11 games) make him a viable starter on a four-game week.

ALSO CONSIDER: Mamadi Diakite, Thunder (2% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit:  Bobby Portis, Bucks

57% start rate in CBS leagues 

Portis coming off of a pair of big games over the weekend, but fantasy managers should consider leaving him on the bench this week given the two-game schedule. Portis has been a solid contributor in scoring and rebounds – two areas in which he boasts career-best numbers – but he’s also had two single-digit scoring nights in the last seven games and has occasional dips in his production when the Big Three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Middleton are all healthy. If you’re in a pinch at center, starting Portis isn’t the worst outcoming. But rolling with a comparable four-game option is the better play.

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