Fantasy Basketball: Week 16 starts and sits, plus position by position breakdowns

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Fantasy Basketball: Week 16 starts and sits, plus position by position breakdowns
© Provided by CBS Sports

We’re back to a more favorable fantasy schedule in Week 16 with more than half of the league entering four-game weeks. We’re also down to just one squad – the Jazz – on a two-game ledger, and with a couple of Utah’s biggest stars ailing, they become easy Sit recommendations this week.

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There are some other injuries around the league also opening up opportunities for expanded usage for several players, circumstances which we’ll try to exploit with some of this week’s Start suggestions. 

TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors

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TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards

TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Utah Jazz

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Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 16:

Guards       

Start: Gabe Vincent, Heat

15% start rate in CBS leagues

Kyle Lowry remains away from the Heat due to a personal matter, with the veteran slated to miss his eighth straight game Monday. Vincent has once taken advantage of the opportunity presented by a starting role, averaging 14.1 points, 4.9 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals across 35 minutes over the first seven games of Lowry’s absence. He’s also shooting an impressive 43.4 percent from distance over that span. Even if Lowry returns at some point during the Heat’s four-game schedule – which, frankly, seems unlikely at this point –Vincent should still be primed for solid minutes off the bench. 

Start: Luguentz Dort, Thunder 

53% start rate in CBS leagues

Dort is playing power forward but still listed as a shooting guard in CBS leagues, and he could be set to take on an even larger role for the foreseeable future with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander set to sit out until at least the All-Star break due to an ankle injury. Dort holds a 26.9 percent usage rate with Gilgeous-Alexander off the floor, and he also enters Week 16 averaging an impressive 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists across his last 11 games. While his shooting efficiency is a problem at times, the added usage in SGA’s absence makes him a viable starter, especially on a four-game week. 

ALSO CONSIDER:Frank Jackson, Pistons (1% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Donovan Mitchell, Jazz

49% start rate in CBS leagues

Mitchell has already missed seven straight games in concussion protocol, and the struggling Jazz have only two games on their docket Week 16. The first contest isn’t until Wednesday, which could conceivably give Mitchell enough time to finally gain clearance for return. However, he may be on some sort of minutes limit in his first game back after a relatively long layoff. By the time we get clarity on Mitchell’s status, it’ll likely be too late to act, so managers are best off playing it safe and leaving him on the bench.

Forwards        

Start: Trey Lyles, Pistons

12% start rate in CBS leagues

Lyles continues to thrive in a second-unit role for the lowly Pistons, and he’s now averaging a career-best 10.3 points per contest. He’s enjoyed a particularly productive January, putting up 14.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 46.6 percent across 24.3 minutes per contest in 15 games. Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk could reportedly return to action at some point during Detroit’s four-game Week 16 schedule, but the extended layoff for each should mean Lyles can hold onto a decent-sized role for at least another week.

Start: Robert Covington, Trail Blazers

55% start rate in CBS leagues

Larry Nance remains sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury, and the Blazers also continue without Damian Lillard (abdominal) and Nassir Little (shoulder). It all adds up to a starting role and some extra responsibility on the offensive end for Covington, who’s averaging 11.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.7 blocks during his current, 12-game starting stint. He’s also shooting 44.4 percent from three in that span. The veteran has taken double-digit shot attempts in half those games and should continue to enjoy plenty of opportunities to offer well-balanced contributions over Portland’s four-game week.

ALSO CONSIDER:Dean Wade, Cavaliers (0% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: LeBron James, Lakers

69% start rate in CBS leagues

James is dealing with knee swelling that has already led to three straight absences. The Lakers have only three games on the schedule in Week 16, and there’s no guarantee LeBron will be able to take the floor for any of those games. Head coach Frank Vogel has stated he’ll keep his star out until the swelling subsides, and although Los Angeles doesn’t take the floor again until Wednesday, there’s still enough risk here to consider looking elsewhere on your roster for a replacement.

Centers     

Start: Isaiah Stewart, Pistons

24% start rate in CBS leagues

Stewart’s production is admittedly a bit up and down, but he has a seemingly secure grip on the starting center role and has scored at least 20 fantasy points in CBS formats in four of his last seven games coming into Week 16. The second-year big has also been a relatively steady source of blocks, averaging 1.1 rejections per contest for the season in addition to a career-high 7.9 rebounds per game. Factoring in three center-friendly matchups – the Pelicans and the Timberwolves twice — among his four games this scoring period, Stewart is very much in play, even if Olynyk does return to action.

Start: Montrezl Harrell, Wizards 

31% start rate in CBS leagues

With a dearth of viable centers on four-game weeks, I’m turning to a three-game option with a solid Fantasy floor in Harrell. Head coach Wes Unseld promoted Thomas Bryant to the starting role, yet it’s Daniel Gafford who’s been the odd man out of the equation as a result, with Harrell retaining his usual workload off the bench. The veteran has the occasional hiccup in his production, but he heads into Week 16 with averages of 11.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 blocks across 20.4 minutes in his last nine games. Harrell’s high-percentage shooting and energetic presence on the glass could offer your lineup some solid scoring and rebounding numbers in the week ahead.

ALSO CONSIDER:Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Thunder (5% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit:  Rudy Gobert, Jazz

48% start rate in CBS leagues 

Gobert is the second member of the Jazz’s first unit who’s among the walking wounded, as he’s been dealing with a calf injury that’s already sidelined him for four games. As with Mitchell, he could benefit from Utah not taking the floor again until Wednesday, but he’ll only have three games to work with even if he does play in that game. Factoring in the uncertainty of his availability and the possibility of some restrictions in at least his first game back, Gobert should be given serious consideration for a bench spot this week. 

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