Fantasy Basketball: Week 18 starts and sits, plus position by position breakdowns

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Fantasy Basketball: Week 18 starts and sits, plus position by position breakdowns
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We’re finally on the precipice of an All-Star break, which arrives considerably past the actual halfway point of the season. Considering each of the next two weeks features an abbreviated schedule for each club – no games will be played from Friday, Feb. 18 through Wednesday, Feb. 23 – many fantasy leagues opt to have Week 18 encompass a two-week period on the calendar. 

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Today’s article is written under that context, but the suggestions could be deployed in consecutive scoring periods for leagues that continue to function on a week-to-week basis during the next 14 days.

One positive aspect of evaluating Week 18 as a super-sized scoring period is that there’s an abundance of five- and four-game schedules to work with. The busy trade deadline also created significant opportunities for several players – both those on the move and those impacted by teammates’ departures.

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TEAMS WITH FIVE GAMES: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards

TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz

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TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic

Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 18:


Start: Cameron Thomas, Nets

25% start rate in CBS leagues

Thomas is already thriving with the opportunity afforded by James Harden‘s departure at the trade deadline, and although that deal also led to the acquisition of Seth Curry, the rookie should continue to enjoy a sizable role over the next couple of weeks. To begin with, Thomas has earned it by averaging 23.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals across 31.8 minutes over his last five games. The 2021 first-round pick has flashed significantly improved shooting during that stretch, draining 50.0 percent of his attempts, including 35.5 percent from three. Additionally, Kyrie Irving is set to sit out four of Brooklyn’s next five games, which should only help lock in Thomas’ minutes. 

Start: Terance Mann, Clippers 

26% start rate in CBS leagues

Mann is another player who’s set to benefit from a teammate’s absence for the foreseeable future, as the just-acquired Norman Powell is now out indefinitely with a broken foot. That unfortunate development could lock Mann into the starting shooting guard role, or at minimum, more minutes off the bench. Mann drew the spot start in Powell’s first absence Saturday night against the Mavericks and delivered 21 points, nine rebounds, two assists and one steal over 35 minutes.

That performance was preceded by a pair of double-digit scoring efforts off the bench and three straight multi-steal efforts, as well. With the Clippers set for the maximum five games over the next two weeks – and three of those matchups coming against the Rockets (twice) and Lakers – starting Mann could pay off nicely.

ALSO CONSIDER: Seth Curry, Nets (50% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Russell Westbrook, Lakers

65% start rate in CBS leagues

Westbrook’s struggles this season have put him firmly in the spotlight given his prominence, and although he occasionally shows flashes of his old self, he still comes off as a less-than-ideal fit in the Lakers’ scheme. The former-perennial-All-Star has seen his numbers drop across the board this season to a solid but not spectacular 18.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game, and he’s shooting an inefficient 43.6 percent in the process. With only three games over the next two weeks, Westbrook can be benched in favor of a four- or five-game option. 


Start: Darius Bazley, Thunder

51% start rate in CBS leagues

Bazley came through in fine fashion as a Week 17 streaming suggestion, and following that highly productive scoring period, he’s right back in play. Bazley has put up 14.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks over 33 minutes in his last nine games overall, and he produced 16.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals over his four starts last week. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (ankle) is no lock to return for OKC immediately after the All-Star break, so Bazley could continue enjoying extra scoring opportunity/responsibility for several more games. Lu Dort (shoulder) also landed on the injury report Monday and could miss both of the Thunder’s games before the break.

Start: Oshae Brissett, Pacers

23% start rate in CBS leagues

The move of Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento has opened up a starting role for Brissett, who’s capitalized to the tune of 18.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks across 34.7 minutes over the first three games since the trade. Brissett has flashed excellent floor-spacing ability, shooting 7-of-16 from downtown in that span. He’ll face competition for minutes, but Brissett’s ability to check off every box on the stat sheet makes him a very viable streaming candidate over his four-game schedule. 

ALSO CONSIDER:Rui Hachimura, Wizards (20% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Evan Mobley, Cavaliers

61% start rate in CBS leagues

Mobley has enjoyed a stellar rookie campaign overall, but he heads into Week 18 mired in one of his most non-productive stretches of the season and only has three games over the next two weeks. The young big has four single-digit scoring efforts in his last seven games. Although he does have a pair of double-doubles in that span, his averages of 12.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals per game in the sample are certainly replaceable, especially given the schedule.


Start: Nicolas Claxton, Nets

10% start rate in CBS leagues

Claxton is set to return to action Monday against the Kings after missing the last four games with a hamstring injury. The young big notably exploded for a 23-point, 11-rebound double-double against Sacramento in his last full game before the injury, and with Irving out for four of the next five games and Harden gone, Claxton could be set to build on the 18.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per 36 minutes he’s averaging without the two stars on the floor. 

Start: Steven Adams, Grizzlies 

47% start rate in CBS leagues

Adams has flipped a switch in recent games, posting three double-doubles in the last four and averaging 10.1 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.4 blocks across his last seven games overall. The veteran is still much less involved offensively than prior years, but he’s taken a total of 17 shot attempts over his last two games and draws three particularly favorable matchups for centers – Portland, Minnesota and New Orleans – over his four-game schedule.

Start: Isaiah Stewart, Pistons

35% start rate in CBS leagues

Stewart delivered a pair of double-doubles over three games as a Week 17 suggestion, and with five games on the schedule over the next two weeks, he’s certainly worthy of consideration again. The young big man continues to enjoy a secure, starting role despite the returns of Kelly Olynyk and Jerami Grant. Stewart has done a good enough job of staying out of foul trouble recently to log at least 30 minutes in five of the last eight games. 

ALSO CONSIDER: Thomas Bryant, Wizards (20% start rate in CBS leagues); Ivica Zubac, Clippers (30% start rate in CBS leagues); Al Horford, Celtics (50% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit:  Clint Capela, Hawks 

73% start rate in CBS leagues 

Capela is putting together a reasonably successful season, but his average of 10.9 points per game is his lowest since his 2015-16 season in Houston. The big man is taking just 8.3 shot attempts per game, and the Hawks appear to be managing his minutes carefully after his numerous foot and Achilles issues the last couple of seasons. Capela remains a high-level rebounder and solid source of blocks, but for managers who are set in those categories, it may make sense to look in another direction.

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