Fantasy Basketball: Week 21 starts and sits, plus position by position breakdowns

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Fantasy Basketball: Week 21 starts and sits, plus position by position breakdowns
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Week 21 brings a return to a more balanced schedule that sees a slight majority of teams on four-game weeks. Additionally, we’re not saddled with any two-game schedules, which certainly helps widen the overall pool of streaming candidates to choose from. 

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Injuries and a couple of personnel shifts help inform some of this week’s Start suggestions, while the same can be said for one of our Sit designations. 

TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz 

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TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards

Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 21:

Guards

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Start: Alec Burks, Knicks

31% start rate in CBS leagues

Burks shifted back into a starting point guard role coming out of the All-Star break as a result of the decision to shut Kemba Walker down for the rest of the season, and the veteran has responded well to the expanded opportunity. Burks had played at least 31 minutes in the first four games of his current first-unit tenure before getting a bit less run during New York’s blowout win over the Clippers on Sunday night, and he’s averaged 11.6 points (on 46.2 percent three-point shooting), four rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal in that span.

New York opens the new week with a premium matchup for three-point shooters in the Kings, and Burks should continue seeing solid usage in his ball-handling role for the three additional Week 21 games, as well. 

Start: Cameron Payne, Suns 

43% start rate in CBS leagues

Having recently overcome a multi-game wrist injury, Payne is currently serving as the starting point guard while Chris Paul continues his recovery from his thumb issue. Paul will remain out in Week 21, while Payne is back to a normal workload after logging just 20 minutes in his return three games ago. The 2015 first-round pick has played 32 and 36 minutes, respectively, in his last two games, averaging 20.0 points, 12.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds. While Payne’s efficiency remains way down this season – his 40.3 percent success rate from the field is his lowest since the 2016-17 campaign – he should continue to be a very strong source of points and assists in particular, the latter even more so with Devin Booker likely to return from COVID-19 protocols at some point during the Suns’ upcoming four-game week.

ALSO CONSIDER: Terance Mann, Clippers (43% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Anfernee Simons, Trail Blazers

50% start rate in CBS leagues

Simons gets saddled with a Sit designation for the second straight week due to a combination of schedule and health. Portland will play just three games in Week 21, and the surging point guard will miss at least the first one due to a quadriceps bruise.  As good as he’s been overall subbing for Damian Lillard (abdominal), the risk of a two-game week – or less – isn’t worth it. 

Forwards        

Start: Dorian Finney-Smith, Mavericks

31% start rate in CBS leagues

Finney-Smith has stepped up his contributions significantly since prior to the All-Star break, averaging 12.5 points (on 52.4 percent shooting, including 46.5 percent from distance), 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals per 36.2 minutes over a 12-game span. The trade-deadline departure of Kristaps Porzingis certainly seems to have boosted Finney-Smith’s stock, and the three-and-D wing enters the new week now averaging a career-high 10.5 points per game. Fantasy managers in need of a boost in rebounding and threes, especially, should jump on board with the veteran on a full week for the Mavericks.

Start: Jonathan Kuminga, Warriors

19% start rate in CBS leagues

Draymond Green is projected to remain out for at least one more week, which should continue to lock in a solid role off the bench for Kuminga. The rookie has been highly productive since Feb. 1 despite the Warriors struggling for a good portion of that stretch, averaging 14.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 56.7 percent across a 13-game span. Kuminga is averaging 9.2 shot attempts and 24.9 minutes per game in that stretch. With the Warriors sitting several regulars for Monday’s rescheduled contest at Denver, Kuminga will have a good chance to begin the week in a starting role – even if only for one game.

ALSO CONSIDER:Cameron Johnson, Suns (41% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Miles Bridges, Hornets

78% start rate in CBS leagues

The 76ers’ Tobias Harris is another Sit candidate to consider this week as he continues to see a bit of a hit to his usage due to the presence of James Harden. However, Bridges also qualifies based on the Hornets’ three-game week and his own recent decline in production. The fourth-year forward is averaging a solid-but-replaceable 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.0 block across his last five games, four which have seen him post 15 points or fewer.

Bridges is also in a funk from beyond the arc – he’s drained just 26.8 percent of his three-point attempts over the last 12 games. Sitting one of the season’s top breakout players can be a tough call, but if you’re in a shallower league, turning to a four-game option makes plenty of sense.

Centers       

Start: Isaiah Stewart, Pistons

32% start rate in CBS leagues

Stewart has been featured as a Start candidate before and delivered nicely, and he’s back in Week 21 with the Pistons set for a full schedule. The second-year big continues to be a serviceable source of rebounds and blocks, averaging 10.5 boards and 1.1 rejections in his last 16 games. Stewart is also tallying 9.9 points per outing during that sample, recently putting together a six-game stretch with double-digit scoring totals. He hasn’t necessarily taken the leap forward some expected this season, but Stewart is still a capable option for managers looking to shore up blocks and rebounds down the stretch.

Start: Mitchell Robinson, Knicks 

47% start rate in CBS leagues

Robinson is similar to Stewart in many ways, with his work on the boards and on defense serving as the most reliable aspects of his game. The fourth-year big enters the new scoring period with some momentum, having posted three straight double-digit scoring efforts and back-to-back double-doubles with multiple blocks. The Knicks’ four-game week starts off with an especially favorable positional matchup against the Kings. Meanwhile, two other opponents, the Mavericks and Grizzlies, both rank in the bottom half of the league in fantasy production yielded to centers.

ALSO CONSIDER:Isaiah Roby, Thunder (10% start rate in CBS leagues); Dwight Powell, Mavericks (4% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit:  Bobby Portis, Bucks

69% start rate in CBS leagues 

Portis is still enjoying a steady role as Brook Lopez begins to inch closer to a return from his back injury, but the big man remains replaceable on a three-game week for the Bucks. Portis has seen his scoring total drop in three consecutive games entering Week 21, bottoming out with a nine-point effort in 32 minutes against the Suns on Sunday. Serge Ibaka is also a trusted veteran presence behind him who will continue to enjoy a steady role off the bench, and Portis’ mostly average offensive production of late – he’s scored 17 or fewer points in seven of the last nine games – can likely be surpassed by a comparable four-game option.

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