Although the NBA is off on Thanksgiving as usual, Week 5 is shaping up to be a good one for us schedule-wise. Despite that one-day stretch, we have more teams on four-game ledgers than three-game ledgers, which always increases the chances for a productive fantasy week.
Each week, we aim to highlight a pair of starting candidates for your fantasy rosters that could be framed as some of the toughest calls of the week, typically focusing on players with a 50% starting or roster rate. Or less in the Yahoo leagues. In an effort to maximize opportunities for production, we typically develop players with four-game weeks.
Likewise, we’ll be spotlighting a seed candidate at each position that wouldn’t normally make your bench, focusing on players who will have less game time in the coming week.
Teams with four games: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Watronio Spurs
Teams with three games: Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz
Teams with two games: Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder
Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tough start/sit results for Week 5:
Start: Alex Caruso, Bulls
31% initiation rate
Caruso is working his way through a foot strain that was not expected to affect his availability during the Bulls’ four-game week, as he has already proven his ability to play effectively with the nagging ailment. The senior has been a two-guard fixture of late and is averaging 14.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per contest over his last five games overall. It’s worth noting that Caruso enters Week 5 on the all-time shooting heat — he’s drained 72.7% of his shots over that span, including 70.0% of his 4.0 attempts per game from behind the arc in that sample. While that kind of performance might be underwhelming, if you’re on guard this week, consider hopping aboard a train that runs across imaginary tracks.
Start: Tyson Daniels, Pelicans
44% listing rate
CJ McCallum is out with a chest/lung injury to open the Pelicans’ four-game week on Monday, and there is still no firm timetable for the player’s return. While that obviously could change at some point during New Orleans’ busy schedule ahead, let’s take a chance on Daniels, who has hit the ground running in his NBA career and already has the potential to thrive on the first unit. The rookie eighth overall pick is averaging 11.2 points (on a solid 46.4% shooting), 6.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals in 33.7 minutes per contest over his current six-game stretch. Daniels’ penchant for well-rounded production and what he can offer you in steals make him a very viable option to consider this week.
to sit: Josh Gidde, Thunder
60% initiation rate
Gidey is the first of two Thunder starters we’d recommend for a bench seat given the team’s two-game schedule this week. In Giddey’s case, however, this recommendation from his inconsistent start saw his average drop from last season’s 16.6 to 12.4, his rebounds drop from 7.9 to 5.6 and his assists from 6.2 to 4.7. Giddey has seen a nearly four-point drop in shooting percentage (48.2 to 44.4), and he averaged 31.2 per contest last season, logging 27.1 minutes per game. While he’s a good all-rounder at any given time, it’s clear his numbers will change in a week where he only gets a couple opportunities to suit up.
Start: Jalen Johnson, Hawks
24% starting rate
With the 2021 first-round pick thriving in a starting role, Johnson’s starting rate isn’t likely to stay this low for long. Johnson is averaging 14.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 blocks in 30.9 minutes over his last 10 games. What’s more, Johnson has the ability to score from just about anywhere, shooting just 59.6% during that stretch and producing a modest 48.6% from 3-point range. With the career-best production he’s producing across the board, Johnson hasn’t relinquished the ideal power forward role and will get four more opportunities this week to continue his already impressive resume.
Start: Max Strauss, Cavaliers
41% initiation rate
Coming off the Heat this offseason, Struss has been an instant fit in the Cavs system and serves as a great complementary source of production across the stat sheet. Struss already enters Week 5 averaging career-best 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 35.1 minutes over his first 13 games. Notably, he’s put in that kind of solid scoring production despite shooting a subpar 43.1%, but he’s managed to drain his shots at a 50.0% clip, including 40.0% from 3-point range, during his current eight-game doubleheader. -Digital point height. Struss could help your lineup in many ways and get a full schedule this week, putting him firmly in the starting lineup.
to sit: Auser Thompson, Pistons
81% initiation rate
Thompson has started his career well, providing fantasy managers with averages of 11.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals. However, the rookie only has two games this week, and he’s checking that rare tableau with three single-digit scoring tallies in his last five games. Thompson always has a chance to provide a productive stat line while out, but he’s more likely to be overtaken by a four-game option with the starting role.
Start: Coca Bitatze, Magic
22% listing rate
Pitadze performed well as a Week 4 starting pick, so we’ll go back to the well after he returned to solid averages of 9.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals in 23.3 minutes over four games. Those numbers were actually pulled down a bit by the game against the Bulls, where he got into foul trouble, so Pitadze has the potential to deliver even better stat-sheet production during Orlando’s second straight four-game schedule. Wendell Carter (hand) isn’t evaluated until later in the week, which means there should be no bar to Pitadze starting another quartet.
Start: Nas Reed, Timberwolves
41% initiation rate
Reed usually has a 50% start rate and is usually a one-week fill-in when you run out of options at center. There’s a good chance that’s true this week, as the big man checked off Minnesota’s four-game Week 5 ledger by averaging a career-high 12.6 points on 43.1% shooting from 3-point range. Reid is pulling down just 3.9 rebounds per contest — less than average for a center and a full board per game less than a year ago — but considering he’s recording five or more rebounds, he’s capable of increasing his production on any given night in that stretch. On four occasions already. With a safe bench role that he’s proven to be very capable of over the course of several seasons, he provides a nice attacking presence from one of your focal points when you need him this week.
Also consider: Andre Drummond, Bulls (11% listing rate)
to sit: Chet Holmgren, Thunder
68% initiation rate
Holmgren is finally healthy and playing as often as the second overall pick in 2022, averaging 17.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 blocks per contest in 29.6 minutes. Still, the big man will be subject to a two-game schedule this week that could eclipse his solid-but-not-elite production in another big start, and land him with more opportunities. Fantasy managers who need more blocks may be an exception to this recommendation if there is no comparable alternative; Otherwise, Holmgren will understandably struggle to produce returns comparable to the four-game option, especially since he drew a matchup against Joel Embiid in one of his two Week 5 contests.
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