Week 4 of the fantasy basketball season packs a balanced schedule, with the majority of the league playing three games, while only one team — San Antonio — playing two games.
Both Portland and Toronto finish up five-game Week 3’s on Sunday, but no team faces such a schedule in Week 4.
Four games: ATL, BOS, DEN, DET, HOU, IND, MIA, MIL, NYK, OKC, ORL
Three games: BKN, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, GSW, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIN, NOR, PHI, PHO, POR, SAC, TOR, UTA, WAS
Two games: SAS
When it comes to star players, production and consistency should usually take precedence over number of games. Three games of Anthony Davis is still likely to be more valuable than four games from whichever option you have sitting on your bench. That said, when you’re deciding between two mid-level players, or if there’s a difference of two or more games in a given week, the decision becomes a bit more difficult.
This week, LaMarcus Aldridge becomes an interesting start/sit choice, especially in shallower formats. DeMar DeRozan is also in that conversation. Other, fringier-player Spurs like Patty Mills and Rudy Gay become significantly less-valuable.
Let’s take a look at players to consider starting or sitting in Week 4:
LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, Spurs
Aldridge and DeRozan meshing quickly is the reason the Spurs haven’t missed a beat during their 6-2 start. Aldridge’s scoring is down a bit from last season, but that was expected. He’s made up for it with improved rebounding (9.5 RPG) and assists (3.5 APG) contributions. If there’s an early criticism, it’s that he’s virtually eliminated the three-point shot from his arsenal after averaging 0.5 made-threes per game a year ago. Through eight games, Aldridge is 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, and he’s without an attempt in his last four contests.
DeRozan, meanwhile, has taken his playmaking to another level (6.9 APG), while also scoring nearly five more points per game than last season. He’s regressed as a three-point shooter — he’s gone five games without a made three — but he’s still hovering around 51 percent from the field overall.
If you don’t roster a four-game replacement and have to start DeRozan, especially, in Week 4, it’s not the end of the world. The Spurs have matchups with a pair of average defenses in Orlando and Miami. DeRozan could easily end up with around 50 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
Gordon has been among the early-season fantasy disappointments. The Indiana product raised his production to a borderline-All-Star level last season when Chris Paul and/or James Harden missed time. He failed to do the same in Weeks 2 and 3 this year, when Paul and Harden both sat out multiple games. Gordon is coming off of one of his better showings Friday in Brooklyn (21 points), but he shot just 2-of-8 from three while adding one rebound and three assists.
Gordon then sat out Saturday’s win over the Bulls with a sore leg. The injury will also keep him out of Monday’s matchup with Indiana. Even with Paul and Harden back, Gordon would have been viable on a four-game week, but with that number now whittled down to three at best, the struggling guard — 15.0 PPG, 32.1% FG, 23.6% 3PT — is best avoided.
Young should already be a weekly starter in most leagues, but with four games on the ledger there’s very little risk. Schedule aside, Young has done plenty in his first three weeks to quell some major concerns heading into the season. Through nine games, Young is shooting a very palatable 43.9 percent from the field. While his 32.1 percent mark from three could improve, he’s still providing 2.0 makes per game. Even when he has an off night, Young has been able to insulate his value with strong assists production (7.9 APG). Young had 24 points, 15 assists and six rebounds Saturday against Miami, two nights after putting up 10 assists in a loss to the Kings. Turnovers have been more of an issue of late — 13 in the last two games — but prior to that Young had been averaging only 3.0 per game. It’s a fine number for a guard of his profile.
Robinson has been difficult to trust since taking over as the starting center. He played 29 minutes in a loss to Golden State but followed up with fewer than 20 minutes in each of the next two games. Friday in Dallas, Robinson saw a career-high 34 minutes. He translated that to 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.
He’s not likely to be a nightly 30-plus-minute player, but if Robinson — 38 percent-owned in Yahoo leagues — can hang in the low-to-mid-20’s, he can be a viable starter at a shallow position on a four-game week. The Knicks get matchups with three bottom-10 defenses in Washington, Chicago and Atlanta before a tough test against Toronto on Saturday. All four teams rank in the bottom-10 in the league in defensive rebounding percentage.
Josh Jackson, Suns
If you’re still rostering Jackson, now may be the week to cut bait. The Suns have a reasonable three-game schedule, but Jackson’s role remains very much clouded. He’s coming off a season-low 12 minutes in Phoenix’s latest loss Saturday against Toronto. Jackson managed 11 points in that game, which would be rather impressive if it wasn’t his highest point total since opening night.
The Lakers have won two straight games, but it was hard to come away encouraged by Ball’s showing in Saturday’s win over Portland. While he remains the starter over Rajon Rondo, Ball played only 19 minutes and finished with three points, three rebounds and three assists. His workload should settle in closer to 25-30 minutes on most nights, but given his selectiveness and passivity on offense, Ball can still be a liability.
Ball has demonstrated improvement as a three-point shooter, but he hasn’t offered much defensively and has only topped three assists once in his last four games. On a more positive note, the Lakers’ three-game Week 4 includes matchups with Minnesota, Sacramento and Atlanta. Two of those are bottom-10 defenses. Atlanta and Sacramento are the only teams playing at a faster pace than the Lakers. Still, for a 90-percent-owned player, Ball is difficult to trust this week.
Mo Bamba, Magic
Bamba’s overall production has been a bit too modest to make him a weekly starter in most leagues. With four games on the schedule in Week 4, however, he becomes a viable streaming option. The No. 6 overall pick has played at least 20 minutes in each of the last four games, averaging 7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in that span. His season-long blocks production has been decent (1.8 BPG) by his standards, but Bamba did record five blocks in 24 minutes against the Kings, flashing the potential he has to be the best in the league in that category, long-term.
If Bamba can continue to lock down 20-25 minutes per night with four games on the schedule, he’s capable of something close to a 35-point, 30-rebound, 10-block week, with a handful of made threes.
Winslow’s ownership will likely spike in the coming days after his 15-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist, two-steal, two-block line Saturday in Atlanta. The Duke product started slowly after missing the first four games of the season due to injury. That said, he’s played a combined 67 minutes over his last two games alone and looked like the Heat’s best playmaker with Goran Dragic (toe) out Saturday. Winslow has always been somewhat volatile and his three-point shot comes and goes, but he’s worth a shot with four games on the schedule and Dragic banged up.
When healthy, Mitchell is a must-start in a three-game week. That said, he missed a game in Week 3 with a hamstring injury before rolling his ankle in a looked-worse-than-it-actually-was fall Saturday night. Mitchell was cleared to return to the game, but the Jazz likely won’t clear up his status on an official basis until Monday morning. Even a banged-up Mitchell is worth starting, but if it begins to look as though he could miss a game, keeping him on the bench in favor of a healthy player on a four-game week may be the right move. Utah has a pair of difficult Week 4 opponents in the Raptors (Monday) and Celtics (Friday), with a matchup against the Mavs (Wednesday) sandwiched in between.
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