By Juan Blanco, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
We head into Week 6 of the season, one that will be interrupted for a rare day off on Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, we still have an abundance of teams with four games, giving us plenty to pick from in terms of viable options who will have plenty of opportunities. Likewise, we only have a trio of teams with two-game ledgers, which is also a positive development for fantasy managers.
Injuries continue to play a prominent part around the league, with multiple big-name players still missing in action. The bright side is the large swath of minutes and usage those absentee stars leave behind afford others enhanced levels of opportunity, and we’ll highlight a couple of those scenarios this week.
Without further ado, let’s delve into some candidates trending both upward and downward as the new week approaches.
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors. Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings
TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns
Start: Alec Burks, GSW (four games)
We won’t waste any time jumping into one such injury beneficiary, as Burks has been lights out in place of D’Angelo Russell (thumb) while manning the point for the Warriors. Golden State has seen minimal team-level success, but Burks is enjoying one of the more productive stretches of his solid career. Thanks in part to five 20-point efforts over his last 10 games, Burks is averaging a career-high 14.9 points, even as he’s shooting an inefficient 41.9 percent. The veteran is also putting in solid work as a rebounder (career-best 4.4 boards per game) and goes into Week 6 with a 21.6 percent usage rate that leads all healthy Warriors players.
Start: Dillon Brooks, MEM (four games)
He’s basically been getting it done all season, but with plenty of other bigger names enjoying fine campaigns, Brooks has been flying somewhat under the radar. The sharpshooting wing is posting career bests across the board, scoring 13.6 points on 39.4% three-point shooting, the latter figure particularly impressive and helping offset some inefficiency for Brooks from in front of the arc. The third-year pro is logging a solid 27.2 minutes per contest as well and is even making very good use of his free-throw opportunities, draining a career-high 86.5% of shots from the charity stripe. The Grizzlies’ four games boost his overall stock this week, as does a matchup at the tail end versus a Timberwolves squad that heads into the week allowing the second-highest three-point percentage (38.4) in the NBA.
Sit: Jamal Murray, DEN (two games)
There are some tough “Sit” calls this week, with a pair of guards that would only draw this designation due to two-game weeks leading the way. Murray is our first example, even as he sees very attractive matchups against the Wizards and Kings. Murray certainly has the talent to capitalize on those scenarios, but it’s not as if he’s immune to some clunkers, either — he has four- and 10-point tallies in two of his last four games, shooting an abysmal 5-for-27 combined in that pair of contests.
Sit: Devin Booker, PHO (two games)
Booker is another example of a normally stellar option who you should nevertheless consider putting on the bench this week. The young marksman does face the Wizards in his first game this week, but that’s followed by a tougher tilt against the Mavericks. Booker has proven to be a much more consistent shooter this season than in prior seasons and rarely turns in a clunker, but you could well get more cumulative production from one of the many guards with a four-game week.
Start: Danilo Gallinari, OKC (four games)
Gallinari draws an appealing set of circumstances in Week 6, as he not only plays four games, but they also come against some of the most vulnerable defenses in the NBA. The veteran will see the Warriors, the Trail Blazers, and the Pelicans twice, setting him up for what could be an excellent run of production. Gallinari is shooting a stellar 40.4% from three-point range, draining multiple treys in all but one contest this season for a career-best average of 2.7 makes per game. Gallinari’s role is secured at around 30 minutes each night, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he faces two teams heading into the week ranked in the bottom five in three-point percentage allowed in Golden State (NBA-high 40.4%) and New Orleans (37.5%).
Sit: Paul Millsap, DEN (two games)
Millsap is enjoying another rock-solid season, but like his teammate Murray, he also suffers from plenty of downtime in Week 6. The Nuggets play just two games, and they come against a pair of teams that have not been conducive to good production for power forwards in the Wizards and Kings. Both squads have the ability to neutralize Millsap, who also has logged under 30 minutes in three of the last four games heading into the week. Any similar reduction on a two-game week would dim Millsap’s prospects even further, making him a risk not worth taking in Week 6.
Sit: P.J. Tucker (two games)
Tucker will only draw matchups against the Heat and Hawks this coming week. Tucker has single-digit scoring tallies in six of his last eight contests, despite playing over 30 minutes in each of those games. Tucker is actually shooting at a career-best clip overall (51.9%) and from distance (45.6%), but with a modest 6.6 attempts per game and just a pair of contests on the docket, he can be safely left on the pine this week.
Start: Jarrett Allen, BKN (four games)
Allen has been racking up production across the board recently and now draws an attractive four-game week that features a pair of favorable matchups for centers against the Celtics. Allen is hauling in a career-best 9.4 boards per game and has become a much more efficient shooter, draining a career-best 66.7% of his attempts. His minutes have steadied nicely lately as well, as Allen has logged between 22 and 30 over his last five games heading into a Sunday evening date with the Knicks. The Celtics, who Allen faces twice, head into Week 6 with the fourth-lowest rebounding percentage (48.5) in the league.
Start: Brook Lopez, MIL (four games)
Lopez has seen an uptick in overall usage and responsibility with Khris Middleton (quadriceps) on the shelf, even as teammates Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo have naturally done a lot of the heavy lifting. Lopez’s floor-spacing ability always gives him plenty of upside when he’s more heavily involved offensively, and accordingly, he sports a 17.3% usage rate in the six games Middleton has missed so far — behind only Giannis and Bledsoe during that span. It’s also worth noting Lopez is shooting much better during the aforementioned six-game span, as he sports a 49.1% success rate from the field that significantly outpaces his 42.7% season-long figure.
Sit: Hassan Whiteside, POR (three games)
Whiteside does draw a three-game week, but he’s nursing a hip injury that’s already cost him two games and isn’t going to do his production any favors if he does suit up, given the amount of banging he has to do down low. While his production this season has been strong, consider sitting a less-than-100% Whiteside if you have healthier four-game alternatives to work with.
Sit: Aron Baynes/Frank Kaminsky (two games)
I’m putting both players into this designation, as it’s currently uncertain exactly when Baynes will be able to return to action from his hip injury. Whether it’s Baynes or Kaminsky that ends up drawing starts for the Suns this coming week, either is worth a seat on the bench with only two games on the docket and Baynes also potentially dealing with some after-effects of his injury. The Suns will also face a thorny matchup for centers in one of their two games in the form of the Mavericks, with Dallas boasting the fifth-highest rebounding percentage (51.6) and ranking in the top five in points (12.5) and top 10 in rebounds (9.7) per game allowed to centers.