By Juan Blanco, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
We head into a Week 11 that begins a new calendar year and features a larger-than-usual spread of games around the league. Naturally, a scheduling quirk like this is especially welcome in fantasy basketball, where more opportunities are usually the key to a successful week. And, with only three teams saddled with two-game slates, we have a near-ideal number of options to work with.
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards.
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz.
TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers.
Let’s delve into some candidates you should consider either rolling with or giving a breather to in Week 11:
Start: Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (four games)
Dragic finally returned from an extended absence last week and has hit the ground running. The veteran is coming off the bench, but he’s still seen at least 24 minutes in every game since he returned while averaging 16.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds and shooting 40.0 percent from three-point range over that stretch. The Heat’s breakneck pace of play bodes well for his value, and Week 11 kicks off with one of the best possible matchups in the league in the Wizards and closes out with another favorable game against Portland.
Start: Jeff Teague, Minnesota Timberwolves (four games)
Teague has lost his starting job to Shabazz Napier for the time being, but he’s thriving against second-unit players and is still very much worthy of consideration in a four-game week. The veteran has logged at least 26 minutes in all but one game since Nov. 15 and has two 30-point-plus tallies in his last four games alone. Injuries to Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) and Andrew Wiggins (illness) have influenced his usage, but Minnesota’s schedule this week couldn’t set up any better, with the Nets, Warriors, and Cavaliers all on the docket.
Sit: Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans (two games)
Ball’s production is hard to trust, primarily due to his inefficiency on offense, and with a two-game week factored in, he’s a pretty clear sit for me. Ball is shooting an unsightly 37.4% from the field this season, and to make it worse, his assists production (5.1 APG) is at a career-low, as are his steals per game (1.2 SPG). Ball continues to struggle — to an extreme degree — to get to the foul line, and while his outside shot may look better, he’s still not hitting threes at a consistent rate.
Sit: Josh Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers (two games)
Richardson was a production option in a four-game Week 10, averaging 14.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in nearly 37 minutes per game. However, the Sixers are on a two-game week, and one of those games comes against a strong Indiana team. And although the other is against Houston, Richardson could easily be outproduced by other guards on your roster with three or four games.
Start: Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic (four games)
Isaac can frustrate from time to time, but his ability to check off every box on the stat sheet in impressive fashion is beyond question. He provided a tangible reminder of that against the Bucks on Saturday night, racking up seven steals alongside 19 points and nine rebounds. Isaac is shooting a solid 46.3% overall, and the four-game schedule this week brings solid matchups against the Hawks and Wizards to start the week. Isaac has double-digit scoring efforts in seven of his last 10 games, providing a glimpse of his ability to likely capitalize on favorable situations over a four-game sample.
Start: Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings (three games)
Bjelica lost his starting power forward job for a brief stint, but he’s right back with the first unit with Marvin Bagley having suffered a mid-foot injury expected to keep him out multiple games. Bjelica averaged 11.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists across 26.7 minutes in his 28 games as a starter earlier in the season, a span during which he shot 47.9%, including 41.0% from distance. Although he falls one game short of the ideal four-game scenario, he draws strong matchups against both the Grizzlies and Pelicans.
Sit: Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers (two games)
Like his teammate Richardson, Horford is another 76er that’s worth considering benching this week. In Horford’s case, it’s both schedule and performance that drives the decision. After a strong start to the season, Horford has scored in single-digits in five of the last seven contests while taking single-digit shot attempts in all of those contests. Horford’s rebounding has also been just average during that span (5.6), and with just two opportunities to take the floor this week, he can be swapped out for players with more opportunities.
Sit: Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder (three games)
Gallinari enters the week with an uncertain health status due to an ankle injury, so he may not even be on the court Tuesday against the Mavericks. Then, even if he does make some appearances this coming week, Gallinari could well be limited to an extent and only has three games on his ledger. While he’s been enjoying a strong first season in OKC overall, this isn’t the best set of circumstances for Gallinari.
Start: Enes Kanter, Boston Celtics (three games)
Kanter has rather quietly hit his stride off the Celtics bench in recent games, with his strong performances unsurprisingly overshadowed by the stellar exploits of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The big man has four double-digit rebound efforts in his last six games, and he’s complemented that work on the boards with three consecutive double-digit scoring tallies coming into the week. Kanter is shooting 57.0% overall on the season and enters Week 11 with an even better 58.5% success rate over his last five. Even with just three games on the docket, Kanter could conceivably outproduce a big with a four-game week who may be less proficient offensively/on the boards.
Start: Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers (four games)
While there’s plenty of buzz surrounding the potential trade of Kevin Love, Thompson continues to steadily take care of his business down low for the Cavaliers. The veteran big man is putting up career highs in points (12.8) and assists (2.3) while falling just short of his high-water mark of 10.2 rebounds (10.1). Thompson is a clear threat for a double-double any time he takes the floor — in fact, he’s accomplished the feat in four of his last five games. Plus, the Cavs will face three teams this week (Hornets, Thunder, Timberwolves) that are ranked in the bottom half of the league in rebounding rate.
Sit: Clint Capela, Houston Rockets (two games)
Capela is another star struggling with injury as he nurses a bruised heel. That, combined with a two-game schedule, makes the Rockets’ big man a stay-away for Week 11. Capela missed Saturday’s game against Brooklyn and also won’t play Sunday in New Orleans. If he continues to miss time, Isaiah Hartenstein could be worth a look as a short-term add.
Sit: Derrick Favors, New Orleans Pelicans (two games)
Favors is another player who bounces from Start to Sit this week as a result of his overall lack of opportunities. The veteran big man has looked good since returning from an extended absence, grabbing double-digit boards in five straight games, with three double-doubles. But with only two games on the schedule, his upside is limited — especially with one of those contests coming against the Lakers at Staples Center.