Happy New Year everyone! As the 2021 majority share of this NBA season gets underway, fantasy basketball managers have had two weeks to get a feel on both the league and their respective rosters. Armed with a couple of weeks’ worth of data, stats, and roster updates, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and pinpoint some accurate Week 3 fantasy basketball start/sit decisions.
One plus for fantasy managers this week is that the vast majority of NBA teams will play four games. After pairing schedule outlooks with defensive metrics through the first two weeks, the following article contains several players across each position that warrant serious fantasy basketball start/sit consideration in Week 3.
Week 3 Fantasy Basketball Schedule Breakdown
Teams with four games: BOS, BKN, CHA, CHI, CLE, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, LAC, LAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA
Teams with three games: ATL, DAL, IND, MEM, NOP, PHX, POR, WAS
Week 3 Fantasy Basketball Start/Sit
Point Guards | Fantasy Basketball Start/Sit
Consider Starting: D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves
Opponents: DEN, POR, SAS (twice)
In last week’s Fantasy Basketball Stock Market Watch article, I wrote about how D’Angelo Russell’s poor play early in the season is causing his stock to drop. Well, with no Karl-Anthony Towns and a picture-perfect schedule, Week 3 is his chance to rebound. Three of the Timberwolves’ four games this week come against the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. Those teams comprise two-thirds of the three worst defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to point guards. Russell’s stock will really be crumbling if he can’t get right this week.
Consider Sitting: Tyus Jones, Memphis Grizzlies
Opponents: LAL, CLE, BKN
With Ja Morant being out for the foreseeable future, backup Grizzlies point guard Tyus Jones is one of the more intriguing fantasy basketball waiver wire options for Week 3. With that said, the 2015 first-round pick will be up against it from a matchup standpoint this week, as Memphis only plays three games. Furthermore, two of those come against the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers, a pair of top-seven defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to point guards. Jones’ volume uptick makes him worth rostering, but don’t feel the need to force start him this week if you have better alternatives available.
Shooting Guards | Fantasy Basketball Start/Sit
Consider Starting: Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
Opponents: GSW, CHI, TOR, POR
The bulk of Buddy Hield’s fantasy value comes from his ability to score, evidenced in his 16.8 PPG average. This combined with averaging over 36 minutes per game makes Hield an attractive start most weeks, but Sacramento’s schedule only adds fuel to the fire for Week 3. Three of the Kings’ four opponents this week rank in the bottom-nine in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing shooting guards. The only team that grades a little better defensively against the position still surrenders over 42 fantasy points per game. With supreme confidence, I predict that Hield will make good on a spot in your starting lineup this week.
Consider Sitting: Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks
Opponents: NYK, CHA (twice)
The Hawks play just three games this week, none of which are positive matchups for shooting guards. Believe it or not, the New York Knicks are allowing the fewest fantasy points to the position on a per game basis at 35.3. The Charlotte Hornets aren’t too much worse, at 42.06. As a result, Kevin Huerter is a risky Week 3 start in fantasy basketball. Add in the fact that he is dealing with an ankle injury that has him questionable to play at all in Monday’s game, and he is firmly in the sit candidates category.
Small Forwards | Fantasy Basketball Start/Sit
Consider Starting: P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets
Opponents: PHI, ATL (twice), NOP
Before delving into why P.J. Washington is a solid start for Week 3, it must be noted that he is considered questionable for Monday’s game due to a thumb contusion. With that said, the Hornets are already without Cody Zeller. So, one has to believe Washington will be on the court if he is at all able to go. Charlotte plays four games this week, with two coming against an Atlanta Hawks defense that surrenders 27.3 points per game to small forwards, the second-most in the NBA, and they’re by no means elite against power forwards wither. Worst case scenario, even if Walker is unfit to play on Monday and only plays in three games, he will still have the two plus-matchups against Atlanta later in the week to turn in solid fantasy production.
Consider Sitting: Kelly Oubre Jr., Golden State Warriors
Opponents: SAC, LAC (twice), TOR
In his first season in the Bay Area, Kelly Oubre Jr. has a solid minute average of 27.7 per game. Unfortunately for both the Warriors and Oubre fantasy basketball owners, he has done very little in those minutes thus far. Averages of 9.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 0.5 assists are lackluster, at best. Now, Oubre and Golden State head into a Week 3 slate that includes two matchups against a Los Angeles Clippers defense that only allows 35.51 fantasy points to opposing small forwards on a per-game basis. Unless Oubre can somehow salvage his weekly value in more promising matchups against Toronto and Sacramento, his outlook this week is quite bleak.
Power Forwards | Fantasy Basketball Start/Sit
Consider Starting: Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Opponents: CLE (twice), HOU, DAL
Aaron Gordon is far from a sexy start recommendation. However, from a matchup standpoint, his Week 3 ceiling is quite appealing. The Magic play four games, three of which are of particular interest for Gordon’s fantasy basketball value. The Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers are both allowing north of 43 fantasy points to opposing power forwards on a per-game basis, respectively. With both Chuma Okeke and Al-Farouq Aminu dealing with injuries, Gordon should see his playing time continue to pick up to pair with the promising matchups this week.
Consider Sitting: Jae Crowder, Phoenix Suns
Opponents: TOR, DET, IND
Jae Crowder’s streaky statistical production makes him somewhat of a risky start in fantasy basketball on a weekly basis. Week 3 sees him and the Suns only play three games which further complicates matters. One of those matchups comes against an Indiana Pacers team that allows just 39.58 fantasy points per game to opposing power forwards. For a player like Crowder, who only comes into the week averaging 10.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists, there just isn’t enough opportunity for production to get overly excited about his Week 3 prospects.
Centers | Fantasy Basketball Start/Sit
Consider Starting: Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs
Opponents: LAC, LAL, MIN (twice)
Through two weeks of play, Jakob Poeltl’s numbers don’t necessarily jump out for a center who averages roughly 22 minutes per game. However, if LaMarcus Aldridge continues to miss time, Week 3 will give the fifth-year pro a great chance to boost his statistical averages in a big way. The Spurs have four games this week, one against each of the L.A. teams and two more coming against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves enter the week allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing centers (62.29).
Even if Aldridge does return this week, he is unlikely to play a full workload in all four games. This makes Poeltl still fantasy viable.
Consider Sitting: Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards
Opponents: PHI, BOS, MIA
Understandably, it may be tough for fantasy basketball managers to sit a player with the production levels of Thomas Bryant. With that said, Week 3 is one to proceed with caution if choosing to deploy the 23-year-old in your starting lineup. All Wizards players are automatically at a disadvantage this week, with only three games on the slate. Of added concern for Bryant specifically, two of those games come against the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers, two teams that make life pretty difficult on opposing centers. Volume breeds production, but Bryant definitely has a tough week ahead.