Fantasy Basketball: Week 4 Schedule Primer

Three weeks are in the books and week four is the first week of the season where some NBA teams are starting to play fewer games.  Four teams have just two games, and six teams have four games, so now is when this article starts becoming more important.  With that said, let us roll right into the Week 4 Schedule Primer with a huge thank you to the fantastic Advanced Schedule Grid on Hashtag Basketball.

Weekly lock leagues

Tip of the week:  As I mentioned the Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Portland Trail Blazers each play just two games this week.  That makes for some difficult decisions in weekly lock leagues. 

Let’s assume a decision comes down to Damian Lillard, a consensus second-round pick, and Spence Dinwiddie (37% owned in Yahoo Leagues).  Lillard plays twice so he should net you roughly 54 points, ten rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, a block (if you are lucky), and six 3-pointers made.  Dinwiddie plays four times, so based on his season averages he would score you 44 points, 12 rebounds, 20 assists, four steals, 0 blocks, and 6.8 3-pointers made.  You can see how playing any two-game player gets dicey, so check your waiver wire and be on the lookout for any advantage you can get.

Note: Most of the teams play three games this week.  That makes those players safer options.  I doubt you are benching any top 50 player who has three games this week, so do not freak out if your lineup features a handful of three games players.

Top 10 potential pickups playing four games:  (All ownership percentages based on ESPN leagues and under 40 percent owned was the cut-off for available on the waiver wire):

  1. Josh Richardson- Miami Heat (13.9%)- Richardson produces excellent defensive stats and could swing your week in those two categories alone with four games. Pick him up.
  2. Spencer Dinwiddie- Brooklyn Nets (23.3%)
  3. Mike James- Phoenix Suns (11.2%)- plentiful assists and steals for a waiver wire target.
  4. Tyson Chandler- Phoenix Suns (25.0%)- big rebounds on good %’s with a block per game
  5. Tyler Johnson- Miami Heat (17.1%)
  6. Caris Levert- Brooklyn Nets (9.3%)
  7. Alex Len- Phoenix Suns (13.7%)- Solid rebounds and blocks even in limited minutes
  8. Kelly Olynyk- Miami Heat (28.0%)- Minutes have been light recently, but Olynyk is a per minute stud. Hope for 25 a night, and the rewards will be handsome.
  9. Bojan Bogdanovic- Indiana Pacers (20.4%)
  10. Allen Crabbe- Brooklyn Nets (10.0%)

Daily roster changes

Head-to-head leagues with daily roster changes are the holy grail of streaming opportunities.  Most leagues create a limit to the additions for the week to keep the streaming from getting out of hand. That makes the goal to maximize the pickup's usefulness by using back-to-back sets or just any schedule advantage.

First, a word on the schedule itself: Strangely, Tuesday and Saturday are the two heavily schedule game days.  There are ten games on Tuesday and 11 on Saturday, so you probably won’t be streaming on those days.  The only other potential day is Friday with eight games, but I find standard leagues usually allow for streaming with an eight-game night.  With that said, we will work around Tuesday and Saturday to maximize the adds this week.  Without further ado, here are the pickups for Week 4.

Note: Boston Celtics and Miami Heat both play all four games on light schedule days.  Their players would be perfect to target on Monday and hold for the entire week giving you four games of steady production in your line-up.  Those players are worth considering with that strategy.

Back-to-backs

Monday-Wednesday pseudo

Miami Heat

Josh Richardson (13.9%)- Read above or the previous editions of this column.  Richardson is legit people and is worth holding in standard leagues for the length of the season.  Richardson is a genuinely underrated fantasy asset.

Tyler Johnson (17.1%)- Johnson is another guard like Richardson that brings the defensive stats.  In the three games heading into Week 4, Johnson has averaged over 30 minutes a night.  That playing time should allow him to average double-digit points with a steal per game and a block over a pseudo back-to-back set on average.  Johnson is a worthy edition in any standard league for the two games.

Kelly Olynyk (28.0%)- The minutes have been in the tank lately as I mentioned above, but the Timberwolves have plenty of big men on their roster, so it seems like a situation to use the bigger Olynyk.  The same goes for Wednesday’s opponent the Chicago Bulls, so I am expecting minutes in the 20-25 range for these two games.

Justise Winslow (18.1%)- Winslow is not my favorite add.  Winslow should get a steal per game, though.  In a deeper league, that could swing your weekly match-up, so do not write him off.

Phoenix Suns

Mike James (11.2%)- James is the Suns starting point guard since they sent home Eric Bledsoe and should continue to be least in the short term.  James could hurt both your %’s, but should provide plenty of assists with six rebounds and two steals in the two games combined.

Tyson Chandler (25.0%)- Tyson Chandler is 19th in the NBA in rebounding as of this writing.  Throw in excellent percentages (granted on minimal attempts) and a block over the two games, and I will be streaming Chandler if I need big man stats.

Alex Len (13.7%)- Alex Len is 24th in the NBA in rebounding and should provide a block and solid yet worse percentages than Chandler in the two games.  It is a Phoenix one A one B situation for big man stats.

Josh Jackson (30.9%)- The percentages are poor (often happens with rookies), but Jackson can get you a steal per game with double-digit points.  That is not the worst combination if you are hurting in those two categories.

Tyler Ulis (3.2%)- Seven assists and two steals over two games could swing those two categories making Ulis worth a look.  Probably a better stream for 14 team leagues and deeper, though.

Dragan Bender (1.4%)- Should get you a block and a 3-pointer per game in his current playing time which is worth a stream especially in deeper leagues.

Boston Celtics

Marcus Morris (21.6%)- Morris is coming back from injury and is out for Monday’s game to rest.  Probably not the best addition until he gets fully healthy in standard leagues.

Terry Rozier (24.2%)- Rozier is only playing about 24 minutes a night this season, but should provide eight rebounds, five assists, two steals, and 18 points over the back-to-back set.  Not the worst stat line to pick-up.

Aron Baynes (2.3%)- Baynes is only seeing about 20 minutes a game, but should provide 12 rebounds and two blocks over the two games or enough production to swing both categories in a close week.

Golden State Warriors

Andre Iguodala (16.6%)- Iguodala provides good assists and steals for a forward and out of position stats are an exceptional way to take a category in a head-to-head league.

Wednesday-Thursday

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers play this back-to-back, but they have nobody worth recommending under 54.0% owned.  Not uncommon for a big market team, but I guess you could peak at Josh Hart (0.3%) for a steal per game with almost no other stats.

Thursday-Friday

Oklahoma City Thunder

Jerami Grant (1.8%)- Grant is averaging over a block and steal per game in just 22.5 minutes this season.  The steals production probably won’t hold, but the blocks will.

Raymond Felton (0.8%)- Felton is hot right now, but even if cools off should provide five assists and two steals on average over a back-to-back set.

Friday-Sunday pseudo

Detroit Pistons

Stanley Johnson (4.0%)- Stanley Johnson is playing over 30 minutes a game and should trend on that line most of the season given the Pistons lack of wings.  He should provide solid steals with 2-3 treys over the two games.

Ish Smith (3.9%)- Only playing 20 minutes a game, but still averaging four assists a night.  Eight dimes over two games make anybody worth an addition in standard leagues.

Indiana Pacers

Bojan Bogdanovic (20.4%)- Points and 3’s target with minimal production in other categories, but the good news is Bogdanovic is averaging over 29 minutes per game this season.

Boston Celtics

Listed under Monday-Wednesday pseudo back-to-backs

Miami Heat

Listed under Monday-Wednesday pseudo back-to-backs

Oklahoma City Thunder

Listed under Thursday-Friday back-to-backs

Looking ahead to Week 5

Perhaps, you have the week in hand heading into Sunday’s slate of games, and you are looking for a leg up in next week.  It is a fantastic idea, but unfortunately, there are no teams playing both days this week, curse those NBA schedule makers.  No worries, though there will be plenty of other pickups to attack next week.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, your team is in first place after three weeks and continues the run in week 4.  Please check back with us next week for another edition of the Schedule Primer.  Be sure to check out the Watching the Boxes Podcast for fantastic fantasy basketball information in podcast form.


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