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NBA Fantasy: Start/Sit guide for Week 5

Max Strus is off to a strong start with Cleveland totaling career-best averages of 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

We’re primed for a Week 5 that sets up nicely for us in terms of schedule, even with the NBA going idle on Thanksgiving Day as usual. Despite that one-day respite, we have more teams on four-game ledgers than those with three, which always increases our chances of a rewarding fantasy week.

Each week, we’ll aim to highlight a pair of Start candidates for your fantasy rosters that may shape up as some of the tougher calls of the week to make, with the focus usually being on players with a start or roster rate of 50% or less in Yahoo leagues. We’ll also typically hone in on players with four-game weeks in an attempt to maximize opportunities for production.

Likewise, we’ll spotlight one Sit candidate at each position that would normally not be a consideration for a spot on your bench, with the focus there often on players with fewer game opportunities during the coming week.

TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards

TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz

TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder 

Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 5:


Start: Alex Caruso, Bulls

31% start rate 

Caruso is working his way through a toe strain that isn’t expected to impact his availability on the Bulls’ four-game week, as he’s already proven capable of playing effectively with the nagging ailment. The veteran has been drawing starts at two-guard of late and has averaged a well-rounded 14.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per contest over his last five games overall. It’s worth noting Caruso is also entering Week 5 on a shooting heater for the ages – he’s drained 72.7% of his shots over that span, including 70.0 % of his 4.0 attempts per game from behind the arc in that sample. While that type of efficiency is unsustainable, consider jumping on the train while it’s barrelling down the fantasy tracks if you’re in a pinch at guard this week.

Start: Dyson Daniels, Pelicans  

44% roster rate

CJ McCollum remains out with his chest/lung injury to open the Pelicans’ four-game week Monday, and the veteran still doesn’t have a firm timetable for return. While that could obviously change at some point during New Orleans’ upcoming busy schedule, we’ll take a chance on Daniels, who’s hit the ground running in his NBA career and already proven capable of thriving on the first unit. The rookie eighth overall pick is averaging 11.2 points (on solid 46.4% shooting), 6.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals across 33.7 minutes per contest in his current six-game starting stint. Daniels’ penchant for well-rounded production and what he can offer you in steals makes him a very viable option to consider this week.

ALSO CONSIDER: Mike Conley, Timberwolves (49% start rate); Jalen Suggs, Magic (42% start rate) 

Sit: Josh Giddey, Thunder

60% start rate 

Giddey is the first of two Thunder starters that we’ll recommend for a seat on the bench this week courtesy of the team’s two-game schedule. However, in Giddey’s case, the suggestion also partly stems from his uneven start to the season, which has seen his scoring average drop from last season’s 16.6 to 12.4, his rebounds tumble from 7.9 to 5.6 and his assists fall from 6.2 to 4.7. Giddey has also seen a near four-point drop in shooting percentage (48.2 to 44.4), and he’s logging a modest 27.1 minutes per game after averaging 31.2 per contest last season. While he’s capable of a well-rounded line any time he takes the floor, it’s clear his numbers are replaceable on a week where he’ll only have a pair of chances to suit up.


Start: Jalen Johnson, Hawks

24% start rate 

Johnson’s start rate isn’t likely to remain this modest for long, as the 2021 first-round pick has been thriving in a starting role. Johnson is averaging 14.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 blocks across 30.9 minutes over his last 10 games, a stretch during which he’s logged nine assignments with the first unit. What’s more, Johnson is capable of scoring from all over the floor, with the stretch four’s 59.6% shooting during that sample partly constituting a 48.6% success rate from 3-point range. With the career-best production he’s generating across the board, Johnson’s not letting go of the top power forward role and will have four more opportunities to continue building on his already impressive resume this week.

Start: Max Strus, Cavaliers

41% start rate 

Strus has been an immediate fit with the Cavs’ system after coming over from the Heat this offseason, serving as an excellent complementary source of production across the stat sheet while sharing the floor with a highly talented backcourt. Strus enters Week 5 already clocking career-best averages of 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists across a robust 35.1 minutes over his first 13 games. Notably, he’s putting up that type of solid scoring production despite shooting a subpar 43.1%, but he’s been able to drain his shots at a 50.0% clip, including 40.0% from 3-point range, during his current eight-game streak of double-digit point tallies. Strus can help your lineup in multiple categories and has a full schedule this coming week, putting him firmly in the Start category.

ALSO CONSIDER: Duncan Robinson, Heat (52% start rate); Bogdan Bogdanovic, Hawks (18% start rate)

Sit:  Ausar Thompson, Pistons

81% start rate 

Thompson has his career off to a fine start, offering fantasy managers impressive averages of 11.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per contest. However, the rookie has only two games to work with this week, and he also checks into that sparse schedule with three single-digit scoring tallies in the last five games. Thompson will always have a chance of delivering a fruitful stat line when he’s out there, but the chances he’s outpaced by a four-game option with a starting role are high.


Start: Goga Bitadze, Magic  

22% roster rate 

Bitadze came through nicely as a Week 4 Start suggestion, so we’ll go back to the well after he returned solid averages of 9.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals across 23.3 minutes over four games. Those numbers are actually dragged down a bit by a game against the Bulls where he got into foul trouble, so Bitadze has the potential to offer even better across-the-stat-sheet production during Orlando’s second straight four-game schedule. Wendell Carter (hand) isn’t slated to be evaluated until late in the week, meaning Bitadze shouldn’t have any impediment to another quartet of starting assignments. 

Start: Naz Reid, Timberwolves

41% start rate 

Reid typically sports a sub-50% start rate and can usually serve as a solid one-week fill-in when you’re short on options at center. That has a good chance to hold true again this week, as the big man checks into Minnesota’s four-game Week 5 ledger averaging a career-high 12.6 points with the help of a career-best 43.1% shooting from 3-point range. Reid’s only pulling down 3.9 rebounds per contest – less than ideal for a center and a full board less per game than a year ago – but he’s obviously capable of spiking his production in that area on any given night, considering he’s recorded five or more rebounds on four occasions already. With a safe bench role that he’s proven very efficient with over multiple seasons, he offers a nice offensive punch out of one of your center spots if you’re in need at the position this week.

ALSO CONSIDER: Andre Drummond, Bulls (11% roster rate)

Sit:  Chet Holmgren, Thunder

68% start rate 

Holmgren is finally healthy and frequently playing like the second overall pick he was in 2022, averaging 17.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 blocks per contest over an average of 29.6 minutes. Yet, the big man will be subject to a two-game schedule this coming week, which makes his solid-but-not-elite production eclipseable by another starting big with more opportunities to take the floor. Fantasy managers who are in dire need of blocks may be an exception to this recommendation if there isn’t any comparable alternative available; otherwise, Holmgren could understandably struggle to offer returns comparable to a four-game option, especially considering he also draws a matchup against Joel Embiid in one of his two Week 5 contests.