Fantasy basketball forecaster: Jan. 15-21

Rodney Hood is widely available and provides a stable floor this week if you're seeking a streaming option. Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

I get a lot of advice questions on Twitter (@ProfessorDrz), and recently I've been getting questions about when/whether someone should pick up a player and/or make a trade for a player that is either injured currently or that they think will have a bigger role if a teammate gets traded. Here's an example:

These types of questions are difficult to advise on, because I understand and appreciate the spirit of wanting to get an edge on your competition however you can. And if you can identify future value before your competition, it can put you on the road to a title. However, the counter to that is true as well: There's a risk to trying to get there first. And the same way it can improve your team to get there first, it can also hurt your team to swing and miss. That's the part that many people don't always give full credence to.

As I pointed out in the example above, in that particular case a successful outcome would depend on multiple factors:

1. Does Nikola Mirotic actually get traded?

2. Does Rudy Gobert return healthy and stay healthy, thus hurting Derrick Favors' value?

3. Does Bobby Portis see a big enough increase in value, since he'd still be coming off the bench?

Each of these questions has an answer with some probability of not working out. And it's important that you consider the risk as well as the reward carefully before making a decision.

It's also important that you don't take advice from any one person as a gospel decision for your team ... you control your team, so you're responsible for it. So if you ask me, or anyone, for advice and it doesn't work out, you've got to own it. That's why, instead of direct questions on if someone should make a move, I prefer questions like this one:

It's the same type of looking-to-the-future mindset, but this time it's information-seeking instead of decision-seeking. I'm glad to provide all of the information that I can about what I think may or may not happen, so that at the end of the day you have all of the information that you need so that YOU can make your best decisions for your team. I definitely advocate being proactive, taking risks and going for it to win your leagues. But understand your risks/rewards, and let every swing and miss serve to just make it that much sweeter when you hit your home run (yeah, I know that's a baseball metaphor instead of basketball, but it works here, so go with it).

Matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup). These are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 10 games' statistics, their opponents' numbers in those categories and their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played. The column to the left lists the team's total number of games scheduled, as well as home games, and lists the overall rating from 1-10 for that team's weekly schedule.

The week ahead

Last week, the forecast was strongly impacted by the London game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics on Thursday the 11th, because the logistics of that game dictated that each team play only one game that week. This week, the schedule returns to a more conventional distribution of games with 10 teams playing four times, 18 teams playing three times, and two teams with only two games.

Per the Forecaster, there are four teams this week with forecast ratings under three. Both teams that play only two games, the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns, got minimum scores of 1. The Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Hornets both play three times, but both play tough schedules and had forecaster ratings of 2 for the week. The Mavericks and Kings don't really have any superstar players this season, but the Suns have Devin Booker and the Hornets have Kemba Walker and (in points-based leagues) Dwight Howard that you likely still have to play. Outside of those players, though, you may either have to think twice about the start or just outright fade.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are five teams that earned a Forecaster rating of 8 or higher. The San Antonio Spurs got the only perfect 10 on the rater this week, while the Utah Jazz scored a 9 and the Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors scored an 8. The Warriors are the only team from that list with only three games, and if Stephen Curry (questionable, ankle) returns this weekend as expected, they'd be healthy enough not to have any great streaming options. However, if we go through the other four teams with an eye out for streaming possibilities ...

  • Ish Smith, Detroit Pistons (available in 74.7 percent of leagues): Smith should be owned in more leagues anyway, as a productive starting point guard for the next couple of months until Reggie Jackson returns. Smith has averaged 13.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and a steal with only 0.7 turnovers in his past seven games.

  • Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz (available in 71.7 percent of leagues): Hood comes off the bench for the Jazz, but he's a consistent contributor. In his past 11 games, he has averaged 15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.3 3-pointers, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals per game.

  • Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs (available in 87.2 percent of leagues): Anderson is on this list for the second week in a row, because the Spurs continue to have injuries on the wing. Kawhi Leonard (shoulder), Danny Green (groin) and Rudy Gay (heel) are all still sitting out. Dejounte Murray may have made this list if Tony Parker (ankle) was expected to be out longer, but he is expected back on Saturday. Add in that Manu Ginobili is old enough that he's extremely unlikely to play in all four games next week, and Anderson just continues to get opportunity. He's not a big scorer, but he's a strong source of defensive categories and rebounds from the wing, with occasional big-game upside.

  • Delon Wright, Toronto Raptors (available in 85.1 percent of leagues): Wright is another repeat on this list, as Kyle Lowry is still out with his back injury and is questionable to return in the near future. Wright has averaged 12.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.2 3-pointers and 1.0 blocks in his past five games. Watch out for Fred VanVleet (available in 99.1 percent of leagues) as well, as he popped for 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 3-pointers and a steal on Thursday night.