On Twitter (follow me @ProfessorDrz), I came across a chart of how all 30 NBA teams fare in back-to-back situations versus rest situations this season as of last week. I've used this chart a couple of times in the "Analytics Advantage" section of my NBA Daily Fantasy Basketball Notes, but it really fits perfectly with the Weekly Forecaster. The whole purpose of the Forecaster is to identify teams with good fantasy schedules in a given week. While the number of games is a big consideration, it isn't the only one. The Forecaster also includes factors like team offense strength against opposing defense strength -- this is why the Golden State Warriors, for example, always have good Forecaster ratings, as their offense is so incredible -- road games versus home games, and density of games.
The chart in the link above really helps hammer home how important the game density can be. The chart looks at each teams "Net RTG" with rest compared to back-to-back. Net RTG stands for Net Rating, and it's the average scoring margin of the team across every game in each situation. Only eight of 30 teams have better Net Ratings in back-to-back situations, while 22 have worse Net Ratings in those situations. And many of the teams get significantly worse in back-to-back situations, with nine teams more than eight points worse. The Houston Rockets were the worst in that situation, with a more than 14-point drop, while the New York Knicks dropped by 12.9 points and the Philadelphia 76ers by 11.4 points.
These are very significant differences in production, and thus definitely should be factored in when predicting weekly results. The Forecaster does that, which is why it is so helpful in planning your weekly lineups.
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
This week is one of the most balanced of the season, as 29 of the 30 teams play either three or four games. Overall, 13 teams play four games, 16 have three games, and only one team, the Orlando Magic, plays twice.
This balance really compresses the rankings for the week, as the Magic with their 1 are the only team with a ranking below a 3. On the high end, there are six teams with a score over 8: Chicago Bulls (9, four games), Golden State Warriors (9, three games) , Houston Rockets (10, four games), LA Clippers (9, four games), Oklahoma City Thunder (10, four games) and San Antonio Spurs (9, four games).
The way this shakes out, the Magic are the only team that will generally be an obvious fade candidate for the week. However, there are three other teams with three games but poor enough matchups to net a 3 rating on the Forecaster: Detroit Pistons (one tough defensive matchup followed by a home/away back-to-back), Los Angeles Lakers (one tough home matchup, two tough road games) and Memphis Grizzlies (three home games, but their offense is so poor overall that they project poorly even against average defenses). All told, I'm likely to sit all of my Magic players but would likely play the star players on any of the other teams here (e.g. Andre Drummond, Lonzo Ball if healthy, Marc Gasol, Tyreke Evans) and fade their role players.
At the other end of the spectrum, because there are fewer obvious fades this is a week with less need for stream candidates. Plus, the teams with the high Forecaster ratings tend to have star players returning from injury that further diminish the odds of finding a good streamer. The Bulls are working Zach LaVine back into the mix, the Warriors have only three games and most of their production runs through their stars, the Rockets have James Harden back and will get Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green back from suspension before the coming week, the Clippers should likely have DeAndre Jordan back, and the Thunder are just generally healthy.
Put that all together, and this is the rare week that the upper extreme ratings of the Forecaster don't predict many obvious stream candidates. Nevertheless, there are some good streamers out there if needed. Here are a few to look for:
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings (available in 40.8 percent of leagues): I'm actually shocked that WCS is still available in so many leagues. He's averaging 16.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals in his past 13 games and his role just continues to get larger as the season progresses and the Kings edge closer to a youth movement. Those averages leap to 21.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.7 blocks in his past three games and he should be universally owned. He also has four games on tap for this week, with a Forecaster rating of 6 out of 10, though all four games are on the road.
Jerian Grant, Chicago Bulls (available in 97.6 percent of leagues): The Bulls do get a player on this stream list due to Kris Dunn's concussion. Dunn isn't even traveling on their current road trip, and his return date is unknown. This opens up space for someone, perhaps Grant, to move into the starting lineup and generate some numbers in their four games.
Michael Beasley, New York Knicks (available in 51.9 percent of leagues): Beasley had a couple of down games when Tim Hardaway Jr. first returned, but has since settled in and averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks with a 3-pointer in his past two games. The Knicks have a relatively tough schedule with three road games and a Forecaster rating of only 4, but the mercurial Beasley could still be worth considering.
Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets (available in 81.6 percent of leagues): The Hornets have four games and a Forecaster rating of 6 with three home games. Meanwhile, Williams has come to life with averages of 16.0 points (62.9 FG%, 85.7 FT%), 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 3-pointers, 1.8 assists and 0.8 steals in his past four games. The shooting percentage is unsustainable, but ride the wave while it's going, as Williams has shown in the past the ability to sustain startable production for long periods of time.
T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 76ers (available in 86.8 percent of leagues): McConnell has a potentially larger role with J.J. Redick injured, and has averaged 15.0 points (58.3 FG%), 6.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals in the two games since Redick went down. The 76ers also have four games this period, though three are on the road, with a Forecaster rating of 5.