Read below for the fantasy basketball Forecaster
In weekly transaction leagues, the schedule is one of the most important factors in determining how to fill out your fantasy basketball lineups. All fantasy teams have a hierarchy of player calibers, with a set of "best players" surrounded by a cast of "lesser but still productive players" from which to draw your weekly starting lineup.
All things being equal, a manager would start their best players every week and fill out the rest of their lineup based on things such as matchups. All things, however, aren't equal.
The schedule changes the bottom line, because teams can play a different number of games, against a different caliber of opponents, with different breakdowns of home vs. road, back-to-backs, rest nights, etc. All of these things matter, and as I've seen this season, they often matter more than a player's caliber.
For example, would you rather get two games of a great player at 35 minutes per night against tough competition, or four games of a lesser player at 30 minutes per night against high-paced, weak competition? When looking at it quantitatively, it's surprising (to me) how often the correct answer is actually the lesser player -- yes, based on schedules, sometimes even star players should sit for a week.
Thus, below, we have the Forecaster, which provides a scheduling and matchup tool to help you make better-informed lineup decisions for the upcoming week.
We also take your weekly prep to another level with my weekly projection rankings. Here, you'll find my top-150 weekly rankings, based on ESPN standard points-league scoring, so you can compare players to determine which players to start, sit, stream or drop for the week ahead. I also provide several typical starters whom you might want to sit, and several bench/free agents whom you might want to stream.
Without further ado, let's check out the Forecaster.
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 season-to-date and past-10-games statistics, opponents' numbers in those categories and 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 to 10 for that team's weekly schedule.
The week ahead
Because this is All-Star week, standard ESPN leagues with weekly transactions include this and next week together as one long game session. So, for this session, we have provided a Forecaster chart for this week and one for next week.
When looking at the next two weeks combined, 24 of the 30 teams will play four games. One team plays five games and five teams play only three times.
The New York Knicks is the team that plays five times, with a perfect 10 for the first week but a more pedestrian 4 for Week 2. The Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors had the highest composite Forecast score at 8.5, while the Toronto Raptors, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers notched 8s with all six squads playing four games.
On the other side of the coin, the Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns play only three games during this extended session. The Lakers have the highest composite score of this group at 4.5, while the Kings have the lowest score at 1. All are on the low end of the spectrum.
Check out my weekly player rankings to see my take on which players may be worth starting or sitting during this two-week session due to the combination of the schedule and injuries.