Fantasy basketball forecaster: Dec. 17-23

Draymond Green and his Golden State Warriors have a very promising schedule for the week ahead. Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

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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. However, all things 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 new 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

This is a unique week, in that 19 of the teams play four games, 10 play three games and one plays only two. Because so many teams play four games and only one plays two, the usual scale is shifted downward. Usually, four games for a solid team with a solid schedule is enough to earn a high score, while the teams with really low scores often are playing only two games. However, this week, there are several teams with four games and minimal Forecaster scores, and there are very few teams with maximal scores.

The Golden State Warriors scored a perfect 10 on the Forecaster with four games, the only team to score more than an 8. The Oklahoma City Thunder were the only team to score an 8, also with four games. Both squads are healthy, which means that their best players should absorb the production, but there are borderline fantasy starters on those teams who end up with startable scores in my weekly rankings due to the high Forecaster scores of their teams.

On the other side of the coin, there are seven teams with a Forecaster score of 3 or below. The Orlando Magic have the lowest score of 1 with three games. The Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets both scored 2s, though the Hawks did so with three games while the Nuggets play only two. The Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat scored 3s with 3 games each, while the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies scored 3s with four games in the week. This is the second consecutive week that the Grizzlies scored a 3 with four games, a difficult accomplishment for the Grit and Grinders.