Read below for the fantasy basketball Forecaster
In weekly transaction leagues, the schedule is one of the most important factors to consider when 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."
All things being equal, a manager would start their best players every week and fill out the rest of their lineup based on variables 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 noticed this season, they often matter even 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 and determine who you should start, sit, stream or drop for the week ahead. I also note 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 columns to the left list the team's total number of games scheduled, as well as home games, and the overall rating from 1 to 10 for that team's weekly schedule.
The week ahead
Unlike last week, there are no days this week without a game. The schedule, however, is still generally lighter now, during the end of the holiday window, than it is during normal weeks. There are 20 teams playing three times this week, with nine teams playing four times and just one team playing twice. Similar to last week, this compresses the Forecaster rankings toward the median -- with a small number of teams at each scoring extreme and the majority in the middle.
The Charlotte Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder both scored perfect 10s this week with four games, while the Golden State Warriors achieved a 10 with only three contests. Similarly, the Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves scored 9s with four games while the Philadelphia 76ers managed a 9 with only three games. The New Orleans Pelicans round out the list of high scores, with an 8 in four games.
On the other side of the coin, the New York Knicks scored the minimum of 1 on the Forecaster with only two games on the schedule. The Detroit Pistons and Sacramento Kings both scored 3s with three games apiece, while the Dallas Mavericks managed to score only a 2, despite having four games this week.
Be sure to check out the Weekly Player Rankings to see which players may be worth starting or sitting this week in light of the schedule and the injury landscape.