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 on 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 week sports one of the most unique schedules of the entire season, with 18 teams playing three games, eight playing four, two playing two, and two playing only one game. The vast majority of teams play three or fewer games, which means that teams that play four games are at a premium. This also has the effect of near-max ratings for two teams with only three games, though the very low ratings are dominated by those with fewer than three games.
The Indiana Pacers have the combination of four games, strong team offense numbers and a manageable schedule to merit the only perfect 10 in the Forecaster this week. Surprisingly, both teams with 9s have only three games, though the Warriors and Rockets have special enough offenses to make this understandable. All three teams with 8s have four games this week, including the Celtics, Hornets and Spurs.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Knicks have the lowest Forecaster score at only 1, with only one game to play. The Wizards also play only once, but they earned a 2 in the Forecaster. Both the Mavericks and the Hawks also scored 2s, with two games apiece. The other low-scoring team, the Kings, earned a 3 with three games.
Check out my weekly player rankings to see our take on which players may be worth starting or sitting this week due to the combination of the schedule and injuries.