Fantasy basketball forecaster: March 4-10

How does the schedule look for Tobias Harris and his Philadelphia 76ers teammates for the week ahead? Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

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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. 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-200 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

In the first full week of March, 10 teams play four games, 18 teams play three games and two squads play only twice. As a result, schedule is the dominant factor in the extremes of this week's Forecaster with almost every four-game schedule near the top and the two-game teams in the basement.

The 76ers earned the only perfect 10 this week, with four games and relatively good matchups. The big question is whether Joel Embiid will be back on the court for all four games, as his presence/absence will play a big factor in the production of the rest of the squad.

Six teams scored 8s this week, with five of them playing four games. The Heat, Bucks, Timberwolves, Pelicans and Knicks all parlayed their four games into this high number. The sixth team with an 8, the Warriors, are the only elite score this week that comes from only three games.

On the other side of the coin, the Cavs and Clippers managed to get only a 1 with their two games. The Kings, who will be without arguably their hottest player Marvin Bagley III, also earned a 1 with three games. The Grizzlies parlayed their three-game schedule into a 2 on the Forecaster, and the Magic turned their three games into a score of 3. These are the teams that will likely have players dominating the potentially sittable category in my weekly rankings.

As always, I recommend checking out those rankings to see my take on which players may be worth starting or sitting due to the combination of the schedule and injuries.