Fantasy basketball forecaster: March 18-24

The schedule looks bright for Houston Rockets like Clint Capela, but there's a team with an even better fantasy forecast for the week ahead. Photo by Brian Babineau/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

We are firmly into the fantasy basketball playoffs now, with the postseason tipping off for most leagues that didn't already begin last week. This is an incredibly active week for many NBA teams, with 16 teams playing four games and one squad playing the maximum five. On the other hand, 11 teams play three games and two play only twice. This has led to a unique spread in this week's Forecaster rankings.

There are only two teams with elite Forecaster scores of 8 or higher this week, with the Golden State Warriors parlaying their 10 games into a perfect 10. With both the max number of games and an elite unit, the Warriors set the Forecaster scale so high this week that only the Houston Rockets, with four games, could manage a score of 8.

At the other end of the spectrum, both the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets play only two games, and therefore sport 1s in the Forecaster. The Atlanta Hawks turned their three games into a score of 2, while the Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns scored 3s.

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