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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 the best players every week and fill out the rest of the 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 made it! This is it, the final Forecaster of the 2018-19 season, covering the final 10 days of the campaign. Because this is an extra-long session, there are more games than usual to be accounted for here. There are 11 teams with six games, 16 teams with five and three with only four games this session. This compressed the scale oddly toward the middle, with only a few outliers at either extreme.
The Golden State Warriors earned the only perfect 10 on the scale, and the Philadelphia 76ers earned the only 9, both with six games. The Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz earned 8s, with the Jazz playing six games and the Rockets playing six. Of note, these are all playoff teams that could conceivably rest starters in a game or two before the season ends.
Interestingly, all five teams at the bottom of the scale play five games. The Sacramento Kings earned a 2 on the Forecaster, while the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies scored 3s. Four of these five teams are already in the lottery and the fifth is challenging for a playoff spot, so they may actually have less impetus to rest players down the stretch than the secured playoff teams.
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.