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 ability.
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-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.
The week ahead
Happy New Year! The first full week of 2020 is busy, with 15 teams playing four games, 14 playing three and one squad -- the Clippers -- playing only two games. This is an unusual distribution that has skewed the Forecasting scale higher, with eight teams scoring 8 or higher vs. only four at 3 or lower. And those scores break down uniformly along game count, with all eight high-scoring teams playing four games and the four low-scoring teams all playing three or fewer.
The Jazz and the Warriors earned perfect 10s on the Forecaster with four games apiece and no back-to-backs, instead playing every other day with more chances for rest. The Bucks and Nuggets earned 9s, while each of the Hawks, Celtics, Mavericks and Pelicans turned their four-game schedules into 8s on the Forecaster. The Rockets turned in the highest score with only three games this week, netting a 7 on the Forecaster with tantalizing upcoming matchups against the Hawks and Timberwolves.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Clippers unsurprisingly turned their league-low two games next week into a minimum Forecaster score of 1. The Cavaliers also scored a 1, though in three games. The Grizzles turned their three-game schedule into a 3 on the Forecaster. The lowest score for a team with four games was a 5, an honor shared by both the Bulls and the Knicks. Both teams face a back-to-back amid a schedule heavy on strong defensive units.
As always, we recommend checking out those weekly projection rankings to see our take on which players might be worth starting or sitting due to the combination of the schedule and injuries.
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.