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 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.
Without further ado, let's check out the Forecaster.
The week ahead
The season is in full swing, with tendencies being established, injuries changing the landscape and the now infamous load management making it difficult to plan. On next week's schedule, there are 11 teams with four games, 16 teams with three games, and three teams (Clippers, Kings and Jazz) that play only twice.
The Bucks scored a perfect 10 on the Forecaster with four games, the 76ers and Trail Blazers parlayed their four games into scores of 9. Interestingly, the Hawks generated an 8 in four games while the Warriors earned a perfect 10 in their four games. Both teams are strongly impacted by injuries to their star point guards, as Trae Young is questionable for next week with a sprained ankle and Stephen Curry is out with a broken hand.
Keep an eye on Young's status, as in his absence on Thursday DeAndre' Bembry flirted with a triple-double off the bench. There are a lot of unknowns for the Warriors with Curry out, but presumably D'Angelo Russell should star, and perhaps one of the younger players might step forward over the weekend and earn himself a roster and/or fantasy starting spot for next week's slate of games.
On the other side of the coin, the Clippers produced the worst score of the week with a 1 in only two games, while the Jazz and Kings turned their two-game weeks into Forecaster scores of 2 and 3, respectively. The Cavaliers and Knicks both earned 2s and the Mavericks and Suns earned 3s despite having three games each. The Suns and Mavericks have both played well this season, and were this later in the season with a longer track record of good play, both teams may have earned higher scores for next week.
As always, I recommend checking out the weekly projection rankings to see my take on which players may be worth starting or sitting based on the combination of 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.