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-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.
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
The vast majority of teams play three games this week. Nine teams play four games, one team plays only two and 20 squads have three games. As a result, there are teams at each Forecaster score extreme with the same number of games. In other words, schedule strength and team quality are generally playing a larger role in this week's rankings distribution than differences in games played.
The New Orleans Pelicans have four games and the only perfect 10 score of the week, which is very interesting with all of the Anthony Davis drama and frontcourt injuries that they're dealing with right now. The Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards also have four games, and each scored 9s in the Forecaster. And, like the Pelicans, the Pacers (Victor Oladipo) and Wizards (John Wall, Dwight Howard) also have major player absences that make those high scores more interesting. The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets both have three games, but still managed 8s on the Forecaster.
On the other side of the coin, the Dallas Mavericks netted the lowest Forecaster score of the week with a 1, despite playing three games. The Utah Jazz is the only team with just two games this week, but they still managed a 2 on the Forecaster. The Memphis Grizzlies also scored a 2, though with three games. The Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks all scored a 3 with three games each.
Check out my weekly player rankings to see our take on which players from may be worth starting or sitting this week due to the combination of the schedule and injuries.