Read below for the fantasy basketball forecaster
In weekly transaction leagues, the NBA 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 ones 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
The schedule is fairly conservative, with only nine teams playing four games, 18 playing thrice and three teams playing only twice this week. Six of the seven teams with forecaster scores of 8 or higher play four games, while all three teams with two games scored 3 or lower.
The Thunder turned in the only perfect 10 score of the week with three home games and their only road trip to the defensively friendly Timberwolves. The Celtics, Pacers, 76ers and Trail Blazers all turned their four games into 9s on the forecaster, while the Magic earned an 8 on the forecaster despite being on the road for all four games with a back-to-back against the Lakers and Clippers. Their outlook is helped by games against the friendlier Kings and Warriors that bracket the week. The Jazz are the only team with only three games to score at least an 8 on the forecaster, and they did it with a schedule featuring zero back-to-backs and games against the welcoming defenses of the Nets, Pelicans and Kings.
On the other side of the coin, the Hornets turned in the lowest forecaster score this week with a 1 on two games. The Grizzlies and Wizards each turned their two games into 2s on the forecaster, while the Nets and Knicks turned their three games into 3s. Symmetry, there.
As always, we recommend you check 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.