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
It's All-Star week, which actually comprises two weeks, Feb. 10-23. With the All-Star break going from Thursday to Thursday, it just about splits each week directly in half to produce one super-week. During this stretch, most teams have four games but six squads have three and one team plays only twice. Interestingly, while the top scores are dominated by the four-game squads, there are only a few very low scores this week ... err, these two weeks.
The Bucks have the only perfect 10 score on the forecaster, as they're playing excellent ball and have a couple of plum matchups against the Kings and Pistons. The Lakers, Heat and Pelicans turn their four games into 9s on the forecaster, with two of those teams playing elite ball all season and the Pelicans in the midst of an extended run of strong play. The Celtics, Raptors, Wizards and Trail Blazers all turned their four games into 8 scores. Two of those teams have been elite all season, the Trail Blazers have played well lately and the Wizards have an outstanding schedule (including the Knicks, Cavs and Bulls twice) to help their scores.
On the other side of the coin, the Knicks have the lowest forecaster score with a 1, not surprising since they're the only team with only two games. The Magic and the 76ers both scored 3s with three games, as neither has played particularly well of late and the 76ers have tough games against the Bucks and Clippers. The Clippers, Grizzlies, Rockets and Cavs also play only three games but scored slightly higher on the forecaster due to either strong play of their own or, in the Cavs' case, a good schedule that includes friendly defenses like the Hawks and Wizards.
As always, we recommend that 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.