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 schedule for the week is very stratified, with eight teams earning Forecaster scores of 8 or higher and another eight teams earning a 2 or lower. This is a function of several of the better offenses playing four games in favorable matchups, while many of the weaker offenses are playing only two or three games. Let's explore.
The Warriors scored a perfect 10 with four games next week, but again, keep in mind that the Forecaster still has last season's inputs boosting the Warriors' offensive expectations. That said, they do have four games, none of which are back-to-back, so their scrappy young players should still get plenty of opportunity to produce next week. The exciting but John Collins-less Hawks and the they-might-score-and-allow-200-points-any-given-day Rockets both scored 9s on the Forecaster. The Celtics, Lakers, Pelicans and 76ers round out the great schedule crew, each with four games of their own. The 76ers could be worth keeping an eye on if Ben Simmons misses extended time, because they could have room for an unheralded point guard to produce good numbers next week.
On the flip side, the better-than-we-thought Suns play only two games next week and earned a minimum 1 on the Forecaster. The Bucks and Thunder both play only twice as well, but earned 3s on the Forecaster. The Cavaliers earned a 2 with three games, while each of the Nets, Hornets, Bulls and Knicks turned their three games into 3s on the Forecaster.
As always, we recommend you check out the weekly projection rankings to see our take on which players may 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.