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Fantasy basketball forecaster: Feb. 24 - March 1

Joel Embiid and the 76ers have one of the week's most favorable schedules. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Click here for weekly rankings

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

We are fresh off the All-Star Break, and the NBA is back with a vengeance. A whopping 18 teams play four games, 10 teams play three and two play only twice. The distribution of games, in conjunction with stratified team values, has produced a very intriguing Forecaster scale this week in which the vast majority of the teams rank near the middle of the scale with only a few outliers at each end.

The Lakers have the only perfect 10 on the Forecaster this week with four games, three of which are against teams with very questionable defenses in the Pelicans and Warriors. The Bucks scored a 9 with four games, a testament to how well they're playing, because two of those games are against tough defenses in the Raptors and the Thunder. The 76ers are the only other team to score at least an 8 on the Forecaster, with four games, including three excellent matchups against the Hawks, Cavaliers and Knicks.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Bulls have the only 1 on this week's Forecaster, with two games and a span of poor ball of late that has corresponded with a rash of injuries. The Spurs are the only other team with two games this week, and it resulted in a similarly low 2 score. Interestingly, the Hornets also scored a 2 on the Forecaster even with a full raft of four games. Their poor play of late along with a schedule that includes a back-to-back, a trip to Toronto and a home matchup with the Bucks are responsible for that score. Finally, the Pistons scored a 3 with three games, even as they continue to buy out all of the starting-caliber players on their team.

As always, we recommend you checking 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.

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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.