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Fantasy basketball forecaster: Dec. 9-15

Eric Bledsoe and the Bucks play a league-high four games during the week. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Click here for weekly rankings

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

This is a heavy schedule week, with 16 teams playing four games, but there are four teams that only play twice that you need to keep your eyes on. The majority of the teams migrated towards the middle in this week's Forecaster, but as always it is the teams at the edges of the rankings that are most interesting.

The Milwaukee Bucks scored the only perfect 10, with four games this week during a stretch where they are playing the best basketball in the league. The Houston Rockets and LA Clippers are two other productive teams with four games each, though the Clippers do have a back-to-back in the schedule that could have load management implications for some of their star players.

On the other side of the coin, all four teams with only two games showed up at the bottom of the Forecaster this week. The Portland Trail Blazers "led" the way with a minimum score of 1, the Dallas Mavericks notched a 2 and both the Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs scored 3s in the Forecaster. The Oklahoma City Thunder were the only team with more than two games to show up among the lowest scores, registering a 2 with three road games against solid opposition.

As always, we recommend you checking out those weekly projection rankings to see our take on which players from may 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.