Ryan Knaus

The Numbers Game

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Fantasy Strength of Schedule

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Today's column is all about post-All-Star-break schedules and fantasy matchups. Whether you're playing in points leagues or category-based, roto or H2H, season-long or DFS, knowing the quantity of games and quality of opponents is critical information. There's a lot to cover, so I've arranged the column in four progressive sections:

 

Team Matchups vs. Positions

Fantasy Strength-of-Schedule

Team-by-Team Projected Fantasy Values (Cumulative)

Fantasy Playoff Schedules - Games Played

 

Before going any further, I want to provide this link to Google Sheets that includes all of the charts below, plus game-by-game, position-by-position projections of fantasy values. The spreadsheet is too large to fit in this column, but I wanted to share it with interested readers. If you're debating between two comparable point guards on a busy night, or debating which stud to play in a DFS lineup, you could refer to the tab with 'Point Guard Matchups' that looks like this:

 

 

Looking to the right of the color-formatted columns, you can see that the first day of Week 20 (Monday, Feb. 26) provides the Timberwolves with a very favorable PG matchup, whereas the Rockets face the toughest opponent of the night vs. PGs. In this case, the Wolves play the Kings and the Rockets play the Jazz.

 

I’ve included matchups through the final day of the regular season, with separate tabs for each position, plus overall matchups and more. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions. Note: you can download the full spreadsheet by clicking 'File', then 'Download As'.

 

You can also follow me on Twitter @Knaus_RW!

 

Editor's Note: Looking for an edge in your fantasy leagues? The NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, the popular Pickups of the Day column, exclusive columns and customizable stat options. It's the extra tool that can take your fantasy basketball teams to the next level.

 

 

Teams Matchups vs. Positions

 

This is always a popular topic, especially for anyone playing DFS sites like Draft.com and FanDuel, and it's the bedrock of the matchup data that follows. I'm using opponent data from RotoGrinders that covers Jan. 12 - Feb. 12. To reiterate, this section reflects only how much value each team has allowed to opponents during that span.

 

 

Based on past-month data, for instance, the Suns have easily been the most lenient team to face. Shooting guards have been crushing them. The Nets have also been very lenient, especially vs. centers, but they're oddly stingy vs. shooting guards. At the other end of the spectrum, the Sixers, Spurs, Raptors and Bucks have been the roughest teams to face for fantasy points over the past month

 

Cleveland has been lenient and also shredded by point guards, but that's a limitation of this analysis -- we're looking at what has happened to project future values, so we can't account for all the changes Cleveland made. Suffice to say, George Hill is a defensive upgrade at PG and that matchup will trend down rest-of-season.

 

 

Fantasy Strength-of-Schedule

 

This section takes the matchup data above and extrapolates it across each team's rest-of-season schedule. If the Pistons played the Nets four times down the stretch, for instance, with zero games against the Spurs or Sixers, you'd expect Detroit to emerge with a very positive overall fantasy strength-of-schedule, particularly at the center spot. Note: Any time I say 'post-break' in this column, I'm referring to Week 20 and beyond...the shortened Week 19 is not included.

 

This is the aggregated average for every team's rest-of-season opponents. Let's see the results:

 

 

The Sixers, Bulls, Raptors and Suns have the best matchups on a per-game basis after the All-Star break, while the worst overall matchups are the Hawks, Wizards, Knicks and Pacers. This also gets broken down by positions. You'll notice that while Utah gets solid matchups overall, their post-break opponents have been the toughest vs. centers. The Suns have great matchups but we could see some rough nights from T.J. Warren, since they draw hard matchups vs. SFs. The Magic get the toughest opponents vs. shooting guards, etc.

 

One interesting takeaway here is that when you're looking at a sample size that ranges from 19-24 games, the matchups really tend to balance out. No single position on any team faces post-break matchups worse than 96.7% of the overall league average.

 

For example, over the past month the average NBA team has allowed 45.91 fantasy points per game to opposing PFs. The Hawks' remaining opponents have allowed a league-low 96.7% of that figure, aka 44.39 fantasy points. On an overall basis, that's still not bad. The key will be navigating individual matchups and weekly matchups...to do so, I'll refer you back to the spreadsheet provided earlier in the column.

 

 

Team-by-Team Projected Fantasy Value (Cumulative)

 

This section takes the matchups we've already discussed and adds total games played to the equation, to arrive at a more complete picture. This is the cumulative projected fantasy points allowed by each team's post-break opponents, both overall and by position.

 

 

The supremacy of games-played becomes crystal clear here. Not a single team makes the leap above a team with more games due to matchups. There are substantial differences among teams with 23 games post-break, for instance, with Orlando (5,126) lagging behind Chicago (5,220), but even the Bulls are well behind teams with 24 games in that span.

 

The nuances can still be quite helpful. If you're deciding between Dwight Powell (23 games) and John Collins (23 games) for rest-of-season value in a roto league, for instance, it's helpful to know that Dallas has demonstrably better overall matchups, particularly for the PF/C positions. There’s more variance within individual positions, too, like the Hornets and Heat (22 games) both projecting with more SF value than the Lakers and Rockets (23 games). Dig around and see what you find.

 

 

Fantasy Playoff Schedules

 

Finally, having established yet again the primacy of games-played, we can look at various fantasy playoff schedule possibilities...e.g. Weeks 21-24, etc.

NOTE: The first version of this accidentally had the Nets & Celtics switched...apologies for any confusion. The table has been corrected:

 

 

This gives an easy at-a-glance snapshot of which teams/players you should be thinking about with the fantasy playoffs in mind. The conclusions will be unique to your fantasy leagues, but the Wolves are at the bottom of the barrel in almost any scenario. It helps that Minnesota is fighting for playoff position and Tom Thibodeau isn't likely to rest his key guys, but owners should still be leery of being overly reliant on their Wolves -- if you own Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, you should be firing up trade offers for at least one of them.

 

I've covered a lot of ground and that's all I have time for today, but as usual let me know if you have any insights or questions. You can email me via the link below or send me a message on Twitter @Knaus_RW. Good luck!



Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.
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