Nearly a month after the All-Star break, we've entered the final phase of the fantasy basketball schedule. Owners in head-to-head leagues are analyzing schedules to maximize games-played despite limited add/drop transactions. In roto leagues there's a final push to climb up the standings in various categories, while keeping an eye on 82-game position limits. And as DFS owners know all too well, the final six weeks of the NBA calendar provide ample opportunity for high-upside breakouts, but also tons of risk due to DNP-CDs and chaotic rotations.
To navigate the challenging final weeks of the season, it helps to have a road map. Below are tables showing every team's remaining schedule, with matchup-based values for every position. If you need a guard for playoffs from Weeks 22-24, you can't do better than the Spurs or worse than the Bulls. That makes Derrick White a must-add player, if he wasn't already scooped up in the wake of Dejounte Murray's right calf strain. That same three-week period is brutal for Chicago's guards, which means you may need a contingency plan for Tomas Satoransky -- you also can't expect Zach LaVine and/or Coby White to lift your team to victory.
For the full breakdown of every team's remaining schedule, including matchup-based values for each position, click here. And if you want to know more about my methodology, check out last week's column on this topic. Let's jump right into discussing point guard schedules and matchups.
As of today, Mar. 11, there are three teams with just one game left in Week 21 -- the Pacers, Suns and Raptors. Playing just once in any five-game span is brutal and the timing couldn't be worse for many owners. If you have Devin Booker or Ricky Rubio, you also face the reality of a poor three-game slate in Week 22, when they project as the fifth-lowest fantasy-point total for PGs and eighth-lowest for SGs. The Suns don't play on Monday or Tuesday next week, either, so this is a stretch of one game in seven days. The exact same scenario plays out for the Pacers, which is bad news for anyone relying on Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Warren, Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo. We saw VO light up Boston for a season-high 27 points on Tuesday, too, so hopefully this slow stretch doesn't sap his momentum.
Editor's Note: Dominate all season long with our Season Pass! Use our NEW Start/Sit Tool, Trade Analyzer, Weekly Tiers, Rest-of-Season Rankings, Projections and more on your way to a championship! Click here for more!
It should be noted that teams with bad overall schedules can still be useful for streaming and DFS purposes. The Blazers only have two games remaining in Week 21, for instance, but those games should offer a ton of fantasy value in matchups vs. the Grizzlies and Rockets. The Bucks are similarly blessed with a string of favorable matchups -- their next four games are against the Celtics, Warriors, Heat and Grizzlies. On an overall basis the Celtics and Heat are not desirable matchups, but both teams have been lenient vs. guards (particularly SGs) in recent weeks. That's just one example of how this micro-level analysis can pay dividends.
The Cavs have been a fantastic team to target lately, as another example, yet they've been the fourth-stingiest team vs. SGs. Not all team-vs.-position matchups are created equal. The Cavs' defense vs. SGs will come into play for Orlando in Week 22, as the Magic get a rough three-game stretch from a SG-matchup perspective -- Detroit, Cleveland and Sacramento. My projections have Orlando's shooting guards getting only 12.3 more fantasy points than the Nets in Week 22, even though Brooklyn has two games vs. Orlando's three games. The Nuggets also have three games that week, but for SG value they project 24.2 points higher. This is all bad news for Michael Carter-Williams and Terrence Ross, both of whom have stepped into bigger roles without Evan Fournier (sprained UCL). To reiterate, matchups matter.
The Warriors' remaining games in Week 21 are awful for small forwards, as the Nets and Bucks rank 28th and 30th in points allowed to SFs over the past 10 games. That means Andrew Wiggins and Eric Paschall have an uphill battle, regardless of whether Draymond Green (sore left knee) is ready to go. Golden State's schedule improves for Week 22 but remains bad on an overall basis -- from Mar. 11 through Apr. 12, only seven teams project worse than the Warriors (for small forward value).
There's great news for anyone with power forward exposure to the Kings, Grizzlies, Suns, Spurs, Wizards and Wolves. Those teams avoid any two-game duds over the next three weeks (Weeks 22-24) and also benefit from favorable matchups. That's a boost for Jaren Jackson Jr., whenever he returns from his sprained left knee, though owners will need to keep an eye on him during the Grizzlies' final back-to-back sets on Mar. 16/17 and 24/25. If he stays on the sidelines a while longer, this cozy stretch of games will also push Josh Jackson's bid for ownership -- he's been quietly effective the past few weeks, especially as a source of steals and 3-pointers. Dario Saric, Davis Bertans and Juancho Hernangomez also get a matchup-based boost here, and each of those guys should be owned in 12-team leagues.
Even prior to letting Aron Baynes go supernova last Friday, the Blazers were giving up the fifth-most fantasy value to opposing centers. The only teams ahead of them were the Magic, Nets, Wolves and Hawks. Those are teams you'd be happy to have your big men up against, but you'll likely want to avoid the Pelicans, Sixers, Mavs, Jazz, Knicks and Celtics. I mentioned above that the Grizzlies get a lovely overall stretch in Weeks 22-24, but the same can't be said for their center matchups in Week 23. You're obviously still going to deploy Jonas Valanciunas in games vs. the Pelicans, Celtics and Raptors, but may need to revise expectations downward. Gorgui Dieng is also a tough sell, assuming he's even still relevant in Week 23.
I can only discuss a sliver of the ramifications of these matchups, for obvious reasons. Viewed on a position-specific, game-by-game basis, we're looking at 2,300 different data points. For the entire breakdown, click here to view and/or download the Excel sheets. Examine your teams against these projected matchups, stream wisely, and you'll increase your odds of emerging victorious. If you have any questions or comments, you can always find me on Twitter @Knaus_RW. Good luck this week.