Fantasy basketball (the head-to-head kind, at least) is kind of weird in that it doesn’t always matter who the best players are; it matters which of the best players are playing the most games in a given week. If Andre Drummond plays five games in a week where Anthony Davis only plays three, Drummond probably is going to be the more valuable fantasy asset during that particular matchup.
Knowing that, it’s important to be aware how weekly game counts will play out the rest of the season for certain players and teams. Any trade you make from here on out should take this information into consideration, as there are some teams with great fantasy schedules down the stretch and some that aren’t quite so good.
More importantly, there are some teams with schedule issues during the most important part of the season: the playoffs.
Here’s a look at how game counts could come into play the rest of the fantasy season:
Games Left This Season
The following are the total number of games that each teams plays between now (Monday, January 12, 2015) and the end of the season:
48: Golden State Warriors
47: Boston Celtics
46: Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors
45: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami HEAT, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards
44: Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers,Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz
43: Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks
42: New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns
What to take away from this: Someone with Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry on their roster is going to get six more games out of those players for the rest of this season compared to someone rostering Nikola Vucevic, Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe. If there are any Celtics you feel are worth dealing for, feel free to do so there, too. Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Toronto have lots of games left, too, while Charlotte, Indiana and Milwaukee do not.
Teams With Bad Weeks Coming
While most teams play three or four games in a standard week, these teams have weeks in which they play only one or two games. Note that Weeks 16 & 17 bookend All-Star weekend, so teams play fewer games those weeks, and Weeks 22-24 are the fantasy playoffs:
Week 12 (1/12/15): Charlotte Hornets (2), Milwaukee Bucks (1), New York Knicks (1), Phoenix Suns (2).
Week 14 (1/26/15): Charlotte Hornets (2), San Antonio Spurs (2).
Week 16 (2/9/15): Boston Celtics (1), Charlotte Hornets (1), Philadelphia 76ers (1), Phoenix Suns (1), Portland Trail Blazers (1), Toronto Raptors (1).
Week 17 (2/16/15): Brooklyn Nets (1), Memphis Grizzlies (1), Minnesota Timberwolves (1), Utah Jazz (1).
Week 19 (3/2/15): New York Knicks (2).
Week 20 (3/9/15): Dallas Maverick (2).
Week 22 (3/23/15): Orlando Magic (2).
Week 23 (3/30/15): Cleveland Cavaliers (2)
Week 24 (4/6/15): L.A. Clippers (2), Philadelphia 76ers (2).
What to take away from this: While the next few weeks look bad for the Hornets, keep in mind that they’re one of only three teams to play 12 games during championship week, so it might be worth suffering through a few weeks with Kemba Walker, who’s been very, very hot lately. If you make it to the playoffs, Charlotte has value.
Not that anyone is dying to play any Knicks players right now, but they’ve got some especially bad weeks on this list, as well. Meanwhile, Orlando, Cleveland, Philly and the Clippers all have troublesome weeks at various times during the playoffs, and that could be a challenge for contenders, particularly if they own multiple guys from those teams.
Teams With Good Weeks Coming
Occasionally the calendar works where a team sneaks in an extra game or two during a week of head-to-head, and while there aren’t a whole lot of these instances the rest of the season, there are a couple of note:
Week 17 (2/16/15): Oklahoma City Thunder (3; everybody else plays only 1 or 2 that week).
Week 20 (3/9/15): New York Knicks (5).
What to take away from this: If you bump up against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook or Serge Ibaka in Week 17, you’re going to be in some trouble. Heaven forbid you hit someone that has two of those guys. As for the Knicks, it will be interesting to see if they make any more trades or whether or not Carmelo Anthony is playing at that point. There could be some really interesting waiver guys available from the Knicks in Week 20, particularly since fantasy teams will need important wins at that point with just two weeks to go before the postseason.
Total Number of Games During Fantasy Playoffs
The last thing you want to do is have a great regular season then end up in a championship game you simply can’t win because your players don’t have enough games that week. Looking at this list will give you a sense of where you may be at season’s end, hopefully to give you a sense as to whether or not you will need to make any trades to find comparable talent with a more favorable playoff schedule.
8: Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic
9: Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, L.A. Clippers
10: Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards
11: Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Miami HEAT, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacrameneto Kings, Utah Jazz
12: Charlotte Hornets, L.A. Lakers, San Antonio Spurs
What to take away from this: People who own LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and Nikola Vucevic are going to struggle down the stretch. If those guys are paired with Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler, Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul or DeAndre Jordan, your struggles in the fantasy postseason are going to be very real.
Conversely, owners with any Hornets, Lakers or Spurs could be in for a nice little postseason treat, though the Spurs are tough to gauge late in the season because they’re so well-known for resting their studs down the stretch. If their playoff position is solidified, it might not be all that crazy to see Tim Duncan, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili miss a game or two when it really matters.
Another thing to note is that the Clippers and Sixers only play two games in championship week, which will be hard to deal with when there are eight other teams playing four games in Week 24. No one is saying to trade Griffin, Paul or Jordan, but you might want to at least give it some consideration if you can do an apples-for-apples sort of trade that sets you up better for the long haul.
For the most part, if the majority of your guys are in the 10-game and 11-game groups, you’re probably going to be pretty competitive. Now would be the time to cash out your Cavs, though, Love in particular since he’s been playing so well of late and his high-usage teammates won’t be injured all season.
Winning fantasy isn’t all about games played, obviously, but it’s something to keep in mind down the stretch. Don’t wait too long to make offers involving these guys, though; as the year winds down, your league mates will figure out just how bad the Cavaliers’ playoff outlook is in fantasy. They won’t want those guys any more than you will.
Good luck with the rest of your seasons, and may the game counts be ever in your favor.
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