Fantasy Basketball Down the Stretch: Working the Schedule to Win

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Fantasy Basketball Down the Stretch: Working the Schedule to Win

Tommy Landry is Executive Editor of Check out the best fantasy baseball draft prep software on the market, Diamond Draft, for all of your 2009 MLB draft prep, and learn why Matt Holliday isn't quite worth what you think he is.

It's crunch time folks, and you can't afford to snooze when the title is on the line.

Have you optimized your lineup for the head-to-head playoffs? Are you sure your end-of-bench roto players will be on the court when push comes to shove? Are you carrying dead weight or players who can help?

Time is short, so now is the time to act. Let's look at some different ways to ensure your team delivers when it matters most.

Working the Schedule

One of the most overlooked levers you can pull to win a league is maximizing the starts you'll get out of your team. However, with various leagues using either daily or weekly lineups, what's a fantasy GM to do?

Daily Lineups

For leagues that set lineups each day, what you need to do is to maximize the number of games you'll get from guys who play on days when no one else is playing. It doesn't exactly matter if those guys are dominating, so long as they contribute stats in categories where you can use help.

Think of it this way...would you prefer an empty roster slot on a Sunday or Thursday, or would you prefer a guy like Mario Chalmers (PG, MIA), who should be good for at least six points, a couple of boards, a steal, a trey, and at least three assists?

To help you out, I've researched how many teams play on days when there are six games or fewer. Those are the days where you will have slots to fill, and it avoids you having your backups wallowing on the bench in useless fashion. These numbers are tallied for the fantasy playoffs, March 23 - April 15.

Team Playoffs
LAL   5
MIA   4
UTA   4
PHI   4
CHI   3
SAS   2
CLE   2
DEN   2
HOU   2
GSW   2
DET   2
MIL   2
MEM   2
NYK   2
BOS   2
SAC   2

As you can see above, the teams you most want to target are the Lakers, Heat, Jazz, 76ers, and Bulls. Teams not listed have unfavorable daily league schedules.

Weekly Starts

In weekly lineup leagues, the whole game changes. Now, you must make tradeoffs between starting a really good guy who'll only have two or three games, and employing the services of a less impressive player who gets more opportunities to contribute.

I, personally, dislike weekly leagues, because this whole exercise is too tedious for most fantasy GMs to bother with it.

That said, I came here to help, and help I shall! Take note that I use a standard week in accordance with Yahoo! fantasy games, meaning it goes from Monday - Sunday.

For the championship round, Yahoo! counts games between April 6 - 15, so you'll notice a lot of games that round. Next to each team, I list the number of games in each of the three rounds of the playoffs. 

Team Schedule
ATL 4-3-5
BOS 4-2-5
CHA 3-4-5
CHI 5-2-5
CLE 3-4-5
DAL 3-4-5
DEN 4-4-4
DET 4-4-5
GSW 3-4-5
HOU 2-3-5
IND 3-3-5
LAC 4-3-5
LAL 4-4-5
MEM 3-4-6
MIA 4-4-5
MIL 3-4-4
MIN 4-3-5
NJN 3-4-5
NOH 3-4-6
NYK 4-4-5
OKC 3-3-6
ORL 3-4-6
PHI 4-4-6
PHO 5-3-5
POR 3-3-6
SAC 2-4-6
SAS 4-3-6
TOR 3-3-6
UTA 3-5-5
WAS 4-3-4

As you can see, there are a list of teams with six-game final weeks. That said, you don't want to be counting on the Kings to get you there, since they only offer two games the first round. Use this table to decide between fringe players who you can slot into your lineup come playoff time.

That's it for the schedule analysis. I'll follow up again in the next week with more nuggets of strategy that you can use to win your league.

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