Fantasy Basketball playoff cheatsheet and schedule analysis
It's that time of the year again as fantasy basketball playoffs (for most) will begin next week. Whether you're going for your first-ever title or looking to repeat, here's everything you need to know heading into Week 21. That means schedule implications, players to target or avoid, key injury news and plenty more.
So buckle up — it's go-time!
Remaining schedule for Week 20
3 Games: Cavaliers, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Knicks, Nets, Nuggets, Thunder, Trail Blazers and Wizards
2 Games: 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings, Lakers, Magic, Mavericks, Pacers, Pelicans, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Spurs, Suns and Warriors
1 Game: Timberwolves
Week 20 tips
The Timberwolves won't be much help with only one game left to play on Friday versus the Nets. Maximize your transactions by avoiding streaming anyone who won't fit into your lineup. I'd look to stream players from the Nuggets, Nets and Wizards because they dodge Saturday's heavy 10-game slate.
Besides Delon Wright (54%) and Daniel Gafford (45%), I'd recommend scooping Bruce Brown (SF/PF, Denver Nuggets, 48% rostered) if you're in a shallow league.
The Nuggets face the Bulls, Spurs and Nets and avoid Saturday's 10-game slate, too. Brown's had success against the Bulls this season (dropped a 12/11/6 line), and the Spurs will likely get blown out (it's happened twice this season), offering more minutes for Brown. Brown hasn't faced Brooklyn this season but rest assured, he's had this one marked on his calendar after the Nets chose to let him walk in free agency; he aired his frustrations about the Nets' front office, who didn't see him as a guard.
Check out my latest waivers and fantasy playoff cheat-codes articles if you're looking for other streaming options for the remainder of the week. Also, watch for players on the Lakers and Spurs at the end of the week because they'll be valuable commodities in Week 21, with each team playing four games. A few players I'd put on my watch list are:
Austin Reaves - SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers (21%)
Devonte' Graham - PG/SG, San Antonio Spurs (25%)
Charles Bassey - PF/C, San Antonio Spurs (9%)
Schedule for Week 21
Games are pretty evenly spread across Week 21. Fantasy managers should be able to start their streamers each night with no slate larger than eight games.
4 games: Bucks, Celtics, Grizzlies, Heat, Kings, Lakers, Magic, Nuggets, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Timberwolves and Warriors
3 games: 76ers, Bulls, Cavs, Clippers, Hawks, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Pelicans, Thunder, Trail Blazers and Wizards
2 games: Hornets, Jazz and Knicks
Week 21 tips
To start the week, I'd look for players on the Suns, Bucks, Pistons and Kings since they'll play three games in the first four nights. While all these teams play four games, there is some risk for star players like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Kevin Durant to rest on one of the back–to–backs, so be ready to scoop up backups if need be.
The Pelicans have a cakewalk for a schedule, playing against the Lakers and the Rockets twice. The Heat are in an excellent position fantasy-wise, facing the Jazz, Grizzlies, Bulls and Pistons.
The Jazz have the worst schedule however, playing two games on Monday and Saturday, so while it may seem harsh, Kelly Olynyk, Talen Horton-Tucker and Kris Dunn are likely drops. That also goes for fringe players on the Knicks and Hornets (Dennis Smith Jr.).
For the back end of the week, 10 teams play either a Fri/Sat or Sat/Sun back-to-back set (76ers, Bulls, Clippers, Heat, Grizzlies, Magic, Nuggets, Raptors, Timberwolves and Warriors), so make sure you leave room to sneak in a couple of streamers from those teams if you need production to close out the week.
Click here for a further deep-dive breakdown into Week 21
Schedule for Week 22
Wednesday, Friday and Sunday will be challenging days to stream with 9+ games on those slates, so try to focus your streaming efforts in the first half of the week since there are three days with small slates versus two in the back half of the week. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday should be the priority, and be sure to save a transaction or two for Saturday.
4 games: 76ers, Bulls, Grizzlies, Hawks, Hornets, Jazz, Kings, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Rockets, Spurs, Thunder, Warriors and Wizards
3 games: Bucks, Cavaliers, Celtics, Clippers, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Pelicans, Raptors, Suns, Timberwolves and Trail Blazers
2 games: Heat, Nuggets and Pistons
Week 22 tips
As you know, the NBA is very unpredictable, so I won't be making any recommendations on who to drop or add since we're two weeks out. Still, I'd look to stream players on the Clippers, Nets and Pelicans since they're the only teams to play on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
You'll likely want to move on from any fringe Heat or Nuggets players since they won't get an opportunity in your lineups playing on Wednesday and Friday in Week 22.
The Spurs will be frustrating as they play against four competitive teams, all on the road. And even though the Pistons play two games, at least they're on Tuesday and Thursday, where you'll want to sneak in a couple of more games played.
The Hawks and Kings uniquely have two back-to-back sets at the beginning and close of the week. Be aware of the 14 back-to-backs throughout the week, and be ready to pounce on any notable star players resting.
Schedule for Week 23
Well, what do we have here? Two days with two game slates (not ideal) and, even worse, two 13-game slates on Wednesday and Sunday! Easily one of the most bizarre scheduling layouts I've seen for fantasy championship week. At least there are no teams playing two games.
4 games: 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Clippers, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings, Knicks, Mavericks, Nuggets, Pacers, Pelicans, Pistons, Rockets, Suns, Thunder, Timberwolves and Trail Blazers
3 games: Cavaliers, Celtics, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Lakers, Magic, Nets, Raptors, Spurs, Warriors and Wizards
Week 23 tips
The Pelicans are the team I have my eyes on because they play on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday — literally the only streamable days, and they cover all of them. Now, the matchups aren't great (Trail Blazers, Warriors, Nuggets, Clippers), but hey, it will give you a strategic advantage if you're able to stream a player for four games using one transaction in championship week.
There are nine back-to-backs throughout the week, too:
Mon/Tues - Pelicans
Tues/Wed - Grizzlies, Heat, Thunder
Wed/Thu - Bucks
Thu/Fri - Celtics, Nuggets
Fri/Sat - Clippers
Sat/Sun - Mavericks
If you're looking for a late-week push, the Clippers and Mavericks are likely your best bets. Check out my championship week waiver column when it drops Monday, March 27, and Wednesday, March 29, where I'll look ahead to close out the fantasy basketball championship weekend.
A couple of final thoughts: Remember, it's not about games played but when they are played. Monitor the injury reports so you can act fast on any sudden player absences, and don't be afraid to cut bait of dead weight. The percentage rostered doesn't matter in the fantasy basketball playoffs; stream the guys getting minutes on competitive teams vying for a spot in the NBA playoffs/play-in tournament. The rotations and shenanigans for tanking teams are too volatile.
Good luck the rest of the way, and bring home that championship!