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How To Utilize the NBA Schedule to Win A Fantasy Basketball Title

Finding success in fantasy basketball takes a lot of effort throughout the season. Sure, injuries play a big role in how well your team competes. But it’s your time commitment as an owner on a daily or weekly basis that ultimately determines how far you go. Player transactions take up an enormous chunk of that time commitment. It’s no surprise that in my fantasy leagues, the teams with the most add/drops over the course of the season are always in the top half of the standings.

The reason? One big factor in deciding the winners of many points and category league matchups is game volume. Your best players are expected to help carry your team much of the way but not during weeks where they play the fewest games. During those times, your team needs your help to make up for statistical shortcomings. Maximizing game volume can do that, and is achieved via the waiver wire, utilizing your limited player adds as efficiently as possible. In order to do this, you must get to know the NBA schedule.

Let’s establish some basis for understanding. Firstly, this is for head-to-head formats and not roto. Secondly, your roster is going to consist of many players who are not droppable, but typically your worst one or two players are going to be your consistent streaming spots. With that assumption, you should almost always be able to add/drop at least one guy on your team at some point during the week.

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Always Be Looking Ahead

If you’re in a weekly changes league, you’re forced to look over your roster schedule for the entire week ahead. Making moves for these is a bit more straightforward, as the only complexity might be something like weighing the value of a two-game week from your superstar versus a four-game week from one of your lesser players and making the switch. You only have to decide on one starting lineup for the full seven days, and then your job is done. So you’re looking less at the NBA schedule and more at your roster as a whole.

For daily changes leagues, it cannot be overstated how important it is to lay out your starting lineup about 2-3 days in advance, but since you can make adjustments every single day, it’s not necessary to be planning out much farther than that. It’s practically impossible to fully rely on it anyway, with the frequency of injuries and rest days that happen in the NBA. Some players will sit out a game on a back-to-back, but you won’t necessarily know until that day if that means sitting the first game or the second game.

Your current opponent is obviously priority number one, so use your available adds to maximize your output for this week.  However, perhaps you find yourself at the weekend and you’ve concluded that your matchup is all but decided before the Sunday slate of games even begins. That’s a potentially good time to change focus to your opponent coming up on Monday.

Making that decision can be tricky, but if you have any remaining player adds that you are certain won’t help you this week, don’t just let them go to waste. Look at your roster schedule for Monday and Tuesday, and consider an add/drop Sunday morning using what is essentially an extra, free player add. You can begin filling out your starting lineup for Monday and still have all of your player adds available for that week.


Low Volume Days

The NBA calendar tends to be quite unbalanced from one day to the next. They’ll have 24 teams playing one day, and only six playing the next day. Oftentimes, you’ll see a plethora of games played on Mondays and Wednesdays, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are much lower in game volume.

Let’s say it’s Monday night and your lineup is full and ready to go. Let’s also say that the worst player on your roster is playing tonight, and then again on Wednesday night. You notice that on Wednesday, almost all of your players have a game so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll even use him that day. So, you decide to browse the waiver wire looking to replace him with someone who plays on Tuesday where you still have an open starting slot available.

Before deciding on the player to pick up, first look to see if this add could potentially help you out for more than just Tuesday.  We’ve already established that Wednesday is booked up, but Thursday happens to have an open starting slot too. Therefore, if you grab someone who plays both Tuesday and Thursday night, you’re now using one add for two extra games (since you’re not losing any games from the player you’re dropping).

This concept can literally be used on a regular basis all season long, and in many cases, multiple times in a given week.



As previously mentioned, certain players are going to sit out one game on every back-to-back on their schedule. I'm not going to go really deep here, but if you have any players like this on your squad, it's important that you know it. Keep a close eye on status updates for these guys so you know when to bench him and when to start him.


Forget About the Playoff Schedule (For Now)

You can’t win the chip if you don’t make the playoffs, can you? Now, you may have drafted a couple of players based on what their playoff schedule looks like, and I suppose that’s okay (to an extent). But if you’re sitting here trying to win in Week 8 or 9, there’s no reason for you to be making moves on the waiver wire for the sole purpose of maximizing your game volume in Round 1 of the playoffs, which doesn’t start for another couple of months.

Playoff game volume is important (and that’s unfortunate actually), but it’s not very feasible to be making moves in order to win both now and in March or April. So just focus on now, and worry about the playoffs after you’ve clinched a spot.

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