One of the most important tools I use when ranking players in fantasy football is Strength of Schedule (SOS) and the same principles can be used in daily fantasy basketball.
In the table below, you’ll find the average adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) — using DraftDay’s scoring system — for every team in the league. The reason the averages are “adjusted” is to remove schedule bias. For example, if a team has played mostly high-scoring teams (like the Hornets, Lakers and Kings have so far this year) then their raw fantasy points allowed (rFPA) would be inflated. By removing this schedule bias, we have more of an “apples to apples” comparison to use when evaluating matchups.
The lower the average, the better the defense. Daily and weekly fantasy owners will want to avoid the teams indicated in red, especially the Sixers, Bulls, Celtics, and the Lakers. The Clippers, Blazers, Grizzlies, Spurs, Hornets and Mavericks are also significantly better than average in giving up fantasy points.
It makes sense that most of these teams (eight out of 10) are in the top half in ESPN’s Defensive Efficiency as well. This won’t match up perfectly with aFPA because Defensive Efficiency doesn’t remove schedule bias and a team with a strong DE could still yield a lot of fantasy points if they play at a high pace (# of possessions per game). The Miami Heat are the best example of this.
Conversely, owners should target the Bobcats, Kings, Nets, Nuggets, Wizards, Cavs, Warriors, Bucks, Suns and T-Wolves, who all give up a higher than average aFPA. One normally stingy team on that list is the Bucks, but they are really missing Andrew Bogut, who is always in the running for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Another interesting team on that list is the Timberwolves, who rank #12 in Defensive Efficiency, but tend to give up a lot of points do to their 2nd-ranked pace. The more possessions, the more chances that the opposition has to rack up fantasy points.
Matchups are key when deciding who to start. If you have to pick Player A who faces the Sixers (-8.2%) or Player B who plays the Bobcats (8.7%), you’re generally better off going with Player B, because all else being equal, he should produce at a 17% higher rate. This is the most extreme comparison, but even a 4%-6% swing is significant.
For full-season owners who set their rosters once a week, it would be helpful to know how one player’s upcoming schedule compares to another. The table below shows each team’s schedule for the upcoming week along with the weekly average.
It looks like the Pacers, Grizzlies, Bulls and Raptors have an especially easy week, while the Wizards, Nets, Bobcats and Hawks have tough schedules over the next seven days.
Last week, I suggested using Greg Monroe in daily lineups due to his +5.6% schedule. He averaged 34.9 fantasy points in three games, which was approximately 24% higher than his 28.1-point average for the season. This week, I’m expecting Danny Granger and Rudy Gay to produce, as both players have three favorable matchups this week.