Photo credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images
Photo credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images


What if I told you that a player that has helped carry you to the playoffs like LeBron James or Nikola Vucevic could cause you to come up short when it matters most?

We all like to think of ourselves as well prepared, but there’s always extra ways to keep moving towards putting the best playoff roster together to win it all. Some of you may have been savvy enough to look at team schedules from the get go, and you possibly drafted or avoided players based on their fantasy playoff schedules. I’m not really a believer in not drafting a player because of them having a poor playoff schedule because so many things change over the course of the season. You can’t predict if a player will be traded to another team or if you will trade a player away, just draft the best players and make moves later. If you passed on Eric Bledsoe in round four because he had a poor playoff layout and instead went with Rajon Rondo, it’s less likely that you’re even concerned about the playoffs right now because you’re probably out of contention.

Personally, I just draft the best available players according to my rankings and strategy and don’t think of the fantasy playoff schedule that early on. The average owner never factors in things such as a player’s fantasy playoff schedule setup. That is where you can capitalize without them even seeing the hidden agenda down the road. I know it is hard to even fathom trading a guy who has carried you all season long like Bron, and it is possible that you have a team strong enough week two and three of the playoffs despite James playing three and two games those weeks. Make sure to check out and write down how many games each player on your team has each week so that you’re aware which weeks you’re most vulnerable.

Let’s look at LeBron who plays for the Cavs, who have a 4-3-2 playoff schedule, and compare him to two other really good players on teams with perfect 4-4-4 playoff schedules. Let’s use Damian “Dame” Lillard and Klay Thompson as examples. The top sheet will be round one, next round two and last the championship round.

bron klay lillard

Now, as you see above LeBron is good enough on a three game week to still hang close with the other two even with them playing an additional game,. But in the finals you see a pretty big gap in most areas. Obviously some stats Klay helps in more and others Lillard is the better guy. If you can’t afford to lose assists but can handle a slight dip in FG% in the deal, target a guy like Lillard. Klay doesn’t overly excel anywhere over LeBron except threes, blocks and FT% but he’s still solid all around.

I’m not telling you to go out and trade Bron for Klay straight up, you are giving the better player in the deal and it’d be expected that you get a plus in the next part of the deal upgrading another player. You should never ever mention to your trade partner that you’re doing this move because of LeBron’s playoff schedule, just hope that they’re not smart enough (most aren’t) to notice and think you’re just trying to upgrade your depth a bit. Bron is good enough that you don’t have to force a deal but never be so closed minded to think you shouldn’t even test the trade waters to improve for the playoff war ahead. This is all just to open your mind to the big picture and to view all the angles you have to check into so that you have no regrets later.

Like Bron, Vucevic has a two game slate but in round two leaving you with just 40 points and 22 rebounds from your top center that week. Trade targets for him would be guys like Al Jefferson (if you can handle the drop in FT% but he doesn’t shoot a ton so doesn’t do mega damage) or maybe adding a little to get LaMarcus Aldridge (try straight up first in case his owner has fears about his injury, but I don’t). I’m not saying you can’t win with a player who has a small slate in a playoff round because to get there you had to have a solid all-around team, but if you can flip a player who has a 3-3-3 playoff setup for a player who has near the same averages but has a 4-4-4 or 4-3-4 slate, it’s worth considering.

I think the scheduling strategy is best used for lesser moves than the major ones in most cases. Like this past week in a 20-team league in which I am a lock for the playoffs, I dealt Tobias Harris (4-2-3) for Luol Deng (4-4-4). This gives me a guy who has basically the same stat line on the year but is less sexy to own and adds a few games played to my playoff run. So, note your players with the poorest schedules and then find comparable players with better schedules and try to make small improvements like that. It may seem small but moves like this can go a long ways to helping you hoist the trophy in the air when it’s all over.

Here is the spreadsheet of the primary three week playoff rounds. Be sure to check your playoff schedule before assuming this is your league’s settings.

primary SS

If you’re in a league with two rounds lasting two weeks per round that run through the end of the season, here is the playoff spreadsheet for you.


For more fantasy hoops analysis and to have any questions you may have answered, follow Zack on Twitter @BigZack44

Previous post

Daily Fantasy Hockey Strategy: February 18th

Next post

2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Catcher Over/Unders