Playing the Numbers Game: My Fantasy Basketball Spreadsheet

Update: I’ve recently started a new site specifically for sports spreadsheets. The tool below is out of date. You can find an updated version along with many other tools and fantasy basketball spreadsheets over at

What’s the difference between fantasy football and fantasy basketball? Aside from the different stats and different playing formats a casual fantasy player might not see much of a difference. In both games, the most basic strategy is to get the best possible players at their respective positions and hope for the best. However, there’s a big difference in the schedule between basketball and football. In football, every team plays once per week. Matchups play a factor in football, but you generally play your best guys when you have the opportunity. In basketball (assuming you’re playing in a weekly head-to-head matchup format) you’ll often have some teams playing 5 games in a given week and others playing only 2 or 3. With this kind of variance, a lesser player can easily put up superior stats given an extra game or two. Because of this, it’s really important to set your team up with players who play a high volume of games during your playoff weeks.

Take this year’s typical fantasy basketball playoff schedule – April 2nd through April 16th. During that stretch the Atlanta Hawks play only 6 games. By contrast, the Boston Celtics play 9 games. In nearly every category, Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks is having a better year than Kevin Garnett of the Celtics. Smith is a better scorer, rebounder, passer, and defensive player. But during the playoffs, Garnett is going to play 3 more games than Smith. That changes the comparison dramatically. If you could trade Smith for Garnett there’s a good chance you’d put yourself in a better position for the playoffs.

Some of the schedule differences are fairly difficult to see unless you spend a lot of time doing research or subscribe to a paid service for analysis. To automate this research for my own teams I built a simple fantasy basketball spreadsheet. The best way to view the sheet is to rank players in order on each specific category (points, rebounds, blocks, steals, etc). Here’s a screenshot:

This is the “Need Categories” tab of the spreadsheet and is currently sorted by Field Goal % Impact – a statistic I borrowed from John Cregan of ESPN fantasy basketball. So the players at the top of the list will help your team’s overall field goal percentage the most. Remember, field goal percentage is a cumulative stat for your entire team so even if you have a little-used sub that shoots 1-1 – it’s probably not going to affect your team’s percentage very much. Guys like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum take a lot of shots at a high percentage and that’s what’s going to ultimately help you the most in that category.

To change the statistic that the sheet is sorted by – change the number in in the boxed cell beneath “Sort Column” to the number of the column you’d like to sort by. So rebounds would be 4 and 3 pointers would be 3.

Brief rundown of all the other tabs on the spreadsheet:

Schedule: number of games each team plays per week

Filter Averages: Allows you to filter by name so you can compare specific players at once. Just click on the filter on the name column, first select None, then search the players that you’d like to compare and click to add them to the filter.

Weekly Best: This sheet provides the weekly data and allows you to change the date to look at a different week. The sheet is designed to show you data for the current week, but if you’d like to see another week just enter a date within the week you’d like to see within the boxed cell next to “Today.” Then the “Need Categories” tab will display results based on the new week you’ve entered.

Per Game Averages: This shows you on a per game basis how each player has done so far this year. This might be helpful if you’re deciding on a guy for a spot start on 1 or 2 nights during the week.

All of the data in the spreadsheet is based on public data from ESPN. All of the calculations are made based on data from the current 2011-2012 NBA season.

To use the spreadsheet you’ll need to make a copy of you’re own in your Google Docs account. To do this, Click File > Make a Copy and you’ll find the sheet added to your own account which you’re now able to edit and do anything you’d like with.

Good luck with your league! If you have any questions or problems with the spreadsheet feel free to contact me and I’ll troubleshoot –

Download the fantasy basketball spreadsheet here


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