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Forward Rankings for 2017-2018 Fantasy Basketball

Brandon C. Williams Staff Writer October 9, 2017 12:20AM EST

Here our forward rankings for the 2017-2018 Fantasy Basketball season. The forward position is abundant with talent, more so when you consider the guards (Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, etc.) and centers (Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic, etc.) that also qualify as forwards in most leagues. Even in 12-14 team leagues, there’s enough depth so that teams drafting in the back end will still be able to nab a top-end forward.

This year, the position is defined by the continued rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose breakout 2016-17 was only the precursor of what the uber-versatile Bucks All-Star is capable of. With a season under his belt with the Warriors, Kevin Durant is a Top 6 pick whose postseason numbers make it possible he can do much more, while LeBron James will continue to provide elite production without skipping a beat.

Once the cornerstone forwards are gone, there’s still a wealth of talent available to Fantasy owners so that forwards who are strong in just one or two categories can deliver more than enough production to allow owners to build a championship-caliber team.

Be sure to see the rest of our 2017 – 2018 Fantasy Basketball positional rankings:

Top 40 Centers –  Top 60 Guards

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF, Bucks: The Greek Freak is the only player who is eligible at four positions, as he can be used as a PG or SG in most leagues. About the only thing you can point your finger at is his 27 percent shooting from 3-point range, yet anyone who can score 22 points and grab eight boards while also approaching two steals and two blocks per night on the defensive end can be forgiven for shaky long-range shooting. Antetokounmpo is a Top 5 pick in all leagues, but those in keeper/dynasty formats would be justified if they bypassed Russell Westbrook or James Harden and chose him with the first overall pick. A line of 24-8-7 with 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks isn’t out of the question. Keep in mind he’s not even 23.
  2. Kevin Durant, SF/PF, Warriors: He is the most lethal scorer in the league and at times, it feels like it’s not even close. At 6’9” with his freakish wingspan, Durant was a Boss in the postseason, averaging 28.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, along with 1.3 blocks and a 44 percent mark from beyond the arc. With Steph Curry and Klay Thompson getting their share of looks, Durant may not compete for the scoring title, but Fantasy owners can rest easy knowing he’ll provide a minimum of 25 points, seven boards, three assists and solid numbers on the defensive end. He’s a Top 10 selection who’ll look like a Top 5 if he plays more than the 62 games he played last season.

    forward rankings

    Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only NBA player eligible at four positions in Fantasy Basketball. AP Photo/Morry Gash

  3. Anthony Davis, PF/C, Pelicans: It’s a coin toss between Davis and Kawhi Leonard, but Davis gets the edge for his four straight seasons of at least 25 PER (Player Efficiency Rating) and four straight years of at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots per game. Yes, injury history and sharing the rock with DeMarcus Cousins are issues surrounding Davis, but he did average 28.6 points, 11.5 boards and 1.6 blocks after Cousins was moved to New Orleans during the All-Star Break, proving he and Boogie could play nice together. More encouraging is that Davis played 75 games last season; the first time he played more than 68 games. He’ll be gone before the tail end of the first round.
  4. Kawhi Leonard, SF/SG, Spurs: No need to panic about Leonard not playing the preseason as he rehabs his right quad. Leonard is a terror on the defensive side of the court, but his rise from 16.5 points per game in 2014-15 to 25.5 PPG last season helped him to a career-high 27.62 PER. The Spurs are his team now, and they will ride Leonard’s aggressive style on both ends of the court, which means Fantasy owners should have no problem doing the same. There are few flaws in his game and his elite stat-stuffing skills make him a great foundation as a first-round pick.
  5. LeBron James, SF/PF, Cavaliers: The off-court drama of the offseason shouldn’t overshadow the fact James is still a badass when it comes to Fantasy production. James had one of the best all-around seasons of his career last year and with three straight years of usage rates above 30, don’t make the mistake of believing King James will slip this year. With Kyrie Irving gone to Boston and Isaiah Thomas not expected to debut with Cleveland until mid-December (or at least we’d like to think that), James will continue to pile up assists better than most point guards, while still grabbing 7-8 boards per night. He’s still a first-round pick and will carry most Fantasy teams to success.
  6. Paul George, SF, Thunder: Look for George to put up solid numbers as he will thrive in the role of sidekick to Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. He was never comfortable as the alpha dog of the Pacers, yet will hit 20 PPG for the third time in four seasons. George is a great foundation for winning the free throw category (89.8 percent last season), and he will average 1.6 steals or better for the fourth time in five years. Across the board, George’s stat-stuffing will be welcomed for any team looking to add him in the second or third round.
  7. Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Knicks: With Anthony (finally) gone, Porzingis’ numbers should step up now that he’s the franchise centerpiece. While it may feel blasphemous to compare Porzingis to Durant at this point, there’s a lot about his game that suggests that comp will hold water in the future, as the 7’3” unicorn is starting to put together his all-around game at the ripe age of 22. Don’t be surprised if Porzingis hits the 20 PPG barrier for the first time, and his 3-point shooting will help carry him to that plateau. He’s also becoming a better rebounder and his two blocks per game make him more attractive to Fantasy owners. A breakout is coming and this season could be his time.
  8. Paul Millsap, PF, Nuggets: Coming off a career-high 18.1 points per game, Millsap left the Hawks and signed a free agent deal with the Nuggets, their most high profile signing in years. Although 32, Millsap’s all-around game will work well with the high-scoring Nuggets, yet his 3-point shooting (32 percent last season) can be an adventure. He’s not as glossy as the players in front of him, but Millsap is the type of player whose quiet yet effective play translates well when you look at his stat line on a nightly basis. Consider 18 points, seven boards, three assists and a steal per game as a steady line from Millsap.
  9. Otto Porter, Jr., SF, Wizards: He tailed off after the All-Star break, averaging just 10.8 points per game after putting up 14.6 points, 6.7 boards and 1.5 steals in the first half, but Porter is a player on the rise, as he’s established himself as the third option behind John Wall and Bradley Beal. Porter has a good chance to take his career on an arc similar to Millsap, a solid, steady producer who does a lot of things pretty good, yet lacks that one great trait that turns him from solid mid-carder to main eventer. He’s here because of his upside and an impressive 62.3 True Shooting Percentage. Shamefully underused by the Wizards, Porter could take the step to main eventer if he improves his 14.3 usage rate.
  10. Draymond Green, SF/PF, Warriors: Green’s not the player you want shooting the ball if the fate of the world is at stake, but his ability to stat-stuff puts him among the upper crust of forwards. He put up five triple-doubles last season and 17 other double-double outings as he had to adjust to fewer touches after Durant’s arrival. His ability to create steals (last year’s league leader at 2.0 per) and blocks makes him valuable, and his improved free throw percentage also adds to his versatility. Poor shooting aside, Green’s a welcome addition to any Fantasy roster.
  11. Khris Middleton, SF, Bucks: One of the league’s premier marksmen, Middleton was limited to 29 games last season with a torn hamstring, but his 43.3 percent from 3-point range helped Fantasy owners who stashed him in their IL spot. Middleton is also a great free throw shooter (career 87.4 percent) who’s an immediate asset toward winning that category. If he’s healthy, Middleton could record his first season of over 200 3-pointers for a Bucks offense that should be more potent with him in the lineup from the outset.
  12. Kevin Love, Cavaliers, PF: He’ll add center eligibility early in the season, as the Cavs will use him there. Love is the big winner from the trade of Kyrie Irving, as we may finally see Cleveland utilize him in the manner that made him a 20-point, 13-rebound caliber star in his time with Minnesota. He’ll remain an accurate shooter from beyond the arc, but Love should see more time closer to the basket, and if the Cavs let him pop a usage rate above 27 (and he stays healthy), Fantasy owners will indeed be in Love.
  13. Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers: It’s not about his production, as Griffin has a career 22.8 PER and is one of the better all-around players in the league. The issue with Griffin is availability, as he’s played in just 163 games the last three years, as an assortment of injuries are slowly eroding his skills. When’s he on the court, though, Griffin will take more of a scoring role with Chris Paul gone, assuring him of a fifth straight season of at least 21 points. While his rebounding totals have declined, he’s still good for 7-8 per night. A healthy Griffin is a Top-10 performer, but Fantasy owners must be aware of the risks that come with drafting him.
  14. Ben Simmons, PF, 76ers: He’s going to be good. Very good. Sooner than expected. Simmons’ shooting will be a work in progress, but he’s going to be wicked as a passer, will hit the glass and be an intimidating factor on the defensive side of the court. The prodigy has showed flashes of his brilliance in the preseason and while the Sixers could be cautious with him out of the gate, it shouldn’t take long for Simmons to start stringing double-doubles at a steady clip. Don’t be shocked if he racks up 5-7 triple doubles this season. Enjoy him this low, because he won’t be sitting in this range next season…or the next 10-12 after that.
  15. Carmelo Anthony, SF/PF, Thunder: Now that he’s escaped from New York, a ‘Melo revival is in the offing. His declining PER clearly tells us he’s no longer the all-around superstar he was a few years ago, but Anthony remains a premium shooter and should have no problem filling the basket with both Westbrook and George getting him the ball. He also won’t need a high usage rate to be effective, either. Save for his 40 games in 2014-15, Anthony has been durable, so if that trend continues, expect another 20-22 PPG from the career 24.8 PPG shooter.
  16. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Spurs: Signs of decline started to show last season, yet Aldridge should offer at least one more quality season before regression kicks into overdrive. He’s good for 18 points and seven boards per game and adds a block or two as well. Aldridge is no longer the top-end forward he was at his peak in Portland, but there’s little reason to pass him up if you’re looking for consistency in scoring and rebounding.
  17. Jae Crowder, SF, Cavaliers: This could be a career year for Crowder as a scorer, as he will see more shots than he did during his time with the Celtics. He had a 61.3 True Shooting Percentage last season, when he averaged 10.5 shots per game, and his 13.9 PPG could hover closer to 17-18 per night. He could also see an uptick in rebounds and his steals per game could push toward the 2.0 per night range. With Isaiah Thomas out until mid-December, Crowder may be in position to be one of the better Fantasy performers out of the gate.
  18. Serge Ibaka, PF, Raptors: Let’s all hope Ibaka’s 13.3 PER after joining Toronto last season is just a blip. He’s still a steady performer, but Ibaka’s love for the 3-ball has come at the cost of the shot-blocking skills that resulted in him leading the league in that category four straight years. Ibaka gets about 1.5 swats these days and his 40 percent shooting from beyond the arc eases some of the pain. Here’s an odd fact; Ibaka has averaged 6.8 rebounds per game in each of the last three seasons, so at least Fantasy owners know what they’ll get out him.
  19. Dario Saric, SF, 76ers: Once he got acclimated with the style of play, Saric averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds after the All-Star break and finished with 10 double-doubles. His all-around numbers should improve as the Sixers’ young core of elite talent comes together. Saric’s True Shooting Percentage (50.8) tells us there’s room for improvement.
  20. Harrison Barnes, SF, Mavericks: Freed from Golden State, Barnes – to no surprise – scored a career-high 19.2 points per game in his first season with the Mavericks. The problem is, the rest of his game didn’t come along as expected. He’s the cornerstone of the rebuilding process and there’s reason to believe Barnes can see his rebounding and blocked shots take a climb as his usage rate should cross the 25 percent mark for the first time of his career. He’s got some risk, but the scoring potential makes Barnes a worthy pick.
  21. Marquese Chriss, PF, Suns: Chriss has sick upside, and while there will be moments when he’ll make you question drafting him, but those vicious dunks and intimidating blocked shots will start adding up. Chriss will be the focal point of the Suns’ rise and with their run-and-gun style, he’ll thrive with guards Eric Bledsoe and Tyler Ulis pushing the ball to him. He’s a high-risk player but don’t be surprised if Chriss plays better than his ranking.
  22. Robert Covington, SF/PF, 76ers: It’s easy to forget Covington, but he’s emerged as a Draymond Green-type of player who can fill a stat sheet. Like Green, Covington’s not much on accuracy when it comes to shooting (39 percent last season), but he’s a solid rebounder and underrated passer whose shot blocking and steals enhance his game. With the young marquee names dotting the roster these days, Covington can become a stealth pick who will reward his owners on a nightly basis.
  23. Trevor Ariza, SF, Rockets: At this point in his career, you know what you’re going to get from Ariza: solid 3-point shooting for an offense that plays to his strength and rock-solid perimeter defense. The regression will eventually come, but Ariza continues to shake his fist at Mother Nature. She’ll let him have at least one more season, so consider adding him before she gets pissed.
  24. Tobias Harris, SF/PF, Pistons: Harris averaged 18.7 points last October and 17.9 PPG in January, signs that he can add more offense if given the opportunity. However, he was more productive off the bench and will likely begin the season in the Sixth Man role for the Pistons. Harris’ rebounding rate fell to 8.8 last season and it’s hard to envision his usage rates rising. He is what he is, and that can’t be bad if Fantasy owners have the right kind of players to cover his faults.
  25. James Johnson, SF/PF, Heat: A Waiver Wire savior for a host of Fantasy teams, Johnson found his niche as a stat-stuffing machine who offered a little bit of everything on a nightly basis. He’s like Green or Covington in that he’ll nab steals and blocks, but Johnson was a more efficient scorer (56.5 TSP). He’ll garner significant minutes with the Heat in a variety of roles and is a good draft target in the mid to late rounds.
  26. Julius Randle, PF, Lakers: An improved field goal percentage led to the best year of his brief career, but Randle’s rebounding rate dropped from 19.5 from 2015-16 to 16.3 last season. The addition of Robin Lopez should help Randle focus more on improving his rebounding rate, as he’ll be among those benefiting from Lonzo Ball’s passing. At just 21.3 percent, Randle’s usage rate should increase a tick even with Lopez thieving some of his shots. There’s some upside here, so taking Randle has some promise.
  27. Markieff Morris, PF, Wizards: He’ll miss the first month of the season recovering from a sports hernia. Once he returns, Morris will pick up where he left off from a solid 2016-17 season, during which he shot a respectable 46 percent from the field as he blended well in the Wizards’ up-tempo offense. He’ll grab just enough rebounds to add to his value. If you can stash him on your IL, ride out his recovery and benefit from his scoring later in the season.
  28. Danilo Gallinari, SF/PF, Clippers: Dude can shoot – that we know. Gallinari is one of the league’s best pure shooters, having averaged 19.5 and 18.2 PPG in his final two seasons with the Nuggets. He’s ranked here because, well, Dude can’t stay healthy, having played in more than 70 games just twice in his career. When not under some surgeon’s knife, Gallinari is high-end 3-point shooter but doesn’t bring much else to the table. However, his scoring is more than enough to consider adding him.
  29. Jabari Parker, PF, Bucks: Speaking of injured…Parker won’t return until February as he recovers from a torn ACL, yet his explosive brand of scoring and improved rebounding makes him a great stash and wait option. He’s only 22 and if he can avoid the severe injury bug, he’s got the talent to someday find himself among the Top-15 at the position
  30. Zach Randolph, PF, Kings: Z-Bo can still G-O at age 36. While he’ll be more of a guiding light to a young Sacramento squad, Randolph will still hit the glass at an effective rate and can score inside at a steady clip. He may see more than the five starts he got with the Grizzlies last season, but there’s no reason to bypass Randolph if you’re looking for a banger in the later rounds.
  31. Brandon Ingram, SF/PF, Lakers: He needs a few more trips to Carl’s Jr. to fill out his body, yet Ingram’s upside will be jumpstarted by Ball feeding him the rock. The shooting isn’t there yet, but Ingram did shoot 47 percent from the field after the All-Star break; so there’s that. The risk is higher than the reward for now, yet Ingram has a chance to step up sooner rather than later.
  32. Rudy Gay, SF, Spurs: Gay is slated as a reserve, but he’ll be one who can ignite the offense and can offer the 1.5 steals per game he recorded last season. There will be a start or two here and there, but keep in mind that Gay (when healthy) has been one of the more consistent players in the league over the past few years.
  33. Dirk Nowitzki, SF/PF, Mavericks: Obviously not the elite player he was, Nowitzki can still help a Fantasy team with 3-point shooting and a smattering of rebounds. He’ll get streaky and look vintage, but don’t expect a return to his glory days in what should be the final year of a Hall of Fame career.
  34. J. Warren, SF, Suns: Off to a blistering start, Warren tailed off before finishing the season by averaging 18.2 points and 7.4 rebounds in April. The issue with Warren is where he fits in the pecking order of the Suns’ up-tempo offense with the emergence of Marquese Chriss.
  35. Jayson Tatum, SF, Celtics: Oh, look, a rookie. The Celtics didn’t draft him to ride pine, so expect him to be a pure shooter whose talent will be enhanced by Kyrie Irving getting him open looks. He’s worth the look in the later rounds.
  36. Derrick Favors, PF, Jazz: If he’s healthy, Favors could have the season many have expected he could have. With Gordon Hayward gone, the scoring slack will have to come somewhere. Favors has two seasons of 16 PPG production, and he has an opportunity to make it a third. Keep him in mind, as Favors will slip the minds of many Fantasy owners after last season’s injury-plagued campaign.
  37. Thaddeus Young, SF/PF, Pacers: He will benefit from the departures of George and Jeff Teague, as he will take a larger role in the Indiana offense. Don’t expect Young to have a career year, but if he can get 13-15 points per night with six boards, you’ll take it at this point.
  38. Josh Jackson, SF, Suns: Another rookie who should be in the Opening Night lineup, Jackson’s shooting is raw, but his upside is nearly as good as Chriss’.
  39. Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Magic: His second half showed he can do more than dunk. Gordon is in his fourth year, but at 22 years old, he’s yet to hit his ceiling. There’s upside sitting here.
  40. Trevor Booker, PF, Nets: You know you’ll get more than a share of rebounds, but Booker could see an increase in scoring, especially if D’Angelo Russell can build a rapport with him. He’s a deceptive 3-point shooter.

Oh, And These Guys

  1. Ryan Anderson, SF/PF, Rockets
  2. Ronde Hollis-Jefferson, SF/PF, Nets
  3. JaMychal Green, SF/PF,
  4. Taj Gipson, PF, Timberwolves
  5. Terrance Ross, SF, Magic
  6. Maurice Harkless, SF/PF, Trail Blazers
  7. R. Smith, SF, Cavaliers
  8. Chandler Parsons, SF/PF, Grizzlies
  9. Andre Iguodola, SF, Warriors
  10. Joe Johnson, SF, Jazz
  11. Justin Holiday, SF, Bulls
  12. Nick Young, SF, Warriors
  13. Stanley Johnson, SF, Pistons
  14. Patrick Patterson, PF, Thunder
  15. Channing Frye, PF, Cavaliers
  16. Mirza Teletovic, SF, Bucks
  17. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Hornets
  18. Dragan Bender, PF, Suns
  19. Kosta Koufos, PF, Kings
  20. Larry Nance, Jr., PF, Lakers

 

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