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2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Rankings: Top 250 overall

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 5, 2015. Houston won 115-112. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Now that we’ve walked through the top 10 fantasy basketball players at every position — point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers — it’s time to unveil the overall Top 250 heading into draft day.

Below the rankings, you’ll find analysis of players who I’m either substantially higher or lower on than the FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings. Since I can’t comment on all 250 players featured here, be sure to check out the individual position rankings for deeper analysis on the top options at each spot.

In a separate column later this week, I’ll break down some of the biggest preseason risers and fallers, most of whom have been affected (either positively or negatively) by an injury or other absence. Next week, we’ll roll out breakouts and sleepers to target, along with players who aren’t likely to live up to their draft-day price.

 

PLAYERS I’M HIGHER ON THAN THE ECR

In a separate column later this week, I’ll break down some of the biggest preseason risers and fallers, most of whom have been affected (either positively or negatively) by an injury or other absence. Next week, we’ll roll out breakouts and sleepers to target, along with players who aren’t likely to live up to their draft-day price.Below the rankings, you’ll find analysis of players who I’m either substantially higher or lower on than the FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings. Since I can’t comment on all 250 players featured here, be sure to check out the individual position rankings for deeper analysis on the top options at each spot.

D’Angelo Russell, PG, Los Angeles Lakers (My rank: 54; ECR: 70)

After engaging in a yearlong passive-aggressive feud with former Lakers head coach Byron Scott last season, D’Angelo Russell now has institutional support in the form of new head coach Luke Walton. Once Scott took the shackles off of Russell after the All-Star break, the Ohio State product averaged 15.1 points on 40.1 percent shooting, 3.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 treys and 1.1 steals in 30.6 minutes over his final 27 games. If Russell can nudge his field goal percentage to somewhere in the mid-40s while making incremental improvement everywhere else — a distinct possibility under Walton — he should have little trouble returning sixth-round value. 

Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers (My rank: 55; ECR: 69)

Myles Turner gave fantasy owners a glimpse at his tantalizing upside during the Pacers’ first-round playoff loss to the Toronto Raptors this past spring, averaging 10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in 28.1 minutes across the seven-game series. With Ian Mahinmi now a Washington Wizard, Turner figures to claim the starting center job permanently. Since Thaddeus Young isn’t typically a board-gobbling force of nature (save for last season), Turner should have plenty of opportunity to rack up boards and rejections this year. If he flashes more of his three-point range — he went just 3-of-14 from deep last season — he could wind up finishing as a top-50 player in fantasy leagues as a sophomore.

Jeremy Lin, PG, Brooklyn Nets (My rank: 74; ECR: 102)

If Jeremy Lin falls to the ninth or 10th round in your league, you’ll be committing grand larceny by drafting him there. Though “Linsanity” may not be making an encore in Brooklyn this year, he’s reunited with new Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant with the Knicks during Lin’s breakout campaign. Atkinson spoke in July about relying on Lin and Brook Lopez running pick-and-rolls to their heart’s content at the end of games, which is Lin’s bread and butter. If you skimp on an elite point guard early, Lin is one of the best bets in the PG2 realm.

Eric Gordon, SG, Houston Rockets (My rank: 91; ECR: 112)

Those who bet on Eric Gordon to avoid the injury bug throughout an entire 82-game campaign are throwing away money. He hasn’t played more than 64 games in a season since his rookie campaign in 2008-09. That said, when he is healthy, he’ll be a perfect fit in the system of new Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, providing a microwave-scoring presence off the bench when Patrick Beverley or James Harden need a break. He’s a near certainty to average at least 15 points, two treys and a steal per night with the potential for far more, and playing off of Harden should help him flirt with a career-high field goal percentage.

Markieff Morris, PF, Washington Wizards (My rank: 103; ECR: 127)

The fantasy community soured on Markieff Morris after his disastrous tenure with the Phoenix Suns in 2015-16. The year prior, however, he finished as the 70th-ranked player in nine-category leagues on a per-game basis after averaging 15.3 points on 46.5 percent shooting, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.7 treys in 31.5 minutes. So long as John Wall and Bradley Beal don’t engulf the locker room in their ongoing cold war, Morris should be in line for a bounce-back campaign, as Jason Smith and Andrew Nicholson shouldn’t siphon too many minutes from him. You won’t often find players with top-75 upside past the 10th round, making Morris a strong late-round target.

Dario Saric, PF, Philadelphia 76ers (My rank: 117; ECR: 189)

If not for Ben Simmons’ foot fracture, Dario Saric would be little more than a last-round flier at best. Since Simmons isn’t likely to return until December or January (at the earliest), however, Homie Dario figures to receive hefty burn during the early portion of the 2016-17 campaign. He’s looked comfortable adjusting to the NBA throughout the preseason, averaging 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 triples in just 18.1 minutes per night across his first three contests. His value may plunge upon Simmons’ return, but since late-round picks often turn into waiver-wire fodder, capitalize on his early value and worry about that later. 

PLAYERS I’M LOWER ON THAN THE ECR

Nikola Vucevic, C, Orlando Magic (My rank: 56; ECR: 44)

Had the Magic not signed Bismack Biyombo to a four-year, $72 million contract this offseason, I’d be on board with Nikola Vucevic as a top-50 fantasy option. Last year, after all, the USC product finished as the 44th-best fantasy player despite missing 17 games, having averaged 18.2 points on 51.0 percent shooting, 8.9 rebounds, a career-best 2.8 assists and 1.1 blocks in 31.3 minutes. With Biyombo on board, however, it’s difficult to imagine Vucci-mane topping 30 minutes per game. Slight regression is coming due largely due to the Magic’s bloated frontcourt.

Darren Collison, PG, Sacramento Kings (My rank: 97; ECR: 75)

Two things adversely affect my perception of Darren Collison: his eight-game suspension to start the year, and the Kings’ signing of Ty Lawson. Last year, Collison finished as the 66th-ranked player in fantasy despite starting only 15 of his 74 games, averaging 14.0 points on 48.6 percent shooting, 4.3 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 treys in 30.0 minutes, so he’s proven capable of finishing as a mid-round value. That said, if Lawson plays well in his absence, Collison may lose more minutes to him than expected upon his return. The odds also aren’t in favor of him replicating his career-best shooting efficiency from last year. I’d rather have Reggie Jackson (despite his injury), Jeremy Lin and Elfrid Payton in that range. 

Jahlil Okafor, C, Philadelphia 76ers (My rank: 102; ECR: 83)

Until the Philadelphia 76ers break up their glut of centers, all three will have lower fantasy value than their talent would otherwise suggest. Last year, Jahlil Okafor finished as the 105th-best fantasy player on a per-game basis after averaging 17.5 points on 50.8 percent shooting, 7.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 blocks in 30.0 minutes, but the Sixers didn’t have Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons in tow. Though Simmons is likely to miss a good chunk of the season (if not all of it) with his foot fracture, Okafor will still have to jockey for minutes with Embiid and Nerlens Noel at the 5. Throw in his lack of shot-blocking and his mediocre free throw shooting, and I can’t justify taking him before the 10th round. 

Nikola Mirotic, PF, Chicago Bulls (My rank: 107; ECR: 93)

In theory, given the spacing concerns that come with a Rajon Rondo-Dwyane Wade-Jimmy Butler backcourt, Nikola Mirotic should be the front-runner for the Bulls’ starting power-forward spot. According to ESPN.com’s Nick Friedell, however, Chicago head coach Fred Hoiberg doesn’t plan on deciding between Mirotic, Taj Gibson or Bobby Portis until the final week of the preseason. Seeing as Mirotic has shot just 34.8 percent from the floor and 26.7 from three-point range during his first three preseason outings — Gibson, for comparison, is shooting 70.8 percent — fantasy owners can’t pencil Mirotic as Chicago’s starting 4. Accordingly, he should dip down on draft boards unless Hoiberg hands him the starting gig.

Julius Randle, PF, Los Angeles Lakers (My rank: 109; ECR: 97)

Julius Randle has two big strikes working against him: He doesn’t provide much outside of points and rebounds, and both Larry Nance Jr. and Luol Deng could steal some of his minutes at the 4. Last year, despite playing all but one game, Randle finished as the 130th-ranked player in fantasy, having averaged 11.3 points on 42.9 percent shooting, 10.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 28.2 minutes. His shooting efficiency is up during the preseason, but he’s still making a negligible impact in terms of steals and blocks. There’s not much upside here until he begins rounding out his defensive game.

Brandon Ingram, SF, Los Angeles Lakers (My rank: 134; ECR: 111)

Even before his dismal performance during the preseason, I had jumped off the Brandon Ingram train. In September, Lakers head coach Luke Walton told Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, “We’re not going to throw [Ingram] into the starting lineup right away. We’re not going to play him 40 minutes a night. It’s going to be a gradual process.” Walton added “that the biggest challenge for [Ingram] will be the physical abuse of an NBA season,” which, given his 200-pound frame, is a valid concern. Given how transparent the Lakers have been about their intention to ease Ingram in this season, owners are best suited waiting until the final round or two of their drafts before taking him.

All 2015-16 rankings via Basketball Monster. All expert consensus rankings via FantasyPros and current as of Thursday, Oct. 13.

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