Fantasy Basketball position tiers: Power forward values for 2017-18

Kristaps Porzingis had an eventful offseason but is still a member of the Knicks and should be a fantasy force. (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports

Before we get into the 2017-18 power forward tiers, here are a few notes to keep in mind:

Overall, the tiers cover players projected to rank roughly among the top 120 overall. Within each tier, players are generally listed in the order in which they should be drafted. Of course, come draft night, team construction and roster constraints must be take into account.

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Unless otherwise noted, players are listed only within the positions at which they are currently eligible in Yahoo Fantasy Basketball leagues. Tiers and season rankings are tailored to nine-category league settings.

Most players are ranked within the tiers at more than one position, rather than only their primary position, which is oftentimes arbitrary. Players who do not have multiple-position eligibility are denoted with an asterisk. 

[Positional tiers: PGs | SGs | SFs | PFs | Cs]
Tier I: Possible No. 1 Overall Picks

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Anthony Davis, Pelicans

For the first year in a basketball generation, the top of fantasy drafts is wide open. No fewer than eight players are reasonable choices with the first overall pick. Antetokounmpo was a top-five player last year, in his 21-year-old season, and is eligible at power forward and small forward.

Durant and Davis have both been top-five players in each year except for their rookie seasons, and each has spent at least one season as the number one overall per-game fantasy producer.

Tier II: First Round Values

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
DeMarcus Cousins, Pelicans

While these two should not be selected inside the top eight, they provide clear first-round value, and are much closer to the tier above than the one below. In addition to near-nightly double-doubles, both provide unusual production for big men: Jokic averaged 5.8 assists per game after entering the starting lineup last season, while Cousins’ 2.1 threes per game as a Pelican ranked third among power forward or center-eligible players.

Tier III: Top-15 Upside

LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks
Paul George, Thunder
Draymond Green, Warriors
Myles Turner, Pacers
Kevin Love, Cavaliers
Joel Embiid, 76ers

James and George have recently been top-15 players, but both are coming off of relatively down seasons, and new point guards might require an adjustment period.

Green has provided solid second-round production for three straight seasons, and the Warriors made no major changes this offseason. Porzingis and Turner are third year players who are barely old enough to drink, yet are already the foundation and identity of their franchises. Love is only 28-years-old, and finally seems comfortable in Cleveland. Keep in mind that he was a top-10 producer three of his last four years in Minnesota.

Based on upside alone, Embiid belongs a tier higher, but his injury history makes him a massive risk.

Tier IV: Multi-Category Staples

Al Horford, Celtics
Otto Porter, Wizards
Paul Millsap, Nuggets

This small tier consists of three quality, high-end starters. Their ceiling and their floor are pretty close – none are likely either to crack the top 30, or fall outside the top 50. These do-no-harm players should all see stable minutes as key pieces on playoff-caliber teams.

Tier V: High-Risk, High-Reward

Blake Griffin, Clippers
Clint Capela, Rockets
Andre Drummond, Pistons
Harrison Barnes, Mavericks
Carmelo Anthony, Knicks
LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs
Jabari Parker, Bucks
Danilo Gallinari, Clippers
Tobias Harris, Pistons
Dwight Howard, Hornets
Robert Covington, 76ers
Jae Crowder, Cavaliers
Nikola Vucevic, Magic
Rudy Gay, Spurs

Through the middle of the draft, managers will be have several opportunities to select a power forward who is highly risky in some ways, but also possess a realistic path into the top 40.

Griffin, Parker and Gallinari each carry injury concerns, and all three have missed at least 20 games in two of the last three seasons. If Griffin plays 70-plus games, he could easily leap up a tier or two.

Anthony and Aldridge are former fantasy elites who have declined more rapidly than expected, given their age. Harris and Barnes are both 25 years old and locked into high-minutes roles, yet neither has lived up to the optimistic outlooks their early careers inspired.

Tier VI: Boring But Steady

Gorgui Dieng, Timberwolves
Nerlens Noel, Mavericks
Serge Ibaka, Raptors
Markieff Morris, Wizards

As the players with major upside dry up, managers should look to this tier for reliable production. None will stuff the box score on a nightly basis, but they all should have quality rankings at the end of the season. Dieng and Ibaka both finished last season inside the top 55. Morris and Noel both finished in the top 75 and are in better situations than they were last season.

Tier VII: Question Marks

Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
Pau Gasol, Spurs
Julius Randle, Lakers*
Marvin Williams, Hornets

Will 22-year-old Randle take the next step in his development? His team should be better, and if Instagram is a reliable source, he’s already in much better shape. Nowitzki and Gasol are former All-Stars, but are among the oldest players in the league.

Randle carries an additional drawback – he’s one of only two players in this piece without eligibility at multiple positions. He’s a power forward only, and he’s not likely to add a second position mid-season.

Tier VIII: Steady Producers

Thad Young, Pacers
Ben Simmons, 76ers
Dario Saric, 76ers
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings
Ryan Anderson, Rockets
Derrick Favors, Jazz
James Johnson, Heat
Aaron Gordon, Magic

Saric is the only one who is not a clear starter, and he’d still be a high usage sixth man if Robert Covington beats him out for the fifth starting spot.

A few past rankings worth noting: Young was a top-40 player the last time he was on a lottery team. Favors was a top-30 player in 2015-16 but finished outside the top 150 in 2016-17. Cauley-Stein ranked inside the top-75 after Cousins was traded in February.

Simmons warrants extra consideration because of his positional eligibility. The 76ers have openly discussed utilizing him at point guard. If that ultimately happens, eligibility across three positions is fairly rare and would grant managers significantly increased roster flexibility.

Tier IX: High-Upside Young Players

Marquese Chriss, Suns*
Frank Kaminsky, Hornets
Richaun Holmes, 76ers

Late in the draft, managers should be looking for upside – after all, most of these players are likely to be waiver fodder after a few weeks. Within the sea of possible late-round roster fillers, these three stand out as young players who could develop into strong fantasy assets.

Tier X: Low-End Roster Filler

Ersan Ilyasova, Hawks
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Nets
Greg Monroe, Bucks
Skal Labissiere, Kings
Zach Randolph, Kings
Thon Maker, Bucks

The description pretty much says it all. These players will probably be dropped quickly but are at least worthy of an initial roster spot.

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