Fantasy Basketball Rankings: Forwards
The forward position in fantasy basketball might not be as sexy or as much fun to draft as guard or center, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a boatload of talent here. Think of forwards like the safe, trust-worthy option you can be proud of and bring home to mom and dad.
With that being said, there’s a ton of fantasy studs here in the first few rounds. From a young stud whose name 98% of people can’t say or spell to an aging king that seems as strong as ever. The talent goes on and on. There are a plethora of different types of players here, too. Whatever the stat category you desire, this position has it.
I’ve ranked the top 60 forwards for the 2017-18 fantasy season below with analysis on select players. Rankings and analysis for the top 60 guards can be found here.
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#1 Giannis Antetokounmpo (SF – MIL)
You know what’s scary about this ranking? He won’t turn 23 until December. For Giannis Antetokounmpo to be this good, this early is truly remarkable. Last season, he averaged 22.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 1.9 BPG, while shooting 52.1% from the field and 77% from the line. Did I mention he’s still only 22? No other player averaged more than 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks last season. The only area he doesn’t help much in is 3s, and even that is showing signs of improvement. There’s no question that Antetokounmpo needs to be one of the first three players drafted in all formats.
#2 Kevin Durant (SF/PF – GS)
Imagine the type of numbers Kevin Durant could put up as the only star player on a team. He had Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the floor with him and still put up top-five fantasy numbers. As great as Durant has been over the past decade, he still was able to set career highs in rebounds (8.3), blocks (1.6), field goal percentage (53.7), as well as a career low 2.2 turnovers per game. There’s nothing this future Hall of Famer can’t do on the basketball court. There’s nothing that suggests he can’t have another top-five season this year. Don’t let him slip past the first five picks.
#3 Kawhi Leonard (SF – SA)
For the last few seasons, all Kawhi Leonard has done is quietly develop into one of the best players in both the NBA and fantasy basketball. Go ahead and try to find a weakness in his fantasy game. I’ll wait. Not too long, though, as it will take you forever to find something that’s not there. Leonard doesn’t dominate any one category, but he’s just so good across the board. All his percentages are strong, he shoots 3s, provides defensive stats, and doesn’t turn the ball over too much. He’s just the type of player Coach Popovich loves and someone you should love as your first-round selection.
#4 Anthony Davis (PF – NO)
There’s no riskier first-round selection this season than Anthony Davis. He’s an insanely talented player but has missed an average of 15 games per season in his career. That’s a killer in fantasy, especially when most of those games are later in the season during the fantasy playoffs. Many thought the addition of DeMarcus Cousins would suppress Davis’ value, but that simply wasn’t the case. In fact, his stats even got a little better with Cousins in town. Davis is one of the best scorers, rebounders, and block shot artists in the game and can also rack up the steals and hit the occasional three. Plus, his percentages are good and he doesn’t turn the ball over that much. What’s not to like? Well, the injury history, but hopefully that is behind him.
#5 LeBron James (SF – CLE)
Is it really possible for LeBron James to get better in his age-33 season? Yes, the answer is yes. Nothing James does anymore should surprise anyone. He’s the best player on the planet for a reason. If he wanted to be the #1 fantasy player, he would be. If you want to gripe about something, his free-throw shooting is subpar, especially for someone of his caliber. Outside of that, though, he’s a fantasy stud. With Irving out of the picture, it wouldn’t surprise me if his assists crept up to around 10 per game this season. An uptick in points should also be expected for that same reason. Averages of 29-8-10 this season are well within reach. Just be prepared for those dreaded “rest” games in the second half of the season.
#6 Paul George (SF – OKC)
Last season was when Paul George went from a really good fantasy player to one of the game’s elite. All it took was a significant rise in both his field goal and free throw percentages. Now he finds himself playing alongside arguably the top dog in fantasy basketball, Russell Westbrook. George now has someone that can get him some open looks. Scary thought, huh? Expect a more complete fantasy season out of George this year and drat him confidently in the second round.
#7 Blake Griffin (PF – LAC)
Blake Griffin playing some point forward? That’s a scary thought. And not bad scary, either, unless you’re the rest of the NBA. When it comes to big men, Griffin is one of the best at distributing the basketball. His 4.9 APG were somewhat suppressed due to the presence of Chris Paul. Well, now Chris Paul is in Houston, and there’s no one even close to his caliber ready to step in at point guard. Expect improvement almost across the board for Griffin this season. A 25-10-6 season is well within reach.
#8 Kristaps Porzingis (PF – NY)
With Carmelo Anthony now in Oklahoma City, this is now solely Kristaps Porzingis’ team. He’s the unquestioned No. 1 option and his usage rate should vastly rise this season. If you thought his 18.1 PPG and 7.2 RPG last season were good, wait and see what the unicorn does this season. The absence of Melo doesn’t just open up scoring opportunities, but rebounding opportunities as well. Expect a rise in scoring, rebounding, and 3s this season along with his usual two blocks per game.
#9 Draymond Green (PF – GS)
If you took out scoring, Draymond Green would be a first-round fantasy player. However, scoring is kind of a big deal in fantasy, so Green’s upside is limited to that of a third-round talent. That’s not to say he can’t be extremely valuable for your fantasy team, though. No one else can match what Green does in the non-scoring categories. He’s registered seven rebounds and assists each of the last two seasons and over one steal, one block, and one three-pointer in each of the last three seasons. Like I said, he’s a stud outside of scoring and a strong selection in the second or third round. Just be wary of his bone-headed actions that might get him a suspension here and there.
#10 Kevin Love (PF/C – CLE)
The Kyrie Irving trade provided a significant boost to Kevin Love’s fantasy value in 2017-18. With Isaiah Thomas’ return date in question, Love is going to be the No. 2 scoring option on this team behind LeBron. His last 20+ PPG season was his last season in Minnesota in 2013-14. There’s a very strong chance that he gets back over 20 PPG this season. Love averaged 19 PPG last year and should have no trouble scoring a little more with Irving gone and Thomas out for a good chunk of the season. Add in the elite rebounding and over two 3s per game, and you have a strong target in the third or fourth round of fantasy drafts.
#11 Paul Millsap (PF – DEN)
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more consistent fantasy big man than Paull Millsap. Take his stats from last season and write those in again this season with barely any variance. He doesn’t wow you in any one category, but Millsap is strong across the board and doesn’t hurt you anywhere. He’s a good rebounder, passer, and chips in solid defensive stats year in and year out. Playing next to stud center, Nikola Jokic, should only help his fantasy value, as well.
#13 Ben Simmons (SF/PF – PHI)
The long-awaited debut of 2016 No. 1 pick, Ben Simmons, is almost here. And trust me, you’re going to want him on your fantasy team this season. I know this is an aggressive ranking, but he can more than live up to it. Even with Markelle Fultz on the roster, Simmons is going to have the ball in his hands a lot. His outside shot is still a work in progress, but he more than makes up for that with his contributions in other areas. Pencil him in for 15-7-5 per game with potential for much more.
#16 Carmelo Anthony (PF – OKC)
I’ve never been a Carmelo Anthony supporter, and that’s not going to change this season. He’s going from the top scoring option in New York to the third option in Oklahoma City. When your biggest fantasy contribution takes a significant hit, that’s not really a good thing. His rebounding should go up a tick due to playing more in the post, but a probable drop in scoring and 3s makes him more of a fifth or sixth round talent than someone you draft in the top four rounds.
#17 Serge Ibaka (PF – TOR)
His rebounding and blocks have dropped some from his early days, but Ibaka is still a solid all-around fantasy forward. He routinely averages around 14 points, 7 rebounds (exactly 6.8 in each of the last four seasons), and 1.5-2.0 blocks per game. To offset the drop in blocks and rebounds, Ibaka has begun to hit from beyond the arc with regularity and almost made two per game last season.
#19 Gorgui Dieng (PF – MIN)
Look elsewhere for your scoring, but if you need a big man that can provide solid contributions in rebounds, steals, blocks, and both percentages, then Gorgui Dieng is your man.
#23 Robert Covington (SF/PF – PHI)
If it weren’t for all the talent around him, Robert Covington would be several spots higher on this list. His overall shooting percentage is pathetic, but not many can match his contributions in 3s, steals, and blocks. It’s rare to have a player average two 3s, two steals, and one block per game, but that’s what Covington did last season (well, 1.9 steals, but who’s counting) and it’s what he’s capable of doing this season, as well. Get your scoring elsewhere, but having Covington on your team helps out in many other areas.
#26 Brandon Ingram (SF – LAL)
It was a rocky rookie season for the No. 2 overall pick, but Brandon Ingram did show flashes of promise as the season progressed. The Lakers consider him a core piece of their future, so expect a lot of opportunity for Ingram to show what he can do. His biggest downside is his percentages, but he’s young enough to improve those. Expect across-the-board improvement from the Lakers’ second-year forward.
#31 Aaron Gordon (SF/PF – ORL)
Spoiler alert: Aaron Gordon is more than just an incredible dunker. Many expected him to break out last season, but it didn’t happen. However, his numbers after the All-Star break hint that the breakout might happen this season. Gordon averaged 16.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 1.7 APG to go along with around one steal and three per game. The upside is obvious here. Don’t let him slip past the middle rounds.
#34 Josh Jackson (SF – PHO)
The Suns desperately needed another scoring option behind Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker, and Josh Jackson was drafted to be that scorer. Jackson is much more than just a scorer, though. He can rebound, dish the rock, and provide solid defensive statistics. The start might be a little slow, but the upside here is definitely worth chasing in the later middle rounds.
#37 Jabari Parker (SF/PF – MIL)
If your league has an IR spot, consider using it for Jabari Parker. He was averaging around 20 points, six rebounds, and three assists per game before suffering another season-ending injury. He might not play more than 30-40 games, but his upside is definitely worth stashing.
#41 Dirk Nowitzki (PF – DAL)
The ageless wonder might not be what he once was, but he’s still a solid mid- to late-round fantasy big man. Don’t expect much more than he did last season, but his contributions in points, rebounds, 3s, and free throw percentage are valuable in the later rounds.
#53 Jayson Tatum (SF – BOS)
If you’re in a keeper or dynasty league, then bump Tatum up 20-30 spots. For this season, he’s nothing more than a late-round flier with decent upside if he gets enough minutes.
#56 Ryan Anderson (PF – HOU)
If you want a bench big man that can score some and hit 3s, you found him.
#57 Doug McDermott (SF/PF – NY)
There’s not much to like here, but Doug McDermott will be starting and playing significant minutes. You could do worse in the last round. You could do a lot better, too.
I hope you can use these rankings to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members this season. Got a question about a player not covered here? Ask in the comments below or follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there. Also, make sure to follow and listen to @The3andDPod every Tuesday as Jon Sauber and I break down the latest from around the NBA and fantasy basketball.