Way too early Fantasy Basketball rankings for 2018-19 NBA season

By Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports

With this season’s Fantasy Basketball champions crowned and the NBA playoffs here, let’s take an early look at how drafts could unfold for the 2018-19 campaign.

Rankings will change over time, especially following the playoffs, the draft and free agency. It may be early, but a few interesting themes are already emerging:

  • The field of possible No. 1 overall picks has shrunk to five, down from last year’s all-time high of eight.

  • The value of high-end three-point shooters is dropping, and many may be surprised to see how low the Klay Thompson’s of the world are.

  • Finally, the first four-and-a-half rounds of drafts are as loaded as I can remember – and then the quality of players falls off a cliff. Every player between 25 and 55 is highly desirable. And then I had a lot of trouble finding enough players to fill out the bottom of the fifth round.

The next crop of rookies were excluded because it’s impossible to predict their performance without a sense of where they will land and, in most cases, drafting a rookie is not a good idea.

Assumes nine-category Roto settings

Round One

1. Anthony Davis: Davis has missed 14 games the past two seasons, after missing at least that many in each of his first four.

2. James Harden: The 29-year-old just wrapped up his sixth straight top-8 season. As safe as it gets.

3. Kevin Durant: More injury-prone than Harden, less upside than Davis, but each of these top 3 picks have similar floors.

4. Stephen Curry: Ankle fears are the only reason he isn’t #1.

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo: Two straight top-7 seasons and the 23-year-old is still getting better.

6. Karl-Anthony Towns: Hard to justify taking KAT while Davis is available, but KAT is a reasonable choice as high as second overall.

7. Nikola Jokic: Start of the second tier. Indefensible as a top-6 pick, but a great choice at 7.

8. Kawhi Leonard: Don’t forget.

9. Damian Lillard

10. Jimmy Butler: Drops a spot or two if Thibodeau gets fired. No Thibs would be good for Butler’s limbs, but bad for his minutes.

11. Chris Paul

12. Russell Westbrook: Would rank 8th in 8-cat or H2H 9-cat.

Round Two

13. Victor Oladipo

14. LeBron James: He had a 20-game stretch where he was outside the top-30; by per-36 production, he was outside the top-50 after the All-Star break; he’s fading as a fantasy asset.

15. Joel Embiid

16. Paul George: Ranking could change dramatically depending on offseason moves.

17. Rudy Gobert

18. Kyrie Irving: Injuries. Always.

19. Kevin Love: Drops if LeBron stays in Cleveland.

20. Andre Drummond

21. Ben Simmons

22. Khris Middleton

23. Gary Harris

24. Otto Porter

Round Three

25. John Wall: He’ll rise higher if he looks like his normal, healthy self during the playoffs.

26. Kemba Walker

27. Kyle Lowry

28. Clint Capela: If you’re committing to a punt-FT build, Capela can go even higher.

29. Draymond Green

30. DeMarcus Cousins: This ranking assumes he’s not 100% his pre-injury self when he comes back, and that he returns close to New Year’s; he’ll be a good midseason trade target.

31. Gordon Hayward: Don’t forget.

32. Mike Conley: Again — don’t forget.

33. Tobias Harris

34. Nikola Vucevic

35. Jrue Holiday

36. Eric Bledsoe

Round Four

37. Robert Covington

38. Josh Richardson

39. Klay Thompson: The three-point boom has devalued elite three-point shooters. Thompson’s, Beal’s, and Booker’s ranks will be the topic of a separate article.

40. C.J. McCollum

41. Bradley Beal

42. Devin Booker

43. Donovan Mitchell

44. DeMar DeRozan

45. LaMarcus Aldridge: It’s not safe to assume that a 33-year-old will reproduce one of the best seasons of his career.

46. Myles Turner: An early favorite for Fantasy’s 2018-19 Comeback Player of the Year (I don’t care that it’s an NFL award), this already feels preposterously low.

47. Marc Gasol

48. Kristaps Porzingis: Will miss at least the first two months of the season, possibly more.

Round Five

49. Aaron Gordon

50. Hassan Whiteside: His ceiling is top-10. His floor is barely top-80. His FT’s are bad. His ranking will change.

51. Lauri Markkanen

52. Jamal Murray: Murray’s ranking would drop if the Nuggets bring in a “true PG” and shift Murray to SG/backup PG.

53. Lonzo Ball

54. Jeff Teague

55. Al Horford

56. T.J. Warren

57. Julius Randle: This assumes he lands somewhere that wants him; Randle is H2H gold.

58. Blake Griffin: If his FG% recovers, this will be theft; if not, it’s a minor reach.

59. Brook Lopez: After the All-Star break he reminded us how good he is with only 27 minutes per game.

60. Steven Adams

Round Six

61. Joe Ingles: His age prevents me from putting him higher.

62. Will Barton: I think he won’t be back with the Nuggets, and I think that hurts him.

63. Evan Fournier

64. J.J. Redick: He’ll have to accept a pay cut to stay in Philly, and if he leaves Philly his ranking here will drop.

65. Darren Collison

66. Brandon Ingram: Ingram this high requires significant optimism, but he’s improved a lot over his first two seasons.

67. Trevor Ariza

68. Dario Saric

69. DeAndre Jordan: Managers committed to punting FT% can take him higher, but that’s not always a great idea in Roto.

70. Serge Ibaka

71. Paul Millsap: He’s fading, but at this price it’s worth the risk – he was a top-45 player from 2010-2017.

72. Taurean Prince: Assuming the Hawks still aren’t good.

Round Seven

73. Jonas Valanciunas

74. Nicolas Batum

75. Zach LaVine

76. Buddy Hield

77. Larry Nance, Jr.: Nance would be so much higher if you could promise me just 25 minutes per game.

78. Tim Hardaway, Jr.

79. Tyreke Evans: He’s unlikely to recreate 2017-18, especially next to a healthy Mike Conley

80. Lou Williams: Very few players peak after age 30, and those who do tend to decline rapidly. Maybe the decline doesn’t start in 2018-19, but Williams is a risky bet.

81. Thaddeus Young

82. Ricky Rubio

83. Jayson Tatum: I believe he’s the next Paul Pierce. I also believe that the Celtics have three starters for two positions (Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward), and that Tatum and Brown are the ones whose Fantasy values suffer.

84. Kyle Kuzma

Round Eight

85. Moe Harkless: I used up all of my bravery ranking Ingram too high; if I had any left, Harkless would be 15+ spots higher.

86. Goran Dragic

87. Jusuf Nurkic

88. Derrick Favors

89. Harrison Barnes

90. Dennis Schroder

91. Dejounte Murray

92. Nikola Mirotic: His excellent 2017-18 stats were inflated by the tanking Bulls and the Boogie-less Pelicans; hard to imagine he comes close to repeating them.

93. Allen Crabbe

94. Dirk Nowitzki: Dirk will live forever.

95. Eric Gordon

96. Kris Dunn

Round Nine

97. Al-Farouq Aminu

98. Jaylen Brown

99. Mario Hezonja

100. Andrew Wiggins: He’ll get drafted a lot higher than this, but based on his actual production, he should be lower.

101. John Collins

102. Jarrett Allen

103. Enes Kanter

104. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

105. Kyle Anderson

106. Terry Rozier

107. Willie Cauley-Stein

108. Jonathan Isaac

Just missed the cut: Austin Rivers, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Trey Burke, Jabari Parker.

Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley are not included above. At the moment, they are still outside my top-100, due to the dual concerns of: A) lack of meaningful information about their injury recovery and B) uncertainty over their future role in their current depth charts. If healthy, both are likely to join the top-100. If healthy and their surrounding roster looks favorable, both could crack the top-70.

Isaiah Thomas was also excluded. I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m going to do with him. So, for now, I’m punting. I’m not even going to try with him until he signs with a team in free agency.