Fantasy hoops: H2H points draft tiers by position

Taking LeBron James in the first round can impact the positions you should aim for later in your fantasy hoops draft. Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

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Who's No. 1?

For many people, this is the extent of their draft prep. They'll discuss, maybe even read about a few players who could have an argument for the top spot in the draft. Then, they'll pull up their cheat sheets and use them as references to guide their draft picks.

Here's the problem with that strategy ... actually, there are multiple, but let's highlight a few. First, unless you have the top pick, the "who's No. 1" debate doesn't really help you. More importantly, the best teams will be the ones that find quality all through the draft, not just with their first pick. This requires strategy, but usually drafts tend to move too quickly for a drafter to build a sound strategy on the fly.

Merely taking the highest-rated player in every round will not necessarily build you a balanced team that makes sense and can compete for championships. Every position is different, and often the value proposition for a given position will thus change at different points in the draft. It is important that you are aware of this value landscape, as it may help you choose between two similar prospects based upon the likelihood that you'll be able to fill that position better at another point of the draft.

The following is my breakdown of players into tiers, by position, based upon my preseason projections for head-to-head points leagues. While you can use my tiers below, you would also benefit from simply taking a few minutes to break down the players into your own tiers based upon your own valuation. You would be shocked how much a little exercise like that can do to prepare you for your draft, and how much this 20-minute exercise could set you apart from the other team managers in your league.

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Point guard

Curry stands alone in the top tier, because with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson out, he has the opportunity for a historic season. ... Lillard, Westbrook and Simmons are a short step back as players who could carry a late-first-round grade themselves. ... The third and fourth tiers are full of high-upside players, half of whom are taking over new teams (Irving, Rozier, Walker), two of whom are very young and on the rise (Fox, Young), and Holiday, who is now the veteran leader on a team full of youth. ... The fifth and sixth tiers contain players with the upside for higher tiers but who sport question marks, generally of age, injury, development or fit in a new environment.

Shooting guard

Harden is on an island by himself in the top tier, fully capable of turning in another fantasy MVP season despite the new addition of Westbrook to the team. ... Beal and Doncic are on Tier 2, sporting second-round grades with upside, as each embraces a larger role this season. ... All four Tier 3 selections have upside to move up a level if everything breaks right, while Tier 4 contains two players who are second options on their own teams but have the ability to score like first options. ... Brogdon is in Tier 5, but if he is able to channel high-level point guard numbers with the Pacers, he could bring more value to the table. LaVine also has upside, his as a scorer, but injury question marks hold him back from higher levels.

Small forward

This position is sparse at the top, with either one or two players in each of the top five tiers. LeBron is the potential fantasy MVP who is alone at the top, while new Clippers teammates George and Leonard hold down the second elite tier. ... Tatum is alone on Tier 3, based on the awesome potential he showed as a rookie, tempered by his relatively down sophomore campaign. ... Porter and Middleton are strong do-it-all wings who are secondary offensive options on their squads, while Gallinari has demonstrated the ability to produce at a Tier 4 level, but his injury history and new environment dropped him back to Tier 5. ... Meanwhile, Tiers 6-9 are heavily populated, as the position is actually deep with players who can contribute, though it is relatively short on potentially elite producers.

Power forward

The top tier is comprised of the two players who were No. 1 and No. 2 in fantasy production when healthy and playing full minutes last season, with Antetokounmpo maintaining his level all season and Davis sporting the opportunity to do the same with his new Lakers situation -- if he can stay healthy. ... Tier 2 contains two young players (Siakam, Collins) who made huge strides last season but still have room to improve this season, with Siakam in particular looking to make an elite leap in Toronto. ... Tier 3 holds several intriguing possibilities, with Randle looking brilliant, though he is in a crowded Knicks frontcourt, Zion-mania ready to erupt on the league, and Green looking to step up and lead again for the new-look Warriors. ... Tier 4 contains three superstars with huge injury questions, while Tier 5 contains three very young stars who are on the rise.


Center is the deepest position represented here, in large part because big men tend to score well in points leagues. Towns and Jokic are young veterans who are rapidly approaching their respective peak with very legitimate MVP potential. ... Embiid has the same upside, but durability issues push him down a tier with two other strong producers in Gobert and Drummond. ... Vucevic is coming off the best and healthiest season of his career, with questions about whether he can replicate that feat pushing him down a tier. Ayton is a sophomore coming off a strong rookie season, and he still has plenty of upside. ... Valanciunas and Kanter have been per-minute superstars who look to be in situations where they should get more minutes this season. ... Tiers 5 and 6 are full of big men with higher upsides who find themselves in deep frontcourts that limit their expected value to below their ultimate potential.