It’s never, ever too early to start thinking about next season. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of my top 125 fantasy players heading into the 2018-19 campaign.
Of course, we’re still a few weeks away from the NBA Draft and the start of free agency, so plenty can and will change over the course of the next two months. But these rankings are intended to serve as an initial overview of what we’re expecting for next season, based largely on the progressions and regressions observed in 2017-18.
We’ll issue an update to the rankings following the draft, and another update once the dust settles on free agency. All of that will lead up to the release of our projections and official rankings near the end of the summer.
Keep in mind that these rankings are for 8-category roto leagues (no turnovers), so injury history often gets factored into the equation. While injuries can be unpredictable, minimizing risk is undoubtedly a factor in winning a league. For example, no one who’s drafted Blake Griffin since 2013-14 has seen him play more than 67 games.
Again, these rankings are fluid. Once the draft and free agency pass, I reserve the right to make drastic changes.
1. James Harden: He’s going to be the MVP, and the 72 games he played last season were his fewest since joining the Rockets.
2. Anthony Davis: The best roto player last season by total output, but his injury history still scares me away from ranking him No. 1 overall. You could convince me to put him as low as No. 5, especially if DeMarcus Cousins comes back to New Orleans.
3. LeBron James: Second-best roto player in 2017-18. I’ll believe a decline when I see it.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo: Wouldn’t be a massive reach to take him with the first pick. Another year of improvement plus a new coach should only boost value.
5. Karl-Anthony Towns: I’ve gotten a weird vibe that people were disappointed with KAT’s season. He finished as the fourth-best roto player. He was incredible. Don’t hesitate to take him sooner than fifth.
6. Kevin Durant : Obviously amazing, but playing for the Warriors limits his upside. Durant also hasn’t played more than 72 games in any of the past three seasons.
7. Stephen Curry: Like Durant, team context limits his individual upside.
8. Russell Westbrook: Lack of efficiency keeps him out of the top three, but the fact that he’s missed just five games over the past three seasons keeps him in the top 10.
9. Kawhi Leonard: Assuming he’s healthy, he has to go top 10. Just look at his numbers from the two seasons prior to 2017-18.
10. Victor Oladipo: Finished as the eighth-best roto player. Led the league in steals per game (2.4). Hard to imagine last season being a fluke.
11. Nikola Jokic: Clearly has the potential to go 50/40/90 as a center. He’s 23 and just turned in a top-10 fantasy season.
12. Paul George: Regardless of where he plays next season, drafting him early in the second round is a good choice.
13. Damian Lillard: Got off to a slow start last season but still averaged 26.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Hasn’t missed more than nine games in any of his six NBA seasons, and there’s reason to believe he could become a more efficient scorer.
14. John Wall: Played just 41 games due to a persistent knee issue and had a bit of a down year as a result. I'm banking on him bouncing back to his usual self.
15. Jimmy Butler: A top-10 talent, but has played more than 67 games only once over the past five seasons. Waiting until the end of the second round is justified.
16. Kyrie Irving: Had a successful first year in Boston, but injuries -- and the Celtics’ borderline-ridiculous depth -- remain a concern. He’s averaging 65 games played over the past six seasons.
17. Ben Simmons: Stayed healthy all year, was the 15th-best roto player. Should have been an All-Star.
18. Andre Drummond: Unprecedented leap in free throw percentage and solid passing has turned him into a top-tier fantasy center.
19. Jrue Holiday: Strong all-around playoff showing will buoy his stock heading into 2018-19.
20. Chris Paul: Averaging 67.8 games played over the past six seasons and isn’t getting any younger. Played 58 in 2017-18 and 61 two seasons ago. I’d rather miss out on taking him than grab him too early.
21. Joel Embiid: He only needed 63 games to be the 30th-best roto player and, for the most part, made it through the season without any injury concerns. It’s worth the risk to take him a round earlier this season.
22. Khris Middleton: Had a down year from beyond the arc and still averaged 20.1 PPG. Has played at least 79 games in every season but one (2016-17) since coming to Milwaukee.
23. Gordon Hayward: Will be a focal point of the East’s most talented team, but Boston’s wing depth could cut limit his workload.
24. Kemba Walker: Charlotte’s clouded future looms as a question mark, but Walker remained as consistent as ever last season.
25. Bradley Beal: Coming off of the least-efficient three-point shooting season of his career and still averaged 22.6 PPG on 46% FG.
26. Devin Booker: Had a 31.7% usage rate last season, 0.1% higher than LeBron.
27. Draymond Green: Outside shooting has fallen off a cliff but still remains a premier defender and passer for his position.
28. Kyle Lowry: Last season’s 16.2 PPG was his lowest mark since 2012-13. Lowry’s 1.1 steals are his lowest mark since 2009-10. Health has been spotty, and he just turned 32.
29. Rudy Gobert: Has missed 48 games over the past three seasons due to knee injuries and didn’t show much improvement in 2017-18.
30. Eric Bledsoe: Had a solid, but unusually healthy season in Milwaukee. Averaging 59 games played since becoming a starter over the past five seasons. I wouldn’t take him earlier than this.
31. LaMarcus Aldridge: Coming off of a resurgent season, but he drops if Kawhi Leonard is back in San Antonio.
32. Donovan Mitchell: 27th-best roto player by total production as a rookie, 47th by average production. If you believe he can clean up his efficiency, he could be worth taking in the second round.
33. DeMar DeRozan: The “DeRozan shoots threes now” narrative was a bit overblown when you look at his percentages.
34. C.J. McCollum: Efficiency waned a bit after a career-best 2016-17 season but still remains one of the NBA’s premier score-first guards.
35. Mike Conley: Great when healthy but age and injury should be a concern. Played only 12 games last season; averaged 67 across the previous four seasons and will turn 31 in October.
36. Blake Griffin: The last time Griffin played more than 67 games was five years ago.
37. Gary Harris: Forty missed games over the past two years isn’t encouraging, but he was still a top-40 player last season. Should continue improving.
38. DeMarcus Cousins: He’s the new Joel Embiid. Worth the risk in the third or fourth round.
39. Otto Porter: Has quietly shot 44% from three over the past two seasons.
40. Marc Gasol: Should bounce back from a tumultuous season, though he’ll turn 34 in January.
41. Kevin Love: Rises if LeBron leaves. But health is becoming a concern after missing 45 games over the past two seasons.
42. Klay Thompson: Hit a career-best 44% of his threes in 2017-18.
43. Robert Covington: Appeared in 80 games, marking first time he’s suited up for at least 70 games since 2014-15. One of only three players last season to average 2.5 threes and 1.7 steals (James Harden, Paul George).
44. Tobias Harris: Has played at least 80 games in back-to-back campaigns. Was the 38th-best roto player last season. Could be worth a third-round reach.
45. Clint Capela: Led the league in field-goal percentage (65.2%) and has seen a steady increase in production each season.
46. Al Horford: Consistent as ever last season, and he improved his long-range efficiency.
47. Josh Richardson: Was the 35th-best roto player last season by total production (not a typo), 56th by average.
48. Hassan Whiteside: Saw his role diminish last season, and it’s very much unclear if he’ll be in Miami come October. I wouldn’t draft him before the fourth or fifth round until there’s more clarity.
49. Nikola Vucevic: Was still the 60th-ranked player in 2017-18, despite appearing in just 57 contests. Career highs in both assists (3.4) and threes (1.1) per game. Has averaged 67.5 games played over the past six years.
50. Jamal Murray: Has missed only one game in two years. Don’t be afraid to take him higher.
51. Tyreke Evans: This is somewhat of a placeholder spot. Best-case scenario for fantasy owners may be Evans signing with a bad team.
52. Lou Williams: Clippers will be healthier this season, by default, so I’m not expecting a repeat season from Williams.
53. Jeff Teague: Move to Minnesota had very little impact on his numbers.
54. Dennis Schroder: Another player who could be on the move this summer. His ultimate landing spot will determine his value.
55. Myles Turner: Didn’t live up to the hype but still finished as the 68th-best roto player by average production. Could be worth drafting in the fourth round if you think he’ll stay healthy and turn the corner next year.
56. Aaron Gordon: 63rd-best roto player by average last season and has gotten better every year. Shot the lights out from three over the first few months of the season before a hard regression.
57. Paul Millsap: Ranked 73rd by average in 2017-18 but dealt with a broken hand and had to adjust to a new team.
58. Lonzo Ball: Don’t tell the haters, but he was the 60th-ranked player by average as a rookie. The argument is there to take him in the fourth round if you think he can be even slightly more efficient as a shooter.
59. Lauri Markkanen: Struggled with consistency but shot 43.2% from three in January. The potential is there for him to hit even more than the 2.1 threes per game he drilled as a rookie.
60. Will Barton: Will have plenty of suitors as a free agent after playing on one of the league’s most team-friendly contracts.
61. Nikola Mirotic: I buy the hype, even if DeMarcus Cousins is back.
62. Kris Dunn: Would have been a dark horse Most Improved Player candidate had it not been for injuries and tanking.
63 Joe Ingles: Has missed four games in four seasons. Taking him in the fifth round would be justified.
64. Ricky Rubio: Assists fell off a cliff but he shot the ball better. I don’t know who he is anymore.
65. Julius Randle: Has improved every year and stayed healthy. Free agency destination will affect this ranking.
66. Zach LaVine: Shot poorly coming off his ACL tear but took 19.5 attempts per 36 minutes.
67. Darren Collison: Led the league in three-point efficiency (46.8%) on 3.0 attempts per game.
68. Brandon Ingram: Became an efficient scorer and continued to flash defensive upside. Unless the Lakers pull off their dream free agency haul, it’s fair to assume he’ll increase his volume again next season.
69. Dario Saric: Drastically improved his three-point shooting (39.3%), while providing adequate rebounding (6.7 RPG) and assists (2.6 APG) production.
70. Taurean Prince: Hawks’ dismal season overshadowed a strong sophomore campaign.
71. DeAndre Jordan: Raised his free throw percentage but only averaged 0.9 blocks per game.
72. Steven Adams: Averaged career-highs in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals and field goal percentage in 2017-18.
73. Enes Kanter: Rank could change based on Porzingis’ health.
74. Kent Bazemore: Only played 65 games last season but remained a good source of efficient threes and steals.
75. Evan Fournier: Averaging 65.5 games played over the past four years; may be hitting his ceiling.
76. Jayson Tatum: Hayward will be back, but Boston will have a hard time keeping one of the league’s brightest young stars off the court.
77. Thaddeus Young: Coming off of yet another solid-but-unspectacular season.
78. Dwight Howard: Charlotte was a mess, but Howard had his best individual season in five years.
79. Jusuf Nurkic: Looming free agency could affect this rank.
80. Jonas Valanciunas: Per-minute production was strong, but he played a career-low 22.4 minutes per game.
81. Goran Dragic: Another consistent season overall, but his assists (4.8 APG) and steals (0.8 SPG) production leaves something to be desired.
82. J.J. Redick: Value is difficult to gauge heading into another summer of unrestricted free agency.
83. Harrison Barnes: Reliable scorer but looks like he may not have another gear.
84. Jabari Parker: Will be one of the most intriguing free agency decisions this summer.
85. Kyle Kuzma: If Lakers whiff in free agency and Randle walks, Kuzma’s value could rise.
86. John Collins: Quietly averaged 15.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per-36 as a rookie.
87. Tim Hardaway: Efficiency fell last season, but Hardaway has serious “good stats, bad team” potential in 2018-19.
88. Andrew Wiggins: Played all 82 games and still only ended up ranked 89th. It’s possible he makes a leap, but there’s little evidence to suggest one should be expected.
89. T.J. Warren: Has missed 33 games over the past two years. Efficient scorer but can’t hit threes.
90. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: This rank assumes he can still find 30-plus minutes per game as a free agent.
91. Serge Ibaka: Will turn 29 in September but already looks to be on the wrong side of his prime.
92. Derrick Favors: Played 77 games last season after playing 62 and 50, respectively, during the previous two campaigns. Free agency could push him up further.
93. Taj Gibson: Played a career-high (by far) 33.2 minutes per game -- and played all 82 -- at age 32.
94. James Johnson: Shooting efficiency has come and gone on a year-to-year basis, but all-around production makes him a top-100 guy.
95. Trevor Ariza: Set to be a free agent but shouldn’t have trouble finding big minutes wherever he ends up.
96. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Will need to become a better outside shooter to raise his ranking.
97. Rajon Rondo: This is assuming he stays with the Pelicans and tries at least 70% of the time.
98. D’Angelo Russell: Has missed 53 games over the past two seasons. Making strides as a passer but efficiency remains a concern.
99. Dennis Smith: Rookie-year counting stats were solid, but he struggled on defense and shot less than 40% from the field.
100. Patrick Beverley: Played just 11 games this season but was the 61st-ranked player by average. Still, health has been a concern throughout his career and the Clippers have a myriad of backcourt players.
101. Dejounte Murray: Efficiency and playmaking ability remain a question.
102. Buddy Hield: An elite three-point shooter who's missed only two games in two years. If he can trend closer to 30 minutes per game, he could easily outpace this rank.
103. Kelly Olynyk: Could see a slight boost if the Heat move on from Whiteside.
104. Nicolas Batum: Turning into one of the league’s worst contracts given team context, waning efficiency, and injury concerns.
105. Eric Gordon: Injury history is still an issue, but Gordon has averaged 3.2 made threes per game over the last two seasons.
106. Bogdan Bogdanovic: The Kings’ best rookie was not the guy they took fifth overall.
107. Carmelo Anthony: Maybe he’ll bounce back? Maybe? I’m not risking it.
108. Allen Crabbe: Raises his volume but decreased his efficiency in 2017-18.
109. Willie Cauley-Stein: Made tangible strides in Year 3 but was partially the victim of the league’s strangest rotation.
110. De’Aaron Fox: Struggled where we thought he’d struggle and excelled where we thought he’d excel -- still underwhelmed a bit as a rookie.
111. Dirk Nowitzki: Workload and production continue to decline with age, but Dirk shot 41% from three last season.
112. E’Twaun Moore: If he’s the starter again going into next season, he could be worth taking in the eighth or ninth round.
113. Markieff Morris: Played more than four fewer minutes per game in 2017-18, compared to two seasons ago.
114. DeMarre Carroll: Bounced back after an injury-plagued stint in Toronto.
115. Isaiah Thomas: A placeholder ranking.
116. Malcolm Brogdon: Last season’s 97th-ranked player by average production. Upside is relatively limited given the Bucks’ current roster and cap situation.
117. Caris LeVert: Had a quietly productive sophomore season, but the return of Jeremy Lin and other potential roster moves could cloud his future.
118. Jarrett Allen: Averaged 1.7 blocks in 23.8 minutes over the final 31 games of the year. Should see more run next season.
119. Bobby Portis: Upside is somewhat capped due to Lauri Markkanen. But if it looks like he might get more run at center next season, he could be worth drafting higher.
120. Brook Lopez: An unrestricted free agent this summer.
121. Danilo Gallinari: Could be worth gambling on in the ninth or tenth round. But, based on his injury history, I’d avoid him almost entirely.
122. Reggie Jackson: Missed nearly 70 combined games over the last two seasons.
123. Jaylen Brown: Has the makings of a rising star, but he’ll be the third-best player at his position on his own team.
124. Austin Rivers: Shot a career-best 46% from three on nearly six attempts per game last season.
125. Pau Gasol: Will turn 38 five days after free agency begins.
Kristaps Porzingis: There have been varying timetables given for his return. It’s unclear at the time of publication when -- or even if -- he’ll play next season.
Elfrid Payton: His development has been underwhelming and his role could change for the worse depending on where he lands in free agency.
Marcus Smart: Saw nearly 30 minutes per game last season and was the 144th-ranked player by average. It’s possible he sees a bigger role if he changes teams during the offseason, but he’s been wildly inconsistent on offense.
Josh Jackson: Rewarded DFS players with some great games as a starter, but shot just 41.7 percent from the field, 26.3 percent from three and 63.4 percent from the charity stripe.
Tyler Johnson and Dion Waiters: The emergence of Josh Richardson will probably mean fewer minutes for both Johnson and Waiters. Johnson was a borderline top-125 player last season and Waiters struggles with efficiency.
Markelle Fultz: Had a disastrous rookie campaign, but showed encouraging flashes during late-season comeback. Hopefully he’ll play in summer league and/or preseason so we can see if his shot comes back before draft season.
Jonathan Isaac: Played just 27 games as a rookie but averaged 4.2 combined steals/blocks per 36 minutes and will presumably start this season.