By Nick Whalen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
We are previewing every position ahead of the 2023-24 fantasy basketball season. Next up, here are the power forwards.
While in real life the NBA continues to move further away from traditional positions, those designations remain a key component when it comes to fantasy basketball strategy. Most leagues require players to be rostered — and started — at all five of the classic positions (PG, SG, SF, PF, C). At times, that can be frustrating, but the majority of players tend to be eligible at multiple spots.
Overwhelmingly, that tends to be the case with most power forwards on the Yahoo platform. With a few exceptions — Julius Randle and Jerami Grant come to mind — many natural power forwards carry dual eligibility at center, while others can slide down to fill the small forward spot.
For our purposes, as we take a deeper look at the position, we’ll focus exclusively on players whose natural fit is at power forward.
Top Draft Targets
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (ADP: 7.5)
Antetokounmpo can do pretty much anything the Bucks ask, but he spends most of his time at power forward alongside a natural center in Brook Lopez. When it comes to fantasy, Antetokounmpo is a monster in points leagues, but his free-throw shooting and lack of threes make him a polarizing player in roto formats. Those weaknesses can be offset with the right roster build, however, and Antetokounmpo still goes off the board toward the middle-to-end of Round 1 in most drafts.
Pascal Siakam, Raptors (ADP: 29.3)
One of the most consistent players at the position in recent years, Siakam is coming off of another strong 2022-23 campaign in which he posted a career-high 24.2 points per game. Also a good source of rebounds, assists and steals, Siakam could ascend even higher in the wake of Fred VanVleet’s offseason departure.
Lauri Markkanen, Jazz (ADP: 26.4)
Perhaps the single biggest fantasy breakouts of 2022-23, Markkanen completely rewrote the narrative of his career. Once a lottery pick who flamed out in Chicago and Cleveland, Markkanen took a massive leap after coming to Utah via trade last summer. He’ll have to prove he can do it again, but Markkanen’s 25.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 3.0 threes per game were a revelation.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Grizzlies (ADP: 19.0)
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year shook off an early-season knee injury to average 18.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 3.0 blocks while contributing 1.6 threes per game. With Ja Morant suspended for the first 25 games, Jackson will be tasked with more offensive responsibility out of the gate.
Julius Randle, Knicks (ADP: 54.1)
Randle has become a boring player to roster in fantasy, but that’s not a bad thing. It means he’s been consistent and fantasy managers know what to expect. At a time when seemingly every big name is missing time, Randle has played in all but 16 games over the last three seasons. Once again, expect Randle to be a good source of points, rebounds, assists and threes.
Jerami Grant, Trail Blazers (ADP: 75.7)
Grant could end up in a starring role for the rebuilding Blazers now that Damian Lillard is gone to Milwaukee. Anfernee Simons, Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe will all fend for touches as well, but Grant could be well-positioned for another bad team/good stats season like the one he enjoyed with Detroit in 2020-21.
Kevin Durant, Suns (ADP: 11.5)
Even as he approaches age 35, Durant remains a top-10 fantasy value on a per-game basis. The problem is he’s missed significant chunks of time in every season since 2018-19. That trend likely won’t ease up as he moves into his late 30s, so fantasy managers should budget for 15 or 20 missed games, at the bare minimum, from the future Hall of Famer.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves (ADP: 26.5)
A fantasy darling early in his career, Towns has battled injuries in three of the last four seasons, causing him to play 50 or fewer games three times. When healthy, Towns has looked like a borderline-first-round asset, but his days as an ironman — five missed games through his first four seasons — appear to be over. At this point, Towns does come at a decent discount, but even in the second or third round, he’s a fairly risky pickup.
LeBron James, Lakers (ADP: 24.4)
Like Durant, James has consistently fallen victim to injuries over the last few seasons. Since coming to the Lakers in 2018-19, James has played 55, 67, 45, 56 and 55 games over the last five years. Again, like Durant, James has been fantastic when healthy — 28.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 6.8 APG, 50% FG last season — but as he enters his age-39 season, the injury concerns will only grow.
Zion Williamson, Pelicans (ADP: 59.8)
Fantasy managers know the deal with Zion at this point. When he’s out there, he’s a counting-stat monster tailor-made for Yahoo’s scoring format. But more often than not, he’s not out there. Over the course of four years, Williamson has played in only 114 NBA games — and more than half of those came during the 2020-21 season when he averaged 27-7-4-1 (on 61% FG) and made the All-Star team.
Having been burned one too many times, fantasy managers are approaching Williamson with the appropriate amount of risk. As of Oct. 6, his ADP sits at 59.8. This time last year, he was going off the board around pick 35 in Yahoo leagues.
Kristaps Porziņģis, Celtics (ADP: 43.7)
Coming off of the best fantasy season of his career, Porzingis is now a cog in a much more talented machine with the Celtics, who also added Jrue Holiday. While he’ll take a backseat to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Porzingis will be an integral swing piece as Boston looks to get back to the NBA Finals. As always, health will be the key for the 7-foot-3 Latvian. If he can give the Celtics 65-plus games, he’ll likely be worth a third or fourth-round pick.
Victor Wembanyama, Spurs (ADP: 29.7): Not sure if you’ve heard of this guy. Most likely not. Wembanyama has really flown under the radar for the last year or so. In all seriousness, Wembanyama will be the first rookie off the board in every draft — and for good reason. The 7'5" Frenchman could be a top-30 value on shot-blocking alone. Whatever he provides in terms of scoring, threes, rebounds and assists is almost a bonus. The big concern, however, is that the Spurs will likely be aggressive in limiting Wembanyama’s workload in Year 1.
Jarace Walker, Pacers (ADP: 142.5): Walker will battle offseason addition Obi Toppin for minutes at power forward. Chances are, he won’t be a starter in most leagues, but Walker should be a solid points/rebounds contributor with some blocks and threes sprinkled in.
Kyle Kuzma, Wizards (ADP: 85.2): It’s true that Kuzma’s numbers may not translate to many wins, but he’s posted 19.1 points, 7.9 boards, 3.6 assists and 2.2 threes per game over the last two seasons.
John Collins, Jazz (ADP: 104.1): Another fantasy darling early in his career, Collins’ value gradually deteriorated over the last few years in Atlanta. A change of scenery should do Collins well.
Aaron Gordon, Nuggets (ADP: 116.6): Playing off of Nikola Jokić enabled Gordon to shoot a career-best (by far) 56.4% from the field in 2022-23.
Bobby Portis, Bucks (ADP: 108.5): Despite coming off the bench, Portis gave Milwaukee 14.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.4 threes per game last season. He’ll be especially valuable if Giannis Antetokounmpo or Brook Lopez miss time.
Grant Williams, Mavericks (ADP: 144.7): After coming over via sign-and-trade, Williams should compete for the starting spot at power forward. His upside isn’t sky high, but Williams can provide points, rebounds and efficient three-point shooting.
Draymond Green, Warriors (ADP: 97.6): Unlike most power forwards, assists are what fantasy managers are chasing with Green. He also chipped in 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals/blocks last season.
Keegan Murray, Kings (ADP: 102.5): The second-year Iowa product is a decent rebounder, but he could be a 3.0 threes per game player this season.
PJ Washington, Hornets (ADP: 138.6): Washington has never been a great rebounder, but he provides blocks, steals, threes and even a couple of assists per game.
Herbert Jones, Pelicans (ADP: 134.6): He’s more of a true small forward, but Jones has PF eligibility on Yahoo. The Alabama product is one of the NBA’s best sources of steals (1.6 SPG last season) and an underrated shot-blocker.
Evan Mobley, Cavaliers (ADP: 43.2): Mobley didn’t have the breakout sophomore season some expected, but he remains one of the most coveted young assets in the NBA. If the 22-year-old can improve as a shooter and/or shot-blocker, he could push for a top-35 season.
Jabari Smith Jr., Rockets (ADP: 91.8): Smith was mostly underwhelming as a rookie, but he started to show signs of improvement late in the year and certainly looked the part of a breakout at Summer League. Houston has a lot of mouths to feed, but Smith should have a good chance to outperform his current ADP.
Paolo Banchero, Magic (ADP: 58.5): The No. 1 overall pick in 2022 had a productive rookie season, though his three-point shooting tailed off considerably as the year went along. Efficiency could again be a concern, but Banchero should be a safer player in points leagues.
Obi Toppin, Pacers (ADP: 137.5): In the 12 games in which Toppin saw at least 20 minutes of action last season, he posted 15.3 points (50.0% FG), 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.3 threes per game.