We’ve now reached the mid-point of the season and are now more than halfway through the fantasy schedule. If you’re cruising toward a bye, now would be a good time to start considering stashing players who may be underachieving, but who have the potential to be difference makers come playoff time. Regardless of where you are in the standings, you should start thinking about ways to improve your odds in the playoffs. Quantity can often trump quality during the fantasy playoffs. I prefer making moves now, instead of closer to the trade deadline, as the further away we are from the fantasy playoffs, the less value other managers place on playoff schedule. It will be easier to trade for a player with a perfect playoff schedule now than it will be in a month.
The below rankings are for 9-cat H2H leagues. Team build can drastically change player value, but these rankings are meant to give you an idea of how players should valued in trades. I’ll be back later this week with players #51-100 and #100-150.
1) Kevin Durant – Other players may post flashier counting stats, but no player provides the mix of dominant counting numbers and elite percentages impact that Durant does. He’s been dominant since the season opener and looks like next year’s top pick. The only category that he is currently having a negative impact on is turnovers (2.3 TOPG), but given his 27.6% usage rate, that’s actually a very impressive number.
2) Giannis Antetokounmpo – Giannis’ late first-round draft position and 12-game playoff schedule make it extremely likely that he’s going to be on a ton of championship teams this season. He’s providing historic defensive numbers (1.8 SPG, 2.0 BPG) and has managed to develop a three ball (0.7 3PG) without hurting his FG% (53.5 FG%). As an added bonus, Giannis is the least likely of the elite first-round players to be rested down the stretch of the season.
3) Anthony Davis – As long as the Pelicans remain in the playoff hunt, owners should feel comfortable keeping Davis through the trade deadline. It will be tempting to sell him given his history, but with the Pelicans only 1.5 games out of a playoff spot, it’s unlikely that Davis will be shutdown.
4) James Harden
5) Russell Westbrook – The walking triple-double requires some creative team building, but if you’re punting turnovers and FG%, he’s the second-best option in fantasy after James Harden. I do still worry about his body breaking down as the season goes on. We’re in uncharted territory as far as usage goes. His current 41.7% usage rate is by far the highest rate in NBA history.
6) Stephen Curry
7) Chris Paul
8) Kawhi Leonard
9) Jimmy Butler
10) DeMarcus Cousins
11) Kyle Lowry – Yes, Lowry has struggled with injuries down the stretch of the past two seasons, but owners can take solace in the fact that last season’s decline was not due to an overuse injury. If you look at Lowry’s numbers over the second half of the 2015-2016 season, the only major area of decline was his FT% and that was due to elbow bursitis. He’s currently leading the league in minutes, and while you’ll hear a lot of talk from Dwane Casey about trying to decrease Lowry’s minutes, that usually ends up being nothing but talk. The Raptors continue to struggle mightily when Lowry is off the court, and with the Celtics nipping at their heals, any rest is likely to come very late in the season.
12) Karl-Anthony Towns – Towns likely won’t end up justifying his lofty draft position, the sophomore is trending up. The biggest issue with Towns early in the season was his drop in efficiency. The big man only shot 47.7% over the first two months of the season. He’s been much better at putting the ball in hoop lately and has hit 51.4% of his shots over the last month. He’s also been much more active on the defensive end as of late. His steal rate has been disappointing (0.6 SPG), but he has averaged 0.9 swipes over the past two weeks. He’s also averaging 1.9 BPG over that span and has at least two blocks in seven of his last eleven games.
13) Draymond Green
14) John Wall
15) LeBron James