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Small Forward rankings: The most volatile Fantasy Basketball assets this season.

Small forward rankings for the 2014/15 Fantasy Basketball season...

Is Chandler Parsons smoking weed? Was Mark Cuban when he signed Parsons this off-season?
Is Chandler Parsons smoking weed? Was Mark Cuban when he signed Parsons this off-season?
Bob Levey

The most nebulous term in the basketball roster vernacular is "small forward". How is LeBron a small forward? His arms are bigger than my head.

Players as diverse as wiry, shot blocking shooter Nicolas Batum, post-up, volume scorer Carmelo Anthony, pretty boy 3-point specialist Kyle Korver and underachieving athletic freak Harrison Barnes all share the SF moniker.

In some situations, the designation seems quite arbitrary. And what is really the difference between swings? Is a 2-guard REALLY that much different from an SF?

Not really. (Which is why most swings qualify as both SF AND SG.)

The small forwards are an ECLECTIC bunch. (Teenagers, I'm gonna let you look up that word now.)

I prefer to fill this Fantasy Basketball position with TEAM NEEDS - as the variance between SFs from a stat perspective are the most pronounced in the electronic game.

Need some 3s and FT%? Plenty of shooters in this designation. Need boards and blocks? You can find some athletic freaks here. Assists even? Enter the point forward.

As always, rankings vary based on your league size, format, team needs, etc. But here are the Swiss Army knives I like best for the 2014/15 Fantasy Basketball season...

Baddest boys on the block:

1. Kevin Durant, OKC

2. LeBron James, CLE

3. James Harden, HOU

4. Carmelo Anthony, NYK

Do I really need a reason?

Whoa. What the hell just happened?

5. Nicolas Batum, POR

6. Kawhi Leonard, SAS

Feeling a little discombobulated right now? Well, you should. The drop-off from the top 4 to the next 2 is S-T-E-E-P. And we still have further to fall... Batum and Leonard are excellent SFs, but Batum has yet to realize his 1st round Fantasy potential. Kawhi Leonard had one of the best roto lines you could ask for last season, but is anyone feeling confident that his coach won't change his role around? Popovich is the best coach in the NBA, and part of the reason he has earned that title is his inventiveness. Really hard to bank on Kawhi, but he's still good value. Especially considering how volatile many of the small forward assets are this year...

Shut the hell up. Rudy Gay is #7?

7. Rudy Gay, SAC

8. Klay Thompson, GSW

Not only is overrated real life player Rudy Gay clearly the 7th best small forward in the NBA, these 8 players are the ONLY SFs I have in my top 50 overall. And considering that my top 4 are clearly among the top 10 players selected in the entire league, that means I only have FOUR small forwards in the next 40 picks. That's crazy, but also true. It just means there's lots of value in the later rounds in this intriguing position. Some managers might interpret these rankings to mean that they should reach for an SF early, but I think that's a mistake. Better to simply go for upside/team needs in the later rounds. SFs in 2014/15 are tantamount to gambling.

High risk, high reward:

9. Thaddeus Young, MIN

10. Chandler Parsons, DAL

11. Jabari Parker, MIL

12. Andrew Wiggins, MIN

Anyone who tells you they know exactly how these 4 will perform this year are LIARS. There's just too many question marks here. The Thaddeus/Wiggins usage matrix of outcomes is well-trodden territory, Chandler Parsons will either be a future All-Star or the worst contract in the NBA, and Jabari Parker's rookie numbers are difficult to predict in his first year in the NBA with a completely new coach. All 4 of these guys could crack the top 50 overall in terms of value, or they could fall outside the top 100. Volatility is the name of the game here. Place your bets...


13. Wes Matthews, POR

14. DeMar DeRozan, TOR

15. Gordon Hayward, UTA

16. Jimmy Butler, CHI

The upside is lower here, but so is the risk. All proven commodities with clearly defined roles on their respective teams. Play equally well in roto or H2H. (Jimmy Butler's %s are a little erratic, but he's pretty steady across the board.) Considering the draft positions of this particular tranche, I would highly recommend stashing these 4 in your draft queue.

I think I hate them:

17. Trevor Ariza, HOU

18. Josh Smith, DET

19. Kevin Martin, MIN

20. Luol Deng, MIA

21. Lance Stephenson, CHA

22. Tyreke Evans, NO

To be fair, most of these guys are on new teams. They all have impressive track records, but all on completely different teams. (And in most cases, those numbers are a couple seasons ago.) The most frustrating thing about players like these 6 is that leagues are won/lost based on whether or not you guess correctly. All are in uncertain situations, and most of them play on teams in a current state of flux. I generally stay away from such volatile assets, but if they drop to the late rounds, they're worth monitoring. As you can see, there are very few safe investments in the 14/15 SF asset pool. You might be best off simply stacking all your other positions, and taking a few late round fliers on intriguing SFs...

The things I've seen:

23. Kyle Korver, ATL

24. Paul Pierce, WAS

25. Joe Johnson, BRK

26. Andre Iguodola, GSW

27. Manu Ginobili, SAS

Unspectacular vets with years and years and years of numbers... The upside is limited with these senior citizens, but the consistency is almost unprecedented. Even with age and limited usage, you pretty much know what you're gonna get here. If you're looking for steady assets at the end of your draft, you can't go wrong with this section. Just don't take any of them early, and don't expect any surprises. You're gonna get some basic production all across the board here. Just don't watch them play. It's a shame how far they've fallen... (Kyle Korver is the most spry of this bunch, but he's still 33 now.)

The new NBA:

28. Terrence Jones, HOU

29. Arron Afflalo, DEN

30. Tobias Harris, ORL

I like these 3 guys as late round fliers (but not exactly sleepers). All have shown they can produce in the NBA, and all have fairly secure roles on their respective teams. Terrence Jones obviously has the most upside, but also carries the most risk. With that said, all have at least as much 2014/15 potential as all players I've ranked outside the top 16 small forwards...

Bonus options:

Gerald Green, PHX

Danilo Gallinari, DEN

Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL

Harrison Barnes, GSW

Terrence Ross, TOR

TJ Warren, PHX

Gerald Green was great last year, but if you have figured out the Phoenix rotation yet, text me. Gallinari used to be one of the best SFs in Fantasy Basketball, but injuries have really derailed his career. Comeback year, or is he going the way of Adam Morrison? GA uses every letter in the alphabet, but also has mad hops. Is athleticism enough in today's NBA? It just might be... Harrison Barnes has been a major disappointment thus far, but he's still only 22 years old. Is this the year he finally breaks out? T Ross dropped 51 in a game last year, and has a great combination of athleticism and shooting ability. Will he get enough touches to really make a Fantasy impact this year? TJ Warren was the star of Summer League. Will that be enough to give him consistent PT in Phoenix' oversupply of swings?

The SFs in Fantasy Basketball this season are fraught with question marks and risks. I believe the most prudent strategy is simply to take them LAST, and ensure you have a strong statistical strategy they fall into. There are many sundry options, but also lots of roads that will ultimately lead nowhere. Proceed with caution, friends.