Fantasy basketball draft prep season is in full effect, with the NBA season less than two weeks away. At this point in the preseason, you’re likely making a list of players to target or fade when it’s your turn to draft. To help you avoid potential missteps, this week I’ll break down some of the players I’m fading by position — we covered the guards Tuesday, so let’s continue with the forwards up next.
[2023-24 Draft Tiers: PGs | SGs | SFs | PFs | Cs]
The Pelicans are coming into the season fully healthy and I’m anticipating Ingram’s production to regress a bit. He’s coming off his best statistical season as a pro, which is highlighted by producing the highest player efficiency rating (PER) of his career.
A part of his success last season, his usage rate topped 30% for the first time, so its no surprise he averaged career-highs in points and assists per game. But here comes the doom-and-gloom.
No matter how great he was on a per-game basis last season, the fact remains that Ingram consistently misses too many games. When filtering out his rookie campaign and shortened COVID season, he’s missed at least 20 games every season of his career. That’s a significant amount and with his ADP in the fifth round, I’d rather have someone with a more reliable track record of suiting up. Also, much of Ingram’s fantasy outlook is dependent on the health of Zion Williamson. If Zion returns to his 2020-2021 form (which has considerable risk, too), Ingram’s numbers suffer. If not for scoring, definitely assists because the Pelicans haven’t been shy of running the offense through Williamson. Even in Tuesday’s preseason game, “point Zion” dished out five assists in only 15 minutes of action. In 93 games with Williamson in the lineup, Ingram averaged 22.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
As Ingram heads into his eighth NBA season, remember that he’s been a top 50 player in per-game value for 9-cat formats twice in seven years. When factoring in his games played, he’s been outside the top 120 in total value five times in seven years. His ADP is not baking in his injury risk enough so I’d only consider taking Ingram if he fell outside the fifth round. Knowing his frequency of missing games and Zion’s potential impact, he’s a fade for me this season.
I’m not high on Middleton this season primarily because of his recovery from several surgeries dating back to last season. Middleton missed the first 20 games of the 2022-2023 season after undergoing offseason wrist surgery. Just as he seemed to be getting his legs back, an issue with his knee caused him to load manage for the rest of the season. He started 19 of 33 games, averaging a mere 15.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists with 44/32/90 shooting splits across 24.5 minutes per night.
It is definitely not the version of Middleton fantasy managers were used to. Then, shortly after the Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs, Middleton underwent surgery on his right knee with an expected return date around July. Now that the calendar has flipped to October, I expected to hear more developments on Middleton’s recovery, but there hasn’t been much. He’s reportedly participated in individual drills throughout training camp and got in his first 5-on-5 session this past Saturday. However, there’s been no official word from Bucks HC Adrian Griffin, Middleton or the front office about when he’ll return, only that he’s trending in the right direction.
This sounds like a situation that I want to avoid because he’s clearly on a regimented plan to ensure his knee is 100% before being a full go. Not to mention, a 30% usage guy named Damian Lillard also entered the fray. Middleton’s days of being a top-40 player seem numbered, and I don’t trust his ADP in the seventh round in any format this season.
It’s hardly a hot take fading Barrett given what he’s shown from a fantasy perspective over his four years in the league. I could buy the argument of drafting him in a points league because he can average 20 points per game in his inefficiencies don’t hurt you. However it’s a completely different story in 9-cat leagues. Across four seasons, Barrett’s finished 291, 266, 173 and 339 in per-game value. That’s objectively terrible. And still, his ADP is in the 10th round. At best, I’d consider Barrett a 12th or 13th round value based on what he provides to fantasy managers in category leagues. His defensive stats are non-existent and he’s yet to shoot higher than 44% in any season. Averaging three assists is likely his ceiling and that’s not enough to offset averaging two turnovers per game.
Outside of giving you 20 points, Barrett is durable. He’s played in at least 70 games in every season except for his rookie year so from a total value perspective, he gets a slight boost but not enough to justify selecting him in the 10th round in category leagues. In points leagues he could crack the top 100 but unfortunately, that’s looking like his ceiling.