Earlier in the offseason, I presented my positional tier rankings, broken down by the three standard positions: guard, forward and center. That is a useful starting point for getting yourself ready for the draft, but it also shouldn't be the end of your studies.
This is especially true for those of you in leagues that allow a bit more nuance in your roster construction. After all, many leagues allow you to differentiate between point guards from shooting guards or small forwards from power forwards -- you need to know how everyone stacks up there as well.
Use these tier rankings to get a better idea of how every player stacks up to his peers as you get ready to draft.
Much ink has been spilled over the last few years about the strength of the point guard position in the league, and that transfers over nicely for Fantasy purposes. Point guard is, without question, the deepest position available on Draft Day. The one issue is seven of the elite or sub-elite options carry somewhat significant injury risks -- only Brandon Jennings, Damian Lillard and Mike Conley come without baggage. Don't worry too much about that, because you still have fantastic options available all the way down the line, leaving plenty of depth for you to pick up a quality backup to handcuff your starter. This is the one position you can go any number of ways with on Draft Day -- load up on two top-10 players to make up for deficiency elsewhere or wait and pick up a John Wall type as a No. 1, a nice consolation prize. Either way, you can enter the draft room confident in picking up a strong option at this spot.
Late-rounders: Jose Calderon, Michael Carter-Williams, Jameer Nelson, Trey Burke, Brandon Knight, Ramon Sessions, Nate Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Jarrett Jack, Luke Ridnour, Andre Miller, Isaiah Thomas, Patrick Beverley, Mo Williams
Just as in the league itself, shooting guard is a position of weakness right now. Due to age and injury concerns, a lot of the formerly elite options have fallen off just a bit, and the next generation isn't quite ready to pick them up. One caveat: if you could guarantee 75-plus games of healthy Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, they'd slot right in behind James Harden, bumping Paul George down a bit. Unfortunately, injuries make investing a high pick in either one an extremely risky proposition. Once you get below the top-15 or so, you start to see a lot of specialists of one sort or another -- either shooters like Kevin Martin and Danny Green, or empty scorers like Jamal Crawford and DeMar DeRozan. Luck for you, the rest of your league-mates are picking from the same sad crop.
Yikes. At least LeBron and Durant are great and Carmelo is pretty close, because it gets really ugly after that. Batum, Parsons and Gay are all solid players, to be sure, but they are hardly the near-elite options their ranking suggests. My tactic when targeting a small forward is to grab one of the first six early, because there are a lot of question marks beyond that point. That Kawhi Leonard, Gordan Heyward, Maurice Harkless, Jimmy Butler group has a lot of upside, but they're all a gamble you might not want to stake your team to.
Sub-Elite: Carmelo Anthony
Power forward and small forward show how this type of exercise if all relative -- the elite power forwards can't touch LeBron and Durant and the mid-range small forwards barely register next to their power forward peers. This is a position with solid depth across the board, as it features some elite options as well as 20 or so players you'd have no qualms about starting every week. In a league where you are drafting by specific positions, this is one where you can take your time and still find a solid option while shoring up other positions of need. Take advantage of that when building your team, you can wait a few rounds and see only a minor drop-off in quality here.
Late-rounders: John Henson, Brandon Bass, Carl Landry, Derrick Williams, Luis Scola, Taj Gibson, Josh McRoberts, Thomas Robinson, Jared Sullinger, Elton Brand, BIsmack Biyombo, Patrick Patterson, Ed Davis
The perception of the center hasn't quite caught up to reality for Fantasy owners. Rather than some kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland where you have to fight for every precious resource, center is almost a position you can wait on at this point. It is deep with elite options thanks to some players who took the next step last season, as well depth. I could go as far down as 15 on the list before reaching a player I don't like, and even then only because of injuries. There is still more separation between the elite and non-elite here, but center is finally a position at which you can build a little depth.
The Late-Rounders: Tyler Zeller, Kevin Seraphin, Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins, Andray Blatche, Chris Kaman, Andrew Bogut, Kosta Koufos, Jordan Hill, Timofey Mozgov, Samuel Dalembert, Meyers Leonard