By Gabe Allen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Fantasy draft season is upon us. Going with your gut works, but studying Yahoo Average Draft Positions (ADPs) and thinking about who might realistically be available in each round works better. I have assembled my must-draft players by round, tailored to 10- and 12-team leagues. Although some players I've recommended will be gone by the time you are on the clock, I'm suggesting players who generally fall into the latter half of each round. In other words, I've tried to present players who will be available in each round of your draft. Here's who I'm targeting in fantasy drafts heading into the 2022-23 season.
(1) James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers (Overall ADP 8.3)
Harden struggled last season by his standards, but The Beard is among the best bounce-back candidates heading into his first full season in Philadelphia. The fact that he’s slipping this close to the second round of fantasy drafts illustrates the incredible depth of talent in the NBA. It also highlights why picking late in the first round of fantasy drafts can be equally beneficial as possessing one of the top selections.
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(2) Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers (Overall ADP 20.7)
George was limited to 31 games last year, and Kawhi Leonard (ADP 25.3) is back after sitting out last season entirely. Nevertheless, George was stellar when healthy last season, posting career-high averages of 5.7 assists and 2.2 steals to go along with 24.3 points, 6.9 boards and 2.9 threes in 34.7 minutes per game. Like having Harden fall into your lap late in the first round, grabbing George late in the second feels like an absolute steal. If George is gone, take Leonard.
(3) Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans (Overall ADP 37.3)
Williamson's production in the 3-point shooting and defensive departments will probably still be lacking. Furthermore, his injuries make it difficult to trust him in the first two rounds. However, he possesses too much upside to be available beyond the third round. If Williamson's ADP continues to rise as the season draws nearer, with more managers reaching for him in the first couple of rounds, consider selecting Cade Cunningham (ADP 32.8).
(4) Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks (Overall ADP 43.7)
Holiday is coming off another stellar season, having posted 18.3 points (50.1% FG, 41.1% 3PT, 76.1% FT), 6.8 assists, 4.5 boards, 2.0 threes and 1.6 steals in 32.9 minutes. He has connected on more than 50.0 percent of his field-goal attempts in each of his first two years in Milwaukee. Moreover, he has also registered a career-high 3-point shooting percentage in consecutive seasons. With Khris Middleton (wrist) expected to miss some time to begin the campaign, Holiday will likely be relied upon more heavily than usual early on.
(5) Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (Overall ADP 57.7)
Maxey broke out as a sophomore to the tune of 17.5 points (48.5% FG, 42.7% 3PT, 86.6% FT), 4.3 assists, 3.2 boards, 1.8 threes and 0.7 steals in 35.3 minutes per game. Moreover, he continued to perform exceptionally well during the postseason while meshing with Joel Embiid and midseason acquisition James Harden. Since Maxey can create offense for himself and others and plays well off the ball, his stat profile is only likely to improve. Furthermore, with all the attention opposing defenses will spend slowing down Embiid and Harden, Maxey stands to benefit immensely.
(6) Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs (Overall ADP 72.4)
Poeltl is coming off a career year in which he averaged highs in scoring (13.5 PPG), rebounding (9.3 RPG), assists (2.8 APG) and minutes (29.0 MPG). He leaves plenty to be desired in the free-throw shooting department (49.5% FT) and he doesn't attempt 3-pointers. Nevertheless, he's a quality contributor in every other category and he won't have to contend with former Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (8.3 RPG) for boards. If Poeltl is gone, Jalen Brunson (ADP 65.5) and Alperen Sengun (ADP 68.7) are excellent backup choices.
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(7) Collin Sexton, Utah Jazz (Overall ADP 84.9)
After appearing in only 11 games in 2021-22, Sexton joins the rebuilding Jazz. Even if Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson remain on the roster for the whole season — which seems unlikely — Sexton will be the top offensive option for Utah. Having averaged 24.3 points (47.5% FG, 37.1% 3PT, 81.5% FT), 4.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.6 threes and 1.0 steal in 60 games during 2020-21, Sexton has already shown he can set fire to a stat sheet throughout an entire campaign. With a bit of luck in the health department, he could be in for a career year.
(8) Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies (Overall ADP 105.5)
It remains unclear when Jackson will be back following offseason foot surgery, but his ADP continues to fall. Nevertheless, if he is still available at this late stage of a draft, I’d take him and hope for the best. Jackson’s combination of 3-point shooting, free-throw shooting, defensive stats and an improving offensive skill set makes him a valuable contributor for all formats.
I've already made a case for the players I'm recommending in Rounds 9-13 in recent articles — in which I suggested deep sleepers with an ADP of 100 or later and projected the fantasy impact of the offseason in terms of free agency and trades.