Im gonna level with you.Youre bound to be disappointed.Set up. Knocked down. Bamboozled. Overhyped. Underwhelmed. Left sputtering in a numerical ditch.The phrase rookie fantasy performance is practically an oxymoron.Every autumn, we fantasy enthusiasts open our arms to the promise of the new. And by the end of every spring? Were left with maybe one or two rookies at most who were worth the expenditure of even a midround pick.Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard? As 2012 rookies, both ended up barely returning seventh-round value. The Class of Tankapalooza 2013 spat out Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo; both were worth about an eighth-round pick. The class we were all waiting for? 2014? Just managed to eke out a pair of solid 10th-rounders in Andrew Wiggins and Nikola Mirotic.And those campaigns were the success stories of their respective classes. The imaginary ROYs.But we keep coming back. Hope is restored. We live to forget. Because were always looking for fresh numbers. Shiny new statistical portfolios. We crave the getting in on the ground floor.We keep coming back because every now and then ... you get a Karl-Anthony Towns. A Kristaps Porzingis. Or a Nikola Jokic. And all three arrived in one season.Last seasons rookie class was the best in my many (many) years of fantasy basketball analysis. We saw three rookies outperform Wiggins and Jabari Parkers sophomore seasons.Towns authored one of the great fantasy rookie campaigns in the history of everything, spinning a midround ADP into a top-10 return. Porzingis (who I did recommend around this time last year, lest you forget) finished in the top 50. Jokic closed out strong to finish at 55th on the Player Rater. Even DAngelo Russell managed to clock in at 100th on the rater.Just keep in mind that THAT IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN.Rookie performance is all about volume. Usage. Minutes. Possession. Field goal attempts. And blocks. (Especially blocks. Fun fact: NBA players tend to peak in blocks per game in the first couple years of their careers. If youre looking for rookie upside in one category, start there.)And if said high-volume rookie adds a dash of efficiency? Said rookie becomes fantasy basketball rookie of the year.When youre figuring out which one or two rookies are worth more than an end-game pick, start with which newly minted millionaires might be in line for 25-28 MPG come Halloween.Today, we begin our predictive listing of the rookies with a heavy heart. Because were going to have to wait for about half a season -- if not until 2017 -- before we get to enjoy Ben Simmons and all of his out-of-position assist production. But if you take a look at which rookie is on top of this list, youll see that Simmons injury begets opportunity ...1. Dario Saric, PF, Philadelphia 76ersSaric is the opening starting power forward for a no-expectation NBA franchise. Thats all you basically need to know before considering Saric in the 10th round.Hes a Euro-rookie, as in hes over 20 and sports a portfolio of high-level international experience. He has the potential to deliver a Jokic-esque, diversified, a little of everything stat line.With Simmons on the shelf, another 5-9 minutes per game just fell in Sarics lap. More importantly, to start, Saric can start at his natural position of power forward.Even more importantly, Saric is a 76er. The Process is forever in process. With apologies to Jerryd Bayless (who just injured his wrist, by the way), Saric isnt surrounded by a surplus of playmakers with game-changing upside. Saric has a golden opportunity to become a key cog from opening tip, opening night.(Postscript, I wrote this before Sarics latest look at me preseason performance last night against the Wizards. If you want to get him cheap, move up your leagues draft date.)2. Buddy Hield, SG, New Orleans PelicansLike Saric, Hield isnt exactly a kid. Hes a rarity. A 22-year-old NBA rookie with four years of NCAA experience plus top-three fantasy upside.Hields sudden senior year leap (in which he suddenly became a 25 PPG guy) had some pigeon-holing him as a late-blooming one-year wonder. That Hield was bound for NBA rookie disappointment. Then on cue, Hield displayed difficulty finding his handle and shot in summer league (summer league FG%: 32.7 percent).July blunted any momentum Hield had built to enter the season as New Orleans starting SG. It looked like Hield would be behind ETwaun Moore for the immediate future. (And I really like ETwaun Moore. I think hes a decent sleeper.)But now its October. And Hield has been on a preseason binge. To date, Hield is averaging 18.5 points and 2.5 3-pointers per preseason game. Suddenly, hes shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor. And yes, its only two preseason games. But preseason can be a heckuva lot more determinative toward fantasy performance than summer league.Sans Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, the Pelicans are in need of some early-season backcourt assistance. Hield has an opportunity to make everyone forget his summer league in a royal flash. Moores NBA experience still gives him the edge to begin the season as the starting SG. But Hield could shoot his way into 25 MPG from the get-go. If he gets the minutes, and gets hot, Hield could very well play his way past Saric.3. Kris Dunn, PG, Minnesota TimberwolvesHeres another 22-year-old rookie entering the league with a ton of big-game polish.Unlike Hield, Dunn went bonkers in his (concussion-shortened) summer league stint. But unlike Hield, Dunn may have to wait before breaking the 25-MPG barrier as a point guard. The Timberwolves still have Ricky Rubio (for now ... Rubio is one of the NBAs most trade-rumor-heavy employees).Unless Rubio is dealt, Dunn may have to look elsewhere to garner enough minutes to be truly fantasy-worthy. (Also, Tyus Jones is still around, and he could peel off just enough minutes at PG to further hurt Dunns fantasy prospects.)But Dunn has the ability to slide over to shooting guard. Dunn is the kind of tough-minded player new (and very tough-minded) coach Tom Thibodeau covets. The question is whether Dunn can shoot consistently enough from deep (37.2 percent in 2015-16) to warrant starting consideration over Zach LaVine.I dont know if Dunn does enough to start ahead of LaVine. But knowing Thibodeaus (non-fantasy friendly) history, its easy to envision him giving Dunn every opportunity to earn 28-30 MPG. Momentum tends to power rookie campaigns. Keep an eye on Dunn the next couple of weeks to see if he builds a case to pass LaVine.4. Brandon Ingram, SF, Los Angeles LakersComing off the draft, I was all kinds of excited over Ingrams fantasy ROY prospects. Ingram already had an NBA-ready 3-point shot. In 2015-16, the Lakers were one of the NBAs thinnest teams at small forward. Kevin Durant comps were getting thrown (somewhat irresponsibly) all over El Segundo. A Kobe-free rotation means plenty of usage rate to reapportion.That rarest of NBA rookie roles -- an opening-night starting job -- was easy to envision. Even if Ingram didnt turn 19 until Sept. 2. (Of course, living in Los Angeles, I heard enough Durants definitely coming here delusions to occasionally wonder if any minutes would be available at SF.)Then the Lakers up and improbably blew some cap space on the oft-injured, but otherwise reliable Luol Deng. And while its easy to see Deng playing at the 3 and 4 for Luke Walton, its hard to see how Ingram gets above 25 MPG before Thanksgiving.Except of course if Deng gets hurt. And while I hate predicting who is and isnt going to get injured ... Luol Deng is always injured. The only question is if hes too injured to stay on the court.Like Saric, Ingram is a high-upside rookie playing in a low-expectation, veteran-poor environment. Ingrams also playing for a new coach (Luke Walton) with a sparkling offensive pedigree. As opposed to Byron Scott, Walton isnt averse to giving his young players more minutes to grow.Waltons preseason quotes all point toward Ingram steadily building a larger role, sooner than later. But in terms of getting an entire season of decent fantasy production from Ingram, I doubt hes worth more than an endgame flier.5. Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ersRemember what I said earlier regarding rookies and blocks? Here they come. Embiid has finally arrived and is operating in a reasonable ambulatory fashion.And I mean finally. We rookie enthusiasts have been waiting a long, long time for Embiid. Now after two years on the shelf, hes finally on the court. Embiid hasnt played much the past two seasons, but he has been drool-worthy in short bursts.Unlike most rookie big men, Embiid boasts a perimeter game to go with his low-post production. He has 2.5 block-per-game potential. Statswise, Embiid has a lot of indicators pointing toward a fantasy ROY-type of campaign.Thats until you allow reality to set in. Coming off major injuries and surgeries, the 76ers will be (justifiably) slow to allow Embiid to play in back-to-back games. Hell likely be on a minutes restriction. Oh, and the 76ers already have two first-rounders in their frontcourt in Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. And while Okafor and Noel seem to be involved in two trade rumors a day, it will be hard to see Embiid starting until somebody is dealt.6. Ben Simmons, PF, Philadelphia 76ersListing Simmons sixth has nothing to do with his eventual fantasy upside. Its easy to envision him as a potential fantasy elite. 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