Fabiano’s Fantasy Focus: Summer Edition, Volume IV

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Every Wednesday during the season NFL Network and NFL.com Senior Fantasy Analyst Michael Fabiano joins Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat to share his insight on building and developing your fantasy team for success.

Here are some hi-lights from our most recent conversation (July 16th) with the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association Hall of Famer.

Give me a thumb-nail sketch of the top five–particularly the back half. “This is a year where there’s not a consensus number one pick. It would be Le’Veon Bell but he’s suspended for three games, at least right now. I have [Adrian] Peterson number one. Then I have Bell, [Jamaal] Charles, Arian Foster and Eddie Lacy. I don’t see a drop off in any of those five players. So if I’m at number five, I’m going to get Foster, I’m going to get Lacy or Marshawn Lynch and I’m thrilled with that. Marshawn Lynch has had a lot of carries–more than any running back in the last five years but did you watch him last year? Did it look like he was slowing down? Maybe this is the year he breaks down but I didn’t see it…where I see the drop off is when you get past the eighth overall pick.”

What is your strategy with Antonio Gates as drafts approach? “I was in a mock draft with my pals here at NFL Fantasy Live and I drafted him in the next-to-last rounds because–why not? I could sit on him for four weeks and earlier in the draft I had taken Martellus Bennett. So what I would do with Gates is exactly that. The tight end position is weak…it doesn’t hurt if you have a tight end who isn’t one of the top five to go ahead and draft Gates late and just sit on him. He’s going to come back and return to being one of Philip Rivers top options in the offense. Now, he’s not going to duplicate what he did last year. He wasn’t going to even if he played a full 16 games.”

Is C.J. Spiller ready to put it all together with the Saints? “Yeah, the reason why is they lost a lot of backfield targets in the off-season. You release Pierre Thomas. Travaris Cadet is now with the New England Patriots. Those guys combined caught over 80 passes…they didn’t bring in anybody but Spiller to replace that production and I know every year we’re talking about, ‘Oh, this is the year for C.J. Spiller.’ Well, if this isn’t the year for C.J. Spiller he’s never going to do it because he’s got Drew Brees at quarterback, he’s got Sean Payton running the offense. He is in a system who has been conducive to running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield succeeding. Pierre Thomas. Cadet. Reggie Bush. Darren Sproles…if you’re in a standard league I see Spiller as an [RB] three or four. If you’re in a PPR league, I can see him being as good as an RB2…he couldn’t be in a better to succeed in terms of a pass catcher.”

What do you make out of Cleveland’s crowded backfield? “The situation in Cleveland is, I like Duke Johnson out of the three of them. I like to look at trends. You know that we’ve been doing this for years. The trend of Miami of Florida running backs coming into the NFL and succeeding: boy, it’s pretty good. Clinton Portis. Willis McGahee. Frank Gore. The list of guys goes on and on. Lamar Miller last year had a really good season. So that is something that I like to look at and Duke Johnson basically smashed every record of any Miami of Florida running back when he has in college. He’s versatile. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. They lined him up out of the slot during OTA’s. Now I know they have Isaiah Crowell who will likely end up being the starter to start the season…but based on talent Duke Johnson is the player to draft and he will likely cost you less…Crowell will be more in the middle rounds. Johnson will be more of a middle-to-late-round pick…Cleveland is going to run the ball a lot.”

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