Fabiano’s Fantasy Focus Playoff Edition, Volume II

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Every week 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 (January 18th) with the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association Hall of Famer.

If RGIII leaves Washington and lands on another roster does he have any fantasy value at all? “It depends on where he lands. If he goes to the Dallas Cowboys (for example) and backs up Tony Romo, well, Griffin III isn’t going to have much value while Romo is under center. If he goes to the Cleveland Browns (again, for example) and has a chance to start, he could be worth a late-round flier. A return to elite fantasy status isn’t very likely regardless, though.”

With more experience and time with Derek Carr, do you believe Amari Cooper will be a consistent WR1 next season? “The potential is there, that’s for sure. Cooper has a lot of room for improvement too, as he finished just 25th in fantasy points among wide receivers as a rookie. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was drafted as high as the second or third round next season. He’s that good.”

With the NFL becoming so pass-happy do you see running backs becoming more devalued next season simply because of the way NFL offenses are designed? “Not overall, because those featured backs remaining in the league are still going to be coveted in the earlier rounds. What’s more, I think it’s the quarterback position that’s becoming de-valued because there are so many good ones in the league. The position that will see the bigger rise in value next season is wide receiver… you’ll see more of them drafted in Rounds 1-3 than ever before.”

Cam Newton has had an unbelievable, most likely MVP season. Do you see him peaking this year from a fantasy stand point or is this simply just the beginning as an upper echelon QB? “Newton has been an upper echelon fantasy quarterback for most of his career at the pro level. In fact, no player has scored more fantasy points in his first five seasons in NFL history. People might have forgotten that after 2014, when he saw a massive decline in production. But remember, he was coming off ankle surgery, he injured his ribs in the preseason and then he was involved in a car accident. It wasn’t until the end of that season that Cam looked more like Superman than a mere mortal and he continued to play at a high level into 2015. I think what’s made him even better this season is his improvement as a passer. We all know he can tuck it and run, but he looked the best I’ve ever seen him look as a pocket passer … and he did it without his No. 1 wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin. Pretty impressive stuff.”

Bruce Arians has proven to be a one running back guy: if that “one guy” is David Johnson, where do you envision him coming off most draft boards this summer? “I guarantee that Johnson is going to be a first-round pick in a lot of drafts next season, but I would wait until the second or third round myself. I’m just worried that he could be the next Jeremy Hill or C.J. Anderson; a running back who puts up huge numbers in a short span but hasn’t yet proven he can produce on a regular, seasonal basis. Montee Ball circa 2014 comes to mind too. Same with Zac Stacy. I’d rather have one of the top wide receivers like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. or DeAndre Hopkins in Round 1.”

Impact of Colin Kaepernick with Chip Kelly now in San Francisco? “It can’t hurt! Kelly worked well with mobile quarterbacks at Oregon, and he never had that in Philadelphia. So if the Niners decide to roll the dice on Kaepernick and make him their starter once again (which is likely), I’d take a chance on him somewhere in the late rounds as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback. Those running signal-callers can be valuable in fantasy football.”

Fantasy impact of Sam Bradford with Kelly now gone? “Well, it depends on whether or not Bradford is back in Philadelphia (he’s scheduled to become a free agent). At Tuesday’s press conference, new Eagles coach Doug Pederson did call him a “top-notch quarterback,” and Alex Smith did do well under his guidance in Kansas City. But after a player has been in the league awhile, you kind of get a sense of what he is … and what he isn’t. And Bradford isn’t going to emerge into a No. 1 fantasy quarterback.”

If Brock Osweiler takes over for Peyton Manning in Denver as many expect, what sort of numbers would you project with a full season in that offense? “I’d project him as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback. He showed some flashes of statistical potential while Peyton Manning was injured earlier this season, and that in-game experience will be invaluable to his development as an every-week NFL starter. The position is just so deep, though, that I don’t see him being an every-week starter like Cam Newton or Aaron Rodgers.”

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