Fabiano’s Fantasy Focus: 2019 Pre-Season, Volume III

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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 (August 19th) with the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association Hall of Famer.

I hear you’re making your way out to the Valley soon. “Yes, so I’ve got a really cool experience for myself, personally. My pals Jerry Cantrell and Mike Inez in the band “Alice In Chains”…next week, on the 29th, we do the “Alice In Chains Celebrity Draft” and it’s got “The Miz,” Rich Eisen…a whole bunch of cool people. After that draft on the 30th, I’m going to go all-access with “Alice In Chains” backstage in Irvine (CA). Then I’m taking the tour bus with them to Phoenix, going to the show there and then taking the tour bus back to San Diego. I’m going to be documenting a lot of this on my social media platforms…going to be giving a lot of people a behind-the-scenes look…it is going to be a lot of fun.”

Another week, more Antonio Brown drama. Where would you feel comfortable drafting him now? “It’s amazing, right? This is a guy who was a Top 5 pick in every draft last season. He came out and had 15 touchdowns and was Antonio Brown, production-wise. Now you go to a team in the Raiders where you don’t have Ben Roethlisberger. You go from a team that first in pass attempts to a team that was 16th. A team that was fifth in offensive plays to a team that was 24th. The rapport is not going to be there with Derek Carr like it was with Ben Roethlisberger, especially with him missing time. Now he back at practice but he’s never going to be the same player production-wise that he was in Pittsburgh. It’s not going to happen. Touchdown regression is guaranteed. I have ranked at the bottom of my Top 10 wide receivers. At this point, he’s a third-round pick.”

In your tier rankings, how do you differentiate between guys like Davante Adams, Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham, Jr. when maybe all three of them could be available on your board in your drafts? “That’s where the tiers come in handy because you don’t really need to concern yourself if you miss someone. These guys are very similar players with very similar value. Now, if you’re like me, you’re trying to get one of those guys. Maybe a Hopkins or an Adams at the end of the first round. Although in PPR leagues, Hopkins could go in the middle of that round but I always like to come out of the first two rounds, unless I get an opportunity to grab a running back in the second round that’s too good to pass up, I like to get a running back and a wide receiver with my first two picks because I want to have one of the before mentioned wide receivers on my roster. You want to have a balanced roster. That’s really what you’re looking for in fantasy football and that’s how you have success and take home championships.”

We know you’re high on Kyler Murray out here in Arizona. What’s it like evaluating a rookie quarterback like him with just a pre-season resume to this point? “They’re running a vanilla offense. I love Kyler Murray. I think he could make a major impact for fantasy owners this season. If you keep in mind that most of the rookie quarterbacks who have put up big numbers and been Top 10 quarterbacks as first-year NFL starters, they’ve been able to run with the football successfully. In fact, since 1999 we’ve seen five rookies, all in the Top 10. All of them have either rushed for 500-plus yards or rushed for five or more touchdowns. I think Kyler could do both. Now, you have to take it with a grain of salt. Kliff Kingsbury is in his first season in the NFL as a head coach. There’s been a lot of talk about the offensive line having a lot of question marks. So I don’t expect that Kyler is going to come out and absolutely light the world on fire like Cam Newton did during his rookie season. There’s going to be ebbs and flows but at the end of the day, I do believe Kyler Murray can be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback.”

Do you feel former Arizona State star Kalen Ballage is ready for a big season with the Dolphins? “I’m digging him. I actually was targeting him in all my mocks in the off-season. I had a couple of actual drafts where I was able to get him, as well. I’m pretty happy with it. The reason why is, when you look at the numbers last season in that Miami backfield, it wasn’t the Kenyan Drake show. He basically split touches down the middle with Frank Gore and I think Drake may be had three more…now with Drake in a walking boot, Ballage has every opportunity to take that starting job and put a vice grip hold on it. There’s also the potential for him to earn early down and goal line opportunities. I would think, in standard scoring leagues, Kalen Ballage is now the more valuable fantasy option in that backfield. PPR, I still think it’s Drake but don’t be surprised if Ballage ends up being one of the better draft bargains when all is said and done in 2019.”

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