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

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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.

With Ezekiel Elliott still holding out, where do you value Tony Pollard? “He’s now one of those late-round running backs that people are going to be targeting. It’s kind of like Justin Jackson but even more so because Pollard would be the featured back behind one of the best run-blocking lines in the entire league that’s getting Travis Frederick back. Now with that being said, I don’t expect Ezekiel Elliott to miss multiple regular season games if he misses any at all. It’s a different situation than Melvin Gordon and a different situation than Le’Veon Bell. He is dug in, he is trying to make a point. I do think at the end of the day, the Jones’s are going to be smart, they’re going to get him back on the team. But for right now, if you draft ‘Zeke in the first round, you really have to be looking hard at Tony Pollard at some point in the 10th or 11th round. Some people may even stretch and draft him earlier thinking ‘Zeke could miss significant time. I just don’t see that happening.”

Speaking of rookie running backs, what first-year backs do you think will be solid fantasy performers this season? “Well, Josh Jacobs is going to be the first guy most people are going to discuss. He will be the featured back in Oakland. He’s a very good pass-catcher, he’s a three-down back. We’ve seen Jon Gruden have running backs who have produced very good fantasy production in the past so he’ll be a top 50 pick. I like what I’m seeing from David Montgomery in Chicago. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the top-scoring rookie in fantasy football this season among running backs. This guy is extremely tough to bring down. He has looked good in pre-season, although he hasn’t gotten that much work. He has looked good when he’s been on the gridiron. He’s moving up into the fourth round in drafts. Miles Sanders is also someone you should be looking at somewhere in the middle of your draft. Right now the Eagles have a very crowded backfield. Doug Peterson has utilized backfield committees before in the past. In fact, no running back who’s played for Peterson in Philadelphia has averaged more than 13 touches a game. The most has been Ryan Mathews who averaged 12.9 but you could also make the argument the Eagles have not had a back like Miles Sanders. So I would assume at some point he’ll take over the starting job from Jordan Howard.”

What do you like about Christian Kirk being a sleeper out here in Arizona? “Often times you see second-year wide receivers often bust out in the stat sheets and Christian showed me some flashes during the course of last season that impressed me. He is a player who certainly has his arrow pointing upward. When you consider the Cardinals were one of the worst teams in the league in offensive plays per game and Kliff Kingsbury comes in here talking about wanting to run 90 plays per game. That’s not going to happen but his last season [at Texas Tech] his offense averaged 82.5 plays per game. It’s just ridiculous. So Kirk is going to see more opportunities because, based on that, you’d think the Cardinals are going to be running far more plays. Although I have Larry Fitzgerald rated number one amongst Cardinals wide receivers in PPR leagues, I could very easily see Christian Kirk pushing him and possibly passing him in fantasy targets and points this season.”

How do you feel about N’Keal Harry in New England? “Since the news that Josh Gordon will be back. I’m sort of fading N’Keal Harry a little bit. He was a late-round pick before. He’s still a late-round pick but you really have to think that Josh Gordon is going to see a big role in that passing game, especially with Rob Gronkowski now retired. Last season, when Gordon played, Tom Brady averaged around four more fantasy points per game than when he didn’t have Josh Gordon. Gordon’s a playmaker. Now, we’re far from 2013 when he was top wide receiver in fantasy football but this is a guy who can still put up numbers. With N’Keal Harry now likely the third or fourth option…N’Keal has fallen a bit to me. To the point where, in a 10-team league, maybe he’s not drafted.”

Let’s flip to tight end. How about Mark Andrews in Baltimore? “Quietly led all rookies in yards last season. Think about that offense. That’s not going to be an offense that’s going to be throwing the ball deep a ton. Their wide receiver weapons leave much to be desired, even though they drafted Marquise Brown. I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrews is right up there near the top in terms of targets at the end of the season. He gained a rapport with Lamar Jackson during their rookie seasons. He’s shown off during training camp. There have been a lot of reports that he has been the most dangerous offensive weapon in that Ravens’ attack besides Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram. So, this is a player that, at a position that’s getting better, you can wait on Andrews until probably the ninth or 10th-round and still land because if you don’t get one of the top five or six tight ends, basically the strategy is just to wait. What I like to do is pair Andrews with Delaney Walker or Jordan Reed and then see what Andrews does. You can pair them together, play the matchups and hope that Andrews does break out and become a reliable fantasy option.”

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