Every summer leading into and throughout the NFL season, Sports Illustrated and SI.com Senior Fantasy Analyst Michael Fabiano joins Sports360AZ.com to share his insight on building and developing your fantasy team for success.
Here are some highlights from our most recent conversation (December 15) with the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association Hall of Famer.
Christian McCaffrey. Can fantasy owners finally start him or should they be hesitant? “I don’t even think the Panthers know at this point. If he’s ready to roll, they are going to play him. Matt Rhule has already said that they aren’t going to put him on the shelf for the season, but maybe he’s not back until week 16. Imagine this. Imagine if you’ve been holding onto McCaffrey for this long and you’ve weathered the storm without him. Then in week 16, you get back the best running back in fantasy football for one game and it’s your championship. That would be one hell of a Christmas gift.”
If McCaffrey can’t go, how should people feel about Mike Davis? “He’s been pretty good and they’ve got a Saturday game this week. Against Green Bay, the matchup is pretty good for whoever the running back is. Regardless, they are both starts with McCaffrey being much more attractive if he’s active.”
How nervous should fantasy owners be about Ezekiel Elliott? “Very nervous. He went into the game last week with a calf injury and he split touches with Tony Pollard and Pollard was better. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pollard ended up being the better of the Cowboys two running backs from here on out. I wouldn’t play Zeke this week against San Francisco if I can help it. Their defense is good against running backs. I’m not saying this is all Zeke’s fault. The offensive line in Dallas is a disaster, you don’t have Dak Prescott, and it’s gone all bad. If you have depth at running back or you could flex a wide receiver and keep Zeke on the bench, I’d do it. I’ve been soured on him for weeks.”
With the Washington Football Team, does the quarterback situation affect their running game at all? “I know J.D. McKissic was a dud last week, but I’d still flex him this week only if Alex Smith plays. Smith missed the second half of last week’s game with a leg injury, but he’s projected to come back. If Smith is active, I’d flex McKissic. If not, Dwayne Haskins is not a guy who likes to check down with running backs and that would hurt McKissic’s value to me. So that kind of depends on which quarterback you get in Washington. As for Peyton Barber, he’s touchdown dependent. This week, they’ve got Seattle and you can run on Seattle a bit, but it’d have to be a league where you start multiple flexes to where you even have Barber in the conversation. If you’re in the semi-finals, you’ve probably got a good enough team to where you don’t have to lean on Barber.”
Any quarterback options on the waiver wire at this point in the fantasy season? “Jalen Hurts is probably the top guy. Although Mitch Trubisky had a good game last week and has the Vikings this week, and their defense is not very good. Philip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, and Derek Carr are all not widely owned, and all three have potentially good matchups this week.”
Final thoughts on the waiver wire this week? “Don’t get cute. There are some players out there who should be added to rosters, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to play them. You’re in the semi-finals. Dance with the people that got you there. Play your studs. You can play the matchups, sure. But in most competitive leagues, there’s not much on the waiver wire. Don’t get too cute with the players picked up off the wire.”
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