Fabiano’s Fantasy Focus: Week 16, Volume I

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 22) with the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association Hall of Famer. 

Is Jalen Hurts a must start in fantasy championships? “In traditional redrafts, no. In superflex and 2QB leagues, absolutely. You’ve got two teams left in the playoffs now and my guess is they have pretty good quarterbacks or else they wouldn’t have gotten this far. If Drew Brees is your quarterback, maybe you’re starting Jalen Hurts this week, but I don’t know that he’s a must start. In multi-quarterback leagues though, he’s a really good play. He’s got the Cowboys this week and their defense isn’t any good. His rushing ability makes him so valuable in fantasy.”

Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard. Talked about it last week too, who should start this week? “I’ve talked Pollard up for a month and a half, and I said at some point he’s going to make an impact. It was last week. I’m not saying he’s a better running back than Zeke overall, but right now he is a better running back than Zeke. Zeke’s banged up and Pollard had a better game than Zeke has had in a while against San Francisco, and the Niners defense is pretty good against running backs. If Zeke is out, Pollard is a must start. If he’s active, that’s a little bit of coal in your stocking.”

How should fantasy owners feel about Russell Wilson and any Seahawks players on their roster? “Russell’s been up and down and had a bad week last week and has another bad matchup this week. That doesn’t necessarily mean I wouldn’t start him, but if you’ve got Jalen Hurts, you might be thinking about keeping him on the sidelines and putting the rookie in there this week. Other guys on the Seahawks, I’m playing D.K. Metcalf. I’m not playing Tyler Lockett, and Chris Carson is a risk against the Rams.”

On the Steelers, which wide receiver from their team would you want to start this week? “It’s Diontae Johnson because Big Ben loves targets him a ton. Chase Claypool, I can’t even start anymore because his numbers haven’t been there the last three or four games. Juju, he had a stinker last game too. The Steelers are going backwards right now.”

Who are some running back options on the waiver wire? “There’s some decent options here. Le’Veon Bell got dropped in a lot of leagues and now that Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out, Bell is going to be the bell cow (no pun intended) against Atlanta. Tony Pollard is another must-own if Zeke doesn’t play this week. Salvon Ahmed was great against the Patriots last week and has another good matchup against the Raiders too, but Myles Gaskin could come off the COVID-19 list so keep an eye on that. In LA, Cam Akers isn’t going to play this week so Darrell Henderson is worth a look. Then Jeff Wilson Jr. and Sony Michel are also options off the wire.”

Any final thoughts on games this weekend? “Looking at the matchups, Carolina has got Washington and Mike Davis didn’t have a good game last week. Ultimately, he’s a very valuable asset and if Christian McCaffrey can’t come back, Mike Davis has got a tough matchup against Washington and so do all of their wide receivers. That’s a bad matchup. Washington’s defense is playing really well. Then of course, you look at the Giants and they don’t have many big name players, but it’s not a good matchup this week against Baltimore. James Robinson has been dynamite all season and he’s got the Bears this week and that’s not a good matchup either. But for the most part, if you’ve gotten to the championship with these players, you are probably starting them regardless.”

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