Fabiano’s Fantasy Focus: Training Camp, 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 (July 25th) with the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association Hall of Famer.

With uncertainty at quarterback, where do you see Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas coming off draft boards this summer? “Here’s the good thing. I like the fact that Mike McCoy is back as offensive coordinator. Demaryius Thomas had a lot of success when he was the OC a few years ago. Now, Peyton Manning was the quarterback at that point so it’s a little bit of a different thing. I think it’s a good thing for both Sanders and Thomas. With that being said, I don’t know that either of them is going to see a major increase in terms of where they finished last year. So, they’ll both be in the Top 20. Thomas, hopefully will break into the Top 12. McCoy likes to use him on some screen passes where Thomas can use his strength and playmaking ability to gain extra yards. Hopefully he can do that and we know that McCoy likes to throw the football. Thomas, at this point, I would project as a third-round pick, maybe a fourth-round pick if you’re in a smaller league. As for Sanders, I feel like he’s being a little underrated. I know he doesn’t score a lot touchdowns but he’s still a 1,000-yard guy who can get you 70-80 catches in his sleep. So he’s probably someone I would project to be a sixth-round pick. Somewhere in that neighborhood depending on how many teams are in your league. I still think Sanders is an excellent wide receiver, regardless of who the quarterback is going to be.”

Staying with the Broncos, what are your fantasy thoughts on their backfield? “C.J. Anderson I believe is going to be as close to a featured back as they have but they did add Jamaal Charles and it will be very interesting to see what he has left after missing most of the last two years with knee problems.”

What are camp battles are you keeping an eye on over the next month? “There are a ton of backfields that fall into that category. You mentioned one [in Denver]. New England’s backfield, as well. Mike Gillislee looks like the heir apparent to LaGarrette Blount. I’m not saying he’s going to rush for 18 touchdowns but could he give you half of that? Potentially, if you look at the numbers. The Patriots like to run the ball down in the red zone and especially in the green zone, that’s where LaGarrette Blount had so much success. Seattle is another one. Eddie Lacy is the projected starter but what has he done over the last two years? He’s been banged up and he’s been a disappointment from a fantasy perspective and I just don’t see C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls going away so that could end up being a potential committee situation. Lacy I think has to earn that starters job despite the fact that he earned big starters money.”

What’s your strategy with DeShaun Watson down in Houston? “So, if I were the head coach and I also played fantasy football [laughing], I would start Watson. I love his skills as a runner. We’ve talked about this a million times, when you’re quarterback who can run the football you add to your value. You have an added aspect of value in fantasy football. Now with that being said, Tom Savage is more likely to be the starter once the season opens. The good news there is if you look at Nuke Hopkins’ numbers when Savage played the majority of the snaps over the end of 2016, Nuke’s targets were up, his receptions were up, his yardage was up. That was a major issue with Brock Osweiler under center. I would not be surprised if Watson made significant starts as a rookie and if he does, I think he’s a guy you could pick up off the waiver wire and use him in certain match-ups.”

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A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.