Fabiano’s Fantasy Focus: 2017 Pre-Season, Volume I

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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 1st) with the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association Hall of Famer.

With drafts starting to ramp up in the next few weeks, what are some early trends you’re seeing? “For one thing I’m seeing rookie running backs going earlier than I would expect. I’m not talking about Leonard Fournette and Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook. I’m talking about people like Joe Williams, who I think is worth a late-round pick but some people are really pushing him to be “the guy” in San Francisco and Carlos Hyde is there and Tim Hightower is there. I think the Jamaal Williams hype train has slowed a little bit because there’s been a lot of positive talk about Ty Montgomery over the last couple weeks. Rob Kelly is projected to be the starter in Washington but right now Samaje Perine is being drafted ahead of him. Now I do think Perine will be the better running back at the end of the season but people are really drafting him higher than I believe he should be because there’s no guarantee that this doesn’t end up being a committee. Even though we love players with upside, especially at the running back position, because there are not a lot of rookie wide receivers who are expected to make a big impact this year, I wouldn’t over-value them to the point where you’re over-looking a player who has a better chance of helping you this season by taking a rookie running back who might end up being in a backfield committee.”  

I know you’ve talked about Matt Ryan’s production declining this season. What do you project his 2017 numbers to look like? “If you look at his numbers his previous three years, he didn’t score more than 300 fantasy points. Let’s not forget that he wasn’t drafted in some drafts last year. He had one previous season with over 300 fantasy points and it was just barely over 300 fantasy points. He’s got a new offensive coordinator in Steve Sarkisian who has never called a play in the NFL. I’m not saying Matt Ryan is going to be a complete bust as long as your expectations are legitimate. Legitimate expectations for Matt Ryan: 285 fantasy points, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,300 passing yards and around 30 touchdowns. He will not duplicate what he did last season.”

Let’s keep with the quarterback theme. How about Carson Palmer out here in Arizona? “Palmer is going to be worth a late-round pick as a QB2. What happened last year, he was inconsistent at best. I believe he may have been ranked a little too highly, even by myself last year, based off what he did the previous season. He is 38 years old so he’s certainly long in the tooth, even at the quarterback position. But that doesn’t mean he can’t succeed. I project him over 4,000 passing yards and somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-27 touchdown passes which is pretty good.”

Is John Brown expected to bounce back after a 2016 where he battled a serious health issue? “I think he could end being a late-round bargain as long as his health keeps him on the field. We all know the situation with the sickle-cell trait which kept him off the gridiron last year. I mean, he’s your number two wide receiver right now. Michael Floyd clearly not on the roster right now. John Brown is a guy that can stretch defenses and make plays. He’s a guy that had a rapport with Carson Palmer a couple of seasons ago. Brown is a guy I would be targeting somewhere in the later rounds as potentially a fourth wide receiver depending on the size of your league who could pay dividends. But there is a little bit of risk there, of course. The offense is going to run through David Johnson.”

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