Fabiano’s Fantasy Focus: Week One, Volume II

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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 (September 2nd) with the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association Hall of Famer.

What do you make of Melvin Gordon asking for a trade from the Chargers? “That’s an issue because the Chargers are basically saying they’re not going to negotiate with him anymore so, find a trade partner. I don’t know if they’re going to because, what team is going to trade something significant for Melvin Gordon and then pay him $10 million a year? I feel like he sort of shot himself in the foot a bit and at some point he may have to come crawling back to the Chargers with his tail between his legs. Right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if he misses six games and that’s why you’re seeing him drop to the fourth or fifth round. I see Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson moving up. Clearly, Ekeler needs to be owned in all leagues and Justin Jackson is a guy you could probably take a late flier on. Gordon is someone you’re going to be able to stash but there’s a lot of risk there. Also, keep in mind there have been more than a couple of situations where running backs have held out into the regular season and when they come back, they’re not the same and injuries occur. So, as a fantasy owner who’s been in countless fantasy drafts, I have no shares of Melvin Gordon because he’s just going too high and it’s too rich for my blood.”

You’d expect Kyler Murray to spread the ball around. How do you separate the Cardinals’ wide receivers? “I think Christian Kirk has the most upside on the roster from a fantasy perspective at that position. I had him ranked slightly ahead of Larry Fitzgerald but keep in mind when Kingsbury was a head coach in college, the slot receiver was very often targeted. Even Jace Amaro had a huge season running out of the slot at Texas Tech. Fitz is traditionally going to be running routes out of the slot so he’s going to help, as well. Kyler’s going to find his security blanket. Maybe it’s Christian Kirk, maybe it’s Larry Fitzgerald. We’re all learning. We’re going to find out. They do have a lot of mouths to feed in that offense but at the end of the day, that all goes to benefit Kyler Murray and what he could potentially put up in the stat sheets.”

Who’s a good sleeper quarterback to monitor heading into the regular season? “I’ll go with Sam Darnold here. I don’t love the matchup in Week One (Buffalo) but when you look at what he did at the end of his rookie campaign, what he did in the pre-season and what the Jets brought in with Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder to help that offense. Darnold’s a guy who wasn’t even drafted in a lot of leagues. If you’re in a non-competitive league, he’s probably still out there. Darnold certainly fits in this category.”

Does Miles Sanders have a chance to make an impact as rookie with the Eagles? “Miles Sanders is someone by collegue Graham Barfield absolutely loves. It could end up being like a Kerryon Johnson situation where he doesn’t carry the mail much early but as the season goes on he has a much higher ceiling than Jordan Howard and is a better pass catcher, as well. So Miles Sanders is certainly on our radars.”

Outside of the obvious names, is it sort of a dry season for this rookie class after what you saw in the pre-season? “Surprisingly, there’s not really much to talk about though among rookie wide receivers, among rookie tight ends unless you’re talking about T.J. Hawkenson and, of course, Kyler Murray is the guy I’m on record for absolutely loving, so just keep tabs every single week because guys go down and guys have to step up. So, there are some rookie running backs out there who could play big roles for their teams down the stretch.”

Is there one storyline that’s really caught your eye from Week One? “One matchup I’m really looking forward to see is Pittsburgh at New England. Why? Two traditionally great fantasy quarterbacks going after it without their number one options from last year. No Gronk in New England. No Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh. I’m really interested to see how those guys produce and whether or not they do produce.”

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