Fabiano’s Fantasy Focus: 2020 Pre-Season, Volume XV

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Every summer leading into and throughout the NFL season, Sports Illustrated and SI.com Senior Fantasy Analyst Michael Fabiano joins Sports360AZ.commto share his insight on building and developing your fantasy team for success.

Here are some hi-lights from our most recent conversation (September 1st) with the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association Hall of Famer.

What was your initial reaction to Leonard Fournette getting released in Jacksonville? “Whoa. Wait…we’re like two weeks from the start of the season or less and they’re releasing their number one running backs? It was really weird because, if you remember, the Dolphins traded Kalen Ballage to the Jets for a seventh-round pick and then Ballage failed his physical so the trade was null and void. You’re telling me that Kalen Ballage was worth a seventh-round pick and no one in the league would offer anything for Leonard Fournette? It’s insane to me. So, this is going to have a big-time ripple effect on fantasy wherever Fournette lands because, think about it, if he goes to Chicago, that hurts the value of David Montgomery. If he goes to Tampa Bay, that hurts the value of Ronald Jones. If he goes to the Rams, that hurts the value of Cam Akers. No matter what happens, this is going to end up being a big-time bomb for some running back’s fantasy appeal.”

Lots of drafts coming up this week – what trends are you seeing in the first round? “People are eating up the running backs quick and you have to. Especially now because, think about it, Dalvin Cook is a top five pick. There is a potentially an issue with him and his contract. There shouldn’t be one but that’s in the back of minds of fantasy owners. Now Alvin Kamara looks like he’s holding out. He’s a top four or five pick, easily. Then, Fournette was probably a third-round pick and suddenly you can’t take him anymore in the third round. So, it’s shrinking the depth at the top of that position. I think ultimately Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara will be fine but fantasy owners, we’re anxious. We’re a little bit worrisome about things like this. So suddenly taking Kamara isn’t as much of a lock as it was last week or taking Dalvin Cook wasn’t as much of a lock as it was last week and that’s a situation where you could see Kamara fall, not out of the first round but maybe down a few spots. Dalvin Cook, same kind of thing. We’re also hearing about Miles Sanders and having this hamstring ailment. He should be back for Week One but he’s also a guy who’s going off at the end of the first round, beginning of the second round so you’re taking him but maybe you’re not taking him with 100 percent confidence. Maybe it’s only 90 percent confidence because he’s got this injury which may keep him out of action for a bit.”

With the upgrades around Josh Allen, how do you project him? “He was a QB six last year and I don’t know if he can do better than that. That’s pretty good because he’s not going to finish higher than Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes – at least considering that both of these guys play 14-16 games. Dak Prescott is a top quarterback. He was a QB three last year. Kyler Murray is up there, as well. Let’s not forget about Russell Wilson. DeShaun Watson, as well. So if Allen finishes as a QB six, that would be a great year. I feel like he’s probably going to see a little bit of an uptick in terms of his passing totals and maybe some regression in terms of his rushing totals. He’s not scoring nine times on the ground again. That’s just not going to happen but even four or five rushing touchdowns from a quarterback is pretty good and with Stephon Diggs in the mix, Zack Moss has looked tremendous in camp, too. So, with some additional weapons, maybe Josh Allen sees that uptick in terms of his passing yardage and touchdowns in 2020.”

Here in the Valley, people are wondering about N’Keal Harry in New England? “N’Keal Harry has not been getting a lot of buzz in camp at all. So, he is a late-round flier at this point. There are opportunities in that passing game. I mean, Julian Edelman and then, who’s next? Is it N’Keal Harry? Is it Muhammed Sanu? Is it James White out of the backfield? It could very well be. You’ve got two rookie tight ends in the mix there, too. N’Keal Harry would probably be a late-rounder. Muhammed Sanu right after him in terms of the Patriots’ wide receivers in the order you want to pick them in fantasy drafts. But, I tell you, it’s hard to see either of those guys being a reliable option.”

Who do you see as a fantasy bust with the season just days away? “There are several but I’ll go with Rob Gronkowski. I’m seeing him drafted in the seventh round in fantasy football calculator. Hell no! I am not going there with Rob Gronkowski. 31-year-old guy who hasn’t played football in nearly 20 months. Was injury-prone before that. His last season he only had three touchdowns. He looked like a shell of himself. There are a lot of mouths to feed in Tampa Bay. I guess the advantage is he does have Tom Brady…but ultimately Mike Evans is going to get his, Chris Godwin is going to get his. This is an offense that also has two other tight ends who could potentially make an impact. So, if I could get Gronk as my tight end two, that’s fine. But as my tight end one in the seventh or eighth round. No, not going there.”

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