Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Famer Michael Fabiano is one of fantasy football’s foremost voices. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated and hosts a show on SiriusXM’s Fantasy Sports channel.
We caught up with Fabiano for this week’s Friday Five…
Who is your biggest mentor?
Overall, it would be two people – Jim Nantz in terms on TV and Jay Glazer. Nantz, of course, was my reference when I went to work at the NFL. Jay is the best in the business – obviously right up there with Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport in terms of being an NFL insider. And Jay taught me a lot when I was at CBS – we were there at the same time. He kinda took me under his wing – he would call me his Padawan learner, and he was the Jedi master. And Jay’s obviously gone on to do great things with Fox and elsewhere.
How did you start in the fantasy business and when did you first realize this would be such a big industry?
I got started in 2000. I got hired by what was Commissioner.com at the time, part of CBS SportsLine, and I got hired to be a fantasy sports writer/editor. I just took the opportunity and ran with it. Once I was at the NFL… I mean, I knew it had legs, had the potential to be big. But the NFL for years had been anti-fantasy, because they thought it was gambling. And of course the NFL has changed their view of gambling – done a 180 – in the last couple of years. But once the NFL went in-house with their website and they brought me on to lead the way to create fantasy content and help create an in-house product that wasn’t run by somebody else, I thought, “The NFL’s embracing this now. This is big. It’s just going to continue to grow the brand.”
And now, honestly, people who play fantasy football can’t even imagine watching a football game without some kind of fantasy component to it. Fantasy and the NFL basically go hand in hand. Once the NFL was on board with it, I knew this was big.
What player do you think is being drafted too high in drafts you’ve seen this summer?
I want to say Darrell Henderson. Even though Cam Akers is out and Henderson will be the starter, his lack of durability, his size – he’s not a true feature type of guy. When Akers went down, Henderson was getting picked in the second and third rounds, which was way too high for me. I just didn’t want anything to do with him. He hurt his thumb, and then they brought in Sony Michel, because the Rams know he’s not durable. Now Henderson is being drafted in the fourth and fifth rounds – that’s still too high for me. I can see a scenario where Sony Michel takes the starting job, and Henderson is more the complementary, third-down passing back. He’s not going to get 18 touches a game. He’s not going to get 15 touches a game. So Henderson is not somebody I’m a fan of.
What player do you think is being drafted too low in drafts you’ve seen this summer?
In a lot of the drafts that I’m in, the whole game of chicken as it pertains to quarterbacks is played on a regular basis. Nobody wants to draft that first quarterback. Then eventually Mahomes will come off the board – though I’ve been in drafts where Josh Allen and Kyler Murray have been drafted ahead of Mahomes. But Ryan Tannehill gets no respect whatsoever. This guy’s like Rodney Dangerfield. He puts up top 10 numbers the last two seasons. He’s been amazing, played at a high level. Still, he’s still there in the 10th round, the 11th round. He’s a guy I’ve gotten a bunch of shares of, because I decided, I’m just gonna wait. Because for some reason, Ryan Tannehill’s got stink on him, and no one takes him as high as they should. He’s a quarterback, so he’s not gonna go super high, but I would expect a guy like Tannehill, based on the numbers he’s been putting up, to go in the top 100 picks. But a lot of time’s not. Tom Brady is obviously the GOAT, but in fantasy I’d rather have Tannehill. It’s close, they’re on the same tier, but I have Tannehill ranked ahead of Brady.
If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be and why?
Can I invite supermodels? If I can invite Charlotte McKinney over, that would be great! But I’ll stick with athletes: Babe Ruth would be one. I can probably listen to his stories for weeks on end. He’s the original legend. He’s a mythical figure. Another would probably be Magic Johnson, who’s the reason that I’m a Lakers fan. The first game I watched as a basketball fan was when he had that monster game in the Finals against the Sixers when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was hurt. The third one would have to be a Dallas Cowboy, because I’m gonna get all three of my favorite pro teams in there. I’d probably go Tony Dorsett. He and Danny White were my two favorite Cowboys growing up. There are plenty of great Cowboys, but that’s when I really started rooting for the Cowboys, back when Danny White was the quarterback and Tony Dorsett was the running back. I think that would be a pretty fun trio to invite to dinner.
Check out all of our Friday Five features — including Troy Aikman, Adam Schefter, Andrea Kremer and more — in the Friday Five archive.