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Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 21, 2006; 12:00 PM

Whether you are getting playing for the championship or planning your list of keepers for next year, Washington Post staff writer was online Gene Wang on Thursday, Dec. 21, at noon ET to chat about fantasy football.

Read his column.

Read his picks.

The transcript follows.

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Gene Wang: Welcome to Week 16 and the final chat of the season. Let's get started with your questions.

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Vienna, Va.: Geno -

Lost my final game this year to finish dead last in my league. We pick in inverse to our finish, so I get to draft Tomlinson next season. Owners in my league accused me of tanking to get that pick. I say benching Thomas Jones, Tiki Barber and others to start Mike Anderson and Derrick Blaylock and others was a good move for the franchise. What say you?

Gene Wang: I had that same discussion with my league commissioner about an owner who did just that. I'm inclined to say it goes against the spirit of the rules, but until your league adopts specifics regarding losing on purpose or employs a draft lottery, then it's shrewd business. Any other owners want to weigh in?

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Raleigh, N.C.: Gene,

Happy Holidays.

Question: I'm in the playoffs and thinking of taking the bold step of sitting the Bears D. I'm highly troubled by last week's performance along with their injuries. I'm thinking of starting the Chiefs against Oakland. After all, everyone's D puts up points against the Raiders, right?

Crazy move? Thanks.

Gene Wang: I still like the Bears. I say that Bucs game was a one-time deal. The Bears D will be motivated Sunday to make up for last week's dud. Plus they're playing the Lions, the only team perhaps worse than the Raiders.

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The Pentagon: Gene - you helped me get to the championship game and now I need you to help put me into the money. I need to start 3 RBs out of this group: Tiki, Chester, Jones-Drew and Cedric Benson. Tiki is in. If I knew Thomas Jones would not play, I think I would go with MJD and Benson. Do I bench Chester tonight and hope that Thomas Jones sits out against the lowly Lions? Or do I play it safe and play Chester and then choose between MJD and Benson on Sunday? If I have to choose between MJD and Benson, who should I choose?

Thanks Gene

If we win, your cut from the pot is in the mail!

Gene Wang: I like MJD and Benson. Even if Jones plays, you have to figure he'll be a bit limited, meaning Benson should get enough carries to make him a worthwhile start.

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Philadelphia: I'm in my league's championship game. I've been riding Willie Parker all year long, but now I am not so sure. He had 22 yards the last time going against the Ravens defense. Do you think he's worth a start? A related question is about Cedric Benson, my backup. Do you think, now that they've clinched home field advantage, the Bears will give him some more carries this week? And even if not, is he worth a start seeing as he's going against Detroit?

Gene Wang: See previous answer regarding Benson. As for Parker, he certainly is worth starting even against the Ravens. Parker has blown up at home this season and will be out to atone for his last performance against Baltimore.

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Bethesda, Md.: I have Larry Johnson locked in at one RB spot, but every week I pick the wrong RB between Maurice Jones-Drew and Marion Barber. Who is the better start this week, given that Fred Taylor is out, but the Pats D is more sound against the run than the Iggles?

Gene Wang: MJD, even against the Pats. The Eagles run defense is coming on strong, and I see them stuffing Dallas's run game.

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D.C.: Gene,

Do you think that Rex Grossman is a viable start this week? I am playing in my league's championship and have rode Tomlinson, Vick, and Parker all the way. With Vick's groin injury I am reluctant to start him.

Gene Wang: I do think Grossman is a good play this week, especially considering the Bears feel he was snubbed for the Pro Bowl and because they're playing the Lions. Also, Grossman has looked a lot better the past couple games.

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Tokyo, Japan: Gene, that's it. I quit. I am never playing this stupid game again. Last week, in the playoffs, my team scored 110 points in my Yahoo league and lost by three points. Why? Because my opponent had Matt Hasselbeck at QB and Jeramy Stevens at TE. So? So in a game that the 49ers were winning 24-7, with 9 seconds left, Hasselbeck throws a garbage time TD to Stevens. 12 points for my opponent on as fluke a fantasy score as there is. If there's worse out there, I can't imagine it.

Gene Wang: We've all had similar hard-luck fantasy stories. I'd be interested to hear others, though I doubt you're going to get much sympathy.

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Washington, D.C.: After Orlando Pace went down last month and Bulger started struggling, I traded for Matt Hasselbeck, figuring that one of these two QBs would round into shape in time to help me win my playoffs. Unfortunately, they've both looked really bad lately (but I've still managed to advance). Which one should I start for my big-time finals matchup this week? Bulger or Hasselbeck?

Gene Wang: I like Bulger against the weak 'Skins secondary. I know they shut down the Saints last week, but I say that was more a New Orleans letdown than anything Washington did.

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Reston, Va.: HELP!! Brady or Vick? Or pick up Garcia?

HELP!!

Gene Wang: Pick up Garcia and start him. He's my fantasy lock of the week, and he will expose the Cowboys secondary as many QBs have done this season. The Eagles are the best team in the NFC at the moment, and Garcia is a big reason why.

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Fairfax, Va.: The guy from Vienna who tanked it is a jerk. But his commissioner should have seen this coming and put a rule in place. Being a commissioner is a thankless job, but if you establish a well thought out rulebook you can reduce the headaches that jerks like this guy cause.

Gene Wang: Strong words, but let's try and be civil if possible. Anyone else want to add to this discussion of to-tank or not-to-tank?

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Abingdon, Md.: To combat someone tanking it to get first pick next year, our league goes in inverse order for the draft next year. BUT, in the last week of the season, the bottom two teams play each other, with the WINNER getting the No. 1 pick next year (loser still gets No. 2). That gives them motivation to keep good players on their roster and play them.

Gene Wang: Thanks. Keep 'em coming.

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Brookland, D.C.: Hi Gene. What ramifications does Chicago clinching home-field have on this week's matchup? On a related note, do you think other playoff teams will more readily rest their studs over the next couple weeks?

One more question -- Bernard Berrian or Roy Williams?

Gene Wang: I don't think it will have much impact on this week's game. The AFC top spots and wild cards are up for grabs, and so are the rest of the top seeds and wild cards in the NFC, so I don't expect teams to rest their star players these last two weeks. I like Berrian too.

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Baltimore: Assuming Carson Palmer is healthy, who would you start, Palmer or Bulger this weekend?

Gene Wang: Palmer

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Bel Air, Md.: Hey Gene, my team is in the championship game thanks in large part to Tomlinson's record-setting year. I was sitting on a losing record until he began his streak of multi-touchdown games, and have gone undefeated since. I'd be interested to see if other owners have had similar results.

Also, who do you like in a flex spot...Maurice Jones-Drew, Bernard Berrian or Cedric Benson?

Gene Wang: Jones-Drew. Also, is there anyone out there with LT who didn't make the playoffs? Now that's a story I'd like to hear.

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Suitland, Md.: Gene, I've somehow lucked into my league's championship game, and I need your advice on picking my flex positions. I need to start two from Warrick Dunn, Reggie Brown, Joey Galloway and Brandon Jacobs. I'm leaning towards Brown and Galloway, but they all have seem to have favorable matchups this week.

Gene Wang: Definitely go with Brown, who will have a big game against that junior varsity Cowboys secondary. Galloway has a great matchup too.

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Houston: Gene,

Is Grossman going to play a full game this week even though the Bears have clinched?

What's Javon Walker's outlook?

Gene Wang: Yes, assuming the Bears aren't ahead by 30 points at halftime. Walker is listed as probable.

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I'm in the finals!: Gene:

I am in our league finals for the first time ever!

Need your help with a recommendation for the flex position: Mike Bell, Jerious Norwood, Hines Ward or Chris Henry.

Thanks for a great chat all season.

Gene Wang: I'm probably going to regret it, but Mike Bell was the go-to guy last week, so roll the dice and hope he's the hot back again.

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Alexandria, Va.: Logically it makes sense to start Garcia over someone like Brady, but if you were to make that switch and lose, wouldn't you regret benching one of the best QBs in the NFL (Brady) with basically a junkyard quarterback (Garcia)?

Gene Wang: Nah, because you can't look back in fantasy. That sounds like coach-speak, I know, but harping on what could have been does no one any good. Right now Garcia is a better play than Brady, and that's the beauty of fantasy, that a playground QB can be worth more than a three-time Super Bowl champion.

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Dallas: First, Garcia is not a lock like you say, as the DAL defense is vulnerable only to QBs with strong arms deep, which Garcia doesn't have. That's a poor pick.

Second, my two RBs are LT and Taylor, but with Fred injured I need to have a contingency. Dunn (who has been awful lately but shredded CAR last time) or Sammy Morris?

Gene Wang: We can agree to disagree on Garcia, who I still say will have a field day. Michael Vick threw four TDs against the Cowboys, and they weren't exactly what you would call deep balls. I believe the yardage on his four TD passes were one, nine, eight and five. That secondary should have been embarrassed to collect checks after that performance. And Dunn seems a better play to me, assuming of course that Ronnie Brown is a go Monday night.

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Washington, D.C.: I never see many tight end questions - but I'm having a tough time choosing between Desmond Clark and Chris Cooley. Who would you start?

Gene Wang: Cooley

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Washington, D.C.: If NBA teams are tanking to get picks or playoff seedings, then on what planet would it be worse for a FANTASY manager to do the same? I say it's up to each manager to decide what is best for his team under the rules. Change your league rules if you don't like it. When someone tanks a game to help their opponent, THAT is a problem.

Gene Wang: Yes, although the NBA does use a draft lottery to guard against that. And yes, collusion in any form is a problem.

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Detroit: Gene - to start Ocho Cinco against Denver or not?

Gene Wang: Ocho is a must-start regardless of matchup.

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Falls Church, Va.: Gene,

I'm in the Super Bowl for the first time in four years, thanks in part to your advice (picking up Colston as a free agent, etc.).

Here's my "who do I play" question disguised as a strategy question. I have Marty Booker in at the third W/T spot, and he's questionable. Along with Colston, my other stud receiver is Marvin Harrison. My opponent has Peyton Manning, so I'm tempted to play Desmond Clark at the third receiver spot. That way, even if Manning has a monster day, unless he throws exclusively to Reggie Wayne, I benefit too.

Or am I overthinking this and should I go with Booker? (or perhaps Santonio Holmes?)

Gene Wang: If Booker is a go for Monday night, stick with him. And you're not overthinking. Harrison is a must-start regardless, and it's a nice bonus that he should cancel out some of Manning's points.

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Undecided: Hey Gene,

Here's another Fantasy Ethics question for the group...

I'm in the Super Bowl this week facing off against a buddy of mine. Both our teams are evenly matched, and there's a decent amount of $$ on the line. Winner gets $800 and the loser gets $200. My friend said that if I wanted, we could agree ahead of time to just split the money in half, each getting $500, regardless of the game's outcome.

I'd like to open this one up to the group... is this just a wuss move or is it being smart and cashing in while you're ahead?

Good luck to everyone this week!

Gene Wang: Love these non-who to start questions. I'm happy to open this one up to other fantasy players. Thoughts?

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Gaithersburg, Md.: What's the latest on Laverneous Coles?

Gene Wang: Coles got drilled against the Vikings last week but is practicing, which is a great sign. He's a real gamer, so expect him to play.

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JP (D.C.): For draft order, I don't think it makes any sense to tie draft order to the previous year results unless you have a keeper league. In a league where you re-draft every year, the winner of the previous league has no built-in advantage going into the next season. I think a random draft order is the best way to go in these cases. Now, in a keeper league, you should definitely go reverse of the previous year's results.

Gene Wang: That's definitely another way to guard against tanking down the stretch.

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Denver, RB: Having no better options, which Denver Bell would you start this weekend? Tatum, Mike or Jingle?

Gene Wang: Jingle is probably the best in that backfield, though I believe I endorsed Mike Bell earlier in this chat. Now watch Tatum go off. That's just how confusing the Broncos RBBC situation has been all year.

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Vienna, Va.: A win this week guarantees me first place in my league, but I need help (as my opponent has LT)

I lost Kevin Jones to injury and I've been scrambling to fill in for him. Sadly, I've been switching between Derrick Mason, Joe Horn, and Marty Booker, but last week all three came up empty (I had chosen Booker).

However, I just picked up Ron Dayne and he looks like he's had a good couple of weeks. Am I just fooling myself or is he the best of the bunch here?

Thanks for your help.

Gene Wang: Dayne has been on a mini-roll and and is a nice option this week.

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Foggy Bottom: Gene,

Thanks for doing this. What's your thought on looking at past performance? Specifically, I have Pro Bowler Willie Parker at RB, but this week he's up against the Baltimore Defense, which shut him down last time they played.

For our League Championship game, should I sit Parker and play Maurice Jones-Drew, who's been hot the past few weeks?

Gene Wang: Parker at home has been virtually a completely different runner than on the road. I like him to show well this week, even against the Ravens. Not saying he's going to run for 220 yards and 3 TDs, but he's still a good play.

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Washington, D.C.: "Playground QB"? If Jeff Garcia is reading this chat, he's going to kick your butt.

Gene Wang: Don't worry. He'll be able to take out his frustration on the Cowboys for Christmas.

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Mt. P.: Any chance Tomlinson sits this week? I've got Michael Turner on my bench, and I'd love to start him at flex over a slumping Roy Williams.

Gene Wang: No way Tomlinson sits this week. The Chargers need to win to keep that No. 1 seed and home field.

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Re Tanking games: Gene, in reply to Vienna who tanked the last game, I'm all for it. The guy who finished dead last in our league last year had LT this year... and finished dead last again. He'll probably do it again next year if we don't kick him out. It's good because it keeps a guy like LT out of the playoffs for the good managers. And truthfully, if you only need to tank one game to finish dead last, you're not one of those.

Gene Wang: There's another perspective, and well argued, I might add.

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Bah-humbug: As Commish in our league, the player who tanked the final game would NEVER get the first pick the following year. That's part of why we assign a random order 5 minutes before the draft.

If anyone tanks a game, to get better playoff advantage, we give that player a fine, and adjust to the best we can. My last game, I could have tanked to get a better matchup, but in the spirit, won and faced the No. 1 team (with LT, of course) to start the playoffs and lost.

Cost me $150, but kept the integrity of the league...

Gene Wang: Fines are always a great incentive to keep owners in line with the rules.

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Annandale, Va.: to Undecided- sounds like his buddy is afraid he is going to lose. It also sounds a little like collusion, but since the two were going to split the money anyway, I don't see how it hurts.

Gene Wang: Yeah, if the owners who are playing for the big prize agree to split it, I suppose it's not really collusion because it doesn't really impact other owners.

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Dulles, Va.: To prevent anyone in our league from tanking at the end of the season to get a better draft pick next year, we do next year's draft order by whoever finished closest to the playoffs without actually getting in. So the first team that finishes out of a playoff spot this year gets the top pick next year. It makes the league competitive for everybody through the last regular season game.

Gene Wang: Another good option.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm in the championship and the only pro bowler I have is LT, compared to my opponent with six! I have Denver defense and am considering the Green Bay Defense against the new Minn. QB. Am I crazy? what to do...

Also, sit Deion Branch this week?

Gene Wang: Always a wise play to start a defense against a new QB, so you're thinking is sound and not crazy at all. As for Branch, it depends on whom you're other WRs are.

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Edison, N.J.: Given that I'm in my league's Super Bowl, can you help me with a kicker? Josh Scobee has out kicked David Akers all year but thinking of starting Akers at Dallas over Scobee at home against the Patriots. Your thoughts?

Gene Wang: If it's close, I like the guy playing at home, who in this case is Scobee.

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Please! Please! Please: Gene,

Thanks for a great season. I'd like to cap my season off with a championship. The only spot in my lineup I have a question about is at TE. We must start a TE in our league and we award a point for every reception. Any suggestions for a rent-a-TE for this week? Maybe even a couple because it's pretty much slim pickings. Thanks, talk to you next year.

Gene Wang: Can't really give you a fair answer unless I have a list of options. I have no idea which TEs are available or even how many teams are in your league, which at least would help me narrow down the pool.

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Nashville, Tenn.: Gene,

I need to pick three WRs from Colston, Housh, Holt and Glenn to start in the semi's this week. I'm leaning toward benching Housh -- your thoughts?

Thanks.

Gene Wang: I like Housh over Glenn.

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Washington, D.C.: The tanking argument is irrelevant. Past history shows L. Tomlinson will be on the Madden 08 cover next year and then suffer a serious injury.

Gene Wang: Can't wait to see if the curse casts its spell on LT.

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Alexandria, Va.: With the Colts, is there any way to determine whether it will be a Reggie Wayne week or a Marvin Harrison week?

Gene Wang: Generally the rule has been if Marvin has a big game one week, the next week it's Wayne's turn, and vice-versa. Remember that game against the Eagles when Harrison had one catch for eight yards? Well the next week he had 172 yards receiving and a touchdown. Going by that, since Harrison had 86 yards and 3 TDs last week and Wayne had 84 and 1, it could be Reggie's time this week.

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Fairfax, Va.: To the guy playing his buddy: There's nothing WRONG with splitting it, ethically. But doesn't it take some of the fun out of it? Why not agree that the winner pays for drinks next time you're out. Unless he's Frank the Tank.

Gene Wang: If someone's paying for drinks, please make sure I'm invited.

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Frederick, Md.: I need major help at RB for my League's Super Bowl. Please pick two from: Parker, Morris or Dayne.

Gene Wang: Parker and Dayne

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Ashburn, Va.: Gene, I'm in the final four of my league and my only real tough choice is at QB, Hasselbeck vs the Chargers or McNair vs the Steelers? Thanks for all of the advice this season. Happy Holidays!

Gene Wang: Hasselbeck

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New Brunswick, N.J.: Help! Tom Brady has Jacksonville so I need to bench him (the last time he faced a comparable D, he threw for 78 yards!) The only scraps I have left are Tarvaris Jackson, Tim Rattay and Jason Campbell. I am thinking Campbell, et tu?

Gene Wang: Go with Campbell if that's your instinct. Don't forget though that Rattay did carve up the Bears defense last week.

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New York, New York: Happy Holidays Gene,

Any inside scoop on the health of Addai or Ronnie Brown? What do you think of Dayne vs. the Colts?

Gene Wang: Tony Dungy seems encouraged that Addai will play. Brown is less certain. And I like Dayne against that run defense.

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Georgetown: Since some of us are already thinking about next year, who do you think are the top 5 fantasy picks for 2007?

Gene Wang: In no particular order: LT, LJ, Frank Gore, Shaun Alexander, Wilie Parker.

On that note, please allow me to thank all of you for a great season of fantasy football chatting. Your questions and criticisms are what makes this time valuable to me and hopefully to you as well. Don't forget to read my final fantasy column a week from today, when I will dole out season-ending awards. Now for more entertainment, please consider heading over to the Festivus discussion currently in progress. Happy holidays, and see you next year.

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