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Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 21, 2008; 1:00 PM

Want to win your league this year? Washington Post staff writer Gene Wang was online Thursday, Aug. 21 at 1 p.m. ET to solve your fantasy football dilemmas.

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The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Gene Wang: Welcome to another season of fantasy football. Thanks for joining me for the kickoff chat. I had the first of my many drafts last weekend, and I'm sure you all have drafts on the horizon as well, so let's get started.

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Pikesville, Md.: I picked Brady in the first, so now I'm stuck with a RB squad of Grant, McFadden and Kevin Smith. Am I in trouble?

Gene Wang: I wouldn't say you are in trouble necessarily, but you have to hope Ryan Grant isn't a one-year wonder and that McFadden and Smith live up to the hype. If you are fantasy football chat regular, you know my philosophy is not to draft a quarterback until I've filled out my running backs. That includes QBs like Brady and Peyton Manning.

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Draft Question: Gene: Welcome back. I have the number 3 draft pick in my league, and was thinking of Tomlinson, Westbrook, then Randy Moss. I think Moss would do better than Addai, Adrian Peterson, or Steven Jackson. What do you think?

Gene Wang: As mentioned in a previous answer, my strategy is to fill out my two RBs slots before anything else, so my advice would be to get Brian Westbrook at No. 3. I would be shocked if LT was there at No. 3. RB is the most injury-prone position (just look at last season), so get as many good ones as you can. I'll throw this question out to other posters: Should drafting RBs be the priority?

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Columbia, SC: YES!!!! FANTASY CHAT IS BACK!!! Life has meaning.

I kept Stephen Jackson over Addai. Smart? Insane?

How do you rate players that are on bad teams or are the only option? Addai is one of many options in Indy - which concerned me. But, the Rams are bad, which could mean 8-man fronts.

I lost sleep over this decision.

Gene Wang: Yes, life has meaning for me too now that fantasy is back. I mean aren't we all ready for the Olympics to be over and for regular season football to begin? I really like Joseph Addai. He's my No. 4 rated fantasy RB, behind LT, AP and Brian Westbrook. I think he's due for another big season. Not that Steven Jackson isn't, but you make a good point about eight-man fronts.

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Reston, Va.: I see Jake Delhomme ranked fairly high (No. 7 or so) in preseason rankings. Isn't he coming off a serious arm injury? And who is he throwing to besides Steve Smith? DJ Hackett? Can you explain why he's ranked so high?

Gene Wang: I've always been a huge fan of Jake Delhomme, both on the field and in fantasy. He's ranked that high because he's shown no problems coming off surgery, an he's got Muhsin Muhammad back. Remember he put up huge numbers when he was last with Carolina.

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Washington, DC: Which rookies are going to make a fantasy impact this year?

Gene Wang: Darren McFadden for sure. I wouldn't be surprised if he had an Adrian Peterson-like season. Also the Panthers are really high on Jonathan Stewart. He'll get his chances to supplant DeAngelo Williams as the starting RB. Same situation with Kevin Smith of the Lions. Watch for Buffalo's James Hardy as a sleeper rookie WR.

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Harrisonburg, Va.: Who is the OTHER Carolina receiver to have, DJ Hackett or Muhsin Muhammed?

Gene Wang: Muhsin Muhammad caught 100 balls when he last was with the Panthers. He and Jake Delhomme definitely had a chemistry you have to expect will be there again this season and especially for the first two games when Steve Smith is out.

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Fairfax, Va.: Gene,

You are the best -- can you help me with a "sleeper" at WR -- I'm real thin at the position with a potential suspension coming.

Gene Wang: My sleeper WR is Nate Burelson. He Seahawks are really hurting at the position, with Deion Branch and Bobby Engram ailing. Someone is going to have to catch the ball in Mike Holmgren's West Coast offense until those guys are back on the field.

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Philadelphia: Mr. Wang, I have been a believer in your mantra of drafting RB's first and then filling out your roster with other positions. But last year threw me for a loop.

It seems that RB by committee is become more and more the norm in the NFL...agree? If so, will there still be reliable non-committee RB's out there at the no. 9 and no.15 pick?

Gene Wang: At No. 9 you could be looking at Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch or Larry Johnson, all who have the backfield to themselves. At No. 15, you're probably looking at Ryan Grant, Willis McGahee or Marion Barber. RBBC has been catching on for sure, but that doesn't mean stay away from those players. I mean even Adrian Peterson shared the workload with Chester Taylor, and it didn't hurt his production.

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Arlington, Va.: What do you think about Selvin Young? The Broncos will probably be a pretty decent team this year, so with Selvin Young being their number one RB...Do you think he might have a breakout year?

Gene Wang: Selvin Young's fantasy stock has gone up with the injury to Ryan Torain. We all know it seems the Broncos can plug any RB into the system, and he rushes for 1,000 yards. I mean if Olandis Gary can do it, why not Selvin Young?

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McLean, VA: Who are they guys you would move up (or down) on your draft list? thanks

Gene Wang: I've been moving Marvin Harrison up on my list because he has looked great in the preseason. He went very late (10th round) in my most recent draft, but all signs point to Harrison posting his usual big numbers. Also don't sleep on Ricky Williams, who has been very impressive during the preseasono. Right now Matt Hasselbeck has dropped a few spots because of his back issues.

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Tucson, Ariz.: Gene -

I have the #1 pick in my league. Is LT still the best RB? I have flashbacks to him sitting on the sideline in the playoffs and I'm worried he's going to start breaking down.

Your thoughts?

Gene Wang: LT is clearly the top RB on the board. The guy is a production machine. RBs generally don't start breaking down until they hit 30, so LT should have at least a couple more fantastic seasons ahead of him.

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Alexandria, Va.: Nate Burleson as a sleeper? Isn't he perennially on the sleeper list? I know that he's disappointed me at least 2x.

Gene Wang: Yeah, he's disappointed me too, but I'm hoping this is the season where that proverbial light bulb turns on.

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Rockville, Md.: Which team defense do you see as being the top 5? Specifically in sacks and interceptions.

Gene Wang: Minnesota, San Diego, Chicago, Jacksonville and Dallas. The Vikings are going to be filthy with the addition of Jared Allen.

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Madison, Wisc.: First pick quandary. I'm in a 12 team keeper league, and have the 1st pick. Randy Moss, Gore, Westbrook, Peterson, P Manning, LT and Steven Jackson are all off the board. I have Romo and Witten kept. Who do I take with my first pick, CP? Barber (and have three Cowboys)? Someone not named?

Gene Wang: Sounds like Joseph Addai is available. If so, take him without hesitation.

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Response to Poster Question: I think that once the top-tier RB's are drafted, and you are left a choice of the Top Tier QB's or WR's, or the 2nd tier RB's, then you have to review your league's point settings and based on the settings, realize that going away from RB is not a bad option.

Gene Wang: Thanks for a different perspective. That's the big topic in fantasy football this season, whether the RB-first strategy is outdated.

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Washington, D.C.: Will Adrian Peterson duplicate his success from last year even though he won't be a surprise to anyone anymore and there are still questions about Tavaris Jackson's talent? Would Brian Westbrook be a safer running back pick over him?

Gene Wang: I have AP ranked a solid No. 2 on my RB board, one spot ahead of Westbrook. Doesn't matter if it's Tavaris Jackson or Gus Frerotte at QB. AP will get it done again this season.

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Deep Asleep: Nate Burleson has been a popular "sleeper" WR for three years now. He and Thomas Jones are, apparently, my Fantasy Krytonite.

Gene Wang: Thomas Jones is another sleeper, considering the Jets added Alan Faneca and Brett Favre. I have been loathe to draft him in the past, but I would consider him strongly if he were around in the fourth round of a 16-round draft in a 12-team league.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Do you think Tom Brady will come close to the numbers he put up last year?

Gene Wang: Yes, though the history of QBs who have set the passing TD record shows a decline the following season. Look at Dan Marino and Peyton Manning. That doesn't mean Brady is due for a huge letdown, but the Pats figure to run the ball a bit more this season with a healthy Laurance Maroney.

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Washington, D.C.: You are back not a moment too soon, Gene! I am drafting #4 in a keeper league. Because of contracts and protections, I was able to keep Jamal Lewis and Earnest Graham as my starting RBs. I want to avoid the allure of drafting another RB with my first round pick and select the best available from the following: Andre Johnson, Terrell Owens, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Ben Rothelisberger, TJ Housmanzadeh -- basically the best available QB/WR that isn't protected. Who of those do you recommend?

Gene Wang: It's a no-brainer here: Peyton Manning.

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Alexandria, Va.: I'm in a dynasty league where I have the 10th pick in the rookie draft this year. I have been offered a trade by the team with the 4th pick: his pick for my Braylon Edwards. I have TO and Larry Fitzgerald, but I don't think I can get a sure thing RB (which I need) with the 4th pick this year. What can I get with the 4th pick and should I even be considering this? Thanks.

Gene Wang: With TO and Fitz, you have two major stud WRs, both must-starts regardless of matchup. Edwards is in that class too, but in your case he's expendable. Instead of trading for a draft pick, have you considered instead trading for an established RB?

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DC: Are there any good Redskins worth taking for fantasy football this year?

Gene Wang: Plenty. Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley are at the top of the list, but Santana Moss is a good late-pick at WR. The Redskins are really high on rookie TE Fred "Five Alarm" Davis too.

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Upper Marlboro, MD: Where would you rate Calvin Johnson among wide receivers in a Fantasy Football draft for a basic TD/Yardage League (no points for receptions)?

Gene Wang: I have Calvin Johnson at No. 20 on my WR board. He's going to be a great player in the NFL, it's just a matter of when. He played a good portion of last season with a lower back injury, plus he was learning the nuances of the NFL. I expect his numbers to improve dramatically this season.

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Rockville, Md.: Forget the sleepers at WR, what about the best wide receiver?

Gene Wang: On that question there is no debate: Randy Moss, and it isn't even close really. TO puts up great numbers, but Moss had 23 TDs last season. That's LT territory.

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Bethesda, Md.: Mean Gene,

I am in a keeper league. My keepers are Marion Barber, Adrian Peterson, and Andre Johnson. I traded my first round pick away. What position should I target when I pick 5th in the 2nd round? QB? WR? RB?

Points- RB/WR 1 point/10 yards QB - 1 point/25 yards

Thanks!

Gene Wang: First thanks for including your league scoring rules in your question. The more specific posters can get in their their question, the better-prepared I'll be to try to answer. Don't know how many teams are in your league, but if Tony Romo is there, take him. Doubtful if you're in a league with 12 or more teams that he will. But if you're in a 10-team league, there's a good chance he'll be around.

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Alex., VA: Gene - I'm drafting 1st in a 12 team league.

Of course, I'll take LT at #1, but what can you recommend at #24 & #25 with that back to back pick? WR-QB, RB-WR? I'm thinking that I could go with a Brees/Colston connection, since my league awards 6 pts per TD (run, throw or pass).

Gene Wang: That's a good strategy and about the right slots to draft both those players. Traditionally I've been against having a QB-WR combo from the same team, but I've come around, especially after last season watching Tom Brady throw to Randy Moss.

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Reading, Pa.: If I take Brady in the first round, and one of those top 5 receivers is available in the second (obviously other than moss) is it safe to wait until the third to get my rb1? It's a points-per-reception league.

Gene Wang: Depends how many teams are in your league as well. Obviously in a league 10-team league, you're a bit safer to wait. In a 14-team league, I'd definitely go RB before WR.

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Houston, TX: Gene, welcome back! My league starts 2 QBs, and my choices are Derek Anderson, Jay Cutler and Chad Pennington. Am I potentially in trouble.....should I go get another starter or just cross my fingers?

Gene Wang: You'll do just fine with Derek Anderson. Cutler is more than serviceable too. I'd be a little weary of Pennington, though he has looked good in the preseason.

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Alexandria, Va.: Big Gene -- just in time, my draft is next weekend!

I draft 11th in a 14 team league, and we are implementing keepers. I am having a hard time deciding which players I can keep.. the rules are complicated, but essentially, my options are:

Option 1: sacrifice a 1st rounder to keep Brian Westbrook and a 15th rounder to keep Marvin Harrison Option 2: sacrifice a 2nd rounder to keep Marion Barber and a 3rd rounder to keep Andre Johnson

Thanks for the help Gene

Gene Wang: Option 1 sounds like the better choice.

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Arlington, Va.: I hope you'll forgive a simple question from a novice. I'm playing in my first fantasy league this season and my draft is Sunday. I heard someone else ridicule a third person for planning to claim a QB in the first round. I know the quarterback is often called the "field general" of the team, but in fantasy play, is it more valuable to draft quality in another position first? A running back? A wide receiver?

Gene Wang: Welcome to the world of fantasy football! Glad you are now part of Fantasy Nation (FN for short). I've always felt filling out your RBs is the top priority because it's the position where most players get injured. Just look at Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, Larry Johnson, Adrian Peterson, et al, last season. I've done just fine over the years drafting a QB in the fourth or fifth rounds. But that doesn't mean drafting, say, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in the first round necessarily is a bad play. It's just not my preference. Good luck, and come back to this chat every Thursday to get your fantasy fix.

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Gene Wang: Wow, that hour went by quickly. Thanks for all your questions, and good luck to those of you drafting this weekend. I'll be back next Thursday to do it again for those drafting over the Labor Day weekend.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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