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Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 11, 2008; 12:00 PM

Want to win your league this year? Washington Post staff writer Gene Wang was online Thursday, Dec. 11 at noon ET to help get your fantasy football team ready for the playoffs.

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The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Gene Wang: Welcome to the first of two playoff editions of the fantasy chat. It's good to be back talking fantasy again. Let's get right to your questions.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Gene-

What is your take on Marshawn Lynch this week? I have Lendale White in reserves and am leaning towards playing him this week. What do you think?

Gene Wang: LenDale White is a much better play. Lynch is facing the fourth-ranked rush defense, while White goes against the 24th-ranked run defense.

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Washington, D.C.: I know I am lucky to have this problem, but I am faced with a decision--Michael Turner or Adrian Peterson. TD heavy scoring. What says the great Wang??

Gene Wang: That's a real close one, and while my first inclination would be to start AP, I think Turner will have the better game. He's money at home, and Carolina exposed that Tampa run defense on Monday night. Plus Arizona's rush defense is better than you might think. The Cardinals are 12th vs. the run, and they will be at home vs. the Vikes.

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Logan Circle: Mean Gene,

I can't believe I kept Holt on my roster all season but now it is crunch time. I picked up Deion Branch after his 2 TD game last week as he appears to be healthy. In this stinker of a game, thank god I won't watch it, who would you put in your line up?

Gene Wang: Deion Branch for sure. He is finally healthy, and while there's no guarantee he'll stay that way, at least he's a focal point of the offense. Holt meantime clearly is getting phased out in favor of Donnie Avery as the first option in the passing game.

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Washington, D.C.: Glad to finally have you back! In the playoffs I usually start my No.1 players regardless of matchup. However, last week I benched TO in favor of Antonio Bryant and it obviously it paid off. Now that has got me thinking whether I should start Maurice Morris this week over Michael Turner or Larry Johnson? or should I bench TO again in favor of Bryant?

Gene Wang: I said on Washington Post Live last Friday that fantasy owners should bench Tony Romo and the rest of the Cowboys skill players, and I'm saying that again this week against the Giants. The Cowboys are a sinking ship, so grab a lifeboat while you can. As for your RB situation, I'd certainly start Turner first, then LJ well before Maurice Morris.

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Hampstead, N.C.: Gene,

I have Aaron Rodgers AND Kurt Warner - am leaning towards Warner...Thoughts, please!

Gene Wang: Warner is a must-start this week. Arizona is going to have to throw a lot to beat Minnesota, which means big numbers for Warner. The Cardinals have an awful running game, and you aren't going to run against the Vikes anyhow.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Looking ahead:

At this time EVERY year, it's obvious who to draft first for the following year. BUT at this time I have NO IDEA who would be the number one pick for 2009 if we drafted today. Who's your choice? (I'd love to hear answers from your loyal readers too.)

Gene Wang: It's never too early to think ahead, which I've been doing for the past month or so while I've been on fantasy chat hiatus. If I had the first pick next season, I'd go with Adrian Peterson, but there's a strong case to be made for Michael Turner too, and that's a twist considering LT was the de facto No. 1 pick for the last six years or so. I'd definitely would like to get opinion from you all in fantasy chat land. What say you?

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The Semifinals: Gene, I'm in the semis in two leagues. I have a few specific, tough, questions for you. Reggie Wayne or DeWayne Bowe? Redskins D vs. Cincy, or Giants D versus the Cowboys? Tyler Thigpen or Jay Cutler? I can smell victory, but I need to pick the right studs. Help!

Gene Wang: Reggie Wayne (he's playing the Lions at home!), Skins D and Jay Cutler, but it wouldn't be a stretch to consider Thigpen strongly against a weak SD passing defense. The Chargers are ranked 30th against the pass, and you know that defense is going to devote a lot of resources to stopping Larry Johnson, meaning Thigpen should have some time to throw. Shockingly, Thigpen has become a nice fantasy QB over the past month and a half.

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Washington, D.C.: Gene,

Help please.

I'm a girl trying to beat a bunch of guys in my league. Huge semifinal playoff matchup this Sunday!!!

I play three receivers and have to choose from these six:

Dwayne Bowe, Bernard Berrian, Santana Moss, DeSean Jackson, Mark Clayton and Anthony Gonzales.

Tough call.

Thanks for the help.....you're the best!!

Gene Wang: Bowe, Gonzalez and Jackson. Normally I'd go with Berrian, but Tavaris Jackson starting in place of Gus Frerotte means virtually no threat of a passing game for the Vikes.

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Vienna, VA: Gene,

In addition to turnovers, sacks and scores, our league awards defensive teams based on points and yardage allowed. Given this, how do you rank Arizona (Minn), Carolina (Den), Chicago (NO), Miami (SF) and New England (Oak) this week - can the Cards make Tarvaris miserable?

Gene Wang: I don't think the Cardinals will be able to bottle AP enough to make them a great option. Miami, however, is playing at home vs. a 49ers team that by all accounts will be without Frank Gore. That means Joey Porter will be able to tee off on Shaun Hill with virtually no threat of a running game. Also remember West Coast teams playing on the East Coast have a grand total of one win this season.

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SF, CA: Gene, good to see the chat come back when I need it most! Made it to the final even as my starting RB's Portis & Barber went down. I'm putting Portis back in, the other spot is in question - a gimpy MBIII or Steve Slaton vs the tough Titans? TD-only format. Thanks, rock on Gene

Gene Wang: That's a tough one, but I'd lean toward Slaton, even against the Titans D. I'm just not convinced MBIII is healthy enough to be productive against the filthy Giants defense, which we know is out for redemption after giving up 200-plus yards from scrimmage to Brian Westbrook last week.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Are you okay with starting NE's defense this week? They get Oakland. Or would you rather start Dallas?

Gene Wang: I'm okay with the NE defense, but remember it's a bit limited with Tedy Bruschi out. That said, New England's second-team D probably could hold Oakland to fewer than 10 points. Look for the Giants to put it on the crumbling Dallas defense.

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Houston: What's your feeling about playing a receiver that your QB may be throwing to versus a receiver your opponent's QB may be targeting.

Specifically, I'm talking about Steve Breaston (my QB is Warner) versus Marvin Harrison (opponent is starting Manning).

Gene Wang: I don't mind the Warner-Breaston combo, though obviously Fitzgerald and Boldin will get the majority of the passes. Breaston has a great upside though. Marvin Harrison on the other hand has become almost a fantasy afterthought these days, much like former old reliables Torry Holt, Chad Ocho Cinco and Joey Galloway.

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Knoxville, Tenn.: Gene

Welcome back, we missed you. Bench the Cowboys skill players? You are gonna have to convince me on that one. I have Romo and TO. I could put in Rivers and maybe Dixon or Bess at WR, but in the playoffs I am leaning toward my No. 1 guys. What say you?

Gene Wang: In leagues that penalize for interceptions, Romo was a cancer last week. Witten did nothing of consequence, and TO's one TD didn't make up for an otherwise average performance. I just can't see Romo or TO doing much against a motivated Giants defense that really hates Dallas and that felt embarrassed last week against the Eagles. Of course if they hook up for a bunch of yards and a couple TDs, I'll disavow any knowledge of this conversation.

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Washington, D.C.: After feeling I had a good draft at the beginning of the season, subpar performances and injuries led to me missing fantasy football playoffs for the first time since I've been playing. Even in the seasons I've made the playoffs, I was never one of those teams that started hot.

My question is what factors do you take into account when you are evaluating players to draft? Is previous season performance the most important factor? Or is it current season schedule, team performance, injury history, etc.?

Gene Wang: Another great question. Past performance is my No. 1 factor when evaluating whom to draft. Second is injury history. Third is age. Anyone nearing 30 I think twice about before picking. I should have heeded that advice before selecting LT with the No. 1 pick. Raise your hand if like me you've been cursing his name this season. Then I look at strength of schdule (ease of schedule is probably a better way to put it) and other factors, such as if that player is in a contract year and offensive balance on his team.

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WR dilem, MA: I hate the idea of sitting Megatron, but with Detroit's QB problems and the Colts strong pass D I'm considering Bess or S. Moss. Thoughts?

Gene Wang: Calvin Johnson is a must-start regardless of matchup or who is throwing the ball to him. The guy just produces no matter if it's Culpepper, Orlovsky, or whomever the Lions trot out there. Imagine how good that guy would be if he had Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Drew Brees as a QB. We're talking Randy Moss, but bigger, faster and stronger. The guy is just a remarkable athlete.

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Arlington, VA: Gene!

League semi-finals this week, and my hopes may hinge on Marion Barber's toe/calf - what's the latest? Thanks!

Gene Wang: The lastest is that it looks like he'll play, but that doesn't mean he'll play well. The Giants aren't exactly the defense you want to face coming back from injury. Plus with the way Tashard Choice ran against Pittsburgh, Dallas may be inclined to limit Barber's touches.

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Chicago: With the possibility of snow flurries and icy cold "Brees" here tonight, how do you think the Saints' passing game will fare? Should I bench Colston for Bryant or Driver?

Gene Wang: I don't see the Saints going deep much if if the weather is typical Chicago in December. With Reggie Bush back in the mix, they'll probably do a lot of short passes and look for the run after catch. I'd consider benching Colston for Bryant, who is having a breakout season.

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Trapped in an office: I have Addai and I picked up Rhodes to cover for him in case Addai doesn't start.

In the event that Addai does wind up starting...is it crazy of me to think about playing Rhodes anyway? Rhodes has had more points than Addai the past two weeks, and I figure with Addai not practicing, that Rhodes will see increased work even if Addai does wind up starting.

So - am I nuts for thinking this way?

Gene Wang: You are not nuts; in fact, it's a pretty good strategy. Addai has been limiited all season with injuries, and Rhodes has been the goal-line back. You know the Colts are going score like a pinball machine against the Lions, so Rhodes is nice play in any starting lineup.

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Topsail Island, N.C.: Response to 2009 #1 pick....

I'd agree with Peterson as a potential #1, with Turner right there as well.

Chris Johnson is a certain "must consider", as is D. Williams (with the Carolina offensive line a priority again, although the shared backfield thing "might" hurt him as an overall #1), and perhaps even Steve Slaton should Houston shore up some offensive weaknesses.

Gene Wang: Don't overlook Clinton Portis as well. He was the league's leading rusher for most of the season, until injuries caught up with him. And Brian Westbrook certainly is in the conversation.

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1st pick: Definitely AP. Minnesota MUST get a real QB this offseason (again) and imagine AP without 8 in the box. Turner's a good No. 2, and I'd consider Forte No. 3, assuming Chicago fixes a hole or two in its O-line.

Gene Wang: Forte at No. 3 may be a tad bit high, but he's a sure first-round pick. I'd lean more toward Brian Westbrook or Clinton Portis, so let the debate continue!

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Vienna, Va.: No. 1 for next year? I'd say Turner over AP because he plays in a more balanced, stronger offense. And carries less of an injury risk.

Gene Wang: Turner is a very intriguing pick at No. 1 because he has so little wear after all those years backing up a fading LT. And the Falcons do have a nice passing game that includes Roddy White, who has become maybe a top five fantasy WR. Never thought I'd be writing that.

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Denver, CO: Gene--glad you're back! I'm in the playoffs, but have a RB problem. Reggie Bush, Ryan Grant and Steven Jackson. Reggie's losing touches, and Jackson still doesn't seem to be recovered from his injury. Which two should I pick? Thanks!

Gene Wang: I'd lean toward Bush and Grant. Steven Jackson has been one of the biggest fantasy busts this season, largely because of injury. Remember when he said he was shooting for 2,000 yards from scrimmage? At the rate he's going, he'll be fortunate to have 1,000 yards from scrimmage.

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Arlington, Va.: My sympathies go out to the Cassel family. What should I expect from Garrard against GB this week if Matt C doesn't play against Oakland?

Gene Wang: Yes, all our thoughts are with the Cassel family. As for Garrard, I wouldn't expect much against the Pack. The Jaguars are going to load up on the run against a Green Bay defense that yields 141.6 yards rushing per game. Also remember the Jags are short-handed at WR, and their passing game wasn't much to begin with anyway.

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McLean, Va.: Hey Gene, it's crunch time so no beating around the bush. Matt Schaub looked good in his return against a formidable Packers D. Do I ride him into the playoffs this week versus the Tennessee Titans? My other options are Big Ben vs. the Ravens and Orton vs. the Saints.

Gene Wang: I like Schaub to put up some numbers vs. the Titans. It's not an ideal start, but you don't start anyone vs. the Ravens D, and Orton looks like he'll be playing in less-than-ideal conditions tonight.

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Chicago: Hines Ward has been doing nothing for me lately, but I keep hearing he's due for a big game. Gene, what's your take? Thanks.

Gene Wang: Can't see Ward having a big game vs. the Ravens D.

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Takoma Park, MD: Hi Gene,

I have Marques Colston, Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe as three candidates for my second WR position. Any recommendation?

Also, I'm thinking of playing Dominic Rhodes over Tim Hightower. Your thoughts?

Thanks so much for your help.

Gene Wang: I'd give Gonzalez the edge, considering the opponent.

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Fairfax, VA: What do you thing of emerging starter Pierre Thomas? Is he worth using over guys with touch matchups (Slaton, e.g.) or playing time questions (Addai/Rhodes)?

Gene Wang: Thomas is a nice flex option, but I wouldn't start him just yet ahead of Slaton, regardless of matchup.

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Pikesville, Md.: How many "elite" backs actually panned out this year? It seems to me that the only high-scoring and high-picked backs were AP, Westbrook, Portis and Barber, and of those 4, only AP was consistent enough for a solid season. Meanwhile, DeAngelo Williams is leading a lot of teams to the promised land...

Gene Wang: Yes, we'll all remember this fantasy season for its RB busts. Many fantasy owners had their season derailed by picking LT, Steven Jackson or Joseph Addai. Even Darren McFadden was supposed to be a superstar, but injuries limited him greatly.

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Gene Wang: That's all the time I have today. Have to get my lineups ready for the playoffs. Remember to watch me tomorrow on Washington Post Live at 5:25 for your Friday fantasy fix, and I'll be back here next week for the final installment of this season's fantasy chat.

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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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