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Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 18, 2008; 12:00 PM

Want to win your league this year? Washington Post staff writer Gene Wang will be online Thursday, Dec. 18 at noon ET to help get your fantasy football team through the playoffs.

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Gene Wang: Welcome to this season's final installment of the fantasy chat. We'll discuss the championship game for many of you, while we also look ahead to next year's fantasy draft. Be sure to check out my column on our site under The League page about who should be the No. 1 overall pick next season. Here's the link: http://views.washingtonpost.com/theleague/panelists/2008/12/burner-is-the-fantasy-man.html.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts as well, so let's get started.

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Kearneysville WV: I have 5 RB and I need to start the best 2 to power my team into the championship game. I have Brian Westbrook, Darren McFadden, Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams. I am thinking of starting Westbrook but don't know if I should start Jacobs or McFadden. Who out of the 5 would you choose. Thanks.

Gene Wang: Westbrook and Jacobs. Westbrook is a must-start regardless of matchup, and it looks like Jacobs is going to play this weekend. He was back at practice yesterday. Keep an eye on whether he practices over these next few days just to be sure. If practices today and tomorrow, he's going to play.

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McLean, Va.: Gene--Thanks to you, I'm in my league's championship game. Now, I must decide between Pennington against KC, or Romo against the tough Raven's D. Who should I start?

Gene Wang: I said a few weeks ago I wouldn't start Romo at all over the final month of the season, and I'm sticking to that statement. He got beat around pretty good against the Giants, and he's on a short week with a sore back against a filthy Ravens defense. Pennington, on the other hand, faces the 30th-ranked pass defense in the league.

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Boston: Should I start Warner over McNabb, even though it's supposed to be snowy/freezing up here on Sunday?

Gene Wang: I'd lean toward DMac. Normally I'd say go with Warner, but two elements are working against him this week: the weather and the road. Arizona's offense isn't built to thrive in the cold, and the Cardinals just aren't a good road team in the first place. Playing in New England makes it that much worse. Plus they've clinched the division and have nothing to play for except seeding, while the Eagles are fighting for a playoff berth and are seeking payback against Washington, which we all know has folded tent this season.

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Union Station, D.C.: Gene, you gotta help me out this week my man. I'm in the finals and the outcome will determine whether or not this will truly be a happy holiday season for me.

Who do I start at my flex? (in order of my rankings). McClain, Rhodes, Foster, Choice, Holt, Berrian, Dunn, or Hester?

Only reason I am considering Hester is because my opponent has Rodgers and Jennings going Monday night, and I have nobody in that game. Thanks and have a great holiday.

Gene Wang: Dominic Rhodes is my choice. Happy holidays to you as well.

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Rockville, Md.: Gene: In drafting you always say pick 2 top RBs. This year I had the No. 1 draft, along with the 24th & 25th pick and basically finished last (thanks L.T!). For next year, do you still hold true to this drafting philosophy or should it change depending on what spot your drafting from?

Gene Wang: I picked LT first in one of my leagues and paid for it as well. But it's no indictment of any owner who selected him first and had a poor season. LT should have been the consensus No. 1 pick based on his performance over the past few seasons. I still hold to that philosophy of filling out your RB slots first, then getting to the rest of your roster. I know plenty of folks who chose Tom Brady early in the first round and had their seasons doomed as well. I'll throw this question out to the posters too. What are your thoughts about RBs first in the draft?

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San Diego: Hi Gene,

I've been dealing with this dilema all season and it has gotten me to the championship game, so it's been a good problem to have...

I have on my roster, Forte, Adrian Peterson, Thomas Jones, and Deangelo Williams. I only have spots to play 3. Whats your call?

Gene Wang: Boy, I wish we all had your problems. I like DeAngelo Williams, Forte and AP, though monitor Peterson's status. He was limited in practice yesterday with a sore ankle. I do see him and Michael Turner battling it out essentially for the rushing title on Sunday. Really looking forward to that matchup from a fantasy perspective. If Turner can pile up the yards against the Vikes, he'll lock up his status as the No. 1 fantasy pick next season as far as I'm concerned.

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Arlington, VA: Alright, Gene - championship game this weekend - who ya got?

Matt Ryan vs. Minnesota or Chad Pennington vs. KC?

Thanks!

Gene Wang: CP vs. KC.

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Charlotte, N.C.: Gene, Do I start MJD tonight? The Jags aren't playing for anything and the Colts (with or without Sanders) can clinch. My other options are Sammy Morris, Cedric Benson or DeShaun Foster? Thanks for the help!

Gene Wang: With Fred Taylor on injured reserve and the Jags without any legitimate threat at WR, MJD is a great play this tonight. You have to figure's going to be like 70 percent of the offense. Plus the Colts rank 25th against the run.

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Gallup, N.M.:Gene - we do not use a "flex" position in my fantasy league. Can you explain this, as I keep trying to get our commissioner to give us this option. Can you play WR, RB, and TE's in a flex position. Thanks for the explanation.

Gene Wang: I'm a big fan of the flex in fantasy. And yes, it gives owners the option to choose among a RB, WR or TE. Hey Commish, add the flex position to your league next season! While I'm thinking of it, would the posters out there visit The Post's site if I were to blog on fantasy football next season? We're thinking of adding that feature to our League page. I'd be answering questions from you all week, basically interactive all day. Please give me feedback so I can pitch this idea to the powers that be at the Web site!

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Washington, D.C.: Gene,

As usual, your chats are filled with your patented anti-Cowboys venom. Meanwhile, I have ridden Romo and Witten into the championship game of my league. I think Romo is going to have a great game to close out Texas Stadium. Book him now for this line: 320 yards, 4 TDs and 1 pick.

Who do you like at WR - Wayne, Hines, Breaston or Cotchery?

Gene Wang: If Romo has a stat line anywhere close to that, dinner is on me. I think I can get my boss to expense it too. Reggie Wayne is a must-start regardless of matchup.

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Sitting Boldin?: Gene: I am thinking of sitting Boldin (at cold NE), and playing Andre Johnson, Antonio Bryant, and Vince Jackson. Is this too much eggnog talking? Or should I bench Jackson instead?

Thanks for the great discussions all season.

Gene Wang: I wouldn't sit Boldin, even at cold NE. Jackson is facing the third-ranked pass defense in the league. That's a real tough matchup for him. Plus San Diego has farther to travel than Arizona.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Donovan McNabb v. Aaron Rodgers? Both should have good games, but which one would you play?

RIP -- Slingin' Sammy -- Old School Fantasy Stud.

Gene Wang: I'm riding the Donovan McNabb caravan as long as I can. He's been hot the past few weeks and has a chip on his shoulder after getting benched. I really do see him carving up the Skins this week -- and Dallas in two weeks for that matter -- and taking Philly to the playoffs. And yes, a moment of silence for Sammy Baugh. Without him I don't think the modern passing game would have evolved as it has.

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Washington, D.C.: Definitely start a blog next year. Yahoo (the biggest fantasy site of all) started one this year with much success.

Gene Wang: Thanks for the feedback, which I'll be sure to pass along to my editors and producers.

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Toilet Bowl, Va.: Oh Gene, I had such high hopes for my season. I traded up in my draft to get LaDainian, only to watch him struggle much of the year. My final lineup consisted of Drew Brees, Ryan Grant, Brian Westbrook, Larry Fitzgerald (both acquired after trading LT away), Wes Welker, and Dwayne Bowe, and yet I still finished last in my league! Where did I go wrong? Oh well, there's always next year.

Gene Wang: That's a pretty impressive lineup for a last-place finish. Unheard of, in fact. You must have just caught opponents on good weeks while your studs had an off game. Believe me, I could write a fantasy novel on that.

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Woodbridge, Va.: No, no, no. No one should support a Flex position that involves TEs. Flex should mean RB/WR only. We had a WR/TE Flex last year, and it was awful. No one EVER flex'd in a TE.

Gene Wang: Yes, normally you wouldn't flex a TE, but it's up to the owner to make that decision. The flex spot should include all positions except QB.

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Washington, DC: Gene,

I somehow defied traditional logic and made the finals of my league without a strong RB group. I need to start 2 of my 3 RBs, and none of them are first tier. Who would you pick out of these options?

Tim Hightower, Willie Parker or Darren McFadden.

Our league gives 1 pt for every 25 yds and 6 pts for every touchdown. Please help!

Gene Wang: Congrats and getting to the Big Game. Hightower and Parker.

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Washington DC: I seem to remember you are not a fan of the super flex type leagues, but I've got a flex question for you. Pick 3--P. Manning, Warner, Adrian Peterson, Micheal Turner. I'm leaning toward keeping Warner on the bench.

Gene Wang: Wow, I don't think I can recall seeing that potent a foursome in a long time. Yes, Warner stays on the bench playing in cold Foxborough.

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Madrid, Spain: Gen-o! In the title game this weekend and need to know today whether to continue with Dominic Rhodes in my flex spot (with Addai questionable tonight) or go with Jamal Lewis (vs. Cincy) or Anthony Gonzalez (w/Harrison possibly out)....

Thanks brother,

Gene Wang: I'm on the Rhodes bandwagon tonight and starting him too. Let's hope it works out for both of us.

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Blog: I think this would be a great idea, and I would certainly be there every day. For those of us at work, this will be interesting! Another question about the "flex" position - do you play 2 RB's, 3 WR's, and a flex? Does that mean I would never have to play a TE again - that would really make me happy!

Gene Wang: Nope, you'd have to play at least one TE, two RBs and two WRs, plus a flex. And thanks for the blog feedback. Believe me I'm going to push hard for it during the offseason. Stay tuned to the site during NFL draft week as well. That would be a great time to launch the blog.

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No. 1 draft pick: This year, you should have chosen Adrian Peterson with the No. 1 pick in the draft. As great as LT has been, he's been in the league for quite a while and he had to slow down at some point. While Peterson doesn't have LT's track record, he's also not as worn down. What's the shelf life of your typical running back, 4-5 years max? If it's a toss up between 2 RBs, shouldn't you go with the younger guy? Your thoughts?

Gene Wang: In hindsight that position makes great sense, but LT wasn't turning 30 this season (the age where most RBs begin a steep decline) and was just so ridiculously dominant over the past few seasons that I still believe he had to be the No. 1 pick. I think LT's downfall came with that toe injury, and he'll be a bargain next season, especially if he falls into the second round. As for next season, I'd go with Michael Turner over AP, even though Tuner is older by a few years. But again, it's really by the narrowest of margins.

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20190: Two questions to feed your obsession with RBS: if the Vikes get a decent to good QB next year (Cassel, McNabb, Favre), would you put AP above the Burner? Also, if you have a keeper at RB, would you still draft two RBs first (especially with a flex position)?

Gene Wang: If the Vikes get a real passing threat like the three you mentioned, then that changes everything. I'd take AP first in this instance. The prospect of the Vikes with Matt Cassel at QB throwing to Bernard Berrian deep, plus AP in the backfield? Now that's an offense that could score a ton of points. If I had a keeper RB, I'd still take another RB first, then fill out the rest of my roster.

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UCM: First, I would enjoy a weekly fantasy chat for fanatsy owners. The best day would proboly be Tuesday's and Friday's.

Second, my #1 pick for next year would still have to be Westbrook, pending any coaching or QB changes for next year.

Gene Wang: I'm a big Westbrook fan, but the only issue that keeps him from a true No. 1 overall pick is injury. He has yet to play 16 games in a season since he came into the league.

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Arlington, VA: Gene, you gave someone great advice a few weeks ago when you said that if Rhodes is available, snatch him up. I did that, thinking, 'what are the chances that I'll need him with a stout running game of Thomas Jones, Brandon Jacobs, and Frank Gore?'

Well, you know what happened? I squeak into the last position in my league's playoffs and have to face the #1 seed only to find that Jacobs and Gore are out. Who do I put in? Rhodes, of course. He was my top performer and I win by 1.4 pts.

So, I'm in the championship because of you--can you make it two for two? What do I do this week? Rhodes may share with Addai, Jacobs may share with Ward, Gore may not even start... Gene, help me win my league this year! What do I do??? I have to start two RBs and have a flex position. I will start Thomas Jones in one of the RB positions. Who do I pick for the 2nd spot: Gore, Rhodes, Jacobs? Do I dare put another in the flex or should I play it safe and start Lee Evans there? Help!

Gene Wang: I like Jacobs, especially since he practiced yesterday. If he's practicing today, that's almost a sure indication he's going to play on Sunday. You can wait on the Giants' practice report later this afternoon just to make sure. If you're one of those fantasy owners who wants to go for the sure thing though, Rhodes obviously is the better choice.

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Clarks Summit, Pa.: Gene, you nearly lost me. Was is it me or did you miss a couple of weekly chats?

I needed some help last week with Gore and Jacobs to down -- they picked a fine time to leave me too.

Yes -- start the blog. CBS is too generic -- you get to the meat of the issues.

Gene Wang: I did miss some chats because of -- what else?? -- budgetary concerns. Our plan was to have me chat for the first 10 weeks or so of the season, then take a break until the playoffs last week and today. And thanks for input on the blog. We all need more meat in our fantasy diets anyway, right?

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Playing For Third Place: Gene,

Why does Brian Westbrook hate fantasy football? His owners needed him to have a big game last week (I needed 12 points), and pulled off 6 points (standard scoring). He was -inches- away from a touchdown, but couldn't get it done against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. I could have started Dominic Rhodes or Sammy Morris and gone to the Championship Game, but NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Sorry, just had to complain to someone.

Gene Wang: Welcome to my world. I started Clinton Portis last week against the Bengals, and imagine my horror and dismay watching Mike Sellers carrying twice from the 1-yard line. Jim Zorn must hate us fantasy players.

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Title game: Gene, the Titans D has been steady but unspectacular for me since week 5, excepting a great game against the Lions. Not surprisingly, I have a very tough matchup this week. I need real points outta my D. The Texans, Saints, 49ers, Bengals, and Browns are among available pickups. I'm giving serious thought to picking up and starting the Texans. Not so much the others. Am I nuts?

-Probably should dance with the one who brung me...

Gene Wang: Dance with the one that brung ya; it should be a very low-scoring affair for the Titans this weekend.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Gene - I know you have covered the topic of multiple players from one team in the past, but not quite in this context. I have R. Wayne, D. Clark (who are must starts) and also D. Rhodes. What are your thoughts on my predicament? I know you don't have my entire line-up in front of you, but these are clearly me best options other than Jamal Lewis, Jonathan Stewart, Warrick Dunn, Tashard Choice or Deshaun Foster. Thanks!

Gene Wang: You could consider starting Stewart over Rhodes, but yes, Clark and Wayne have to be out there.

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Chicago: Just a comment -- Fantasy Football is such a crap shoot. My buddy in my league constructed, through a series of excellent trades, a super team with Peyton, the trio of LT, Westbrook, and All-Day, Larry Fitz at WR (though the other WRs weren't as strong), and still lost last week in the conference championship game to a team of waiver-wire pickups and mid-round draft picks who happened to collectively play well last week... But still we play every year, right?

Gene Wang: So many fantasy players tell me this obsession we have is 100 percent luck. Sometimes I find it difficult to argue that point, what with injuries, poor officiating and weather only several criterion that factor into a successful or lost fantasy season. Just think, LT's toe cost thousands of fantasy owners their season before it even got started. But hey, I can't wait until next season myself. It all reminds me of golf. You could shoot a 110, but that one great drive or approach shot in the round keeps you coming back.

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Portis: Maybe Zorn started the Bengals defense...

Gene Wang: Ha! That would be rich.

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Columbia, Md.: Any Playoff Fantasy Footballing for the Gene-o this year? And if so, what is a good strategy to follow when drafting in a playoff fantasy league?

Gene Wang: Yes, there is playoff fantasy footballing in my immediate future. The best strategy for drafting in such a format is to acquire players who you think have the best chance to play four games, a la Eli Manning last season. This year Peyton Manning could be that guy, meaning any of the Colts are great playoff fantasy picks. We're also thinking of adding IDP scoring in playoff fantasy, which I think is a great idea. I'm going to make it a point to address IDP leagues more next season, as I sense them becoming much more popular.

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Gene Wang: Well, it's that time. Kind of like last call at your favorite watering hole, right? The fantasy chat is shutting down until next season. Thanks for your smart questions, kind words and rants, and for keeping me in line and calling me out when I deserved it. Most of all thanks for supporting this chat through a tumultuous year. Hopefully I'll be back with a fantasy draft chat right after the NFL draft, but if not then, look for me in August, when you all can tell me why my pick of Michael Turner as the No. 1 overall fantasy player is so misguided. Happy holidays, and best wishes for a prosperous new year. Peace.

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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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