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Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 14, 2009; 11:00 AM

Want to win your league this year? Washington Post fantasy guru Gene Wang, who writes The Post's Fantasy Check blog, was online Friday, Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. ET to help get your fantasy football team through the playoffs.

The transcript follows.

Fantasy Check Blog

Discussion Archive

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Gene Wang: Welcome fantasy enthusiasts to the first chat of the season. I just posted a blog item on Fantasy Check about Michael Vick, so please take a look when you have time. I'm sure you have plenty of questions about drafting, player ratings, sleepers and a lot more, so let's get right to it.

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Alexandria, VA: Gene,

Welcome back to the land of chatting... as many players I'm excited about this year, but also stressed. I'm picking third in my 10 team league and I'm sort of undecided what to do.

Obviously Peterson will go one, and knowing the guy picking two, he'll probably go Turner or Maurice Jones-Drew. I'm not crazy about either one of them, so I was thinking either of getting Drew Brees or Larry Fitzgerald.

My only concern is that when it snakes back to me at No. 18 I'm going to have lousy pickings for a running back. Should I go for the best player available or the best RB? My other option is trading the pick - trade the 3 and 18 for the 5 and 16.

What would you, the master, do?

Gene Wang: With so many timeshare backfields, you still could get a very good RB at No. 18, so don't be afraid to take Drew Brees if you're really high on him. Fitzgerald at No. 3 is a little high for my tastes, unless you're sure he's going to have a season like Randy Moss in 2007.

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Washington, D.C.: Gene,

So happy that you and Fantasy Football are back! What's your opinion of the NY Giants receiving corps - will any of them have a break-out season?

Gene Wang: Good to be back, and I'm shamelessly going to be pushing Fantasy Check, The Post's new fantasy football blog you can find our League page. Please give it a look, and don't be shy about posting feedback, good or bad. Now as for Giants WRs, there's not a lot to choose from, but Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon are the guys to target now. Keep an eye out for rookie Hakeem Nicks too. I see more Brandon Jacobs than usual for the early part of the season until Eli Manning finds a comfort zone with his wideouts.

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Washington, D.C.: When ranking your players, do you do any fancy computations, or do you just go by your gut?

Gene Wang: Great question. It's a combination. I look at as many fantasy Web sites as I can, read analysis from industry experts and also go with my instincts. After all, what's the fun in playing fantasy if all you're going to do is let other people tell you what you should do and then follow lockstep?

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Seven Corners, Va.: Gene,

I have the second pick in a 10-person PPR League. Do I dare pick a quarterback or wide receiver? I'm considering Larry Fitzgerald or Brady? Or should I just go with a running back like Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner or Matt Forte, assuming Adrian Peterson is gone. Thanks.

Gene Wang: Go with a running back. I know some folks are worried about MJD or Michael Turner for this reason or that, but I'd be thrilled to have either on my team. And if by some miracle AP is there at No. 2, consider yourself the luckiest owner in fantasy.

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Clarks Summit, Penn.: I tried several mock Auction Draft recently and loved it. Can you explain the basics of the Auction Draft? Do you prefer an Auction Draft or a snake draft? I am trying to sell my league on the Auction draft -- what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Thank you.

Gene Wang: I was discussing this very topic with a friend who plays high stakes fantasy (his buy-in is $5,000) only in auction leagues. He's philosophically opposed to draft leagues because he thinks where you're picking shouldn't determine your fantasy fate. That's a very valid point. I'd say auction leagues are best for the most informed fantasy enthusiasts, while draft leagues are better for the casual fantasy football player. I'd be interested in hearing what the fantasy chatters out there think about auctions vs. drafts.

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Annapolis, Md.: Gene - I'm new to fantasy this year and am playing in a PPR league. Where can I get get good sources of information to help a novice get through the draft? By the way, I'm picking 10th out of 12 in the first round, do you have any thoughts?

Thanks

washingtonpost.com: Fantasy Check Blog (Washington Post)

Gene Wang: You can start by reading my Fantasy Check blog. We've linked to it, and you'll be able to find fantasy advice from many industry experts. From there, any of the major Web sites, i.e. CBSSports, ESPN, Yahoo, etc. -- will be able to assist you through the process. Of course, I'm here at your disposal via blog comments and e-mail should you need further guidance. As for picking 10th, you're on the cusp of having to decide whether you want a position other than running back. Odds are the truly elite RBs will be gone by then, but you could get Larry Fitzgerald there, which would be just fine.

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Asheville, N.C.: As a longtime Redskin fan, is it wise to consider Satana Moss or Portis for my Fantasy Team? Or should my loyalty stay with supporting the real NFL team?

Gene Wang: My colleague Michael Wilbon has an aversion to fantasy because of this exact point you raise. I will say without equivocation that your reality rooting interest comes first under all circumstances. That said though, there's no reason you can't have both in many instances. Portis is a fringe lead fantasy back and would make a fine No. 2. He's a value if you can get him somewhere late in the second round. Santana Moss is a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver at best and probably better suited for a No. 3 role as a late-round pick.

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Washington, D.C.: Turner has to play the NFC East (four good defenses). If not Turner who would you pick after Peterson?

Gene Wang: The No. 2 pick is perhaps the most debated topic in fantasy this season. I like Maurice Jones-Drew at No. 2 today, but tomorrow I might like Matt Forte. It's really a coin flip.

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Chinatown, Washington, D.C.: How much stock do you put into players who return kicks in leagues that reward for those yards? Bump them up one tier?

Gene Wang: That's about right. I wouldn't put too much stock in return yards, but if it's close between a couple players, that's enough to break the tie.

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New York, N.Y.: Gene,

Simple question: Who should I spend my highest picks on? My league has the following starting format: one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker, one defense. Every year it seems like I have everything but enough receivers. I'm thinking first pick running back, then next two wide otus, then another running back. I figure I can pick up a productive quarterback later. Is this the correct way to approach a draft?

Gene Wang: You sound like a seasoned fantasy drafter already. My approach always has been to fill my running back slots first, then the best player available at each other position, with quarterback being the last priority of the four major positions (RB, WR, TE, QB). But with timeshare backfields all the rage, I may shift my strategy this season and take a wide receiver with my No. 2 pick. I'll be posting more about this on my Fantasy Check blog, so navigate there for details.

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Arlington, Va.: Gene,

I'm curious as to why you're so high on Adrian Peterson in a PPR format. Even if it's true that AP ends up being top rusher, how can you project him to overcome the 40-60 point advantage that pass-catching RBs will have? Further, if you don't know the positional breakdown of the league (numbers of WRs vs. RBs, etc), how can you so strongly recommend AP?

Gene Wang: I don't know anyone in the fantasy universe who isn't recommending AP be the No. 1 overall pick, regardless of scoring format, positional breakdown or whatever else. The fact is AP has the potential to run for 2,000 yards and 20-plus touchdowns, making him the obvious choice at No. 1. Unless you think another running back is going to run for 1,300 yards with double-digit touchdowns and catch 100 passes for another 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns, AP should be the lead-pipe lock for first pick overall.

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Arlington, Va.: Stunning development in Philadelphia yesterday with the signing of Michael Vick. Is there anything from a fantasy perspective we should watch for in regards to Vick and other Eagles players?

washingtonpost.com: Suspended Quarterback Michael Vick Signs Deal With Philadelphia Eagles (Washington Post, Aug. 14)

Gene Wang: My most recent post on Fantasy Check addresses that very question.

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washingtonpost.com: Fantasy Check: Fantasy World Bullish on Vick (Washington Post, Aug. 14)

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I am in a auction league and draft league: And the auction league is much more fun because it makes you think more like a GM - It helps that the league is a three-player keeper league with escalating costs year-over-year when you keep a player. This keeps the manager that has been all but been eliminated from contention midway through the season to still be involved because they'll be preparing for next year by dumping their best high cost players (like the Pirates or A's in baseball) to get back low cost players with potential in the next year.

Almost every team trades at the trade deadline in this league as teams rev up for the playoffs or get ready for next year.

Gene Wang: A vote for auction leagues. Keep those responses coming.

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Arlington, Va.: What Rookie Running Back do you see having a successful fantasy year for 2009? Also, which Rookie quarterback (Stafford or Sanchez) would be a good pick for a keeper league?

Gene Wang: Knowshon Moreno and LeSean McCoy, and from what I'm hearing, Sanchez is more NFL ready now, but don't forget, Stafford has better fantasy options around him, i.e. Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith.

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Auctions ...: They just take too long. We have a big league with people from all over the country that get together once a year. Maybe I can find a second local league to play in because I do think the auction would be interesting.

Gene Wang: A nod to draft leagues. So far the voting is split.

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Tampa Bay, Fla.: Thanks for taking my question. Do you think there is enough difference between the top quarterbacks (such as Brees and Brady) and those just a notch below (such as Aaron Rodgers), to warrant taking them in or near the first round?

Thanks!

Gene Wang: I've never drafted a quarterback in the first round because normally the difference in average fantasy points between the quarterback drafted first and one taken 10th is not as drastic as that of the No. 1 and No. 10 running backs. I'd be perfectly content to wait for Aaron Rodgers to fall to me late in the third round or even early fourth while other owners draft the Big Three -- Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning -- too early.

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Arlington, Va.: Who do you like to have a breakout year?

The rookie running backs did well last year -- do you see a repeat this year too? They could have great values late in the draft but I think people will over pay for Knowshon Moreno and Beanie Wells.

Gene Wang: There's not going to be another half dozen rookie running backs who blow up in fantasy like last year. Just can't see that happening. If Felix Jones stays healthy, I expect huge things from him. I also fall in line with other fantasy prognositicators who suspect Maurice Jones-Drew will have a Marshall Faulk-type season now that he has the backfield to himself.

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Boston: Gene, welcome back.

I am in a 10 team head-to-head league where we are awarded an extra 5 points for 100 yards rushing, receiving and 5 pts for 300 yards passing. If I have a pick in the 6-10 range, would it be crazy to take Brees or Brady in that spot and pick up a running back in the second round, or take the top RB or wide receiver and try to get Manning, Rivers or someone like that a little later in the draft? All touchdowns are six points, by the way ...

Gene Wang: Thanks, and again, it's great to be back talking fantasy. If you're picking in the 6-10 range (I'm picking sixth in one league), I'd still wait on a running back, Chris Johnson perhaps, then draft a quarterback in the third round, where you still probably could get Rivers or Aaron Rodgers.

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Baltimore: Gene! Where've you been? We missed you.

I'm in a minimum two running back league with one wide receiver/running back flex. I've got three solid backs (Deangelo Williams, Slaton and Kevin Smith). My back ups are a little weak (Jamaal Lewis and Shonn Greene). Everybody keeps hyping Greene, so should I consider trading him, or is he this year's Steve Slaton?

Gene Wang: Keep Shonn Greene. Thomas Jones is coming off a career season, and he turns 31 next week. What are the odds he has a better 2009 at that age? The Jets are high on Greene for a reason.

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Maryland: Nice to see the chats back.

I'm in a 12 team, non PPR, where we can keep up to two players from the previous year. Running backs are at a premium in the league since many are kept. I've got Chris Johnson (Tenn.) counting as a 7th round pick.

That leads me to this question: I'm questioning who my second keeper should be: Baltimore's Ray Rice as a sixth round pick or the Jets' Leon Washington as a 13th? Obviously both are mired in committee situation, but I'd like your take?

Opinions as to if either of them will break out and give me good value? For what it's worth, either of these guys will be a running back three at best as I'll target a starter to pair with Johnson in the early rounds.

Thanks!

Gene Wang: Ray Rice is due for a big season. He can be a workhorse back, even with Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain competing for carries. Washington isn't an every-down back.

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Washington, D.C.: LaDanian Tomlinson says he's going to come back with a vengeance this season. Is he still worth a top-five pick?

Also, normal rules would state you should pick running backs with your first two picks, but there are so many running backs by committee this year does that rule still apply?

Gene Wang: I've written about both those issues in my Fantasy Check blog, so find your way there for more detailed answers. The short version is the fantasy world is split on LaDanian Tonlinson, and Running Back by Committee has somewhat altered drafting philosophies.

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Washington, D.C.: Gene,

I have the ninth pick in my draft. I'm thinking all the "elite" backs will be gone, leaving me to either choose a mid-level running back (Ryan Grant, Darren McFadden) or an elite quarterback. Should I pull the trigger on a quarterback?

Gene Wang: All the elite backs won't be gone. You'll likely still be able to choose from among Steve Slaton, Frank Gore, Steven Jackson and if you're lucky Chris Johnson.

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Edison, N.J.: Drafting: Do you evaluate any hidden intangibles such as players who play in weak conferences, e.g. NFC West, or players in contract years?

Gene Wang: Contract years is a big intangible, as is playing in a weak division. That Steven Jackson and Frank Gore play in the NFC West, for instance, raises their fantasy value.

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Anonymous: Gene,

What is your opinion of drafting star to major contributing players from the top offenses in the league rather than concentrating on the single-name, biggest star players in general?

Gene Wang: That's generally a good draft strategy. The No. 2 wide receiver -- Wes Welker, for example -- on a top scoring team may be more valuable than a No. 1 on a less effective offense.

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Auction League: I commish a Auction Keeper league ($200 cap) where you can keep as many players as you want but their salary increases by 25% a year. Free agent signings are also governed by bids and the salary cap.

I think this is the best way to play fantasy football because you have a shot at every player as long as you're willing to pay for him. It also adds more strategy because if you can sign a young player or sleeper for cheap and then they take off then you can be set for years in the future.

For example, I have Matt Forte ($13) and Steve Slaton ($7) as keepers for a total of $20. Normal value would be over $80 for both those players so I'm sitting pretty if those guys produce like they did last year.

Gene Wang: Another vote for auction style.

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First Round Pick: 14 player league, points per reception ... snake draft ...

Generally the first two picks are RB-RB or RB-WR. Most owners rarely go QB early, and I generally wait until the first run on QBs goes by and pick up a tier 2 or 3 passer because with 14 players, you have to get two starting RBs, and we run out quick.

My question - What back would you target? I am guessing Maurice Jones Drew, Matt Forte and Clinton Portis may be around. Others?

I think Forte will not be as good this year. Who would you recommend? Also, do you think there is any WR worthy of this position as I may be out of top tier WRs when it snakes back to me.

Thanks. Love the chats.

Gene Wang: There isn't a wide receiver who should be taken with the first two picks. I'd stick with a running back, and I'd target Jones-Drew and Forte well before Portis.

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NW, Washington, D.C.: Geno my man,

Based on average draft position and/or position rankings thus far, who would nominate as your most overrated and underrated draft prospects?

Sorry if I'm hitting you where it hurts with my pick for most overrated, but I'm drunk on mock drafts: Marion Barber. He's ranked top 25 overall probably almost everywhere, which means he's a No. 2 or even No. 1 running back. But he has to have his touches limited because there's talent behind him, and because it's the only way he has any shot at making it through the season in one piece.

LenDale White, whose ADP is in the 60s, has both more total touchdowns (rushing and receiving) and more rushing yards over the last two seasons than Barber.

I love watching Barber play, but in fantasy, I wouldn't take him with your draft pick.

Gene Wang: Those are two very good candidates for overrated and underrated. There's too many other good options in that Dallas backfield. Felix Jones could be undervalued, as could Tashard Choice. I look for Tampa Bay's Derrick Ward to be a solid value pick, as well as Fred Jackson in Buffalo. That's a great topic for Fantasy Check to examine, so look for it soon.

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Carlisle, Penn.: I think the top wideouts this year beyond the top five or six guys seem to really be hard to separate. I think the Tier 2 guys are the targets, and missing out means waiting a long, long time to draft one. Agree?

Tier 1: Fitzgerald

Tier 2: Johnson/Moss/Johnson/Wayne/Smith

Tier 3: Jennings/White/Colston/Bowe/Boldin/Owens/Marshall/Welker/Houshmanzadeh/Roy Williams/Edwards/Moss/Evans/Berrian/Coles/Royal/Gonzalez

I keep going and going and the talent is about the same.

Gene Wang: Generaly I agree, but I'm putting Moss as a very close second to Fitzgerald. And I wouldn't be surprised if Moss finished with better fantasy numbers.

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Philadelphia: Organizational question:

I'm in a 12 team league that used to finish playoffs week 17. This year we are switching to week 16. What is the fairest way to schedule?

I like four divisions of three teams where you play divisional opponents twice and everyone else once, with a six-team playoffs to include divisional winners and two wild cards.

Another owner argues that a divisional winner could get in with a worse record than a team that doesn't make the playoffs.

The other option is just to take the six best teams period, regardless of division.

What do you prefer?

Gene Wang: I like the division winner aspect, because it gives you a closer approximation to the real thing. Then one wild-card spot could go to the team with the best remaining record, and the last spot could go to the team with the most overall points that isn't a division winner.

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Rhode Island: Hi,

I am in a keeper league with 12 teams. I have the 10th pick. I am keeping Brees for my third round pick; keeping Forte for my seventh round pick and DeSean Jackson for my last pick. We do not know yet the other players who are being kept. What position should I target with the first and second round picks? Wide receiver then running back, or best available?

Gene Wang: I'd target a wide receiver. I like DeSean Jackson, but the Eagles have so many options at the position that I'd want a true No. 1 wide receiver as an anchor.

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Virginia Velociraptors owner: I'm in a partial keeper league where we have to keep two of our players from last year. My top two players from last year were quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Thomas Jones. I draft 6th of 10 in every round. Are those two guys worth keeping, or should I look deeper in my roster from last year?

Gene Wang: You can do better than Cutler and Thomas Jones, so look deeper.

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Glover Park, Washington, D.C.: Good afternoon Gene.

I am looking forward to another successful fantasy football season with your assistance, of course.

I have fifth pick in one of my 12 team drafts this year. Would you 100 percent take a running back with 5 or maybe use pick to take Brees? If RB, think DeAngelo Williams is a good pick? He had a monster season last year.

Gene Wang: I'm a running back-first fantasy player, always have been, always will be, so like you, I'd be happy with DeAngelo Williams at No. 5.

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Tysons Corner, Va.: Gene, Can you give us your "perfect" first round draft for a 12-team league with standard Yahoo! scoring?

Thanks!

Gene Wang: 1. Adrian Peterson

2. Maurice Jones-Drew

3. Matt Forte

4. Michael Turner

5. DeAngelo Williams

6. Chris Johnson

7. Steve Slaton

8. Steven Jackson

9. Frank Gore

10. Larry Fizgerald

11. Tom Brady

12. Randy Moss

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gene,

Fantasy football and local related question for you: Any good sports bars in the area with wifi? I want to host my fantasy football draft (on Monday) at a bar, preferably sporty in nature to get in the spirit for the 2009 season. Any suggestions?

Gene Wang: I know a bunch of sports bars in the area are having fantasy draft parties the weekend of Aug. 21-23, including ESPN, Dave & Busters and Hooters. Other places I'd recommend are Mister Days, Velocity Five and Bailey's in Arlington, Caddies and Union Jack's in Bethesda and Buffalo Billiards by Dupont Circle.

Speaking of beer, I could use a cold one after two hours of fantasy chatting. Thanks for stopping in. Until the next chat, get your fantasy fix with the Fantasy Check blog at The League.

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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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