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Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 21, 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. 21 to help get your fantasy football team through the playoffs.

The transcript follows.

Fantasy Check Blog

Discussion Archive

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Gene Wang: Good morning to all the fantasy players out there. Thanks for joining today's chat. I'm sure many of you will be drafting later today and throughout the weekend, so let's get to your questions.

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RB, RB ...: Do you always go running back, running back in the first two rounds? Which players would you make an exception for? Brady, Fitzgerald, Brees?

Gene Wang: That's been my strategy over almost 20 years of playing fantasy, but these days, with so many teams using timeshare backfields, I'm not as tied to that formula as I used to be. In fact, I may go WR then RB this year in leagues where I'm picking in the middle of the first round.

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San Francisco: Gene!

It's great to see you back at my favorite time of year! Quick question on Devin Hester: Is he a No. 1 receiver or just a speed guy who will never get the big stats? What about Steve Slaton? Do you see him as an elite fantasy running back or will he regress this season? Thanks!

Gene Wang: I'm not sold on Devin Hester at all. Right now Earl Bennett is a much better option as far as Bears WRs go. But I'm a huge fan of Steve Slaton. I think his upside is tremendous in that offense.

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Fantasyland: Gene, can you give a quick thumb-up or thumb-down on Cassel as a No. 2 fantasy QB? Sure is some bad buzz on him coming out of their camp ...

Gene Wang: Yes, there has been bad buzz about Cassel so far, but for what Kansas City gave up to get him, I just can't see Brodie Croyle getting the starting nod. So right now thumbs up on Cassel as a No. 2.

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Washington D.C.: Gene,

Can you advise on draft strategy? I have pick No. 4 in a 10 team league, and plan to draft RB-WR-WR in the first three rounds given the steep drop off in WR talent. However, if a Brandon Jacobs or Clinton Portis type RB is still on the board for my second round pick should I change my strategy, grab them, and then worry about a WR 2 later?

Gene Wang: With so many teams using RBBC, you can get a productive running back later, so sticking with RB-WR is a good way to go.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Happy Friday, Gene!

Would you mind settling a pre-draft debate? I play in a ridiculous, point happy league, which follows a PPR format plus awards six points per passing TD and a point per completion as well!

One side of the debate (mine) believe the league scoring rules skew too heavily towards the quarterback position and dictate drafting an elite QB-WR-RB in that order. Now the other guy, he's old school RB-RB ... but who really cares about his thoughts!

Coaches all around the country that are in similar leagues only care what you think, Gene! Break it down for us, would you?

-A Big Fan of the FC!

Holla!

Gene Wang: As you might imagine, I play in many leagues, some with traditional scoring and others with silly scoring, like a half-point per carry. Obviously there's different strategies depending on your scoring system, but truth be told, I'm more of an old school fantasy guy. I like to keep things as simple as possible.

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Oshkosh, Wisc.: Gene -

When you're referencing rankings of players, what sources do you use? I've starting looking at FantasyFootballNerd.com? It aggregates 20 different sources into one and provides rankings that are weighted based upon the accuracy of those sources last year. Instead of giving just one site's opinion on a player, it gives a glimpse into what the fantasy football world is thinking about a particular player.

Do you have any experience with them? What do you think of what they do?

washingtonpost.com: Fantasy Football Nerd: Free Fantasy Football rankings from ESPN, YAHOO, CBS, NFL, and more

Gene Wang: I try to watch as many games as I can to help me compile my ratings, but I do visit as many Web sites as possible as well. By the way, my blog Fantasy Check on The Post's Web site rates analysis from fantasy experts around the country. Please check it out for all your fantasy needs! Here's the link: http://views.washingtonpost.com/theleague/fantasycheck

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Germantown, Md.: When I have a 7, 8, 9 draft pick in a 12 team league, I have always struggled in the decision to take a late first round running back instead of a taking a quarterback, what are your thoughts, who would be a good 7-9 first rounds running back to grab?

Gene Wang: If Chris Johnson is there at 7, grab him. I also like Steve Slaton in the 9 to 10 slots. But as I've mentioned in this chat, my strategy of taking RBs in the first round is evolving, and at No. 9, I would strongly consider Larry Fitzgerald. Taking a WR in the first round may sound like crazy talk coming from me, but I'd argue of all the fantasy players available, he's the surest thing behind Adrian Peterson.

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Gene Wang: My last reply has me wondering what the fantasy chatters think about taking running backs only in the first round. I was at one fantasy draft party the other night in which Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning went in the first round, along with Larry Fizgerald and Randy Moss. That left just five running backs to go in the first round. So what's your strategy?

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Arlington, Va.: I'm in a 12-person league with four keepers. I can keep Michael Turner and Philip Rivers. Am I crazy thinking I should snap up a top wide receiver with my first pick?

Gene Wang: Absolutely you should get a WR with your first pick.

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Milwaukee, Wisc.: Hey Gene,

Who do you like from the "third tier" group of running backs? Specifically from this group: Thomas Jones, Derrick Ward, LenDale White, Ryan Grant, Willie Parker or Larry Johnson?

Thanks!

Gene Wang: I like Ryan Grant, since he has the backfield to himself and is playing in an offense that has the potential to be explosive with Aaron Rodgers and that cast of WRs. And I may be in the minority on this, but I like Larry Johnson too, but only in the later rounds. He has a big upside considering he hasn't been overused the past two seasons because of injury and off-field issues.

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Knoxville TN keeper question: Gene

Oh mighty, wise and all knowing oracle, I come before thee, a humble supplicant, yearning for knowledge and advice. Take pity on an ignorant serf and grant the wisdom you deem worthy.

Now that the usual platitudes are out of the way, a keeper question: This year, one of my leagues started a keeper system. It's a 12 team league and I have two people I can keep. Megatron, for my sixth round pic is a no brainer but...

What about Jay Cutler for my 4th round pick? With all the running back talent that will be gone I am wondering if my pick would be better spent on a third running back, and I have worries about Jay's value in Chicago. Thoughts?

PS: Great to have you back my man!!!

Gene Wang: I like the value you are getting for Cutler. And while it may seem like a lot of running back talent will be gone by then, that's not necessarily the case with all the timeshare backfield these days. You can get value at running back later in the draft.

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What to do with No. 4: Give me some kind of a prognostication for what to expect from Brett Favre? Where should we try to slot him?

And what about leagues that have already drafted? That has to be a really unfair waiver wire pickup, no?

Gene Wang: I'd rank Brett Favre somewhere in the 15-20 range for QBs, but with potential for a big upside. Many experts are projecting him to pass for 3,500-3,800 yards with 20-25 touchdowns. But it wouldn't surprise me if he threw for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Remember he's only two years removed from throwing for 4,100 yards and 28 touchdowns. As for leagues that have drafted, that's part of life, which we know isn't always fair.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you think Clinton Portis can be a number one running back in a 12 team league?

He isn't ranked too highly by a lot of people, but as far as I can see he is poised for another 1,400 yard, 10 touchdown season.

Gene Wang: I don't see Portis as a No. 1 fantasy back. My esteemed colleague Jason Reid, who writes the Redskins Insider blog, tells me the Skins are going to use Ladell Betts more this season to try to keep Portis from fading down the stretch. He's a fine No. 2 RB though.

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Ahmad Rashad: Geno,

Given history, would you take Emmitt Smith or Barry Sanders in the ultimate fantasy draft? Also, is Purple Jesus (Adrian Peterson) the greatest running back since Walter Payton?

Gene Wang: Why do I have a funny feeling I know who's asking this question? If it isn't Washington Post Live host Ivan Carter, it certainly could be. But to answer the question, it's a no-brainer that Emmitt is No. 1 in an ultimate fantasy draft. That guy was the overall No. 1 pick in fantasy for like five straight years. And in playoff fantasy, of course you take Emmitt because Sanders most likely would be watching the postseason on TV, not starring in any games. And no, Purple Jesus is not the greatest running back since Payton. Emmitt Smith was.

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Shirlington, Va.: Hello!

What do you think about Ryan Grant's potential for this year? Is he a Tier 2 or 3 running back ... or worse?

Gene Wang: I like Ryan Grant in the second tier, but if you can get him in the third tier, he's a tremendous value.

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Washington, D.C.: Gene,

I have the second pick in a league that gives 1/2 point per reception. Should I go with Jones-Drew or Forte? I change my mind daily but keep envisioning a lot of Cutler check-downs ...

Gene Wang: Jones-Drew, simply because David Garrard has nowhere near the arm strength of Cutler. You have to think the Bears are going to open up the offense with Cutler and go downfield a lot. That's not to say Forte is a bad pick, but MJD should catch more balls based on the Jags' lack of a downfield threat.

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Charlotte, N.C.: With DeAngelo Williams slated so high in so many rankings and mock drafts, where do you see Jonathan Stewart fitting into that offense? Is he a starter for most fantasy teams?

Gene Wang: He's not a No. 1 fantasy back, but he's a great option at No. 2. DeAngelo Williams is coming off a career year, so what are the odds he'll do it again? Not very high, if you ask me. That doesn't mean he won't be a very good fantasy back, but the Panthers really like Stewart and are going to give him plenty of touches as well.

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Anonymous: Geno,

Did you see Macklin at Missouri? He was a monster. Doesn't he instantly become McNabb's favorite No. 2 receiver? The dude made Chase Daniel look good for God's sake. ...

Gene Wang: You know how some teams use running back by committee? Well, the Eagles use wide receiver by committee, so Maclin will figure into the offense, but right now DeSean Jackson is the clear No. 2, or even their No. 1 if you don't believe in Kevin Curtis.

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Anonymous: Favre a "15-20" guy? Are you kidding me? He's going to be facing nine men in the box, one-on-one coverage outside with Berrian, Percy Harvin, a healthy Sidney Rice (something neither Gus or Tavaris had last season) and a great hands guy in Bobby Wade all flooding secondaries. Did you see the game last season when Favre threw six touchdown passes against Arizona? He's going to light it up man. Give him his props.

Gene Wang: I'm a big Brett Favre fan, but let's be honest. The guy is 40 years old, and he's the all-time leader in interceptions for a reason. He's probably the biggest high risk, high reward fantasy player of all-time. If Favre is on your fantasy roster, he's going to start based solely on matchups, not regardless of matchup like a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.

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Purple rain: Geno,

Given the second year dip that most losing Super Bowl teams have (contract disputes, complacency, overall bad karma) do you see Larry Fitzgerald -- aka. the Minneapolis kid -- having a drop off this season? It's funny how teams and players dip after losing the big one.

Gene Wang: Larry Fitzgerald is probably the second safest fantasy player on the board behind AP. There are absolutely no question marks about him, and that includes an aging Kurt Warner. I mean look at what Calvin Johnson did last season under impossible conditions. It doesn't much matter who is throwing the ball to the great ones like Fitzgerald.

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Medford, Mass.: Gene,

Last year I dumped Anquan Boldin for a third round pick this year in our league, which means that I have four picks in the first three rounds. (Yay!)

What strategy would you use with those four picks? I will likely have a top 3-4 pick in the draft considering my record from last year. My current thinking is RB/WR/WR/QB.

Gene Wang: Depending on what your league rules are, and for the purpose of this question I'll assume it's a non-PPR league with fairly standard scoring, I'd go RB-WR-WR-QB as you mentioned.

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Bookaville: Geno,

With Marvin Harrison gone, I see Anthony Gonzalez having a huge season. Love the way he runs routes, great hands and deceptive speed. Thoughts?

Gene Wang: Couldn't agree more. The No. 2 wide receiver on Indy always produces like a No. 1 for many other teams.

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Wyzeta, Minn.: Gene,

We all know that the Cowboys haven't made the playoffs since the Nixon administration and just lost their best player.

Given that, where do you place Marion Barber (the Minnetonka monster) among fantasy backs? I mean, the dude has heart unlike the rest of that franchise, right?

Gene Wang: Marion Barber is a No. 1 fantasy back, but he's going to be pushed by Felix "Usain Bolt" Jones and Tashard Choice. It's actually probably better for Barber fantasy owners that he won't be getting a ton of carries early on, meaning he'll be fresher down the stretch for the fantasy playoffs. And while the Cowboys haven't won a title since 1996, the Vikings have as many Super Bowl rings as me, and I didn't even play in the NFL.

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Pikesville, Md.: Keep pushing the wide receivers, please Gene! I recently drafted in a PPR league, and the WR craziness landed me enormous value at running back: With the fourth pick in a 10 team league, I got Forte in the first, Chris Johnson in the second, and Kevin Smith in the fourth.

Gene Wang: That's certainly great value getting Johnson in the second round. But I ask who will be catching the ball for you?

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St. Olaf, Minn.: Geno,

If there was an individual fantasy draft for defensive players which active player would you take first and why? (system would be weighted equally on tackles, interceptions, touchdowns, hard hits and overall badassedness, I think)

Gene Wang: For IDP leagues, you want a player from a defense that is on the field a lot, so he can compile more tackles and get more chances at interceptions. Patrick Willis fits that description with the 49ers. Among defensive backs, Kerry Rhodes and Ed Reed are great choices, and for IDP leagues weighted toward sacks, DeMarcus Ware and James Harrison are no-brainers.

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Gene Wang: Thanks for all your questions, and best of luck in your drafts this weekend. If you're in the Rockville area, or just driving around, I will be making an appearance at the ESPN fantasy draft party at the Dave & Busters at White Flint Mall tonight at 7. Stop in and buy me a beer. Cheers.

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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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