Fantasy Check Live: Fantasy Football

Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 18, 2009; 12:30 PM

Want to win your league this year? Washington Post fantasy guru Gene Wang, who writes The Post's Fantasy Check blog, was online Friday, Sep. 18 to help get your fantasy football team through the playoffs.

The transcript follows.

Fantasy Check Blog

Discussion Archive


Gene Wang: Welcome to another installment of Fantasy Check Live. Let's get right to your questions after a busy week of injuries around the league.


Alexandria, Va.: Good afternoon Gene,

This is my first year in a PPR league and I'm still trying to get used to it ... Strategy wise should I always use my flex position for a wide receiver (we play 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 WR/RB, 1 TE, 1 D/ST, 1K). I seem to have a bunch of guys who might seem to fit in that flex position (Earl Bennett, Nate Burleson, Dwayne Bowe and Michael Bell).

I was thinking of using Bennett there, since he and Cutler seem to have history dating back to college, but the others seem to have their upside too.

Gene Wang: Depending on whom your No. 2 RB is, you may want to consider moving Bell into that slot, even if Pierre Thomas is back. Bell has been too good for the Saints to keep on the bench. Otherwise, Bennett and Burleson are good flex players in PPR leagues. They both had 11 targets last week, which is a good indication they are significantly involved in the passing game.


Severna Park, Md.: Hey Gene:

Since this is the season of the wide receiver, I kept Randy Moss and drafted Calvin Johnson, and Reggie Wayne. I plan on starting these guys evry week regardless of matchup. What I'm worried about is my running backs. Which two do you like this week: Kevin Smith, Thomas Jones, Steve Slaton, or Julius Jones?

I would also like to ask if you would consider starting three of the above RB's and only two of the above WR's for certain weeks since one of my starter slots is a RB/WR (in other words do you still believe in the philosophy of starting more rb's over wr's).


Gene Wang: Those three wide receivers should start every week, regardless of matchup. This week the Jones brothers (Thomas and Julius) have the more favorable matchups out of the four running backs you mentioned. But considering how loaded you are at wide receiver, I'd never play a third running back over Moss, Wayne or Megatron.


Falls Church, Va.: Giants defense vs. Dallas, or Redskins defense vs. the Rams?

Gene Wang: Skins defense. The Rams are just an awful team, as we saw in their 28-0 loss to Seattle last week.


Washington D.C.: Hello Gene,

Given the recent "injury-report" scandal this past week, is there any reliable injury report that can be used?

Also (please), Trent Edwards or Mark Sanchez?

Gene Wang: The official injury report is generally reliable, but be cautious if you have Patriots players, given the secretive nature of that organization when it comes to revealing the extent of injuries. Edwards has a better matchup this week.


Stratwood, Md.: O Wise One,

I've lost my way and need your guidance for my two flex spots. Of Megatron, New York Jets' Thomas Jones, or Ochocinco, who should sit this week? I'm caught up in the studs/matchup game and Ocho's targets give me that sneeky play feeling. This is for a 16 team,non-PPR league. Please show me the way!

Gene Wang: I'll make one of those choices easy for you the rest of the way. Megatron never sits, period. I don't care which team he is playing. This week I think Jones has the better matchup.


SE, Washington, D.C.: My first back is Peterson, so there's one decision I can leave alone all year. But it made for slim pickings on other backs later in the draft. (I know, cry me a river.)

I think it has to go on a week-by-week basis, so this week do I want Larry Johnson or LenDale White?

Gene Wang: Neither player was particular impressive in Week 1, but White should be more productive this weekend against Houston. The Raiders actually defended the run reasonably well against LT and the Chargers, and if Matt Cassel doesn't play, the Chiefs become one-dimensional and allow the Oakland to focus on stopping the run. Thus Johnson isn't a great play.


Baltimore, Md.: Hi Gene,

Looking forward to a season of last minute advice from you. My league changed from a 3 wide receiver league to 2 wide receiver, 2 running back, and a WR/RB flex spot.

Now I've got to fill that spot. My idea was that I'd like a RB that can catch a lot of passes in that spot.

Is that a good strategy? I'm starting Ray Rice and Slaton at RB, Andre Johnson and Welker at WR, and I've got Hightower, McGahee, Jamal Lewis, Donald Driver, "the other" Steve Smith, and Chris Henry to chose from. I am inclined to go with Hightower this week, even though I know he is not going to catch the ball 12 times again. What do you think for me, and about the flex spot in general?

Gene Wang: Traditionally, I've preferred to start a running back in the flex spot, but in PPR leagues, that's not necessarily going to be your best strategy. Arizona has a slightly more difficult matchup this week at Jacksonville, and you're right in that Hightower probably won't have 12 catches again. He's still a good option though, whereas in other weeks you'll probably want to consider the Giants' Steve Smith or Donald Driver.


Gallup, N.M.: Gene - what am I supposed to do with Steve Slaton this week? He was a bust last week. I can play two RB's, and have Felix Jones, Leon Washington, Jamaal Charles or Fred Taylor. Any suggestions? Also, any suggestions for a RB pickup for the week? Kevin Faulk or Ahmad Bradshaw. Please help!!!

Gene Wang: Not sure if you're in a PPR league, but regardless, stick with Slaton. I'm not ready to push the panic button on him or Matt Forte or Chris Johnson, three highly rated running backs who had forgettable Week 1 performances. Remember, you can't make the playoffs after one week. Faulk may actually turn out to be a nice flex player. He clearly is the man for the Patriots on third down and in passing situations, so if you're in a PPR league, he's a nice addition to your roster.


Tysons Corner, Va.: Favre vs. the Lions or stick with Romo against the Giants? Romo appears to be the stronger quarterback, but the matchups really favor Favre.

Gene Wang: Many sites have been touted Favre as a sleeper starter this week, and I'm inclined to agree. He's not going to match what Drew Brees did against Detroit, but Favre's projected to have anywhere from 250 to 280 yards and two to three touchdowns. Romo is going to be under heavy pressure all game against the Giants. Remember he was sacked only once in the win against Tampa Bay.


Washington, D.C.: Gene -

Help a girl out! I have Adrian Peterson, but I'm not sure what other running back to start this week: Rice against San Diego, LenDale White against Houston, or Kevin Smith against Minnesota. I'm leaning towards White because Houston's run defense didn't look too good in Week 1. San Diego looked so-so and Minnesota should give Smith a hard time, so I'm not sure what to do.

Gene Wang: I'm a big believer in Ray Rice, but as I've told many chatters over the years, if you have a gut feeling, go with it. White is a nice play against Houston, as I think the Titans will focus on getting the running game established more than they did against Pittsburgh. That's a defense you just can run on, although I'll be interested to see how the Steelers hold up without Troy Polamalu.


Alexandria, VA: Have a receiver starting question. I am starting both Larry Fitgerald and Marques Colston this week, but need a third. Who do you think will have the better week: Lee Evans, Antonio Gates, Leon Murphy? I am set at every other position, but have been second guessing myself on the above due to match-ups.

Gene Wang: Antonio Gates should be in your starting lineup every week, regardless of matchup. He's essentially the No. 1 wide receiver on San Diego, although Vincent Jackson is makding a strong bid to take over that role. And I think you mean Louis Murphy, not Leon. By the way, the Raiders have said when Chaz Schilens comes back, he'll be the No. 2 wide receiver, sending Murphy to the bench. Something to keep in mind.


Portland, Me.: A two-fer Gene ... Warner or Flacco this week? And should I have Flacco or Sanchez as my backup QB?

Gene Wang: Warner is going to be your starting QB every week, regardless of matchup. Flacco is a real nice backup though, especially we see the Ravens opening up the offense like they did in Week 1.


Minneapolis, Minn.: I dropped Knowshon Moreno for Cadiallac Williams this week. Bad move, good move or "meh?"


Gene Wang: Good move. Cadillac looks like he's back to his old form, and if that's the case, he'll be staring for most teams down the road. I happen to have Caddy in a couple leagues, and I'm hopeful he'll continue to impress like he did in the Bucs' Week 1 loss to Dallas. I'll take 97 yards and a touchdown anytime.


The FAX: Gene!

First - WaPo needs to get you a more prominent link on the sports hdomepage.

Second - Can you tell me I'm crazy for considering lower-level players because of good team matchups? Should I even be considering Jason Campbell over Carson Palmer, or Santana Moss over Eddie Royal/Kevin Walter/Torry Holt? What about Chester Taylor against Detroit, is he a better play than Ronnie Brown?

Thanks for all the advice!

Gene Wang: Thanks for the input. Note to editors: Are you listening to our readers? As to your question, unless you have a must-start at certain positions, fantasy is all about matchups. So as I wrote on my Fantasy Check blog yesterday, I'm advocating starting many Redskins this week, and that includes Jason Campbell. If he can't put up 250 yards and a couple touchdowns against St. Louis, that's an indication that something is really wrong with the offense. Ditto for Santana Moss. I really like the double points potential between Campbell and Moss.


Arlington, Va.: Hey Gene, thanks for taking questions!

I've got a couple: (standard scoring league) how much is Jason Campbell a matchup play this weekend? I've got Rivers, but I'm afraid of him against the Ravens ...

Also, for one spot, I could go Hines Ward, Justin Gage, or Eddie Royal. I'm leaning towards Gage, unless you tell me different.

Gene Wang: See previous answer regarding Campbell, and I won't tell you different on Gage.


Hagerstown, Md.: Gene, I'm in a 12-teamer where we start two quarterbacks, three running back, three wide receivers, a flex, tight end, defense and kicker, so pretty much all starting options are already on rosters.

Unfortunately, this leaves me starting Quinn and Edwards every week. Was I wrong for thinking these two would be decent fantasy plays most weeks?

Also, should I continue to sit Larry Johnson and ride Mike Bell?

Gene Wang: I'm in one two-quarterback league, and I've made the mistake of not drafting an elite player at the position early. Never again. I made sure to get Aaron Rodgers early. As for Edwards, I had him as a sleeper this season, and I think he'll be fine going forward. Can't say I feel the same about Brady Quinn. He just hasn't gotten into a rhythm with Braylon Edwards, and when you don't have chemistry with your clear No. 1 wide receiver, that's a bad sign. Mike Bell has a great upside, and the Saints can't ignore his production. LJ on the other hand was easy to ignore last week, and if Matt Cassel doesn't play again, he'll find tough sledding with the Chiefs becoming one-dimensional.


Fed Ex, Section 429: I think I need to bench Ray Rice (flex position WR/RB, PPR league) because he's facing a tough San Diego D on the road. Which WR should I use in his place: Hixon (NYG) or Ginn, Jr. or should I just leave Ray Ray in and hope for the best?

Gene Wang: I feel like I've been promoting Ray Rice since the start of training camp, so I might as well ride that train while it's rolling along. Rice is one of those players who will blow up and become an elite back. I'd feel pretty comfortable playing him regardless of matchup.


Harford County, Md.: Quick Hitter, please ... Cutler or Orton this week?

Is it best to play the match up on a weekly basis or stick with your number 1 quarterback?

Gene Wang: Unless your No. 1 quarterback is Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers or Kurt Warner, playing matchups is probably your best bet. Orton has a much better matchup this week.


Falls Church, Va.: Hi Gene,

I'm having a Broncos dilemma. I have a flex opening and my two choices are Eddie Royal or Correll Buckhalter. Eddie was barely looked at last week and has been returning punts, while Correll will be splitting time with Moreno. Your thoughts/advice?

Gene Wang: While the Broncos want to get Knowshon Moreno more involved, he looked every bit the rookie in the opener. Buckhalter is going to get his share of touches while Moreno gets his footing, so right now I like Buck at the flex a bit more than Royal, who still needs to gain a comfort level with a new quarterback.


Annandale, Va.: With McNabb injured, who should I pick: Pennington or Shaun Hill?

Gene Wang: I'm going to give some love to the Terps and go with Shaun Hill, who has a better matchup and whose offense looked much more potent than the Dolphins in Week 1.


Ready to turn in my man card: So I lost game 1 of my office league to a 23-year-old girl who admittedly doesn't even watch football. I need to rebound huge this week, but my roster is full of middle-of-the-roaders. I need one flex (QB/WR/RB) from the following, standard scoring (no PPR): Cedric Benson, Bernard Berrian, Reggie Bush, Sproles, Donnie Avery (Redskins can't cover), or Mario Manningham.

By the way, here's my starting lineup: Romo, TO, Cotchery, Forte, Gore, Cooley, Kaeding, Pats defense. Thanks, Gene!

Gene Wang: If your colleague doesn't watch football, may I ask what is she doing in a fantasy football league? Your decision may well come down to LaDainian Tomlinson. He didn't practice on Wednesday or yesterday, which is a sign he's probably not going to play this weekend, or at best be very limited. That means a lot of work for Sproles, who's a fine play at flex.


Elkridge, Md.: So I'm gonna start Colston and probably Walter, but need a third receiver (non PPR): Burleson, Crayton, or Henderson?

Also, for my RBs, I'll start Chris Johnson, but unsure about my other starter: Julius Jones, Mike Bell, or Willie Parker?

More fantasy stuff WaPo!

Gene Wang: I like Crayton a bit more than Henderson, but it's real close. Parker and Bell have more difficult matchups than Jones, who actually had a nice game in Week 1. And I'll be sure to pass along your request for more fantasy.


Harrisburg, Penn.: Gene, what's your recommended strategy for Brandon Marshall owners? Don't say trade, because I've tried that. Is he strictly a play-the-match up guy at this point, or am I tempting fate by not putting him in the lineup every week?

Gene Wang: Right now I'd be cautious with Marshall. Not only is he in the doghouse with the coaching staff, but he has to develop a rhythm with a new quarterback. If and when he starts clicking with Kyle Orton, only then would I play him regardless of matchup.


Novice again: Hi Gene. Submitting early, since I might miss you. Is it best, or do most folks just sit tight after Week 1, no matter the results? I didn't know if it was wise to start picking up FA's, or just letting guys settle. Thanks!

Gene Wang: Week 1 does not a fantasy season make. Didn't Oscar Wilde say that? No need to panic now. All fantasy players need to give the season some time to breathe -- like a fine wine -- before overhauling lineups.


Auctions Rule: I paid (with fake money) through the nose to draft Adrian Peterson (Minnesota), DeAngelo Williams, and Tom Brady. I do not have an every week starter at WR, but will have to decide between Vincent Jackson, Hester, Santana Moss, Justin Gage,and Lance Moore.

I like the challenge, and maybe I get to brag at the end. But hey, I had the highest point total in my league last week. hat is real cash in my pocket. John Carlson's two touchdown's didn't hurt either.

But you can help with this week. I am leaning Hester and Gage at WR. What do you think?

Gene Wang: Vincent Jackson and Santana Moss aren't bad options either. I especially like Moss's potential for a big game against a really bad St. Louis secondary. Also, I think you'll like Gage as the season moves forward. He got 11 targets last week, and even with Nate Washington coming back, he'll still be much involved in the passing game.


New York, N.Y.: I'm in a 12 team PPR league. I'm super weak at running back due to draft strategy as well as the Thomas/Bell situation.

All the fantasy sites' sleepers/waiver pickups are already owned in my league. Do you have any deep deep sleepers in mind I could take a look at? This is not a critical need for this week, but for the future ...

Gene Wang: Three Colts to think about: Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Hank Baskett.


Falls Church, Va.: I'm in a 14 team PPR league. I've got pretty strong WR (Fitzgerald, Houzmanzadeh,and Bryant). My starting quarterback is McNabb but I have Hasselback as a back-up. My starting RB is Westbrook, and then I have Knowshon Moreno and Leon Washington.

I'm offered a trade of Hasselback for Darren Sproles. I like the trade because I want some strength with my running back. I also don't have a lot of faith in Hasselback long term, and can get through the short term of McNabb's ribs. What do you think of the trade?

Gene Wang: Since you're not in a two-QB league, you can afford to move Hasselbeck, and Sproles is a nice player to get in exchange, especially if LT continues to nurse injuries the rest of the season.


Shoulder of I-95 : Quarterback Question who to start: Cassel, Cutler, or Orton. I'm leaning towards Orton because of match up. Thanks!

Gene Wang: Cassel may not play, and even if he does, generally quarterbacks coming off injury scare me. Moreso if he's with a new team. Orton does have a better matchup than Cutler too.


Alexandria, Va.: I started off the season 0-1 and I, like the Redskins, feel like this is a must win for the week. My main question is regarding my QB position. Should I start Schaub or Garrard?

Gene Wang: I got a feeling Jacksonviile's game will be higher scoring than Houston's game, and I think Garrard will have to go downfield more often than Schaub.


Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Matt Forte was my No. 1 pick (argh) and was clearly a huge disappointment last week, while Willis McGahee rang up big points on my bench. Of these three, which two would you start in a PPR league? Forte against Pitt, McGahee or Larry Johnson.

Also - was Leftwich's performance last week an aberration? Schaub isn't doing much better than Forte ... Thanks!

Gene Wang: I also have Forte, but I'm not ready to give up on him after one bad game. I also think McGahee has a much better upside than LJ.


Fairfax, Va.: Good afternoon Gene,

I was able to pick up Darren McFadden very late in my 10 team draft. I am now being offered Boldin for him. Would you make the trade? Also if I keep McFadden how much of an impact is Bush on his his number of carries.

My other running backs are, Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant and Steven Jackson.

Gene Wang: It depends on whom your other wide receivers are. McFadden is a sure bet to get 20 touches per game in a fantasy world where there aren't many sure things. If you are really weak at wide receiver, it's not a bad move. Bush will get his share of carries, but McFadden is the clear No. 1 on that team.


Tulsa, Okla.: I always enjoy your chats - fun and informative.

Another quick one - Rivers or Romo this week?

Gene Wang: Neither has a particularly attractive matchup, but Rivers is one of those players fantasy owners should start every week, regardless of opponent.


Arlington, Va. represent!: Gene - Welcome back to another fantasy season ... you da man!

Okay - so I need your opinion on my running back situation. I need to start two RB's this week in my standard format league. Which two would you go with?

Steven Jackson vs. Redskins

Cadillac vs. Bills

Ronnie Brown vs. Colts

I was originally leaning toward Jackson and Brown, but as much as I hate to do it, now thinking about benching Jackson and starting Caddy and Ronnie B. What are your thoughts?

Gene Wang: My first thought was Caddy and Ronnie B. Jackson figures to have a real rough go of it against a good Skins defense.


Reston, Va.: Who should I start this week? Schaub or Campbell? I know Campbell has a much better matchup and many people have him as a sleeper pick but this is the Skins offense we're talking about. They didn't do that well last year against the Rams.

Gene Wang: I've been touting Campbell all week, so I'm not going to stop now. I know the Skins didn't fare well against the Rams last season, but circumstances are different. The Rams aren't desperate yet, as they were last season, and the Skins have to win comfortably, or else it may be time to worry that there's something very wrong with the offense.


Bethesda, Md.: Philly D vs. Green Bay D? The Eagles' D propelled me to victory last week, but this week they're playing against a strong Brees. Meanwhile, Green Bay goes up against the Bungles. Start Green Bay, right? I don't think Philly is a must-start.

Gene Wang: The only must-start defenses are Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Minnesota. The Eagles have a horrible matchup against Drew Brees and the Saints. The Packers are a much safer play.


20002, Washington, D.C.: Hi Gene,

With Tony Romo nursing a bum ankle and facing the ferocious Giant defensive line, I'm actually considering sitting him this week. In his place, I would start (potential) hometown hero Jason Campbell. Campbell's matchup against the wilting St. Louis Rams looks appetizing, with both he and Zorn looking to prove their passing bona fides.

Am I crazy for sitting an every-week "must-start" quarterback?

Gene Wang: No, and as I said on the Mike Wise Show yesterday, I'm looking for Jason Campbell to have a breakout game. If he doesn't, this week won't be pleasant in the nation's capital.


Naples, Fla.: Chris Johnson is my No. 1 RB, should I play Darren McFadden, M. Bell or Willis McGahee as No. 2?

Gene Wang: DMac, because he's guaranteed to get double-figure touches. Can't say the same about Bell or McGahee, although both were solid fantasy producers in Week 1.


Portland, Me.: Gene, I can pick up Devery Henderson, Justin Gage, Kenny Britt or Mark Clayton (Ravens) as my No. 3 WR, I have Calvin Johnson & Roy Williams as 1 and 2? What do you think?

Gene Wang: Justin Gage got 11 targets last week, and he may wind up as the most productive wide receiver on that team.


Fairfax, Va.: After week 1, I'm starting to worry about my team and feel that I need a trade to boost my morale. A trade was offered to me and I was tempted but I want your insight.

I was offered A. Rodgers and P. Thomas for Schaub and Portis. I like how much more certainty Rodgers brings to the table but P. Thomas is coming back from an injury and that leaves me hesitant.

Also, the Redskins are about to reach the weak stretch of their schedule where Portis should benefit. What should I do?

Gene Wang: That's a tough one. My inclination would be to stand pat at the moment, especially given reports that Pierre Thomas's injury may be more serious than the Saints are willing to reveal. I know Rodgers is a stud, but Schaub has potentially the best upside of any quarterback in fantasy if he can stay healthy.


Rockville, Md.: Gene,

In a Yahoo! league, my daughter has Forte, Gore, Sproles, and Knowshon Moreno as her RBs. Obviously, she is not starting Moreno this week. But given the situation in San Diego, of the other three, who should she start this week?

P.S. -- By the way, she was mocked for taking Forte with the fifth pick of the draft, but I told her that you had him ranked No. 3!

Gene Wang: She'll have the last laugh by the end of the season. I still believe in Forte, and so should you and your daughter. Frank Gore is also a player you'll want to start regardless of matchup.


McLean, Va.: Gene -

I'm in an auction league and I spent heavily on quarterback and running back, leaving me thin-ish at wide receiver. We start three WRs and I have Steve Smith (CAR), Harvin, Mark Bradley, Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn, and Donnie Avery. I'm leaning towards starting SS, Harvin, and Morgan - what do you think?

Gene Wang: Those are the three I'd go with, and since you mentioned you are in an auction league, I hope you had the chance to read my Fantasy Check blog about two area fantasy players who went to Las Vegas for a $5,000 buy-in auction as part of the World Championshi of Fantasy Football. I get the feeling auctions are growing in popularity in the fantasy world.


Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: What to do when your DST is playing against your quarterback? I have Flacco going against the Super Chargers.

Gene Wang: Sometimes it's unavoidable. Your only recourse is to find either a QB or DST on the waiver wire. More like you'll go after a defense, because with the rare exception, a quarterback is going to get you many more fantasy points than a defense.


Arlington, Va.: Should I sit DeSean Jackson? He did nada for me last week. Plus it seem likely that Kevin Kolb will be throwing to him. My other option is Justin Gage. Standard scoring format. Thanks for the help.

Gene Wang: Eagles wide receivers scare me this week with Kolb apparently set to start. Gage is a safer play.


Washington, D.C.: Hey, Gene. Great to have you back doing these chats. Would you start Romo or Flacco this week? I know Romo's the safer bet, but that San Diego secondary is really tempting.

Gene Wang: I'd wait another week on Flacco to see if indeed the Ravens are opening up the offense this season. If that is the case, Flacco's value skyrockets.


Takoma Park, Md.: Hey Gene thanks for chatting. Lendale White or Reggie Bush? It's a PPR league, but I'm not convinced Bush will get enough touches. I know White is not the No. 1 guy in Tennessee, but the Titans love to run so much ... what do you think?

Gene Wang: I don't have much faith in Reggie Bush as a fantasy option, especially with the way Mike Bell ran in Week 1. White is going to get touches, and you have to figure the Titans are going to try to get the running game established this week after failing to do so in the opener.


Gene Wang: Whew, almost two hours of fantasy chatting has my fingers in knots. I'm going to take a break, then answer some questions on my Fantasy Check blog I didn't get to during the chat. Please head there later this afternoon, and be sure to catch me each Wednesday on Washington Post Live at 5 p.m. on Comcast and every Thursday at 1 p.m. on the Mike Wise Show on 106.7 The Fan. Also the IT folks at The Post were kind enough to set up a dedicated e-mail address for your fantasy questions: See you next week for more Fantasy Check Live, and good luck to everyone this weekend.


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