Fantasy Check Live: Fantasy Football

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Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 25, 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. 25 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 to another installment of Fantasy Check Live. I want to remind you there's now a dedicated e-mail address for your fantasy questions: fantasycheck@washpost.com. Learn it, use it, love it. I will post some of the best questions on my Fantasy Check blog, so be on the lookout. I'm sure you have a lot of questions, so let's get to it.

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San Francisco: Gene - thanks for the solid work as always. Can you give me any insight into the Browns' running back situation, or should I say mess? I think they've got a decent line, and I drafted James Davis late thinking he'd grow into a value, but it's not looking good early.

Gene Wang: Jamal Lewis did not practice Wednesday or yesterday, so it's looking more and more like James Davis will get the start. He has a huge upside, but he has a horrible matchup against the Ravens. I'd suggest leaving him on your bench this week.

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Westminster, Md.: LaDanian Tomlinson is messing me up! Have to find a replacement for him again this week ...

Slim pickings: Fred Taylor, Randle El, Donnie Avery?

Thanks Gene!

Gene Wang: Boy, that is slim pickings. Fred Taylor has been splitting carries with Laurence Maroney and actually has been the better back. He's probably the safest among the three players you mentioned.

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Ray Rice or Willis McGahee?: Gene,

I need your help. I have to get this question in early though.

I am in a PPR league with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee as my handcuff. Rice has been doing fine in terms of points and I am 2-0, but obviously McGahee has left a lot of points on my bench due to TDs.

I know Rice had a huge game against Cleveland last year, and something tells me he may break one or two this week. It is a gut feeling.

My RBs: Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee. I have no flex position. Which 3 should I start? (I know it sounds crazy sit Johnson, but the Jets defense looks devastating right now). Regardless, I still need to decide on my number 2.

Thoughts?

Gene Wang: I too have Ray Rice and McGahee, and I've left a lot of McGahee points on the bench the first two weeks. Chris Johnson is a back most players are going to start regardless of matchup. He's just that good. For your No. 2 back, I'd give the edge to Rice this week, though we know McGahee is a touchdown vulture.

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Battle Creek, Mich/: Gene,

Assuming LaDanian Tomlinson is out again, which two of these three should I start -- Sproles, Vincent Jackson and Pierre Thomas? It's amazing how much injuries are playing such a big part so early in the season (I'm also starting Kolb as I have Donovan McNabb -- is this a mistake?).

Thank you.

Gene Wang: Sproles and Jackson, only because I'm always cautious about starting a running back in his first game after an injury. And if you're going to pick a week to start Kolb, this is it. The Eagles have a great matchup at home against Kansas City.

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Kensington, Md.: Hey Gene -- why doesn't washingtonpost.com list your Fantasy Check Blog in its blog directory? I've scanned through it several times, and it's not listed. Where's the love?

washingtonpost.com: Fantasy Check (Washington Post)

Gene Wang: It's listed in the dropdown menu if you go to our blog called The League. Of if you prefer the more direct route, here's the link you can bookmark:

http://views.washingtonpost.com/theleague/fantasycheck/

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Ballston, Va.: Gene,

I'm in a PPR league ... I'm thinking of putting Tim Hightower in as my flex this week, taking up one slot. My two running back spots have been filled by Brandon Jacobs and Michael Turner. I was thinking about sitting Turner against the Pats and starting Felix Jones against a pretty bad Carolina defense. Would this rank as a really bad idea? Turner just hasn't wowed me yet.

Gene Wang: Turner is due for a big game. He's a must-start regardless of matchup, especially as defenses start to focus on stopping Matt Ryan in the passing game to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez.

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Takoma Park, Md.: Hey Gene thanks for chatting. Someone in my league just dropped Lance Moore. I love the New Olreans air attack (who doesn't?) ... do you think he's worth picking up and stashing? Currently the receivers on my bench are Santana Moss and Steve Breaston. Right now I'm starting Randy Moss, Cotchery, and Manningham in a flex spot. Thanks!

Gene Wang: Yes, Lance Moore hasn't started rolling yet, but he's a good player to have in reserve.

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Columbus, Ohio: What's up Gene? Thanks for the chat. A quick one. Redskins defense vs Detroit or Chargers defense vs Miami? Thanks!

Gene Wang: Skins D, especially if Shawne Merriman is out for the Chargers. San Diego has given up an average of 139 yards rushing in the past two games, and Miami's Wildcat poses an entirely different set of problems.

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Burlington, Vt.: Thanks for the chats. I'm in my first fantasy football league ever, and I've got two questions.

Our auto-draft selected Big Ben as my quarterback, and given the Steelers' woes running the ball this year, I've been pleasantly surprised with his stats. The problem is, week 8 is the Steelers' bye week. My backup is Marc Bulger and St. Louis plays Detroit that week. Am I crazy for contemplating dumping Bulger and picking up and starting Matthew Stafford that week?

Also, I just dropped Felix Jones and picked up Cedric Benson to back up Adrian Peterson and Ronnie Brown. Was that a mistake?

Gene Wang: Welcome to the addictive world of fantasy. We're always excited to have new players come aboard. First, you are not at all crazy for thinking about Stafford over Bulger. Stafford does have Calvin Johnson, and you could do worse from a matchup perspective. If Stafford looks good this week against Washington, I'd feel okay starting him on Big Ben's bye week. As for dropping Felix Jones, I don't think that's necessarily a mistake. He does have a bigger upside than Benson, but Benson isn't sharing carries, so there pro and cons to both guys.

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Norfolk, Va.: Thanks for the all that you do. Been following your columns and chats for a few years now.

What's going on with Eddie Royal? Do you think he can become a consistent second wide receiver this season? My other options are Breaston, Mark Clayton, and Kevin Walter.

I also have the dreaded running back by committee for my No. 2 running back slot. Who will have the best year from this motley crew: Reggie Bush, LenDale White and Leon Washington.

Please provide your reasoning.

Gene Wang: Eddie Royal clearly has been a disappointment this season, and that's largely because he has yet to find a comfort level with Kyle Orton. He had that with Jay Cutler, and we all saw how good Royal can be when he's in sync with his quarterback. I suspect it will take at least a few more games before we see if Orton and Royal can get a better feel for one another.

I think Mark Clayton could be a dark horse in that the Ravens are opening up the offense and letting Joe Flacco use his strong arm. They are ranked third in the league in offense, and they have a great matchup this weekened against Cleveland.

Normally I'm down on Bush as a fantasy player, but with injuries to Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell, he's become much more valuable. I suspect he'll have the better year over White and Washington because he plays in such a prolific offense.

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Fantasyland: Gene which RB is more likely to score more TD's this week - Brandon Jacobs or Darren Sproles? Thanks

Gene Wang: Jacobs has an excellent matchup with Tampa Bay, plus I look for the Giants to establish him early, which they were not able to do against Dallas.

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New Delhi, India: Hi Gene! Love your chat and it's a tremendous help. Quick question: Should I go with Pierre Thomas or Willie Parker this week? Parker has struggled and with Mike Bell doubtful, Thomas will get more carries, but he hasn't been all that impressive thus far (due to injury).

Gene Wang: By all accounts, it looks as if Willie Parker's days are numbered in Pittsburgh, especially since he has gotten off to a slow start and Rashard Mendenhall is pushing him. I'm wary of starting running backs in their first game after an injury, but Thomas has been getting work with the first team, and the Saints are scoring close to 47 points per game. That tips the scales in his favor.

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Viera, Fla.: Gene,

Apparently I'm the rib master! I'm in an eight-team PPR league with IDPs. I was feeling good about my team after the draft ... until the injury bug hit. I started McNabb week 1 until he broke his rib. So then I popped in my back-up - Hasselback - until he broke his rib! Lost both games by single digits.

So, now I'm scouring the waiver wire for a quarterback who can put up at least some points. Looks like the best options are Flacco or Edwards. Whadda ya think?

Gene Wang: I was asked that same question on The Mike Wise Show yesterday, and I said Flacco by a hair over Edwards. The Ravens have a better matchup, but the Bills are going to have to score a bunch of points to hang with New Orleans. In those instances, I tend to go with the player who has the better matchup. I don't think you can go wrong either way though.

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Anonymous: Gonzales (Colts) is on the waiver wire, (multiple leagues) is he worth picking up or wait till bye week?

Gene Wang: He's definitely worth picking up and stashing on your bench. When he comes back, he figures to average out as well as some No. 1 fantasy wide receivers the rest of the season.

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Washington, D.C.: Gene,

In a PPR league, who would you start in the flex position: Leon Washington, Earl Bennett, or Derrick Mason? I get the feeling Bennett's going to have a big game, but that might just be the Vanderbilt fan in me talking.

Also, what's the deal with Addai? Is he worth starting anymore? He hasn't shown me much this year.

Gene Wang: Bennett was a fantasy sleeper throughout the preseason, but now it looks like Jay Cutler is targeting Johnny Knox much more. He's the hot wide receiver right now along with Pierre Garcon, Mario Manningham and the Giants' Steve Smith. Derrick Mason just doesn't produce enough big plays. With that in mind, Leon Washington is probably the best start of the three.

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Frederick, Md.: Hi Gene,

Flacco or Campbell?

Thanks.

Gene Wang: I was a big advocate of Jason Campbell last week, and I was flat wrong. He bombed, and the fact he didn't throw for a single touchdown at home against the Rams really scares me from a fantasy perspective. Flacco has a great matchup against Cleveland, so he's your guy.

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San Diego, Calif.: Hey, Gene!

Nothing better than sippin' my joe and reading your Friday live chat! I'd appreciate your advice. I'm in a 12-team PPR league and went for wide receivers early, so I'm stuck with Cutler and Campbell. Am I crazy to believe Campbell will have his one great week this week against Detroit?

Gene Wang: See previous answer. And save me a cup of coffee. I'll make up any excuse I can to get out to San Diego. I was last there for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how beautiful that part of the country is.

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Penn.: I have two questions for you.

Would you start Eli Manning vs. Tampa Bay or Kurt Warner vs. Indianapolis this weekend?

My second question is: I picked up Felix Jones this week because I thought he would get more carries because of Marion Barber's injury. My first running back is Adrian Peterson. But I have a few choices for my second running back: Ronnie Brown, Joseph Addai or Felix Jones. Which of those three would you start this weekend?

Gene Wang: Kurt Warner probably will be involved in a shootout with Indy, while the Giants likely are going to look to establish the run with Brandon Jacobs. They never really got the running game going against Dallas, and that's the Giants' identity. Plus rarely is Eli Manning going to outpoint Warner. I was down on Ronnie Brown in Week 1, but he came back with a purpose last week. He's also facing a Chargers defense that has been average at best against the run. I'm staring him as my No. 1 back this week. Felix Jones looked to be a great play earlier this week, but since learning Marion Barber was practicing, his value has dipped.

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Washington, D.C.: I wish I was kidding, but I have LT, Desean Jackson, Wes Welker and Marion Barber. Which are the most likely to start?

Gene Wang: DeSean Jackson is the most likely to start. The Patriots are saying Welker is good to go, and we're in a wait-and-see on Barber, who did practice. That's obviously a good sign he'll play, but he's going to be limited. LT isn't going to play until he's 100 percent healthy. Who knows how long that will be. And if Darren Sproles continues to have big games, don't hold your breath on LT coming back very soon.

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Clarks Summit, Penn: I was pleased to draft both Eli Manning and Matt Ryan. Who do recommend this week?

Also, I have Brandon Jacobs -- would you recommend breaking up the pair if I can find value in a trade?

Gene Wang: Matt Ryan is going to give you on average more fantasy points than Eli Manning, so unless Eli has a far better matchup, Ryan is the better play. I'm not sure what you could get for Eli in trade that will be a significant upgrade over what you have, but I don't know who's on your roster.

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: Any idea if Gore is worth keeping this week? Was thinking of activating Bush instead.

Thanks!

Gene Wang: Frank Gore should be in your starting lineup every week, regardless of matchup.

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Kettering, Ohio: Hey Gene,

Who should I start at flex this week, Santana Moss or Tim Hightower? Moss has been a disappointment thus far and Hightower has been surprisingly consistent so far. Both match ups look favorable, too.

Gene Wang: Hightower. After the Redskins failed to score a touchdown against St. Louis, I'm done with Redskins fantasy players beside Portis and Chris Cooley.

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San Diego, Calif.: Gene - I was at the Open and saw Tiger's eagle on 13 on Friday. Sorry I didn't have the chance to buy you a cup of joe or other favorite beverage. I really enjoy you live chats, and I think your blog is one of the most informative fantasy football blogs on the web.

Keep up the good work. Born in D.C., still a redskins fan

Gene Wang: The Skins are lucky to have loyal fans such as yourself, who still follow the team from across the country despite some disappointing seasons. Thanks for the kind words about the blog. It's still in its infancy, but hopefully we're building some momentum as the season moves forward and fantasy fanatics start coming to it more often.

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Fairfax, Va.: Hey Gene. I took a gamble and drafted Marshawn Lynch knowing that he would be out for the first three weeks. But because Fred Jackson has been playing so well, how do you see that working out for Lynch? Does he immediately become the No. 1 back in Buffalo (and be a good flex player in fantasy) or will he ease back into it the position over the next few weeks? Is he worth keeping? Thanks!

Gene Wang: He's worth keeping, but I'd take a very cautious approach. Bills OC Alex Van Pelt was asked if Fred Jackson still should be considered a backup, and he said he didn't think so. Jackson is too good to keep on the bench, but the Bills like Marshawn as a change of pace. He's going to get touches, but I can't see him getting heavy work so long as Jackson is rolling.

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Fairfax, Va.: The Steelers have always been a run-heavy offense but their running backs are all struggling. I have Willie Parker and he's just rotting away on my bench. Is it safe to drop him now or should I hold onto him for bye week/injury purposes? Will he elevate his play? (Chris Johnson and Ryan Grant are my starting running backs). Thanks!

Gene Wang: I was somewhat bullish on Parker at the start of the season with him being in a contract year, but it's become more apparent he's not the same Fast Willie we saw from 2005 to '07. But I can't see him continuing be this bad. He really can't get any worse, right? He's probably worth keeping for another week, but if he turns in a dud against the Bengals, cut bait on him.

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Burke, Va.: Some silly person in my 10-team non-PPR league released LaDanian Tomlinson, probably out of frustration. I have Darren Sproles already on my roster and Michael Turner as my lead running back. I've made a waiver claim for him with a good chance of getting him with Santana Moss being dropped from my roster to make room. My other wide receivers are Steve Smith (CAR), Darrick Mason, and Braylon Edwards.

Is it worth making this move in the hopes that LT can become a No. 1 back later in the season, or should I stay four-deep at wide receiver?

Gene Wang: You're in an ideal position, and you did exactly the right thing by putting in a waiver claim on LT. Sproles and LT is a pretty good RB handcuff. By the way, it never ceases to amaze me how far elite running backs can fall in such short periods of time. It wasn't that long ago we were talking about LT as one of the greatest fantasy players of all-time. Now owners are dropping him! Reminds of Shaun Alexander's rapid decline.

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Fairfax, Va.: Chris Johnson was the only reason my team won last week. Can I expect more consistent performances like this from him or will he be up and down? I really believe he will make "the leap" this season as a top 3 fantasy back. His speed makes him so dangerous.

Gene Wang: Agreed. CJ is a beast and should be in the starting lineup regardless of matchup.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you think Jim Zorn will be fired after the Redskins lose to the Lions this weekend?

Gene Wang: Calling your shot with a Lions victory, huh? It wouldn't suprise me in the least if the Lions won (I was stunned the Lions were getting 6 1/2 points at home, by the way), nor should it shock anyone if Dan Snyder dismissed Zorn before the end of the season. Remember Snyder fired Norv Turner when the Skins had a 7-6 record.

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Copenhagen: Which two RB's would you start? Chris Johnson vs. a stiff Jets defense, Darren McFadden vs. an up and coming Denver defense, or the rookie Knowshon Moreno vs. Oakland?

Gene Wang: This chat has been a Chris Johnson lovefest, and here it continues. CJ is a must-start regardless of matchup.

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Slaton, W.Va.: Hi Gene,

Love the chats, desperate for some advice. Any idea if Slaton will ever break out?

My running backs are in shambles: Grant's my No. 2, and Mendenhall and McCoy are on the bench. I could get Barber for Schaub (I have Rivers, Flacco, and Edwards), but I don't think he will be enough, whenever he comes back.

Thoughts?

Gene Wang: I was among the many fantasy devotees who thought Slaton was due for a breakout season. He had two difficult matchups to start the season, but this week he gets a Jags defense that rank in the middle of the pack against the run. He also had a big game against the Jaguars the last time he played them. I'd feel comfortable starting him this week.

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Fairfax, Va.: Like many other teams, I picked up Manningham this week but am worried about his shoulder injury and the fact that he didn't practice much. Should I start Manningham, Cotchery, or Devery Henderson as my third wide receiver? (R. Moss and Boldin are my starters). Thanks!

Gene Wang: Manningham is questionable on the injury report, but the reports I've been reading indicate he's going to play. He's a great No. 3 option at wide receiver, but be sure to monitor his status through the weekend.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Regarding the Chris Johnson love fest: CBS Sportsline has Chris Johnson as the sit of the week.

Gene Wang: I did see that before I started chatting, and CBS makes some good points. I know the Jets defense is really good, but you have to figure the Titans are going to find ways to get him into the right matchups. It wouldn't suprise me to see him split out at wide receiver. He's just so good in space.

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Pennsylvania: I am in a Yards Only League. Who Should I start at my third WR/TE spot: Chris Cooley or Dwayne Bowe?

I heard Bowe had a hamstring injury, is it serious? Should I sit him?

I have to submit my roster today.

Thanks

Gene Wang: Not only does he have a sore hamstring, but Bowe has a really bad matchup against the Eagles. Cooley, meantime, has been the Skins' only reliable offensive player and has a more favorable matchup against Detroit.

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Philadelphia: Would you trade Knowshown Moreno and Bernard Berrian for Steve Slaton?

Gene Wang: Steve Slaton's stock is down for obvious reasons, but his upside is too great to pass up. I like the trade, especially with a nagging injury Berrian and the RBBC in Denver.

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Portland, Me.: Thanks for the help Gene! Do you think Pierre Garcon, Devery Henderson or Todd Heap might be a good flex play this week?

Gene Wang: I was high on Garcon before the season, and there's no reason to think he won't be productive this week against Arizona in a game that has shootout written all over it.

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Elkridge, Md.: I'm hurting at RB due to LaDanian Tomlinson's injury du jour. How bad is Portis' injury and what chance does Ladell Betts have of getting significant playing time this week?

Gene Wang: Portis was limited for precautionary reasons. There's nothing at this point to indicate he won't be on the field on Sunday. Meanwhile Betts has had only six carries this season. So much for all the talk about Betts getting more work to keep Portis fresh.

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Washington, D.C.: CSB Sportsline should watch the first half of the Titans-Ravens game from last year. Chris Johnson had an amazing start before going out with the injury.

Gene Wang: Another good point, and another good reason to start CJ this week.

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Clarksburg, Md.: Would you start Cadillac Williams, Willie Parker, Knowshon Moreno or Chad OchoCinco at the flex position

Gene Wang: OchoCinco. Caddy has been downgraded because of an injury, Parker is off to a rough start, and Knowshon is in a muddled RB situation.

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Rockville, Md.: Last week I asked you about Sproles or Forte. You said go with Forte, but when we found out LaDanian Tomlinson was definitely out, we switched to Sproles, which was a good move.

But since we still respect your opinion, this week's question is: Romo or Schaub? (I can't even believe I'm asking this!)

Gene Wang: Smart move on your part, and thanks for giving me a second chance. I really like Schaub to wing it all over the field on Jacksonville, which has been bad against the pass this season. Beleive it or not, Carolina is third in pass defense this season, allowing 151 yards per game.

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Washington, D.C.: Gene,

Question on "must start" players like Westbrook. He's aging, almost always listed as probable come game time, and now is minus McNabb. What say you? Must he still start, or do I spell him this week and run with a marginally healthier running back by committee player like Julius Jones?

Gene Wang: Obviously monitor his progress today and tomorrow, but he's what I call a Must-Start Special this week because of his matchup. The Chiefs are giving up 132 rushing yards per game, and without McNabb, Westbrook is even more a part of that offense.

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South Florida: Gene - you came through for me big in the playoffs last year. Need to start three of the following: Slaton, Kevin Smith, Addai, Fred Jackson. Who do I sit?

Gene Wang: Addai. I even suggested Addai owners take a long, hard look at dropping him. He's really starting to become a fantasy disaster, especially with Donald Brown pushing him.

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St. Louis, Mo.: Greetings Gene from the Show Me State!

Thoughts on my third WR spot?

Our league is 0.3 PPR, 6 PPTD and 0.1 PPY

M.Manningham at TB

W.Welker (Q) home vs. ATL

D.Jackson (Q) home vs. KC

Thanks!

Gene Wang: Jackson was back on the practice field today, and it looks as if he's going to play. Plus the Eagles have a great matchup.

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Annandale, Va.: Romo or Flacco this week? Definitely leaning towards Romo, but am I crazy to consider Flacco?

Also, someone wants to trade me Warner in exchange for Romo. But we both will get rid of one other player as well. Just wondering when considering the other players, how much better is Warner (if at all) than Romo?

Gene Wang: You should consider it, then start Romo. He can't be as bad as he was last week, right? But if he is, it's time to start really worrying about him. Warner is consistently a better play than Romo simply because his wide receivers are on a completely different level than those in Dallas. When ranking the players, I'd put Warner at 6 and Romo at 9 or 10.

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Fairfax, Va.: Which member of the "Matt Pack" should I start: Ryan against the Pats or Schaub against the Jags? I'm leaning toward Schaub.

Gene Wang: Yup, Schaub is the guy.

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Seven Corners, Va.: Gene, Thanks for doing the chat. I need some help. I have to start 2 RB's from among the following: Adrian Peterson (will he play?) Jonathan Stewart, Leon Washington, Willie Parker and Derrick Ward. And for a friend/opponent, will Matt Forte have a good week? Thanks so much.

Gene Wang: AP will play, and he's always going to be in your starting lineup. I like Derrick Ward too since the news came out he will be starting this week ahead of Cadillac Williams, who nursing a sore knee. Plus I like the intangible of Ward facing his former team. As for Forte, I'm of the mind he can't be as bad as he's been in the first two weeks, right? But then I see the Bengals are giving up just 82 rushing yards per game, which makes me super cautious about saying he's going to have a big game.

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Gene Wang: Thanks again for another great round of questions. Be sure to go to my Fantasy Check blog later today for Fantasy Check Live Overtime, where I will answer some questions I was unable to get to in this session. Best of luck to everyone this weekend, and don't forget you can hear me on 106.7 The Fan every Thursday at 1 p.m. and see me on Washington Post Live each Wednesday at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet. See you all next week.

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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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