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Fantasy Fix

In some leagues, fantasy football playoffs are already underway. Wanna see what a first place team looks like? Here's my guys, who finished the regular season 10-3 and alone in first place in my 10-team league:

* QB Eli Manning. Started as my No. 2 behind the doomed Jon Kitna.

* QB Tyler Thigpen. Picked up in Week 8 after the J.T. O'Sullivan experiment failed miserably.

* WR Andre Johnson. Made me look foolish early on, but found himself.

* WR Anquan Boldin. Had my eye on Larry Fitzgerald in the draft and missed him. Big payoff, even considering injury time.

* RB Ronnie Brown. A gamble pick, which I probably ranked too high. Started strong, finished just average.

* RB Ryan Grant. Major disappointment the first half of season, but has come on strong since, excepting last week.

* TE Tony Gonzalez. Delivered big time. Only got better as Kansas City experienced QB and RB issues.

* W/T Santana Moss. We had a WR/TE flex position this year. Moss was my most consistent player, but very inconsistent at that.

* W/R Steven Jackson. Had a few stellar weeks, but injuries often kept him out of my lineup.

* W/R Julius Jones. Got him in a trade for WR Lance Moore because I under-used Moore. Still, a very dumb trade.

* K Neil Rackers.

* RB Jerious Norwood. All-around strong year getting Michael Turner's sloppy seconds for a good Atlanta team.

* WR Braylon Edwards. Terrible, unfulfilled promise, just like the rest of Cleveland Browns)

* RB Mewelde Moore. Great pick-up when Willie Parker got hurt. Subbed for Jackson on my team.

* RB Darren Sproles. Had his moments, then faded.

* WR Roy Williams. Never did much, even after he was traded to Dallas.

Norwood actually started for me more weeks than Jones did, and I'll start him again in the playoffs. Now, the playoff conundrum: Good fantasy teams have good players from good real teams, but good real teams are more likely to rest and protect their good players in the final weeks of the NFL regular season, making your good fantasy team not so good anymore. I'm particular worried about Manning taking it easy. My teams have been bounced in the first round of the play-offs three years running - will I break the pattern? We'll find out next week. In the meantime, fresh advice from the roto experts:

* NFL Skinny has a weather report warning fantasy teams owners not too get too freaked out about bad weather conditions affecting player performance - well, unless it's a lot of snow or wind. Seemed to me bad weather affected performance in one game last week: Denver at NY Jets, where players on the home team seemed to be slipping around a lot more in the rain.

* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week lists some good buys for playoff teams still looking for a little extra boost. Minnesota's No. 2 RB Chester Taylor's a strong buy because he's facing Detroit, and if his mop-up duty against the Bears last week is any indication, he could get a ton of late yards after Adrian Peterson rests early on what will conservatively be at least a 150-yard day.

* Fantasy FanHouse focuses on NFC South players this week, and they suggest I don't start Norwood against a New Orleans defense that is 19th against the run and 24th against the pass. Do they know something I don't? The beauty of Norwood is that he catches passes, runs and returns kicks. He usually benefits whether or not Turner has a monster day.

Dwyane Wade is flat out rolling after an off year, so good in the first month of the season and especially in the last week that he's now the No. 1-ranked player in most Yahoo! leagues. He's leading the league with 28.7 points per game, averaging about 8 assists per game and has the nice benefit of 31 blocks in 18 games from the point guard/shooting guard slot.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for help in some specific stat areas, take a look at these guys:

For 3-point help
* Rasual Butler. SG/SF, 3.0 threes per game, only 3 percent-owned in Yahoo!.

* Maurice Evans. SG/SF, 2.7 TPG, only 9 percent-owned.

For blocks
* Ronny Turiaf. PF/C, 2.3 blocks per game, only 8 percent-owned, though you'll have to make room for his 2.6 points per game.

* Kendrick Perkins. PF/C, 2.0 BPG, only 58 percent-owned.

For steals
* Mario Chalmers. PG, 2.1 steals per game, 43 percent-owned.

* Russell Westbrook. PG, 1.8 SPG, 41 percent owned.

And, here's what the experts have to say this week:

* NBA Skinny says injuries to starters on their respective teams have elevated the fantasy value of Luther Head and Brook Lopez. Head delivers a little bit of everything, including three-pointers and steals. Lopez' rookie season is going extremely well so far, with 9.7 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game and 1.6 block per game.

* Bleacher Report has even more love to add to the pile of love that D.J. Augustin has been getting since the pre-season. Yet, he somehow has been exceeding the hype over the last week, rivaling another rookie point guard by the name of Derrick Rose.

* CBS Sportsline says it's a good week to start Augustin (duh), but here's another surprising name they like as a starter this week: Greg Oden. He finally had a good game recently, but looks awfully far from living up to his already-delayed promise, while guys like Augustin and Rose are getting off to great starts.


Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday, except for the occasional Thursday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

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