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Fantasy Fix

My fantasy football team is still in the hunt for a league title, though I was almost derailed by Pro Bowl-bound Eli Manning - or rather, Manning's offensive line, which allowed Dallas to put Manning on his back eight times last Sunday, with two interceptions on rushed passes. Eli's miniscule points aside, big days from WR Andre Johnson (207 receiving yards, 1 TD) and Steven Jackson (127 total yards, 1 TD) got me through the first round of the playoffs. My guys now get to play for the championship.

I had almost rested Manning and picked up Tavaris Jackson off waivers to be my second QB along with Tyler Thigpen, but just before I clicked the magic button, I got on a moral high horse and decided it wasn't quite fair. I rode Manning into first place during the regular season, I argued to myself, and I'm not going to go with a potentially hot hand off waivers just because I can. We now know that Jackson had a huge day (a modest 163 yards, but 4 TDs).

I gave in last night and claimed Jackson off waivers, but I'm still weighing the moral dilemma. Half the league no longer cares what moves are being made by the two remaining teams. My opponent for the title also made a waiver swap to prop up his defense after I claimed Jackson. No one has made a peep about my move, and my opponent has a pretty terrifying offense, including Drew Brees and Peyton Manning at QB, along with newly-crowned stud RB Pierre Thomas and other weapons. Still, I haven't yet decided whether or not I'll play Jackson. What would you do?

I bet our fantasy football experts don't get dragged down by such moral dilemmas:

* Pickups of the Week is still dishing up waiver ideas for whoever's ready. They have QB Dan Orlovsky as a "solid buy" against the Saints defense that the Bears barely manhandled last Thursday night. A notable "moderate buy" is RB Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, who was not supposed to be back this year, but did return a couple week ago and has been gathering steam. Judging by his ownership frequency (just 3 percent in Yahoo! leagues), many fantasy team owners sold him for scrap long ago and may not know he's back at work.

* The Talented Mr. Roto has a familiar name of his list of pick-ups this week: Cedric Benson. The season has seen several Bears rejects-made-good, but Benson may be the most surprising. With Cincinnati depending on a second-string QB, the late-season Bengals addition has been busy, and collected 160 total yards last week.

* The Commish writes about Week 16 being the conclusive week for the fantasy football masses. May they watch Week 17 games and not feel like they are rooting for or against individuals rather than teams (I added that part myself). The Commish also talks about inherent conundrum of safeties.

It's injuries galore in the NBA. Some of the ailing are players you expect to see injured or hurting this time every year (Carlos Boozer, Corey Maggette), and others aren't (Dwight Howard, Paul Pierce). In the NBA, even minor injuries can cost players a game or two, which means they can cost a fantasy team that week's head-to-head contest.

Such situations highlight the importance of position balance. Certainly, there are leagues where you need as many high scorers and top rebounders as possible, but you've got to have back-ups at every position, too. It's hard to seek at balance at every position during the draft when you already have two shooting guards but a shot at another Top 25 scoring SG. But these are the weeks in the late first half of the season when position balance pays off, and reliable second fiddles get their chances to shine.

Who are we talking about?

Paul Millsap has been doing a fine job getting Boozer's minutes (14.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG. Players as a varied as Brandan Wright, Anthony Morrow and Ronny Turiaf have gained more minutes while Maggette has been out. Sometimes it's hard to tell who will benefit when a first-stringer goes down, but keeping an occasional eye on team depth charts is not a bad idea.

So, what are the fantasy basketball experts talking about this week?

* Fantasy has more on the injury bug in the NBA. We forgot to mention Kevin Martin and Rafer Alston are out, too. There are almost more players in the NBA getting hurt right now than there are coaches getting fired. Almost.

* Court Report looks at the beneficiaries of two fairly big trades within the last week. You can read more about who got traded at Court Report, but the key names to remember are Jason Richardson, who went to Phoenix, and Javaris Crittenden, who made his way to Washington. Richardson is having a slightly down year so far, but could move into superstar PPG range getting the ball from Steve Nash. Meanwhile, the once-heralded Crittenden hasn't done much at all yet, but he suddenly looks like a starting point guard in Washington, at least until well into the second half of the season.

* CBS Sportsline now has extremely useful updates on player position eligibility, another bit of information that can help you manage your roster through injuries. This column notes how many more games certain players need at certain positions to get new eligibility. Get ready to reap the rewards of Darko Milicic from the forward slot.

Next week, we'll feature our season-ending fantasy football wrap-up and predictions for next year's draft. In the basketball realm, we'll take a look at how this year's abundance of coaching changes may influence fantasy player performance.


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

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