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The Thinking Chair


The big news of last week in fantasy sports was, of course, the trading deadline in MLB. The biggest names to shuffle around teams were Mark Teixeira, Ken Griffey Jr., Jason Bay, Manny Ramirez and Ivan Rodriguez. With apologies to the families of LaTroy Hawkins and "the other" Carlos Santana, those first names were really the big ones with fantasy (and "real-life") implications. Do you notice anything in those five names? Only one -- ManRam himself -- left the American League for the Senior Circuit.

That matters if you are in a NL-only league. Most leagues have a rule that if someone gets traded to the other league, that's it. So, owners of Teixeira, Griffey and Bay are simply bummed. If you play long enough, you get hosed pretty seriously by situations like this. Some folks enjoy that, whether it happens to their teams or not -- it's a real risk that you have to think about. And sometimes it creates real benefits -- a few years back when he was playing for the Washington Nationals, Alfonso Soriano went for a significant discount in drafts because everyone assumed he was going to be traded mid-season. He wasn't, and those who got him for that bargain price all benefitted. Surely, some of the names above were rumored to be trading fodder before the season started, but not all of them.

Other leagues let you keep a player if he moves to the other league as some type of exception. This rule was undoubtedly created by people stung by such mid-season trades, and while I'd clearly benefit from it today, I'm not crazy about it. You are either in a mono-league (NL-only, AL-only) or you aren't. (And for all of those who aren't -- thanks for reading along so far. This really hasn't been much help for you yet.)

You want to know a sign that your fantasy team might not be headed toward a title? It's when you find yourself performing the following transaction:

Drop: Jorge PosadaAdd: Scott Hairston

Now, surely, Hairston has been having a good season -- in as much as you can say that about someone with a Kevin Maas-like 31 RBIs to go with his 17 HRs. But that's not a good trade-off for anyone's team. (Especially when you are replacing Posada at catcher with Jason Kendall. Wow.)

It's hard when it's barely August and you pretty much want to only focus on fantasy football. My main league just pulled numbers to determine the draft order, and I had the misfortune to get the 8th pick in our 10-team league. Why is that so bad? Well, as they say, here's the deal: there are five clearly superior running backs who will all be gone before my pick (LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Joseph Addai, Steven Jackson and Brian Westbrook). Tom Brady will also be long gone (going in some leagues as high as the No. 2 pick), and Randy Moss is clearly the best WR by a long shot. If I had the 7th pick and he was still there, he's clearly a better choice than anyone else left on the board -- in fact, he's often going well before pick No. 7.

So, what do you do at No. 8? You could take Peyton Manning, and if you play in a QB-centric league (e.g., one that awards six points for a passing TD or lets you start two QBs), Manning is clearly the right choice here. I'm not particularly worried about his knee surgery, but the fact that the Colts have signed Jared Lorenzen and Quinn Gray to go with Jim Sorgi in the race to back up Peyton does suggest that it could press on as an issue, so keep abreast of the situation.

If Manning isn't the right pick for you, then you might be leaning toward Frank Gore, the talented RB for the heroic, masterful, all-that-is-good-in-the-world San Francisco 49ers. (Wholly unnecessary disclaimer: I'm a huge Niners fan.) Now, I obviously love Gore and hope that he has the kind of season this pick would merit, but I would lean toward taking two other RBs beforehand -- Marion Barber III or Marshawn Lynch. Both are bruising backs with, largely speaking, with no real competition for carries. They play on run-oriented offenses and have quality offensive lines. But my choices there are sort of emblematic about the issue at No. 8 -- because you could easily interchange those names with Clinton Portis or Ryan Grant, and heck, even Larry Johnson. All of these guys are talented -- and all of them have at least one burning question. Will Grant sign a contract? Is LJ all used up? Is Portis, in fact, completely out of his mind? Sure, Barber and Lynch have similar issues -- but to me, they're much milder, which is why I'd lean towards them.

On a non-football note, I'm just going to come out here and say it -- there's a problem when you have a show about comedians that is TWO FREAKING HOURS LONG and at best, there are three laughs in that entire period of time. I know that Last Comic Standing does create great work for the finalists in terms of comedy clubs around the country, but it's really not so wonderful for the viewer.

And yet ... I watch.

I'm also watching Big Brother 10, and I just have to say that it's been pretty mediocre so far. But it's just a little early for people to have gone completely crazy. What's interesting is that Renne, the bat-crazy New Orleans woman who wears wigs, has suddenly started seeming like the voice of reason. That's when you know things are gonna get good.

It's time to wrap things up here ... and while we're at it, I'd just like to say something here. With the trade for Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers' Andruw Jones is officially a reserve player ... who is earning $36.2 million over the next two seasons. For folks with the kind of competitive juices that allows them to become major league athletes, riding the pine probably hurts quite a bit. But I'm just saying -- I could be paid that kind of money NOT to work. If anyone is listening, you know how to reach me.

Keywords: MLB trading deadline, Rotoexperts, expert, advice, attitude, strategy, Peyton Manning, NL-only, Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, Marion Barber III, Last Comic Standing, Big Brother 10, Jared Lorenzen.