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Nothing but blues for KWS' opponents

Loading a fantasy football roster with players from your favorite teams can be a recipe for disaster if an owner's heart overtakes his or her head during the draft and trolling the waiver wire.

But that method has been a big reason for Kenny Wayne Shepherd's success in the Alice in Chains & Friends Fantasy Football Charity League this season as his KWS Domination is the highest-scoring team and leads all rivals with an 8-2 record. It doesn't hurt that the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts (9-0) are his favorite team and the 9-0 New Orleans Saints are also close to his heart.

"I made some acquisitions earlier in the season and got the Saints' defense and kicker and that has worked out well for me," Shepherd said via e-mail early Thursday before he was scheduled to perform in a concert in Baltimore.

Shepherd grew up in Louisiana, but it was closer to Dallas than New Orleans. So he said he rooted for the Cowboys and the Saints as a kid.

"Over those years it proved to be a bit more rewarding if you were a Cowboys fan. Those were the days of [coach] Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, etc.," Shepherd, 32, said. "They really had some star players back then.

"Though the Cowboys proved to be the better team over the course of those years, it was Archie Manning quarterbacking for the Saints that began my love for the Manning family of quarterbacks."

That played out on draft day for Shepherd as he picked up Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (third round) and Giants QB Eli Manning (10th round). Besides that, things fell into place nicely on draft day as Shepherd wound up with the first overall pick and took Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, followed by Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne with the last pick of the second round. Both are the top ranked players at their positions while Peyton Manning is No. 2.

"I have never done fantasy football, so I was a little nervous about this because it's on ESPN.com for the world to see. And all us musicians are very competitive by nature, so naturally I want to win," Shepherd said. "The greatest part about it is that somehow I was able to get all the guys on my team that I really wanted the most like Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Adrian Peterson, etc., in the draft, and over the season I have picked up some good players like Sidney Rice as well. It has been a learning process, and I believe I'm hooked."

Except for a little preseason draft help and fantasy football tutorial from his uncle Joe, Shepherd said he has been running his team completely on his own.

The current leg of Shepherd's tour ends Saturday in Toledo, Ohio, before he hits the road again in February. He said he's also mixing a live record to be released early next year, and he and his band will be working on their next studio album in the next few months with an eye toward a 2010 release.

"So look for two new Kenny Wayne Shepherd records in 2010," he said.

If current trends continue, recordings might not be the only double play Shepherd has to be excited about next year.

"I'm proud that both my teams are the only two undefeated teams in the league," Shepherd said. "I have to tell you, I would be in heaven if the Super Bowl ended up being Colts versus Saints this year."

Each participant in the Alice in Chains & Friends Charity Fantasy Football League will contribute one item, and the modern blues guitarist is putting an autographed Kenny Wayne Shepherd Signature Series Fender Stratocaster as his contribution. The league champion will then designate which charity receives the auction's proceeds.

Shepherd is playing for Mending Kids International, which organizes, finances and provides life-changing medical care to children around the world.

"My family has been one of many contributors to Mending Kids International over the past many years," Shepherd said. "As a result I have met many of the kids that have come here to receive the medical treatment they need. I have witnessed the process firsthand: meeting the children when they come here and then seeing them come out on the other side of their surgeries and living an enriched life as a result of the care provided by the people involved at MKI."

Weekly updates on the Alice in Chains & Friends Charity Fantasy Football League, trash talk and interviews with the owners will be published on ESPN.com's The Life section throughout the season. Members of the league also will drop by SportsNation for occasional chats.

Here are the standings after Week 10, with a look ahead to this weekend's matchups (mouse over the photos for bios of the participants):

Alice in Chains & Friends Charity Fantasy Football League Standings

  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd
    Place of birth: Shreveport, La. Age: 32 Fantasy football experience: Rookie Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts

    Personal: Shepherd cut his musical teeth opening for The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, The Eagles and Van Halen.



  • Jerry Cantrell

    Place of birth: Tacoma, Wash. Age: 43 Fantasy football experience: 5 years Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks/Pittsburgh Steelers

    Personal: Lead guitarist Cantrell's legacy with Alice In Chains includes 14 million albums sold, 19 Top 40 singles and six Grammy nominations.



  • Scott Ian

    Place of birth: New York Age: 45 Fantasy football experience: Rookie Favorite team: New York Giants

    Personal: When Ian isn't playing guitar for Anthrax, he's schooling amateurs at the poker table.


  • Vinnie Paul

    Place of birth: Abilene, Texas Age: 45 Fantasy football experience: 10 years Favorite team: Dallas Cowboys

    Personal: Paul, who formed Pantera with his late brother Dimebag Darrell, plays drums the way Ray Lewis hits people. In other words, hard.


  • Zakk Wylde
    Place of birth: Bayonne, N.J. Age: 42 Favorite team: New York Giants

    Personal: Wylde landed the job of lead guitarist and co-songwriter for Ozzy Osbourne at the age of 19 and later founded Black Label Society.


  • Kenny Aronoff

    Place of birth: Albany, N.Y. Age: 56 Fantasy football experience: 3 years Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts

    Personal: Aronoff has played drums for a who's who of rock legends, including Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many more.


  • Matt Willig
    Place of birth: Whittier, Calif. Age: 40 Fantasy football experience: 0 years Favorite team: No favorite, but "I do like to watch the Carolina Panthers every Sunday, especially to watch my boy, [left tackle] Jordan Gross, play."

    Personal: One of two non-musicians in the league, Willig spent 12 years in the NFL with six different teams.


  • Duff McKagan
    Place of birth: Seattle Age: 45 Fantasy football experience: Rookie Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks

    Personal: Before playing bass for Velvet Revolver, McKagan spent 13 years with Guns N' Roses, so he's ready for anything.


  • Mike Inez
    Place of birth: San Fernando, Calif. Age: 43 Fantasy football experience: 6 years Favorite team: Oakland Raiders

    Personal: Before playing bass guitar for Alice In Chains, Inez was rocking arenas with Ozzy Osbourne.


  • Matthew Berry
    Place of birth: Denver Age: "Late 30s" Fantasy football experience: 17 years Favorite team: Washington Redskins

    Personal: Berry, who wouldn't disclose any musical talents, is ESPN.com's Talented Mr. Roto and a five-time award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.