Hokies In The NFL: Gobbler Country Fantasy Advice

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Over the last decade, the phenomenon of fantasy sports, particularly fantasy football, has become entrenched in American (and even the world) culture. But, as much as sports fans love to root for players they, well, love, fantasy sports is a completely different circumstance. Those who play fantasy sports understand this inherently, but to those who do not, here's the rub: you pick the best player, not the one who you feel the greatest connection with. If not, the results that follow are often are undesirable. The best equation I've heard is that fantasy football makes you love the players that you love less and like the players that you hate more. It's the evening out effect. You root for players, teams and defenses you never thought you would/could and root against players, teams and defenses you never thought you would/could as well essentially just for bragging rights. But what's wrong with picking up a familiar face, a player you root for, and in this case a Hokie, when it's prudent to do so? Nothing. The dilemma is, when is that the case and when is it just a case of your heart telling you it's a good idea? As a major fantasy football player and an owner who has gone through such quandaries before, but has learned to be judicious, I'm here to offer you the advice about when you should spring for a Hokie and when you should not click that button. For the best fantasy advice that a free site can provide, keep reading below.

Just like Casey Richey's Hokies in the NFL posts, I will not be including offensive linemen, as I do not currently know of any fantasy formats in which players draft linemen and have no knowledge of a scoring system for them if so. But unlike Casey's posts, this will operate like a stock exchange of sorts. I will list players you should pick up, offer a contract to in keeper/dynasty leagues, drop, trade for or hold on to. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, and need to consult a reference of the various fantasy leagues and how they're scored, SB Nation does a pretty good job of describing those here (though they do omit IDP or individual defensive player leagues, where defenders are drafted or picked up and scored on an individual basis unlike the conventional team defense approach). So without further ado, let's begin.

PICK UP

Eddie Royal, WR San Diego Chargers -- As Casey said in his Hokies in the NFL post from Week 2:

"Eddie had an outstanding day for the Chargers in their tight 33-30 win over the Eagles. Royal pulled in seven catches for 90 yards and THREE touchdowns. Royal had 11-,24- and 15-yard touchdown receptions, bringing his two-week total to five. For some perspective on that, he had 10 career touchdown receptions coming into this season and a total of five over the past FOUR seasons combined. His second touchdown came on a 3rd-and-10 play and his third touchdown put the Chargers ahead momentarily. After a scary injury just before the start of the season, it's really good to see Eddie thriving like this. Here's to hoping it continues and a big "told you so" to the friend that didn't listen to me about picking up Eddie for her fantasy football team. Tisk tisk.
7 REC, 90 YDS, 3 TDS; 2 PR, 5 YDS"

Casey was right. Maybe it's too early to call Royal completely back from the receiver he was in 2008-2010, a time in which was one of the best possession receivers in the league, but he has picked up his play statistically in the first two weeks over his 2011-2012 seasons, both of which were down years, split between the Broncos and Chargers. There are several factors in play here:

1. As I just said, Royal is in his second year with the Chargers, and as such, coupled with the injuries San Diego has suffered at wide receiver, is one of the most familiar targets for quarterback Philip Rivers. The other healthy receivers San Diego has at their disposal right now: Antonio Gates (TE), Vincent Brown, rookie Keenan Allen and 26-year old backup Seyi Ajirotutu, who was good in 2010, but has bounced around the league and been in a reserve role since, and their running backs, only one of which (Danny Woodhead) is a threat in the passing game.

2. As such, San Diego's options are limited, and the main three of Gates, Royal and Vincent Brown should all see more targets and subsequently catches, at least for the time being.

3. At some point, probably midway through this year, it is possible that Royal will be relegated to backup or third/fourth wide receiver duties instead of his current spot, as Vincent Brown, who has been relatively quiet so far, is poised for a breakout season after being arguably the best player, not just wide receiver, in Chargers camp. Also, the top receiver on San Diego's roster, Malcom Floyd, left the Week 2 game against the Eagles with a neck injury that has him out "indefinitely". He is in a neck brace and will almost certainly miss Week 3 and possibly future weeks. Add that to a knee injury that bothered him throughout camp and has limited his effectiveness.

Verdict: Royal may have just had two good weeks, but I feel confident in advising those of you not in dynasty or keeper leagues to pick him up for Week 3 as a WR plug-in at the very least. He is currently tied with DeSean Jackson for the most points in ESPN leagues among WR's with 41 and is still available in 1/5 of the leagues. So now's perhaps your last chance to corner the market on him. If he reverts to his previous two seasons upon Floyd's return, no harm no foul. But for now, he would be a smart fantasy pickup for anyone in a wide receiver or flex option crunch.

James Anderson, LB Chicago Bears -- I realize, again, that this is going to be lost on most of you who play in traditional leagues, but there are leagues where you draft defenders on an individual basis rather than entire defenses. That practice and its scoring is called IDP. Generally speaking, those leagues require more skill, so if you're a fantasy novice, don't just jump right in and expect to compete as those are for fantasy elites. But assuming you're already in one of those leagues, you probably know how much more fun you'll have in them. And I would recommend to you to go pick up James Anderson this instant if he's not already taken. As Casey said in his Week 2 Hokies in the NFL:

"Anderson had a very solid outing for the Bears in their one-point win over the Vikings. Anderson racked up eight solo tackles with nine total tackles and one tackle for loss. I can't find any film on it, but Anderson dropped Adrian Peterson for a loss of 13 yards for that TFL. He also defended a pass and also stopped Christian Ponder short of a first down on 3rd-and-2 (the Vikings would later convert on 4th down, however.)
9 TAK, 8 SOLO, 1 TFL, 1 PD"

Verdict: Anderson, recovered from a back injury that ended his 2012 season four games prematurely, was cut by the Panthers in the offseason after becoming the linebacker to play in the most games for the team in the team's history (94). Though his 2012 was not on par with his 2011 and 2010 seasons (in which he was among the top-scoring fantasy linebackers in the league) even before the injury, it certainly cast doubt on his ability to return to that form. But so far, Anderson has seemingly recaptured that form, as he's on pace for 112 tackles and 120 yards in stuffs. If it's a league in which contracts are doled out, you might want to even sign him to a multiple-year deal, as he's still only 29, and doesn't have much of an injury history prior to last season, an age which theoretically puts him in the prime of his career. The Bears are also short on internal options to replace Anderson, as career special teamer Blake Costanzo is the only player listed behind him at the position. As for trading for him, be judicious, but also know that of all the Hokie fantasy options, Anderson is the most consistent and proven commodity. He's a starting quality linebacker, even at SLB. I wouldn't give up an offensive playmaker of a higher ilk, but if you're desperate for a linebacker, he's an intriguing option that might still be able to be had on the cheap for a fantasy owner/GM who doesn't recognize his value.

HOLD OR TRADE FOR

Michael Vick, QB Philadelphia Eagles -- Vick may have had his worst game of the season last night against the Chiefs, but he's still a solid pick up for a fantasy owner. Even when his passing was pedestrian at best, Vick nearly always covered as an average fantasy option in most standard leagues with his rushing stats. But this version of Chip Kelly's offense is fitting like a glove.

What happened last night was the result of the Chiefs having a good secondary, a DAMN GOOD secondary, and a pretty good defense overall. So don't jump off the cliff with him by any means. Projections still point to Vick having a career year, surpassing 4,000 passing yards for the first time while racking up more points than he has in any year since 2006. The real question, as always, is health. Vick has not completed a full season since 2006, his only full season in fact, though there are some semantics involved there.

Verdict: If you're in a league where you're only allowed one starting quarterback (like a 32-team keeper or dynasty league), make sure to have Nick Foles as a handcuff. If you're in a standard league though, you're going to have trouble finding Vick in free agency, as he's likely not there. If he is a free agent, he's definitely worth picking up as a contingency plan at the very least. He has strong QB2 value in leagues that use a second QB. As for trading for Vick, use your best judgement, but typically, reason would dictate trading from a position of excess if at all possible.

Kam Chancellor, S Seattle Seahawks -- Chancellor is one of the best fantasy safeties in the game, as well as one of the best actual ones. As such, he will be completely unavailable in IDP leagues as a free agent, I'm sure. But, if you are so lucky (or smart) to have picked up or drafted Chancellor, I would advise you not to move him unless the return was great. He's near the top of defensive backs as a fantasy option and scores nearly as many points as a solid starting linebacker. If you're in an IDP league, you know how rare that is. Only you can decide if it's worth it to ship Kam away, but generally, I would advise that you had a starting safety behind him and were trading up for a linebacker or an offensive impact player. There appears to be no reason to expect a drop-off for Kam, and if he is able to pick off as many passes as he did in 2011 (4), a solid number for a safety, his value will go through the roof. As Casey said in his Hokies in the NFL Week 2:

"Chancellor had a nice outing for the Seahawks in their 29-3 win over the 49ers. Chancellor was on the receiving end of one of Colin Kaepernick's three interceptions (MORE LIKE COLIN KAEPERPICK) and returning it 30 yards to the San Francisco 2-yard line. One play later, Marshawn Lynch is celebrating in the end zone with the nail in the coffin touchdown. Chancellor also earned two solo tackles and five total tackles.
5 TAK, 2 SOLO, INT, 30 YDS"

Verdict: If you have Chancellor on your roster, you've done well for yourself. Unless you're offered something that wows you, tell that owner to kick rocks. You might even want to extend Chancellor, even in a league that forces you to pay a higher cost to do so, if he is running out of years on his contract.

DROP

Shayne Graham, K Pittsburgh Steelers -- Graham was cut after Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham had recovered from his injury.

Verdict: He may surface somewhere else this year with another team, in which case, depending on the team, by all means go for it. There is just no need to keep an extra kicker on the roster in any fantasy format, as it takes up a valuable roster spot. Even if you would have to cut him and absorb all or part the contract, unless you have room and a really strong gut feeling that he'll be re-signed, there's no benefit to keeping him for now.

Ryan Williams, RB Arizona Cardinals -- A healthy scratch, Williams was Inactive again for the Cardinals and is officially fifth on their depth chart at running back.

Verdict: As much as we'd like to see him get some carries or even some PT, it's unlikely to happen at all this year, at least for the Cardinals. Watch out for if he were to be traded to another team in need of a back, like say, Cleveland, but otherwise he has absolutely zero fantasy value. If you spent a draft pick on him, hopefully it was a late one. Realize the folly of your ways and cut ties now.

We hope you enjoyed the first in our series of Hokies In The NFL: Gobbler Country Fantasy Advice. Look for it in the future as significant fantasy moves regarding Hokies in the NFL are required. Also remember to read Casey's weekly Hokies in the NFL posts to supplement your fantasy advice and to keep track of all the former Virginia Tech players doing their thing in the league. You can find it all here on Gobbler Country.

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