By Tim Marcin
Elm Sports Editor

So Washington College sports have not begun, the NFL regular season has not begun and baseball is in the lull before playoffs. What is there to do? Prepare for fantasy football of course, that’s why it was invented in the first place.

Preparing for fantasy football is tricky though. Online, there is simply too much material, too much to take in. Here is a simple breakdown of the three basic mistakes you want to avoid as the fantasy season starts.

1. Don’t take yourself too seriously
I can’t stress this one enough. It is fantasy sports; do not waste your time with hours and hours of research and countless pages of advanced statistics. You know “that guy” who thinks he has the secret formula to winning? That kills all of the fun, and you know what? The guy (or girl) who does that often loses. Try to out-think everyone else and you just end up out-thinking yourself. Have a basic draft sheet from a major site (like ESPN or Yahoo!) and trust your gut with your picks. If you’re playing fantasy football, chances are you know a bit about the sport—just go with it. Leave all of the studying for when midterms come around.

2. Don’t stay loyal to your team
This one is going to be tough to hear. Do not pick players simply because they are on your favorite team. Sure, if you support the Packers and Aaron Rodgers is available, that’s a smart pick. However, do not make picks solely because of your affiliation as a fan. I’m looking at you Ravens fans. Picking Joe Flacco over Drew Brees makes no sense and you cannot justify it by saying “I’m from Baltimore!”

Furthermore, if you end up with too many players from one team on your fantasy squad, you run the risk of bombing out every week. If you have a large portion of one offense and they have a terrible game, that means your fantasy team also has a terrible game.

3. Don’t listen to your friends on draft night
You may be thinking, “But my friends are wonderful, thoughtful, great human beings, they would never sabotage me.” Come on. Everybody wants to win the league.

At the draft, your friend may be preaching that he thinks Mike Vick will make it through the year without an injury or that Terrell Owens will once again be the top receiver in the league. Don’t listen. Chances are they have their best interests at heart. Ask yourself, “Would I share my favorite pick for everyone to hear?” Neither would your friends.

4. Don’t think of tight ends as tight ends
Have you seen Rob Gronkowski lately? This guy is not human. He caught 90 passes for 17 touchdowns and 1,327 yards in the 2011 regular season. That was good for the most receiving touchdowns in the league and the sixth most receiving yards–for any position. By the way, Saints’ tight end Jimmy Graham was no slouch either. He was fourth in the league in receiving touchdowns (11) and seventh in receiving yards (1310).

My point is this: Don’t let the label scare you. Tight ends are a huge part of any bonafide passing offense in the NFL nowadays. Gone are the days of first string blocking tight end. Don’t pass up an elite tight end for an above average receiver. Be bold and draft them high. Besides Graham and Gronkowski names like Aaron Hernandez, Vernon Davis and Jason Witten should be high up on your draft board.

5. Avoid players coming off injuries
It’s tempting. It is very tempting to take a high profile player coming off an injury. Say this year, Adrian Peterson is falling in the first round because he is coming off a knee injury and you think you need to take him. Resist! It could pay off, true, but in reality, fantasy sports are about the long haul. One player does not usually win a trophy, but he sure can lose one.

Injured players (especially running backs who need every ounce of athleticism they have) are high-risk-high-reward. Take a known quantity over the risky one. You can make up for the (possibly) lost points at other positions and avoid a trainwreck. For at least the first four rounds: go with what you know.

The Elm

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