The Fantasy Doctor returns: Tips for a healthy 2012 fantasy football season

Football is clearly America’s favorite sport, so if you don’t like America you can stop reading now and go play cricket or something. Like most things American, fantasy football is just another way to assert your dominance and claim your rightful place as undisputed champion of the world.

As this year’s Fantasy Doctor, it’s my job to provide tips on who to start/sit and identify good players to pick up, but most importantly to link to hilarious YouTube videos. As an Advertising major (i.e., bad at math and science), it’s safe to say I’ll never be referred to as doctor again, so I’m going to cherish these moments.

In order to prove your superiority, however, you’re going to need to be ready for the upcoming season. Here are a few tips to help keep your hopes for eternal glory alive this year:

*Come up with a good team name*

No matter how well your team plays on Sundays, if you don’t have a solid name, you’ll get no respect. If you want to take the easy route, just Google “fantasy football team names” and you’ll get some good ideas. I personally think it’s better to come up with your own name, but you can’t go wrong with something like Somewhere Over Dwayne Bowe or Forte Ounces to Freedom.

*Take the draft seriously*

This should go without saying, but understand your league’s setup before drafting — scoring, roster spots, when the playoffs are and, most importantly, how much you’ll get paid if you win. It also helps to look at player rankings and average draft position to have an idea of whom you’ll be able to take in each round. A big part of the draft is risk management — take players with a high floor early on — think Aaron Rodgers or Ray Rice — and then players with big upside later on, young guys like Rashad Jennings or Justin Blackmon. With the thousands of fantasy football “experts” and draft boards available online, everyone is working with the same information and a lot of it comes down to luck.

*Stay Active*

Every season players come out of nowhere, and it’s the owners who act early that reap the benefit. Victor Cruz, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Darren Sproles were either late round picks or free agents last season that were crucial to many fantasy champions. It can be hard to tell who’s a one-game wonder and who’s the real deal, but it’s the people who are willing to roll the dice after a big performance or injury that can benefit come playoff time.

*Don’t reach for a quarterback or tight end*

Both positions clearly have upper echelon guys like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski that all warrant being taken in the first round or two. After the initial drop off, however, there are plenty of talented players to be had. Instead of using a first-round pick on Drew Brees, you could instead get Calvin Johnson and get Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub or Tony Romo in the fifth or sixth round.

*If you really want someone, take him*

Nothing’s worse than thinking about picking up a player, allowing someone else to get them and then watch that guy go off for the rest of the season.

*Follow the money*

Franchise tag players and guys on the last year of their contract are playing for that next big contract, and cash historically is a good motivator. Some players who will be free agents next season include, among others, Schaub, Joe Flacco, Wes Welker, Cruz, Dwayne Bowe and Greg Jennings. Conversely, I tend to avoid guys after making their big pay day, as they tend to fall back to earth.

*Avoid the Madden Curse*

Last year, Peyton Hillis was the latest victim of the Madden Curse, which is proof the curse exists. Not really, but why risk it? Calvin Johnson is clearly the best receiver in the league, but it’s difficult to expect Johnson to continue his complete dominance. Last year was the only time Matt Stafford stayed healthy for all 16 games. Plus, Megatron will continue to see double and triple coverage; I’m taking Titus Young just in case.

*Have fun*

At the end of the day, it’s just a game. Don’t be that person who freaks out every time someone on your team touches the ball, your roommates will thank you.

_Kevin is a junior in Media. He can be reached [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @KevinThorn10._