Dear Commissioner Goodell:
Thank you so much for making me a part of the National Football League as NFL.com's newest fantasy analyst. I've been overwhelmed by the warm welcome. I especially enjoyed the fruit basket.
With that out of the way, I think we need to confront the elephant in the room. As you're no doubt already aware, all three of my fantasy teams lost in Week 1. As an NFL.com fantasy analyst, this is as unacceptable as it is humiliating. I understand that I've failed to uphold the standard of excellence you and the rest of the NFL expect. I come to you with hat in hand.
Please don't fire me. Please don't suspend me, either. Every time the phone rings, I fear it'll be someone from the league office summoning me to a meeting with you in New York City (which isn't to suggest that I'd be anything other than thrilled by the opportunity to have lunch with you). I promise: I'll do better. Don't push the panic button just yet. Matter of fact, that's the same advice I'd give to any prematurely beleaguered fantasy owner right now: It's a long season; don't panic.
Things are a lot clearer than they were seven days ago. I know the unpredictability of the season's first week is great for the league, but it's murder on fantasy owners. As I'm sure you told Ben Roethlisberger before sending him off to finishing school, in every crisis there is opportunity. So, what lessons did I learn from my woeful Week 1?
» I don't want to point fingers at other people for my teams' failures, but John Harbaugh has to take at least some of the blame. For a second straight season, he and Cam Cameron seem committed to letting Willis McGahee be the goal-line hero, thereby depriving me of the touchdowns I need from a first-round pick like Ray Rice. Call me paranoid, but I can't help but think the Baltimore brain trust is playing a sick joke on me because I'm a Steelers fan. Then again, maybe the Ravens' charitable play-calling for McGahee will inspire you to show me the same generosity.
» While my would-be stars underperformed in Week 1, my opponents had receivers racking up big points and even bigger false hope for the rest of the season. Yes, Hakeem Nicks has the pedigree to be a big-time receiver, but three touchdowns?! The problem going forward is, he's lining up with one of last season's breakout receivers, Steve Smith, along with Mario Manningham (who actually had more yardage vs. Carolina than either Nicks or Smith). Good luck predicting which guy is gonna get the most looks from Eli on a given week.
» And what to make of Mark Clayton? Owners are scrambling to pick him up off the waiver wire, but what are they more likely to get in return: something like Clayton's 10-catch, 119-yard performance in Week 1, or something closer to his five previous seasons in which caught roughly five passes? Call me a cynic, but I'll go with the latter.
» Having Chris Johnson as one of my running backs is not enough to overcome a hyped-up but unknown commodity at the other running back spot, especially when said commodity runs behind the Bills' offensive line. Sorry, C.J. Spiller, but you're headed to the bench until otherwise notified. In the meantime, I'll do my best to pick up Brandon Jackson or maybe even Peyton Hillis. And of course, Javon Ringer will be added as CJ2K's backup ASA and P.
But enough living in the past. I had a bad first week. Like the wise guy says to DeNiro after Pesci gets plugged in "GoodFellas," "(It's) gone, and we couldn't do nothing about it. That's that." At least I had a better week than Reggie Bush, Ryan Grant and whoever came up with that cockamamie "receiver must maintain possession when he goes to the ground" rule. Looking forward, there are plenty of reasons for optimism with my fantasy teams. Allow me to count the ways:
» How many more games this season will Aaron Rodgers be outscored by the other team's backup QB? I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess zero.
»Dez Bryant was repeatedly targeted by Tony Romo, especially on that star-crossed final drive last Sunday night. He may prove to be that rare rookie receiver who's a fantasy star. And while we're talking Big D, Jason Garrett surely saw the same thing as everyone else: Felix Jones needs more touches. Both Cowboys are great buy-low candidates. Unless you already drafted them, like I did.
» Carolina's Steve Smith validated my faith that he's still a number one receiver no matter what mediocre-to-lousy QB is throwing him the ball. As a side note, Commissioner, would you please pass a rule that changes the name of the Panthers' Steve Smith to "South Smith" and the Giants' version to "North Smith?" I'm tired of having to explain which one I'm talking about all the time.
» Assuming his knee is good to go, Beanie Wells still figures to put up nice figures, especially since Coach Whisenhunt's other option, Tim Hightower, fumbled twice in St. Louis. I'm looking for Beanie to break out sooner rather than later.
» I think I'm in good shape with Seattle's Mike Williams (or should I say, "Pacific Northwest Williams," not to be confused with "Gulf Coast Williams?") as my third or fourth option at wide receiver, if only because Matt Hasselbeck has no one else to throw the ball to. And besides, if you aren't charmed by the story of a former number-one pick who got run out of the league for being fat, then came back years later to join his college coach who fled the program five minutes before it was put on probation, well, then you just ain't human.
In conclusion, Commissioner, I still believe the future is bright for my fantasy teams. Thank you for the opportunity and sincere apologies for my putrid performance so far. I hope you'll give me a second chance. After all, even Mark Sanchez gets to play again this weekend.
P.S. - lemme know about that lunch…