Look up disappointment in the dictionary and you will find a picture of my 2012 fantasy baseball team.
Aside from Carlos Beltran and Melky Cabrera, little has gone right in a season where sure things have become nothings and the script has had no fewer than 15 re-writes.
The main culprits? My first pick (Clayton Kershaw) too often has been pedestrian, pick two (Tim Lincecum) was everything you never want to find in the punch bowl before being shipped to Oats Military Academy in Alaska last month, and pick No. 3 (Brian McCann) was a no-show until the week before the All-Star break.
Still, and I can't really explain why, I feel like my days as fortune's scratching post are about to end and that my second-half stocking will be filled with Ding-Dongs, a Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle, and home runs and RBIs galore.
Despite being in seventh place and needing a Galileo G-203 Telescope to locate the teams above me, I sense change is in the air. I gained 5½ points Friday to move into the 70s for the first time since Peaches and Herb ruled the pop charts, prompting me to break out the disco ball and bell bottoms; I'm hoping next week to sport a mullet and Members Only jacket while grooving to the musical and follicle stylings of A Flock of Seagulls as I make my way back to the 80s, where three of the five teams in front of me reside.
So sure am I of my team's ability to turn things around that I'm switching gears and jumping into football, where I've finished first and second the past two years (one more Drew Brees-to-Marques Colston touchdown connection in last season's finale would have given me back-to-back titles).
Here's an unscientific first-round draft preview:
1. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Quarterbacks are the cat's meow, but Foster who has averaged 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing, and 60 catches for 600 yards and two TDs receiving the past two seasons is the top fantasy dog. One I'm willing to bet my Jim Plunkett rookie card is good for 70 catches, 2,300 yards total yards from scrimmage and 20 TDs in 2012.
2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: The reigning NFL MVP passed for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns (with just 6 interceptions) while rushing for 257 yards and 3 more scores a season ago. Look for Rodgers to produce similar stats this season and continue to make Brett Favre squirm.
3. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and tougher to tackle that a rattlesnake, Rice is a fantasy titan from whom owners can expect close to 2,000 total yards, 70 catches and 15 TDs.
4. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: A durable dual threat out of the backfield, McCoy ran for 1,309 yards and 17 TDs while catching 48 passes for 315 yards and 3 TDs in 2011. The numbers could be even scarier this season if Michael Vick checks off to McCoy when the pocket crumbles or DeSean Jackson snoozes on deep routes.
5. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: When Wes Mantooth tells Ron Burgundy that, with every inch of him, he pure-straight hates but respects his rival before pulling him out of the bear den in "Anchorman", he perfectly captures my feelings toward Brady, who is a lock to push 5,000 yards and 40 TDs. I'd draft him, but he'll need someone else to help him out of the bear den.
6. Drew Brees, QB, Saints: I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Brees after last year's bombs-away effort (an NFL-record 5,476 yards passing with 46 TDs). Another 5,000 yards and 40 TDs is more than doable from New Orleans' $100 million man.
7. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Megatron, with a huge assist from Matthew Stafford, became a superstar last season, establishing career highs in receptions (96), yards (1,681) and TDs (16). If he and Stafford can stay healthy, the numbers could get even scarier.
8. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: Johnson topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the fourth time in 2011, but it was easily the worst season of his career. With last year's contract squabbles behind him, look for Johnson to rebound. Remember, he is just two years removed from a 2,000-yard, 14-TD campaign.
9. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: Despite being a one-man band in Jacksonville, Jones-Drew rushed for 1,606 yards and 8 TDs and added 374 yards and 3 TDs on 43 receptions last season. The yards could be fewer, but the TDs should increase in 2012.
10. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: A tight end in the top 10? Am I mad, you ask? Nope. I'm looking at the 90 passes he caught for 1,327 yards and NFL-leading 17 TDs last season, and the fact that he's Brady's go-to receiver on third down and in the red zone. Yes, I would be so bold.
11. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: We finally got to see what a healthy Stafford could do in 2011, and the former No. 1 overall draft pick went off to the tune of 5,038 yards passing and 41 TDs. Health is always the key with Stafford, but he's worth the risk.
12. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: The Raiders foolishly passed on Fitzgerald in the 2004 draft in favor of Robert Gallery. I will not pass on 90 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 TDs.
Bee fantasy sports writer Stu Rosenberg can be reached at 578-2300 or email@example.com