They are calm.
I, however, am an emotional mess.
It is the morning of Aug. 28, 2017, at 8:28 a.m. The first day of kindergarten for my twin daughters, who turn 6 in October.
In just a few minutes, for the first time in their lives, they will go to the public elementary school in my town. They will ride the bus to and from there.
And the journey will have officially started.
We took them shopping and as they carefully considered lots of different clothes, shoes and sparkly backpacks, I was fine.
There was an orientation meeting at the school and we took them to meet their teachers, see where their classrooms were and learn where to get on and off the bus. I was fine.
And then it was the morning and we are walking them to where the bus picks them up and they slowly get on. They have excitement and fear in their eyes and as they sit down in the second row together and look at me ... I just lose it.
One of them is shy. Already too smart for her own good, she's the prankster, often in her own world, very opinionated, a total mush ball and easily distracted. She's 5 going on 15, constantly in her mom's closet figuring out what she's going to wear. She's the one that's going to give me trouble in high school, I already know it.
The other is the social one. Quick to make friends at a park, playground or someone's house, she's the rule follower, she's super considerate of everyone else, she's the one who shares, hyper aware of everything, she has no problem putting her foot down, hands on her little hips and letting us know what needs to happen. She's also five minutes older, so she takes the responsibility of being the "older sister" very seriously, often telling the other that she can have her dessert or that they need to watch what she wants, because "that's what big sisters do."
They are beautiful and brilliant and maddening and unique and frustrating and puzzling and fantastic and insane and have me completely and totally wrapped around their fingers.
And as of 10 days ago, they are no longer mine.
They went to a daily preschool together, a half-day thing five minutes from our house, but otherwise have been at home with my wife up until this year and so, even with the caveat that they are twins, they are very close. Sharing private jokes, not wanting to sleep unless the other one is in the room with them, they are inseparable.
The shy one always relies on the other to include her and bring her into play at playgrounds and parties. The "big sister," poor thing, inherited her father's awful eyesight (I wear contacts), so she wears glasses and sometimes is self-conscious about them. She leans on her younger sister for self-confidence and reassurance.
And now, at least in school, they won't anymore. We decided -- and by we, I really mean my wife decided and I didn't fight it -- that we would split them up. It's what the school and other parents of twins recommend, so right or wrong, we're doing it.
I feel that way all the time. Right or wrong, we are doing "it," whatever "it" may be, in raising the girls.
I am sure this will be of no surprise to anyone who has read me for any amount of time, but I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to parenting. And as the girls grow older, that's only going to become more apparent. To them and to me.
I often feel helpless, unsure of what to do, as my two little beans look to me for answers and guidance and everything a little girl wants from her daddy. Attention and love, I've got down pat. It's just everything else that's a question mark.
But at least, as I fumble my way through that, it was self-contained. In our own little world, their mother and I, their brothers and some friends. It was a self-contained world, where the worst thing that happens to them is we run out of apple juice.
And that ended 10 days ago. I know I have to share them with the real world.
They're ready. I'm not.
Like for most people, the things that are my greatest strengths are also my greatest weaknesses. I get in my own head a ton, overanalyze things, imagine every possible scenario and I worry. Man, do I worry.
What if one doesn't make friends? What if one struggles with her school work (she has a long name and struggles to write it) and becomes even more discouraged and self-doubt creeps in? What if something awful -- the unthinkable -- happens?
The school they go to is a K-6 elementary school, so that means they ride the bus with 12-year-olds. You ever meet a 12-year-old? I had a 12-year-old boy last year. They're animals. I love my kid, but man, it can be a tough age. 12-year-old boys have lots of energy. Lots. And what they find funny, I have found, rarely jibes with what 5-year-old girls find funny.
That 12-year-old is now 13 and moving on to seventh grade, and was upset he wouldn't be able to ride the bus with them this year to "protect them." Which is super-sweet ... and not at all reassuring. So I worry about the bus. And there I was, 10 days ago, watching them slowly climb into it.
All of it, of course, is just a microcosm of what I am slowly coming to grips with, which is that there are going to be increasingly more things about their lives I can't control, protect or influence. My job responsibilities this year have basically doubled, which is great and an amazing opportunity, but also scary as well. I worry about how that will affect my family life and my interaction with them.
These thoughts aren't unique to me, of course. I assume every parent who has ever had their kid climb onto a bus or dropped them off at school for the first time has gone through this. But even without kids, it's something everyone goes through in some small, dumb way, right? We read everything, we mock draft, we get our players. They are ours. We love our little team. Maybe there's an imperfection here or there -- I wish I had more running back depth or you got stuck with a tight end you hate -- but still. For better or worse, it is our little team. We have love in our eyes and hope in our hearts and we want only good things for them, but we know it's tough out there, in the NFL. We will do everything we can to shield them and put them in a position to succeed, but ultimately, the season is here and we have to send them out on the field. We hope they make us proud and happy and you want the hope that your journey starts with to turn into joy at the end of it, but there are outside forces we can't control. We have to let them get on that bus, hope for the best and see what the world brings. And then deal with whatever that is, for better or worse.
After the girls got on the bus I came to work, did the TV show and then raced home so I could be there when they got off the bus after their first day. And sure enough, they did, backpacks too big for them, shuffling their feet. And as we walked toward our house, I asked ... "How was your first day?"
"Good," they said.
"And what was the best part," I asked?
And with big smiles on their faces they answered at the same time.
Of course it was. And with that, each of them grabbed one of my hands. It was only the best feeling in the world. They were still mine, I just have to share them with the world. Which is taking some getting used to, but is also how it should be.
Here's to hoping that, when your season is over and someone asks you what your favorite part was, it's with a big smile that you'll answer the thing that worried you the most.
Which brings us, meandering slowly, into the first weekly Love/Hate of the season. For the new kids in the class; this is not a pure "start/sit" column but rather players I believe will either exceed or fall short of general expectations. I'll try to focus on players who aren't obvious starts or sits, although in the wacky NFL, those names are fewer and farther between.
I will be using ESPN default leagues as my standard here, which means 10-team leagues that use PPR scoring. And in general (but especially for this week, where only two teams are off and we don't have a ton of data), the list is a bit shorter. In most cases, this week you're going with the starting team you drafted, with maybe one or two exceptions. So, let's see if we can find those, shall we?
Quarterbacks I love in Week 1
Aaron Rodgers, Packers: Just in case you were thinking of getting cute because it's Seattle, don't. He threw three scores against them last season and you know the rule. Death, taxes, you start Rodgers at Lambeau.
Marcus Mariota, Titans: For the last time this preseason, I'll use this stat: For his career in the red zone, Mariota has tossed 33 touchdowns against zero interceptions and he added the second-most-successful red zone receiver (in terms of touchdowns) over the past five years in Eric Decker. Opponents turned 57.9 percent of red zone drives into touchdowns against the Raiders last season (ninth-highest rate), so yeah. I'm on Mariota this year and it starts this week.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals: I'm all-in with the real CP3. OK, one of the real CP3s. OK, a guy with the initials CP who wears the No. 3. Whatevs. My favorite streaming QB for those who have Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston on their team, Palmer is fully healthy and in recent years (even last year's down campaign) has been a quick starter (QB6 through two weeks last season and QB3 through two weeks in 2015). That should continue this week, as Detroit allowed opponents to complete 72.7 percent of passes last season (5.6 percentage points worse than any other defense). I love his schedule for the first month of the season.
Others receiving votes: Call me a pessimistic Redskins fan or a Carson Wentz apologist (why can't I be both?), but I don't think much of Washington's defense this year and with the running game struggles of the Eagles in the preseason, I expect Wentz to enjoy all the new toys he got in the offseason. ... I don't think the Giants can run and I also don't think the Cowboys will stop anyone this year, so Eli Manning, who had three touchdowns in last year's season opener against the Cowboys, should be slinging it on Sunday night. ... Did you know that Sam Bradford ranked 11th in passes per game last season? No one pass is going to result in major points, but I'll gladly take my chances on reasonable volume against the Saints and their sixth-worst defense against fantasy QBs from last season. Watch Bradford impress a bit this week ... on ESPN. #Companyman. ... Finally, allow me to be the first on ESPN to say something nice about Jared Goff. With a toothless (and Vontae Davis-less) Colts defense coming to Los Angeles on Sunday, I like Goff's chances at putting up decent numbers for those in deep leagues or 2-QB leagues.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 1
Dak Prescott, Cowboys: I didn't have Prescott as a top-10 quarterback entering this season, and while I think he's a good NFL quarterback, I'm not buying a repeat performance for fantasy. The Giants' defense is every bit legit (second-fewest QB points allowed last season) and they showed the ability to lock up Dez Bryant last season (two catches on 14 targets for 18 yards). Prescott's fantasy production with his arm is a bit sporadic and the rushing numbers are too risky to rely on. Not a top-10 play for me.
Matthew Stafford, Lions: You know I'm down on Stafford this season and this is a tough spot for his season to start. What's the upside? The Cardinals allowed multiple TD passes just five times last season and with Stafford tossing multiple scores in just three of his final 10 regular-season games, the ceiling is a low one. Forget scores, I'm not sure Stafford completes a ton of passes, as Arizona ranks third in pressure percentage over the past three seasons, while Stafford ranks 25th in completion percentage when facing the heat during that stretch. You're hoping for a shootout here, which could certainly happen, as I do think Palmer lights up the Lions, but I don't see Stafford putting up top-10 numbers this week.
Running backs I love in Week 1
Melvin Gordon, Chargers: In the past 15 seasons, there have been two instances in which a defense pressured opposing quarterbacks on at least 34 percent of dropbacks: the 2015 Broncos and the 2016 Broncos. They are going to try to make Philip Rivers uncomfortable and guess who led all RBs in catches when his QB was under pressure when healthy (Weeks 1-13) last season? Yep, Gordon. Dude had 249 total yards in the two matchups last season. Don't get cute. You're starting Gordon and he's an interesting play in DFS tournaments as well, where I don't think he'll be heavily rostered.
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers: The Christian McCaffrey fantasy superstardom tour begins in earnest in San Francisco this week against a 49ers team that allowed 22 rushes of 20-plus yards last season, the most by any team in the past five seasons. There's a new regime there, but you can't change Rome's run defense in a day, which I am almost sure is the exact saying.
Todd Gurley, Rams: I'm on the Gurley closer-to-his-rookie-year-than-last-year bandwagon and I expect it to get more crowded after this game. The Colts were a bottom-10 defense against opposing RBs last season and when you consider that Gurley ranked fifth in touches despite underwhelming production last season, he should have every chance to exploit this defense.
Bilal Powell, Jets: What are they gonna do, let Josh McCown throw it? Exactly. Powell was a better power back than most realized last season, and the Jets didn't struggle to dominate these Bills in 2016 (Matt Forte racked up 109 yards and three scores in Week 2 and Powell went for 137 yards and a touchdown in Week 17). Powell displayed the better vision last season by averaging 42.7 percent more yards per carry before first contact than Forte and I think he finds the end zone against a Buffalo defense that allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns in 2016.
Rob Kelley, Redskins: Washington's first-team passing offense didn't look great in the preseason, but the one thing that did look ready for prime time? The running game. Last season, more than half of Kelley's 4.2 yards per carry came after first contact. His 2.2 yards after contact per rush ranked fourth highest among qualified RBs last season. The Eagles allowed 1.9 yards after contact per rush last season, fourth worst in the NFL.
Adrian Peterson, Saints: Narrative, schmaritive street. I've been on record as saying Peterson scores more fantasy points than Mark Ingram and that starts this weekend. Minnesota quietly gave up the 13th-most rushing yards last season and while touchdowns are always impossible to predict, if ever there were a guy I'd say gets in this weekend, it's Peterson. One way or the other, the Saints find a way to get AP a score.
Others receiving votes: It's always risky starting a Patriots running back, but if you're going there, I'm on the James White/Rex Burkhead train as the guys you want. ... I know he hasn't been around much this preseason, but I see a lot of dump-offs to Danny Woodhead as Joe Flacco works his way back against a Bengals team that coughed up almost 20 receptions to Ravens running backs in their two games last season. ... Rookie, big stage, tough matchup, probably bad game flow ... whatever. Kareem Hunt is my ride or die this year.
Running backs I hate in Week 1
Paul Perkins, Giants: I'm just not convinced the Giants can run, period. With Shane Vereen healthy, he'll steal some passing-down work, so with Perkins you're hoping for a score. Perkins was unimpressive in the preseason (36 yards on 11 carries) and faces a Cowboys defense in Week 1 that actually allowed the fewest rushing yards last season. (Much of that was Dallas controlling the clock and getting eaten alive in the passing game, but still, fact remains, teams didn't run that much on them.) The Cowboys were especially good containing rushes outside the tackles, allowing 3.3 yards per carry on such runs last season, 0.75 yards fewer than any other team. Perkins averaged 4.3 yards per carry outside the tackles last season, 31st out of 42 qualified RBs. Not a top-20 play.
Mark Ingram, Saints: The Vikings allowed the third-fewest rushing touchdowns last season and if anyone gets into the end zone here it's Peterson. Ingram's volume is trending in the wrong direction and I'm not comfortable using him as anything more than a flex in this matchup.
Cincinnati Bengals RBs: Sure, the Bengals are one of two teams with at least 440 rushing attempts in each of the past four seasons and yes, I think there will be a very valuable back to be had in Cincinnati sooner than later. But at this moment, there is more risk than I'm willing to take. The Ravens allowed the eighth-fewest RB points last season and surrendered just 3.72 yards per rush: Give me Joe Mixon long term, but for Week 1, I'm avoiding this situation until we see how it shakes out. I expect all three guys to get just enough touches to make them useless, unless you want to take a shot at who gets into the end zone. That's too much risk for Week 1 for me.
Ameer Abdullah, Lions: Theo Riddick is the designated pass-catcher in this backfield and Zach Zenner is likely to handle the short-yardage situations. Fantasy points between the 20s just don't add up that fast. The Cardinals coughed up the fewest RB points a season ago (fewer than 16 RB points allowed in the majority of games) and should once again be a stingy defense. Especially if this game goes how I expect (Arizona to put up a decent amount of points), I could see more Riddick than Abdullah here.
Seattle Seahawks RBs: Unlike Peterson returning to Minnesota, I have no confidence in Eddie Lacy coming back to Lambeau. Lacy was ineffective in the preseason, and there's a chance as of this writing (Wednesday night) that Thomas Rawls plays. You've also got C.J. Prosise and my guy Chris Carson there as well, and it's just a mess of a committee against a Packers squad that was eighth in rushing yards allowed last season.
Wide receivers I love in Week 1
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: If you're reading this article, it's clear that you are not completely dismissive of older people and I'd encourage you to continue with that train of thought. I mentioned the Lions' absurd completion percentage allowed in the Carson Palmer section, but I saved some to support Fitzy. Opponents completed 81 percent of passes thrown less than 10 yards downfield against Detroit last season. No other team has allowed a completion percentage higher than 77.3 percent on such passes during the past 15 seasons. And as my friend Mike Clay noted in his handy WR/CB matchup column, slot corner Quandre Diggs is no match for Fitz.
Ted Ginn Jr., Saints: With Willie Snead out and Michael Thomas covered by Xavier Rhodes, Ginn should get quite a few looks in a game where Drew Brees is going to have to throw to move the ball. I like Ginn to get a handful of deep shots and connect on at least one.
Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, Vikings: My belief is Sam Bradford will be more aggressive in his second season in this system. The Saints allowed opponents to complete half of their deep passes last season (second highest) and intercepted just two of the 112 deep attempts against them, so Diggs and Thielen are both solid WR3/flex plays this week.
Martavis Bryant, Steelers: Since entering the league in 2014, Bryant has averaged 17.3 yards per reception, second highest in the league after DeSean Jackson. Well, over the past two seasons, the Browns are tied for the fourth-most receptions on passes 15-plus yards downfield and are tied for the most TDs to WRs on such passes. Ben Roethlisberger welcomes Martavis back by getting him into the end zone, a sight Cleveland is familiar with. In his first career game against the Browns, Bryant had six catches for 178 yards and a TD, including four catches on balls thrown 20-plus yards downfield.
Brandon Marshall, Giants: With Odell Beckham Jr. not 100 percent or possibly not playing, expect a lot of looks toward Marshall in a game where the Giants will struggle to run the ball. Only six teams were worse than the Cowboys against the pass last season and I think they'll be worse this year.
Others receiving votes: Eric Decker has scored in 15 of his past 19 games and as I mentioned forever ago in the Mariota section, the Raiders aren't great at defending the red zone. ... I have no confidence in the Colts, so fire up the currently healthy Sammy Watkins and gimme some Cooper Kupp in deep leagues. ... Expect Zay Jones to lead the Bills in targets in a game where Buffalo should have no issue moving the ball. ... All eyes will be on Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks, but don't be surprised to see Chris Hogan be very usable as a WR3 in PPR. ... The Kelvin Benjamin redemption tour starts in earnest in San Francisco this week.
Wide receivers I hate in Week 1
T.Y. Hilton, Colts: No Andrew Luck. It's really that simple. In the 10 games Luck has missed over the past two seasons, Hilton has seen his per-game production drop by more than 30.5 percent, and I'm not thinking Scott Tolzien reverses that trend. On a per-game basis without Luck, Hilton would have been WR44 last season. The Rams blitzed at the sixth-highest rate last season and now with Wade Phillips calling the shots, that number very well might increase.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars: Mr. Robinson, it's not you, it's me. And by "me," I mean Blake Bortles. The primary difference between Robinson's superstar 2015 and his subpar 2016 was the ability to produce downfield -- WR1 on deep passes in 2015 and WR30 in 2016 -- something the Texans defended reasonably well last season. In fact, only four teams allowed fewer deep completions in 2016, and that was with J.J. Watt missing 13 games. Look for the Texans to ramp up the pressure and keep A-Rob out of the top 20 this week.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos: The Chargers led the NFL in interceptions last season, so I think they're a sneaky-good defense to play this week and the season. And call me crazy, but I have my concerns about Trevor Siemian. In the past two seasons of, let's say, inconsistent QB play, the Broncos rank 25th in average time of possession, while the Chargers rank fifth. And if the possession count is low (something that Vegas is buying, as they've labeled this among the five lowest-scoring games of Week 1), Sanders becomes a major risk. He has struggled against the Bolts during that two-year window (16 catches for 226 yards and no touchdowns in four games) and I expect that to continue in the final game of Week 1.
Tight ends I love in Week 1
Delanie Walker, Titans: You know I am already excited about Mariota in this game and Walker is one reason why. The Raiders have really struggled against tight ends in recent memory and as Mariota is still getting used to new weapons Eric Decker and Corey Davis, Walker is the most likely beneficiary of red zone looks.
Zach Ertz, Eagles: Ertz and Greg Olsen are the only two tight ends with at least 75 catches in each of the past two seasons, a trend I will take to the PPR bank against a Redskins defense that allowed the second-most receptions to the position last season. Ertz has posted a big game against Washington in three consecutive seasons (Week 16 of 2014: 15 catches on 18 targets for 115 yards; Week 16 of 2015: 13 catches on 17 targets for 122 yards; and Week 14 of 2016: 10 catches on 13 targets for 112 yards) and comes with a high usage floor.
Jack Doyle, Colts: Scott Tolzien is going to have to throw to someone, so expect it to be the sure-handed Doyle on quick releases, as Rob Chudzinski's offense still will feature the tight end. Colts tight ends scored the second-most receiving TDs in fantasy football last season (12), and Dwayne Allen's six are now gone). Last year, in his one start, Tolzien was 7-for-9 in targeting tight ends.
Others receiving votes: I could see Charles Clay being a nice safety valve for Tyrod Taylor against a Jets team that allowed the third-most scores to opposing tight ends last season. ... Again, with Odell Beckham Jr. banged up and the Cowboys' historic struggles versus the tight end, I could see Evan Engram having some solid TE2 value. ... Speaking of that game, Jason Witten always kills the Giants and I expect Dez Bryant to be well-covered, so expect Dak Prescott to check down to Witten quite a bit in this one. ... If ever there were a game for Coby Fleener to do something, it's this one, especially with Willie Snead out.
Tight ends I hate in Week 1
Martellus Bennett, Packers: I own exactly zero Bennett shares this season and I can't imagine feeling even remotely confident in playing him this weekend. Aaron Rodgers simply doesn't rely much on his tight end, and while Bennett may be as talented as any TE as he has played with, the chemistry figures to be a work in progress. The Hawks held opposing TE groups below nine fantasy points on 10 occasions last season, and considering that there were 20 tight ends who averaged more than 9.0 PPG last season, Bennett isn't in the starter conversation this week.
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers: Just making sure you're paying attention.
Eric Ebron, Lions: Weird, all the guys that were yelling at me about how great Ebron would be this year on Twitter in the middle of preseason seemed to have quieted down, as Ebron (once again) was hurt in the preseason. Of course. If you fell for the Ebron hype again this year, you're going to need to wait a bit longer for a payoff (what else is new). He doesn't seem to be fully healthy and an opening day matchup against the past season's best tight end defense doesn't portend a positive outcome.
Matthew Berry, The Talented Mr. Roto, promises to include defenses next week. He is a paid spokesman for both DraftKings and PlayDRAFT, the owner of RotoPass.com and founder of the Fantasy Life App.