Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
Dez Bryant sags his pants at the mall, gets accused of hitting his mom, loves the strip clubs and generally acts a fool. What does this mean to you as a fantasy owner? Everything.
What we know about Bryant is that he is as athletically gifted as they come. We know that he can get up and high point the ball; he can out-position virtually any cornerback in the league coming into and out of breaks while running pretty bad routes, and he can burn a defense by a would-be tackler miss with the ball in his hands.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't like knowing that my low-end WR1/high-end WR2 is a grown man whose bosses feel he needs round-the-clock babysitting.
Bryant's current ADP (average draft position) is 43rd overall in standard leagues, putting him right there in Mike Wallace/Percy Harvin territory. I don't care if Mike Wallace has been sitting out all preseason. Everyone worries he might not learn the offense.
New Steelers OC Todd Haley, if nothing else, knows how to utilize a player of Wallace's exact ilk. A dynamic X receiver is Haley's best friend, and Antonio Brown is not the same player Wallace is. Wallace's assignments will be easy and the same as always. Run faster than the other guy and catch the ball.
Bryant is dealing with patellar tendinitis in his knee, which is not as bad as it probably sounds. For many NFL players, this ailment is a way of life, and they have exercises to keep it relatively under control. Bryant played in all but one game last season, but was limited much of the time because of a deep thigh bruise sustained early on.
His most prominent disappearing acts came in the most important games. Here is how Bryant fared against the NFC East in 2011:
vs. Redskins: four receptions, 63 yards
at Eagles: three receptions, 28 yards
at Redskins: three receptions, 68 yards, one touchdown
vs. Giants: one reception, 50 yards
vs.Eagles: six receptions, 62 yards
at Giants: six receptions, 70 yards
They say "big players make big plays in big games," and I like players on my fantasy team who show up for the big ones. Bryant averaged his fantasy owners 5.6 fantasy points per game within his division last season. That kind of production can be found on the waiver wire.
It's discipline; it's being a professional and growing into a career while gaining experience and mastery. If we could project on athleticism alone, Bryant is a second-round pick. The risk involved here is his maturity and ability to dedicate himself to living up to his potential.
As of late May, according to Charean Williams of Star-Telegram, his receivers coach Jimmy Robinson still wasn't exactly overjoyed by the way Dez was coming along. He said:
It’s just the consistency of route running. I don’t know if subtleties is the right word, or if it’s just the execution of each individual route on a consistent basis play after play.
Bryant is a player with WR1 potential, no doubt, but with these concerns coupled with those of Miles Austin and Jason Witten, I'm keeping a close eye to see who emerges as the starting y/z/No.3 receiver. It could be Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley or Kevin Ogletree.
Harris did seem to have a good connection with Tony Romo in preseason Week 3 and scored two touchdowns. I like the value of the WR3 in this offense and would rather draft that player in the last round and take the best available player in the mid-fourth.