Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant still shows enough flashes of brilliance that fantasy owners can't give up on him entirely. If you were one of the smart ones to hold on to him, buckle up, because the reward this week against Philadelphia will be worth it.
First things first: Bryant has been dealing with a hip injury that kept him out of practice for over a week, but he was finally back at it on Wednesday, according to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas.
As Archer also points out, having Bryant enter a game as questionable is usually death to his production.
He was held to a season-low one catch for 15 yards against the Falcons. In the two games in which Bryant has been listed as questionable (Atlanta, Carolina) he has had three catches for 29 yards.
With Bryant healthy enough to practice, the focus can shift to what the third-year wide receiver will be able to do against the Eagles this weekend.
As alluded to in the intro, Bryant looks like a great fantasy play this weekend for a few reasons. The first being, despite the fact that Bryant is third on the team in times targeted, he actually has the most catches of any wide receiver (42) and trails only tight end Jason Witten (58) for the team lead.
The second reason is the opposition. The Eagles are actually a middle-of-the-road team in terms of fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. According to Fantasy Football Toolbox, they rank 17th in the league with 21.9 total points allowed per game.
But if you dig deeper and look at the Eagles' numbers on a game-to-game basis, there are holes in the armor that Tony Romo and Bryant can exploit. The Eagles have allowed at least one touchdown catch to a wide receiver in six of their eight games, including three in the last three games.
Prior to last week against New Orleans, when tight end Jimmy Graham burned them for eight catches, opposing wide receivers have had at least five receptions and 80 yards in five straight games against the Eagles secondary.
Bryant also has a pattern of springing back to life after a bad game. In Week 2 he had just three catches for 17 yards against Seattle. The next week he has six catches for 62 yards. Not a great game, but it did help Points Per Reception League owners.
In Week 7 against Carolina, Bryant had two catches and 14 yards, leaving fantasy owners crying into their pillows. The next week against the Giants, he went for 110 yards on just five catches.
The one area Bryant needs to get better is in the red zone, as he only has two touchdown catches all season, both coming against Baltimore in Week 6. The Eagles have been very good at stopping teams from scoring touchdowns in the red zone, just under 41 percent on the season (per TeamRankings.com).
Eventually the touchdowns will come for Bryant, because he is too big and physical to not be a presence in the red zone. Even if it doesn't happen this week, owners should still expect Bryant to put up big yards and a lot of catches after one of his worst games of the year last week.
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