If the Dez Bryant who showed up in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs last year against Green Bay is available for 16 games, he could be the best Fantasy receiver in 2017. After two years of dealing with foot and knee injuries, Bryant looked back to his dominant self against the Packers, torching them for nine catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns, and he pronounced himself back to 100 percent at the Pro Bowl in February. For the season, Bryant had 50 catches for 796 yards and eight touchdowns on 97 targets in 12 games (he missed three games with a knee injury and barely played in a meaningless Week 7 game). He actually was better than most Fantasy owners give him credit for since he was the No. 19 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues, scoring double digits in points in seven games. With a healthy offseason and a better rapport with second-year quarterback Dak Prescott, we could see Bryant have one of his best seasons in the NFL, and he's worth drafting toward the end of Round 1 or beginning of Round 2 in all formats. We're excited that Bryant is healthy and back to his former self.
Bryant won't play in Saturday's preseason game against the Rams, NFL Network's Alex Flanagan reports. Along with Bryant, the Cowboys will also rest Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten in what appears to be a precautionary move designed to prevent their proven offensive stalwarts from taking unnecessary risks this early in the preseason. His next to chance to see game action will come Aug. 19 against the Colts.
Bryant won't play in Thursday's Hall of Fame Game versus the Cardinals, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The Cowboys have been given an extra exhibition game this year and will thus hold out most of the starting lineup, including Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. With Bryant on the sideline, quarterbacks Kellen Moore and Luke McCown will be left with the likes of Brice Butler, Noah Brown and Andy Jones, among others, at wideout.
Bryant arrived three hours late to the Cowboys' facility Friday, causing him to miss his mandatory conditioning test, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports. The wideout is also reportedly dealing with a sinus infection, which he's been working with the team's training staff in hopes of overcoming. Bryant's illness may have prevented him from being able to take his conditioning test Friday anyway, but he still didn't inform the team ahead of time that he'd be late to the proceedings. To his credit, Bryant's tardiness was in part due to him hosting a kickball game and barbecue open to the public in his hometown of Lufkin, Texas, on Thursday night. Additionally, Bryant reportedly apologized and took responsibility upon his arrival at the Cowboys' facility. At this point, Dallas is believed to consider this a non-issue, as the organization is instead focused on ensuring his symptoms subside before training camp really kicks off.
Bryant was a full participant in the Cowboys' offseason program and stood out at June minicamp, ESPN.com's Todd Archer reports. Bryant essentially played 12 games last season, missing three contests early in the year due to a fracture in his knee and later logging just 18 snaps and one target in a meaningless Week 17 outing. His explosiveness was still on display with eight touchdowns and an average of 15.9 yards per reception, but he caught only 50 of his 97 targets (51.5 percent) despite playing with a QB who completed 67.8 percent of his passes. Bryant did go out with a boom by catching nine of 12 targets for 132 yards and two touchdowns in a playoff loss to the Packers, seemingly proving he was back to full health by the end of the season. While injuries marred his last two campaigns, Bryant is still only 28 years old and just three seasons removed from a dominant three-year stretch (2012-2014) during which he managed at least 88 catches, 1,233 yards and 12 touchdowns each season.
Bryant caught nine of 12 targets for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Sunday's 34-31 loss to the Packers. After a slow start, Bryant broke out with a 40-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter and scored again on a leaping seven-yard play in the fourth that completed the Cowboys' comeback. Unfortunately the Packers were able to pull out the victory, but Bryant got the postseason monkey off his back, as the two touchdowns were the first of his playoff career, and he led the team in targets, catches and yards as well. He displayed a growing rapport with Dak Prescott throughout the season and could return to the upper echelon of NFL wideouts next year if he can remain healthy.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/11||New York Giants||13||21.29|
|4||10/01||Los Angeles Rams||32||25.25|
|5||10/08||Green Bay Packers||33||29.11|
|7||10/22||@San Francisco 49ers||27||24.25|
|9||11/05||Kansas City Chiefs||18||22.41|
|12||11/23||Los Angeles Chargers||10||20.75|
|14||12/10||@New York Giants||13||21.29|
|3 Year Avg||103||56||839||9||39||14.98||137|