Fantasy owners often take a gamble on a player that had a down year but should perform well in the coming year, such as Dez Bryant. Bryant has been a polarizing player because of his off-field antics, his successful seasons and his recent injury struggles.
He's dealt with back, foot and ankle injuries (that have cost him time) over the past two seasons. It's clear that Bryant has the talent to succeed, but fantasy owners that drafted him in recent seasons may be a little gun-shy to do so again.
2016 Season Recap
Bryant owners have been frustrated over the past two seasons. The 2012-14 seasons were his best, each with more than 1,200 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns. However, in 2015, Bryant only played in nine games, with 401 yards and three touchdowns. His injuries continued to plague him in 2016. While he only missed three games, he finished with 796 yards and eight touchdowns.
After undergoing multiple surgeries following his foot injury in 2015, Bryant suffered a hairline fracture in his knee in Week 3 last season. He missed three games, but even after he returned, he wasn't the solid WR1 that fantasy owners hoped for. He had three games all season with more than 100 receiving yards and four with fewer than 20.
After missing OTAs last season, Bryant has been able to participate in the Cowboys' offseason activities. He claims to be healthy and ready for the season. The biggest concern with Bryant is health, but if he can stay on the field, he can easily reach his numbers from three seasons ago. With no other major receiving threat, Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott will lead the team's offense in 2017. Dak Prescott is fully entrenched at quarterback, with the backup situation somewhat unsettled at this point.
The negative of Bryant being the primary receiving option (Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Brice Butler and Jason Witten round out the rest of the major pass catchers) is that he'll see plenty of coverage. However, he's a solid enough player to beat most defenses. The key will be if he can get into a rhythm with Prescott.
Where to Draft
Bryant is currently being drafted among the top 10 receivers (although near the end of that group), usually toward the end of the second round. He's still a WR1, but not a first-round pick because of his past two seasons. He's a clear injury risk, but at 28 years old, he also could have a bounce-back year.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Athlon Sports’ 2017 Fantasy Football magazine, available for purchase online and at newsstands everywhere.