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Week 1 Overreactions: Dez Bryant Edition

If the only skill you had as a a fantasy player is knowing when to keep calm, and when to overreact, you’d probably win every year. Football is a high variance sport, so there are always times to buy low or sell high, it’s just that it’s hard to have perfect visibility into whether you’re actually buying low or selling high.

One step I try to go through in evaluating buy low and sell highs is whether the thesis that I had originally is still intact. For example, I drafted CJ Spiller over the weekend thinking that he could have a bounce back year and be as involved in the Saints offense as he was in the preseason. That thesis does not look to be intact. So I don’t think it will be an overreaction to toss him back to the waiver wire (I’ll probably try to roll the dice on Travaris Cadet, who saw a decent amount of usage). Alternatively, I own Devin Funchess on some teams, and while he had a bad first game, my thesis for drafting Funchess hasn’t been completely destroyed by one week of action.

In the case of Dez Bryant it’s something of a mixed bag. He didn’t make my final target list, but I do own him on one team. My thought when I drafted him is that every offense has at least 500 targets you can expect, so if Dez can capture 30 percentof them, he can get to 150 targets. I also believed that Dak Prescott could be functional enough to provide the high value targets that would be needed to get Bryant to the WR1 range on those 150 targets. In the back of my mind was an idea that it’s also possible that Dak might rely even more on Dez than Tony Romo did. Of those thoughts, the one that seems most unlikely to materialize is the idea that Dak would rely on Dez more than Romo did. However, I still think the rest of it is in play.

First, let’s look at some good news. Below is a table which shows the leading teams in Expected Fantasy Points for receiving in Week 1. Expected Points, or EP, can be thought of as being targets adjusted for field position, down, and distance.

You can see that Dallas is top five for the week with four teams still left to play. So at a minimum they had top 10 opportunity available for receivers.

OFF reEP.Q1
IND 75.50
KC 71.20
TEN 70.70
NO 68.00
DAL 65.80
SEA 62.50
DET 62.40
ATL 62.00
ARI 61.10
JAC 59.30
SD 58.50
OAK 58.10
PHI 57.70
NYJ 56.20
GB 56.10

You might look at that and say that Dez couldn’t even capture any valuable work when the offense had a ton to go around. And that might be right. You could see this as a glass half full, or glass half empty situation.

But I tend to look at it as a glass half full situation. If you were worried that the Cowboys would limit the amount that Prescott could affect the game outcome, that appears not to be the case. Look at Prescott’s Week 1 usage, versus some other high usage rookie QBs. The stats shown are Expected Passing Fantasy Points and Expected Rushing Fantasy Points.download

I look at that information and I come down on the side of not panicking with Bryant.  You know that the Cowboys gave Prescott a lot to do in his very first NFL start. You know that he was pretty functional in that start as well. Now all he needs to do is challenge the defense a little more by going to Bryant instead of dinking and dunking his way down the field. If you watched the game you know that even though Bryant only had a small number of targets, three of them were near-misses either in the end zone or inside the five yard line. So it’s possible that even with no additional usage yesterday he could have had a 20 point fantasy day had the ball just bounced in his favor. If the Cowboys figure out better ways to get him involved them you could end up on the good side of 10 target, 150 yard, two touchdown days.

It’s also worth noting that owning players like Dez Bryant, or Sammy Watkins, can often be a frustrating experience because they do make their living on efficiency. So you’ll pull your hair out one week when they don’t get any targets and then a week later it will seem like the offense figured everything out, and then a week later it’s back to six targets.

If I had a player like Donte Moncrief on my team I would probably toss out an offer to the Bryant owner and see if I could get a bite. Just to let you know, I looked at the list of potential trades for a few minutes and that was the best one I could find where I thought both owners could see it as close, and where I would also want to end up on the Bryant side.

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