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I think most of us would agree that Dez had a disappointing 2011 season, finishing with solid fantasy WR #2 numbers but not living up to the WR #1 hype a lot of us were buying. When watching Bryant he made quite a few eye popping plays that showed off his pure athletic ability, but as a fantasy owner I wanted more. My dynasty outlook on him soured as the season went on and I dealt him after the season was over. Now I'm starting to wonder if I sold him at his rock bottom. I do think I can get him back, but who/what is Dez? Is he a WR1? Looking back at the season, I do see several reasons why Dez didn't live up to my expectations: 1) His rookie year was his first of organized football in over 2 years. He was just getting his feet wet and becoming comfortable with his QB, then Romo goes down. Given the lockout, Dez then had a whole off-season of no organized football again and his chemistry again wasn't top notch with Romo. Sure this excuse can be used for everyone, but for some reason I view Dez as a type of player that would benefit extremely from a little bit of off-season structure. Something that has been lacking for him for the last 3 years. 2) The rise of Laurent Robinson took away from Dez's numbers. Laurent is a free agent and most likely will not be back with the Cowboys. 3) Dez's Quad injury at the beginning of the season lingered longer than most of us knew. Now I come all the way full circle. What is Dez? Should I be buying Dez low rather than selling him? Or is Dez just what he is.....a solid WR2 that will never live up to his talents?

<title edited by FBG Mod to help with searching>

Edited by FBG Moderator

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2) The rise of Laurent Robinson took away from Dez's numbers. Laurent is a free agent and most likely will not be back with the Cowboys.

Do you have concrete info on this? From what I've read Robinson said he'd love to be back and the Cowboys would like him to return -- I know things can easily change but I haven't seen anything suggestion he most likely won't be back. Would probably be great for both Dez and Robinson if he left.

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2) The rise of Laurent Robinson took away from Dez's numbers. Laurent is a free agent and most likely will not be back with the Cowboys.

Do you have concrete info on this? From what I've read Robinson said he'd love to be back and the Cowboys would like him to return -- I know things can easily change but I haven't seen anything suggestion he most likely won't be back. Would probably be great for both Dez and Robinson if he left.
Sorry, I don't have any concrete information on this but I was listening to Sirus NFL Radio at the end of the season and they were talking about the Cowboys. Laurent's name came up about being one of the top FA WR's in the league and how the Cowboys likely won't be able to afford paying him the money that he'd get on the open market......and given the money already in Dez and Miles they wouldn't want to or be able to allocate top dollar to a 3rd WR. From that discussion, I guess I just assumed it made sense and that he'd be gone.But I digress......let's get back to Dez's future performance and not Laurent's future team/staying a Cowboy. What is Dez??? That's the main focus of this thread. Edited by Carl Eller's Dead Liver

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I think the speculation is that another team is probably willing to offer Robinson more money than what the Cowboys might be willing to pay since the have Austin and Bryant on the roster too.

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He looks to me like a player that can make certain plays that only a handful of NFL WRs can make. He has great hands, elite jump-ball skills, and quickness/strength to take a short pass the distance. The lockout probably hurt him more than most as he really needed a full offseason to make a big jump. It is evident Romo doesn't trust him to run the right route a high percentage of the time and this distrust is limiting his progression. Hopefully after a trouble free offseason he can reign in his focus enough to earn the trust of his teammates. He is a guy who if he can put it 90% together has the chance to become a top 5 WR in the league.

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Seems like the type that will put in minimal effort, willing to skate by on his physical skills. Rumors that he wasn't used late in games because he didn't know the playbook or lacked conditioning don't inspire confidence in him. He's in the WR 20-30 range.

Edited by netnalp

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He's only been in the league 2 years, and I'm willing to take a wait and see approach for now. I think this year will be telling. Dez either comes through in a big way or we learn that he will not realize his potential because he doesn't care enough about being great.

I still rank him very high based on talent but I will need to see more in 2012 than all-world potential accompanied by stats that don't match. I'll be watching for the whispers too... is he maturing and working hard in practices and learning how to run good routes, or is he just trying to get by on God-given talent?

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Seems like the type that will put in minimal effort, willing to skate by on his physical skills. Rumors that he wasn't used late in games because he didn't know the playbook or lacked conditioning don't inspire confidence in him. He's in the WR 20-30 range.

this.
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How many times will he get arrested this year?

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2) The rise of Laurent Robinson took away from Dez's numbers. Laurent is a free agent and most likely will not be back with the Cowboys.

Do you have concrete info on this? From what I've read Robinson said he'd love to be back and the Cowboys would like him to return -- I know things can easily change but I haven't seen anything suggestion he most likely won't be back. Would probably be great for both Dez and Robinson if he left.
Some may have forgotten that Miles was hurt a lot of the year, so Dez was getting the double teams while Robinson wasn't given much attention.

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I am a disappointed owner. I also think you sold at low point. A full offseason and no Laurent should be big. I no longer believe he is a top 5-7 dynasty wr. Looking to sell if he puts it together next year.

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LOL! Everyone is forgetting about Romo's favorite target...Jason Witten. Witten had been averaging 90 receptions the last couple years prior to 2011.

Dez has ability, but I don't trust his maturity or conditioning.

I sold on Dez recently because I don't see sustainability in him. Not to mention all the other weapons they have in Dallas. Dez may only be 3rd or 4th in the pecking order. Perhaps even 5th if they start throwing to the RB's more and getting them more involved.

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LOL! Everyone is forgetting about Romo's favorite target...Jason Witten. Witten had been averaging 90 receptions the last couple years prior to 2011.Dez has ability, but I don't trust his maturity or conditioning.I sold on Dez recently because I don't see sustainability in him. Not to mention all the other weapons they have in Dallas. Dez may only be 3rd or 4th in the pecking order. Perhaps even 5th if they start throwing to the RB's more and getting them more involved.

perhaps but he's the best talent IMO by a good bit. Personally, I think it all comes down to work with him. I think there are issues with him whether it's attitude, work ethic, both, additional baggage which are things that he can control. The key is that the talent is there but I'll be watching the stories on him closely offseason and in order for me to get into bed with him again I'm going to have to read stories about his working out in the offseason to get better, an attitude adjustment, etc. as opposed owing people money, getting in fights, getting arrested in night clubs, etc.. Should be an interesting offseaosn.
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How many times will he get arrested this year?

How many times was he arrested last year?
Who cares about last year?

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This is what confuses me. If he dad was a pimp, then why is he so bad at managing money? Didn't he dad teach him keep an eye on your cash, and your other eye on your hos? We don't know what his mom did for a living, and we aren't allowed to ask, but maybe she was bad at managing money and that overrode what dad taught him about getting his #### straight.

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Robinson is gone. Dez stock is WAY up!! I think he's in the top 5-7 WRs for dynasty PPR leagues. There's not many guys I'd put ahead of him right now.

I'll agree with this only when and if he has a full, injury free, stupid free offseason.

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Robinson is gone. Dez stock is WAY up!! I think he's in the top 5-7 WRs for dynasty PPR leagues. There's not many guys I'd put ahead of him right now.

I'll agree with this only when and if he has a full, injury free, stupid free offseason.
Good luck with that one. :ph34r:
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Robinson is gone. Dez stock is WAY up!! I think he's in the top 5-7 WRs for dynasty PPR leagues. There's not many guys I'd put ahead of him right now.

I'll agree with this only when and if he has a full, injury free, stupid free offseason.
Good luck with that one. :ph34r:
:goodposting:

He is a total head case.

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Robinson is gone. Dez stock is WAY up!! I think he's in the top 5-7 WRs for dynasty PPR leagues. There's not many guys I'd put ahead of him right now.

I'll agree with this only when and if he has a full, injury free, stupid free offseason.
Good luck with that one. :ph34r:
:goodposting:

He is a total head case.

LOL!!!!!!!!! I agree there.....he is a head case. I think he may have took a baby step forward this off-season though. We can hope. I think he showed signs of being a teammate.

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How quickly things change.

Not too long ago, L. Robinson was an injury plagued do little fourth tier WR and now he is reasonable for Dez Bryant valu jumping up!

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Dez - $100 talent with a .10 head

Good post. I think this simple sentence sums it up. He has the talent to be top 5 tablet, but that would require an outstanding work ethic. It is just too competitive in the nfl. I just don't think he has this in him from what I've seen. So he I expect him to be a tease for years. That guy who will get drafted ahead of where his production and real value are.

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Dez - $100 talent with a .10 head

Good post. I think this simple sentence sums it up. He has the talent to be top 5 tablet, but that would require an outstanding work ethic. It is just too competitive in the nfl. I just don't think he has this in him from what I've seen. So he I expect him to be a tease for years. That guy who will get drafted ahead of where his production and real value are.
Worse yet, I think Dez does at some point throw things together and probably has a fantastic year, think Braylon Edwards. It will be enough to keep FFer's gambling on him year after year hoping to see that lighting in a bottle again.

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I think the headcase thing with Dez is very, very overrated. For those of you that have watched the kid on the field, does it look like he is lazy when he is actually playing? he gives 100% , every play. Everyone likes to say hes injury prone as well,

List of WRs that have been 'injury prone' or had major injuries in the first three years

Calvin Johnson

Andre Johnson

Larry Fitzgerald

Hakeem Nicks

Kenny Britt

It takes time for players to adjust to the game, first few years are going to be filled with bumps and bruises. Even AJ Green and Julio Jones were injured on and off most of last year.. its just how things go, Bryant is normal in that respect.

He has a phenomenal Situation and has played phenomenal when healthy, no one can deny that.

Also, no one can actually confirm that he didn't know the playbook or any of that junk... it's all just hearsay.

I realized people were worried about him, but I didn't realize people viewed him like this. I would say hes a buy-low but considering all the rankings and dynasty drafts I've seen have him top 5, I dont think people are walking the walk of the talk in this thread.

Edited by wiscstlatlmia

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I feel like Dez is being slightly overvalued. Based on talent alone, he's a top 5 dynasty WR, but based on production, he's probably more in line with a decent WR2. He's one of those players for owners willing to gamble because based on his draft position juxatoposed to his actual production, you will never be able to obtain him for any sort of "value", rather you'll have to overpay based upon his natural ability and upside.

Now, is it worth it? For me, there are a couple of issues to reconcile. First, is Dez simply immature, as was evidenced by the whole baggy pants thing at the mall last year or is he a knucklehead; likely to run into distraction after distraction that ultimately take away from his on field focus and production? Personally, I have no feel for this yet. Another poster commented earlier that this is year three for Dez, making it pivotal in terms of a long term valuation. This is the year we find out if Dez is likely to become either great or the proverbial tease.

The other issue with Dez is that he disappears in stretches. I remember many examples of games last year where Dez would put together an exceptional quarter or half, only to disappear for the remainder of the game. When Austin went down last year, Dez had the opportunity to assert himself and become the true WR1 on the Cowboys, and outcome that never ensued. Robinson really emerged during that time, leading me to believe that Dez may never seize the WR1 role.

All in all, I'm not buying or selling Dez at this point. If I have him, I'm holding because my instinct tells me that this is the year we find out if he's a top 10 dynasty WR or a top 25 dynasty WR. Given his exorbitant cost, I'm not looking to obtain him, either.

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Robinson is gone. Dez stock is WAY up!! I think he's in the top 5-7 WRs for dynasty PPR leagues. There's not many guys I'd put ahead of him right now.

Won't go near this ### hat in a redraft. Burned us once. He's just too stupid to know where to be in his route.
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Cowboys' Dez Bryant just scratching the surface on talent

By Ian Rapoport

Reporter, NFL.com and NFL Network

IRVING, Texas -- The word "potential" has haunted Dez Bryant during his young career.

It's a blessing, yes, to be gifted with the type of skills any receiver would covet. It is also a curse.

Through two injury-plagued seasons in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys wideout is still trying to figure out how good he can be. Still trying to take his raw materials and mold them into a game-changing, play-making machine who is more than the sum of his highlights.

That was on Bryant's mind as he wrapped up the first week of organized team activities at Valley Ranch. It was just moments after receivers coach Jimmy Robinson spoke of Bryant being a "work in progress."

"He did a pretty good job last year when you look at the production," Robinson said, "and hasn't even come close to scratching the surface."

Bryant heard the remarks and smiled. He took it as a compliment and a challenge.

"When I hear it, it makes me want to work harder," said Bryant, the 6-foot-2, 218-pound former first-rounder from Oklahoma State. "It's fun always going up against the challenge of what you need to."

After piling up 928 yards on 63 catches with nine touchdowns last year, Bryant wasn't satisfied with his performance. Just the opposite.

He believes he's improved mentally this offseason, noting how when coach Jason Garrett shouts out a play, Bryant is already thinking of his assignment as the call is coming out.

Yet even in the past when Bryant understood his assignment, he couldn't always perform it to the best of his ability. He suffered a thigh bruise in 2011 that caused him to miss one game and landed him on the injury report four times. But Bryant surprised reporters Wednesday by saying he never felt 100 percent healthy in 2011. Not one time.

"I don't think I was ever where I wanted to be," Bryant said in a moment of self reflection. "It was just the injuries, my performance. I didn't feel like they healed quick enough."

There were still the highlights. The 50-yard catch against the New York Giants. The winding, 42-yard rumble against the New York Jets that led him to say on the sidelines, "You better put 2-4 (Darrelle Revis) on me." The sideline sidestep against the New England Patriots that made safety Patrick Chung fall down. The second-effort 34-yarder against the St. Louis Rams.

That wasn't all he put on film, though. There were also moments of maddening inconsistency. So when Bryant went back and watched his cut-ups from 2011, he cringed a little bit. He called last year "frustrating."

"Some of the game tape that I watched from last year, I really wasn't too proud of myself," Bryant said. "I know it's because of the injuries, but I feel like this year, I'm spending more time focusing on my body and making sure everything is right."

No lockout this year has allowed him to work with strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik, one of the best in the business. Bryant reported that he's stronger than ever, feels more explosive coming out of his breaks and simply feels good. He moved to DeSoto, Texas, closer to the facility, and he's been in town all offseason. That's paid off, too.

What will Bryant's 2012 be like?

"Well, we're just going to see," Bryant said, smiling. "Just going to continue to keep working hard and we're going to see what happens."

The world will be watching, as it has always been with Bryant. So will his coaches and teammates, who rave about his highlights in practice. Just not the kind of highlights you expect.

Quarterback Tony Romo noted another impressive trait.

"You get out there and watch him, he'll finish those drills," Romo said. "He'll run 30 yards after the catch. I'll tell you what, go watch him after a catch and see what he does. Play'll be over and he'll still be running 20 more yards. He's got a great upside. He's continuing to work his butt off, he's just going to get better and better every year."

The next step for Bryant is to be consistent. It's a battle for all young players, and Bryant isn't immune. He showed strong signs in a rookie season that included 45 receptions for 561 yards and six touchdowns before breaking his fibula. Same last year, even if Laurent Robinson emerged as a go-to receiver alongside him.

Garrett wants more, especially with Robinson having moved on to Jacksonville.

"He's shown all of us that he's capable of doing a lot of great things on the field, but you have to do them play in and play out," Garrett said. "You've got to do them quarter in and quarter out, game in and game out. That's something that he, like a lot of younger players, has to get better at. It starts with practice."

Bryant's focus on film study has increased, as has his attention to detail. Can he make that next step and find out how good he really is?

"I feel like it's already much better than last year," Bryant said.

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With the right focus Dez Bryant could be a beast. He could have a monster year this season if Romo and him both stay healthy.

95/1200/12

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I commented extensively in the Demarco Murray thread and essentially think he's likely overvalued. I'm not sure what Dez' projections are right now and where he's being drafted, but I'm a lot higher on Dez than I am on DeMarco for 2012. I'll need to take the time to sort through my thoughts and put them down in writing. But I'll say a 3rd year breakout is not unlikely. Stars are aligning for it to happen.

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Expect Greatness

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95/1200/12

In terms of PPR points, this equates to 287, and while I agree that he will be in this range, I disagree that we can expect an assumed yards per catch of just 12.6. His game is simply too vertical.Why haven't we seen him let loose vertically yet? Who should we blame?He and Romo were visibly not on the same page last season. It was apparent that Dez wasn't running the right routes which frustrated Romo, and rightfully so. It was easier to get Dez on quick routes and let him dominate his way to 14.5 yards per catch. Also, Romo wanted to get rid of the football before getting crushed in the ribs again (an admirable, productive year for Romo, this cat doesn't get enough credit). Lastly, is Laurent Robinson an All-Pro? Of course he isn't. Is he an above average, reliable WR3? You're damn right he is. Why should Romo force it against top coverage or wait until the route develops when Robinson is getting loose?Sure, Dez likes to buy Jordans and jewelry. And he might have even forgotten his belt when taking a stroll around the mall. He had a sense of entitlement when he was young, but he has been humbled. More importantly than these items, Dez is hungry.. hell, starving.He's the second best red zone threat in the league behind Calvin, and there are few players as deadly with the football after the catch. Sure, he will still battle the occasional mental mistake, but when you take a step back, take into account all there is to take into account with this player, the risk premium is pretty low. He's been avoided by a huge group of dynasty owners because of his "knucklehead factor".There are only three WRs I want more in a dynasty format than Dez. Only two of which I can look myself in the mirror with a gun to my head and say are "better" than him. The third has an arguably similar upside as Bryant without the risk premium, so it makes sense to default to Dez as the WR4.Although I'd not be surprised if Dez turned out several 15 TD years, that is always tough to predict as a median. I'm going to leave his prior year yards per catch roughly the same. He will get plenty more deep looks, but they would be smart to get him the ball on more quick routes as well. I also wouldn't be surprised if he approached 100 catches this season, but think it might be year 4 before we see PPR numbers in the 300's (it's coming).Dez deserves to get fed, and I have absolutely no doubts that he is going to have a feast fit for a king.Annual: 85 catches, 1230 yards, 13 TD = 286 PPRWeekly: 5.3 catches, 77 yards, .81 TD = 17.9 PPRBut in the meantime - haters gonna hate.

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95/1200/12

There are only three WRs I want more in a dynasty format than Dez. Only two of which I can look myself in the mirror with a gun to my head and say are "better" than him. The third has an arguably similar upside as Bryant without the risk premium, so it makes sense to default to Dez as the WR4.
You can't leave us hanging like that, lol. One is definitely Calvin. I'm assuming the other two are Green and Julio? Or is Fitz one of them?

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I commented extensively in the Demarco Murray thread and essentially think he's likely overvalued. I'm not sure what Dez' projections are right now and where he's being drafted, but I'm a lot higher on Dez than I am on DeMarco for 2012. I'll need to take the time to sort through my thoughts and put them down in writing. But I'll say a 3rd year breakout is not unlikely. Stars are aligning for it to happen.

Usually you and I are on the same page, but we differ here. I believe Murray is one likely to breakout. Dez will be good and better then last, but I still have serious concerns over Dez's route running.

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In the article posted by Faust, Dez puts most of the blame for last season on his injuries.

"I don't think I was ever where I wanted to be," Bryant said in a moment of self reflection. "It was just the injuries, my performance. I didn't feel like they healed quick enough."

"Some of the game tape that I watched from last year, I really wasn't too proud of myself," Bryant said. "I know it's because of the injuries, but I feel like this year, I'm spending more time focusing on my body and making sure everything is right."

He sounds soft and like he doesn't want to take accountability.

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I commented extensively in the Demarco Murray thread and essentially think he's likely overvalued. I'm not sure what Dez' projections are right now and where he's being drafted, but I'm a lot higher on Dez than I am on DeMarco for 2012. I'll need to take the time to sort through my thoughts and put them down in writing. But I'll say a 3rd year breakout is not unlikely. Stars are aligning for it to happen.

Usually you and I are on the same page, but we differ here. I believe Murray is one likely to breakout. Dez will be good and better then last, but I still have serious concerns over Dez's route running.
Not so sure on Murray. I had Jones in one league and was looking forward to the 3 out of 4 game stretch against Philly, St. Louis and Buffalo. Philly got better by the end of the year, but those 3 Ds were epically bad against the run. While I know you cannot discount those games, they were his #1, #2 and #3 ypc games of the year. They also came soon after Romo was criticized for those INTs and losses, so it was sort of a perfect storm emergence. In those 3 games, he was 53-462 (8.7 ypc) and the rest of the year he was 111-435 (3.9 ypc). He looked great in that 4 game stretch and OK the rest of the year. I am not a big fan based on his ADP, because I think as a Jones owner and Romo owner in a couple leagues, I might be more objective on him in that I knew he had an epic schedule that Jones missed and I remember the talk about Romo. IMHO, it has all the makings of a disappointment, especially if god forbid Jones doesn't get a hangnail. I think Jones has a lot of value, he may be barely drafted this year and last year he got more than 11 carries 5 times and in 3 of the 5, he had 100 yards. Note that he only got 20+ carries in 1 of the 5, so he was pretty effective.

Also, I was interested to see the comments on Dez that he was hurt all year. Here is a link to what I said in a thread about who benefits from Robinson leaving (LINK) about how Dez hurt his thigh on a freaking punt return against the Jets. I watched that game and he owned Revis on a couple plays and I thought he was going to dominate last year. Pissed that he got hurt on a stupid punt return, but I think he could break out this year. I knew he wasn't right all year and it sucks, but maybe I can take advantage of that this year.

Edited by stbugs

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JPeso may have just talked me into trading for Dez while I can.

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In the article posted by Faust, Dez puts most of the blame for last season on his injuries.

"I don't think I was ever where I wanted to be," Bryant said in a moment of self reflection. "It was just the injuries, my performance. I didn't feel like they healed quick enough."

"Some of the game tape that I watched from last year, I really wasn't too proud of myself," Bryant said. "I know it's because of the injuries, but I feel like this year, I'm spending more time focusing on my body and making sure everything is right."

He sounds soft and like he doesn't want to take accountability.

:lmao:

That is an interesting take. I owned Dez for the first time last year and I watched the play on which he was injured and if you watched the game like I did and saw him beat Revis for a TD and a couple other plays before looking completely different (and missing a game and a half right after), you wouldn't come to that conclusion. There was no off season and I think getting hurt early really impacted him. I watched quite a few games and I could tell he wasn't right. I wonder if it weren't Dez, known for off field issues, if haters wouldn't be discussing a potential breakout WR this year. 45-561-6 (in 12 games) and 63-928-9 (in 15) is pretty good for his first two years in the league.

I don't see someone not taking accountability, I see someone who was disappointed with how he did last year and is working hard to improve. I see someone how is just having a discussion and being honest. Not sure I ever saw anything last year about him not being 100%, but I could tell and in my link above, you will see where I mentioned him being hurt in my observations of 2011, before this article came out. I am just a fan, not a FBG staffer, so if I could tell, he isn't just playing the blame game.

Avoid him if you want, but I am targetting him. If he goes too early, then oh well, I may not get him, but I think he is going to go later than some think.

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Potential potential potential.

Fez is now on his 3rd team in my dynasty league. Traded by owners who have grown tired of his potential.

Right now owners can still demand top return for his "potential" in dynasty league. 3 years from now he'll go for a fraction of the price.

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Laurent Robinson's 11 TDs gotta go somewhere. The cowboys don't have a legitimate #3WR, so I say 5 go to Dez, 3 go to Witten and 3 go elsewhere. Assuming he can can relpicate last years numbers and get those additonal 5, that would give him 14 for the year. I think that would easily put him in the top 5 if that were to happen.

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Laurent Robinson's 11 TDs gotta go somewhere. The cowboys don't have a legitimate #3WR, so I say 5 go to Dez, 3 go to Witten and 3 go elsewhere. Assuming he can can relpicate last years numbers and get those additonal 5, that would give him 14 for the year. I think that would easily put him in the top 5 if that were to happen.

Did Miles Austin retire?

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Potential potential potential. Fez is now on his 3rd team in my dynasty league. Traded by owners who have grown tired of his potential. Right now owners can still demand top return for his "potential" in dynasty league. 3 years from now he'll go for a fraction of the price.

Yes, watching Dez was very tiring. Projecting his 15 games to 16 games yielded 67 grabs, 989 yards, and 10 TD, or 225 in PPR, or 14.1 per game, or roughly WR20. Just terrible for a second year player!

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The concern - knock on Dez coming out of college, and why he dropped in the draft was his attitude, lack of maturity, work ethic, and off the field BS. All factors that would prevent him from EVER becoming a top level stud in the NFL. Here we are 3 years later and it appears he's falling right into those concerns. People who drafted this guy can not be objective

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I love Dez and although i actually traded him away in two leagues recently it wasn't cause I got fed up. I just got deals I couldn't turn down for players I think are better (Green in one and RG3 in a QB heavy league)

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The concern - knock on Dez coming out of college, and why he dropped in the draft was his attitude, lack of maturity, work ethic, and off the field BS. All factors that would prevent him from EVER becoming a top level stud in the NFL. Here we are 3 years later and it appears he's falling right into those concerns. People who drafted this guy can not be objective

:blackdot: ....this will be fun to point back to

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Cowboys' Dez Bryant just scratching the surface on talent

By Ian Rapoport

Reporter, NFL.com and NFL Network

IRVING, Texas -- The word "potential" has haunted Dez Bryant during his young career.

It's a blessing, yes, to be gifted with the type of skills any receiver would covet. It is also a curse.

Through two injury-plagued seasons in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys wideout is still trying to figure out how good he can be. Still trying to take his raw materials and mold them into a game-changing, play-making machine who is more than the sum of his highlights.

That was on Bryant's mind as he wrapped up the first week of organized team activities at Valley Ranch. It was just moments after receivers coach Jimmy Robinson spoke of Bryant being a "work in progress."

"He did a pretty good job last year when you look at the production," Robinson said, "and hasn't even come close to scratching the surface."

Bryant heard the remarks and smiled. He took it as a compliment and a challenge.

"When I hear it, it makes me want to work harder," said Bryant, the 6-foot-2, 218-pound former first-rounder from Oklahoma State. "It's fun always going up against the challenge of what you need to."

After piling up 928 yards on 63 catches with nine touchdowns last year, Bryant wasn't satisfied with his performance. Just the opposite.

He believes he's improved mentally this offseason, noting how when coach Jason Garrett shouts out a play, Bryant is already thinking of his assignment as the call is coming out.

Yet even in the past when Bryant understood his assignment, he couldn't always perform it to the best of his ability. He suffered a thigh bruise in 2011 that caused him to miss one game and landed him on the injury report four times. But Bryant surprised reporters Wednesday by saying he never felt 100 percent healthy in 2011. Not one time.

"I don't think I was ever where I wanted to be," Bryant said in a moment of self reflection. "It was just the injuries, my performance. I didn't feel like they healed quick enough."

There were still the highlights. The 50-yard catch against the New York Giants. The winding, 42-yard rumble against the New York Jets that led him to say on the sidelines, "You better put 2-4 (Darrelle Revis) on me." The sideline sidestep against the New England Patriots that made safety Patrick Chung fall down. The second-effort 34-yarder against the St. Louis Rams.

That wasn't all he put on film, though. There were also moments of maddening inconsistency. So when Bryant went back and watched his cut-ups from 2011, he cringed a little bit. He called last year "frustrating."

"Some of the game tape that I watched from last year, I really wasn't too proud of myself," Bryant said. "I know it's because of the injuries, but I feel like this year, I'm spending more time focusing on my body and making sure everything is right."

No lockout this year has allowed him to work with strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik, one of the best in the business. Bryant reported that he's stronger than ever, feels more explosive coming out of his breaks and simply feels good. He moved to DeSoto, Texas, closer to the facility, and he's been in town all offseason. That's paid off, too.

What will Bryant's 2012 be like?

"Well, we're just going to see," Bryant said, smiling. "Just going to continue to keep working hard and we're going to see what happens."

The world will be watching, as it has always been with Bryant. So will his coaches and teammates, who rave about his highlights in practice. Just not the kind of highlights you expect.

Quarterback Tony Romo noted another impressive trait.

"You get out there and watch him, he'll finish those drills," Romo said. "He'll run 30 yards after the catch. I'll tell you what, go watch him after a catch and see what he does. Play'll be over and he'll still be running 20 more yards. He's got a great upside. He's continuing to work his butt off, he's just going to get better and better every year."

The next step for Bryant is to be consistent. It's a battle for all young players, and Bryant isn't immune. He showed strong signs in a rookie season that included 45 receptions for 561 yards and six touchdowns before breaking his fibula. Same last year, even if Laurent Robinson emerged as a go-to receiver alongside him.

Garrett wants more, especially with Robinson having moved on to Jacksonville.

"He's shown all of us that he's capable of doing a lot of great things on the field, but you have to do them play in and play out," Garrett said. "You've got to do them quarter in and quarter out, game in and game out. That's something that he, like a lot of younger players, has to get better at. It starts with practice."

Bryant's focus on film study has increased, as has his attention to detail. Can he make that next step and find out how good he really is?

"I feel like it's already much better than last year," Bryant said.

I was looking at trading for another WR instead of keeping Bryant, but this article makes me want to hold onto him...

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