2013 Fantasy Football Week 15: Bench Dez Bryant?

By Dustin Manko
Dez Bryant
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

In the second half of the 2012 fantasy football season, Dez Bryant went on an absolute tear. From week nine through the end of the season, Bryant caught 51 passes for 894 yards and had 10 touchdowns. He had four games with over 20 fantasy points (standard scoring) and put himself in the discussion of being the best receiver in football. Through this point in the season, Bryant has caught 20 more passes, but has the same amount of touchdowns and roughly the same yardage as he did during the back nine of 2012.

He ranks outside of the top 10 among wide receiver scoring on the season, outside the top 10 in points per game, and over the last four games has been out produced by Rod Streater, Brian Hartline and Ace Sanders, while Bryant has averaged about 53 yards per game.

A big reason for the lack of production isn’t Bryant, but Tony Romo. Romo has heard the refrain that he is a turnover machine, and this season, Romo is playing cautious and has been less inclined to force the ball to Bryant. Bryant is far and away the best receiver the Cowboys have, and with Miles Austin going back and forth between the active roster and being scratched, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley being boom or bust, along with Jason Witten failing to get separation, it boggles the mind that Bryant is averaging only eight targets per game over the last six games.

This week the Dallas Cowboys host the Green Bay Packers and with the fantasy playoffs on the line, many owners are worried about if Bryant will be able to come through. Should owners consider benching Bryant?

In standard scoring leagues, the Packers are allowing the fifth most points against to wide receivers, so on paper the matchup is right. With Aaron Rodgers seeming more and more unlikely to play, there is a fear that the Cowboys could get up big on the Packers, leading to a run heavy approach to milk the clock. I don’t think that will be a big problem as the Cowboys defense has been more charitable than Salvation Army this season and I doubt they will do much to slow down the Packers, with or without Matt Flynn under center. The Cowboys are one game out of the NFC East lead, and are fighting for their playoff lives.

The fact remains that in the draft, owners selected Bryant early and often with the thought he would put up huge numbers and be a key part of a championship team. Two of the things I believe in most in fantasy football are riding your guns and playing the matchups. Simply put, if you own Bryant, you drafted him with the expectation that he would put in the big game when you needed it. Despite some favorable matchups with mediocre results this season, Bryant is still capable of putting up a 200 yard, multi touchdown day. Unless you are absolutely loaded at wide receiver, there is no way you can sit Bryant. All you can do is start him and hope that Romo gives him a chance to make a play.

As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.

Dustin Manko is an author at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinManko, ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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