Finally! Wide receiver, Dez Bryant has officially signed with a team. It only took until Week 10 of the NFL season for a team (that piqued Bryant’s interest) to make an offer. The team? The New Orleans Saints. The offer? A 1-year contract. Something Bryant wanted this season.
There seems to be a divide among fantasy owners and analysts after this signing as to whether or not Dez Bryant will have an impact on fantasy football rosters this season. Regardless of which side you find yourself on, rostering the talents of Bryant, who could (should) be the WR2 for Drew Brees, does sound very appealing. Time to react to the New Orleans Saints latest transaction.
Check out today’s podcast as the Fantasy Footballers discuss the implications of Dez’s signing.
Fantasy Reaction: Dez Bryant
Many were quick to point the finger at Dez Bryant for being a key reason for the shortcomings of the Cowboys offense. Bryant finished his “awful” 2017 season with 69 receptions for 838 yards and 6 touchdowns. It wasn’t the kind of numbers you’d expect from the star wideout on the Dallas Cowboys, but not a terrible season either. He went on to finish as the WR24 in 1/2 PPR. That was the last impression we had of Dez from a production standpoint.
Since then, the Cowboys released the All-Pro wide receiver. He turned down a 3-year, $21M offer from the Baltimore Ravens, and he has been waiting for the right opportunity to present itself (preferably, a 1-year “prove it” deal). His patience has certainly paid off as not only did he get the 1-year deal he wanted, he is now on a Drew Brees-led offense that is playoff bound.
Fantasy Reaction: Dak Prescott & Drew Brees 2017 Comparison
It’s important to compare the 2017 season between these two quarterbacks because its the last full season sample we have from each. It is also the last season Dez Bryant played with Dak Prescott.
In 2017, Dak Prescott ranked 16th in attempts (490), 15th in completions (308), and 19th in passer rating with 86.64 (QBs with more than 50 completions). Not the best numbers for a quarterback to support a WR1 for fantasy purposes. A major downgrade from his amazing 2016 rookie season. Regardless, Prescott did finish the year as the QB11. This was mostly due to his mobility as he finished 5th in rushing among QBs and led all QBs with 6 rushing touchdowns (tied with Cam Newton). Having a mobile quarterback is great but it does often limit the production of the other offensive weapons.
Drew Brees had what most considered to be a “down year” in 2017. This could not be further from the truth. Yes, Drew Brees and the Saints saw a ton of production from the running back position and the offense seemed to be centered around that. At the end of the day, the numbers proved yet another fantastic year for Bress. He finished the season ranked 9th in attempts (536), 1st in completions (386), and 2nd in passer rating with 103.87 (QBs with more than 50 completions). Sure, he did not lead the league in attempts as he normally does, but he made the most of his attempts with his accuracy. So even in a “down year” for this elite QB, he still finished the season as the 9th best QB in fantasy.
Fantasy Reaction: Dak Prescott & Drew Brees 2018 Comparison
Dak Prescott continues to trend downward in 2018. Without a true WR1 on the team through 8 games, Prescott is the QB21 on the season. He’s 27th in passing yards and ranks 25th in completed passes. If only he had a receiver like, I don’t know, DEZ BRYANT to help pad his stats, Dak Prescott could be in a much better situation from a productivity standpoint.
Drew Brees, on the other hand, is having a great first half of the 2018 season. He is currently the QB5 and ranks 7th in completed passes. Brees leads the league in passer rating with an unbelievable, 120.6 (QBs with more than 22 attempts). Drew Brees and the Saints need depth at the WR position with both Ted Ginn and Cameron Meredith moved to IR. It’s fair to think, Dez Bryant could be much more than a depth piece given the current state of the Saints wide receivers. Drew Brees now has another Pro Bowl wideout to feed accurate passes to and Dez Bryant will be more than happy to be a significant producer in this offense for the remainder of the season and deep into the playoffs.
Fantasy Reaction: Bryant’s Rest of Season Outlook
First, let’s take a look at some of the hurdles that are presented for Dez Bryant to be fantasy relevant with the Saints. Yes, he has to learn a new offensive system. He will need to establish chemistry with new QB, Drew Brees. Dez will not be the WR1 in this offense as Michael Thomas is one of the elite WRs in the game and is Mr. Automatic for Brees. Dez Bryant also hasn’t played a single snap in 2018.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s discuss the positives for Dez Bryant. Bryant finds himself in a much better offense. He’s now got a much better quarterback to throw him the ball. Not only does Drew Brees have way more attempts than Dak Prescott but he is typically in the top of the league in completed passes. Clearly, Drew Brees is a more accurate QB than the QB throwing passes to Dez for the last two seasons. To top things off for Dez Bryant, he is now in an offense that scores a ton more which gives him plenty of opportunities to find the end zone. Dez is a great asset to target and is very good at catching the 50/50 jump ball. If the Saints studied tape of how Tony Romo used Bryant, consistently throwing back shoulder passes to Dez on the far side of the end zone…it will be scary to see how much damage he can do when utilized the right way.