The Dallas Cowboys have some very interesting players at the wide receiver position for your fantasy football team. They have a legit number 1 go-to-guy in Dez Bryant, and a couple of emerging play-makers on the opposite side in Terrance Williams and Brice Butler. They have one of the better receivers out of the slot in Cole Beasley. While speedster, Lucky Whitehead has the opportunity to fill the Percy Harvin ‘Go-Go-Gadget” role.
This group of receivers isn’t short of play-makers.
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The Go-to-Guy, Dez Bryant
Arguably one of the best three wide receivers in the league, Dez Bryant had been the model of consistency before his injury-plagued 2015 season.
From 2012-2014 Bryant finished with at least 80 catches (90+ twice), 1,200 yards (1,300+ twice), and more than 10 TDs in each of those seasons. During that span he became a dependable top 5 WR choice for your fantasy team.
Coming off of the injury, it’s possible that he drops to the 6-10 range of wide receivers selected. Depending on league settings and Cowboys bias, there’s a small possibility Bryant could drop out of the top ten. In all formats, he is still a force to be reckoned with in all spots on the field.
Coming back healthy, I imagine Bryant returns to his catch and yardage totals with little difficulty.
Without a dominant threat on the other side of the field, Bryant will keep pace with the pre-2015 target numbers (130+) and be able to perform at his All-Pro like standard. A reasonable place to draft the star wide out would be late first round in PPR leagues, or early 2nd round in standard leagues.
Fantasy Prediction: 85 receptions, 1,250 yards, 8 touchdowns
Average Draft Position (ADP) from Fantasypros.com: 5th wide receiver drafted, 11th overall
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The Number 2 Wide Receiver
The camp battle that will take place between the following two receivers has me hesitant to roster either Terrance Williams or Brice Butler.
Terrence Williams is the three-year incumbent starter, but had a lackluster 2015 despite rising to the top of the depth chart. With Bryant out much of the season, Williams failed to take a step forward to becoming a go-to receiver. He only averaged 52 yards per game and scored 3 TDs, while only securing 56% of his targets.
Sure, his quarterback’s play wasn’t good. But there comes a point in your career where you just have to make plays, whatever the talent around you. No one believes Houston has had a great quarterback, yet DeAndre Hopkins has put up elite numbers each of the last two seasons. It isn’t unreasonable to expect Williams to perform better than 52 yards per game.
Williams has the inside track to win the job as the incumbent with a strong working relationship with Tony Romo.
ADP: 61st WR and 161st overall
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Going into 2015, Butler was an Oakland Raider. During the season the Cowboys sent a 4th round pick to the Raiders for the wide receiver.
An incredible athlete, Butler suffered hamstring problems that only allowed him to suit up for 6 games with Dallas. But he had an impact in his limited time.
Brice Butler caught a 67-yard pass in the game against New Orleans. For 2015, Butler averaged 21.5 yards per catch. Over the final two weeks of the season he caught 4 passes in each game for 74 and 60 yards.
In all but one of those 6 games with the Cowboys, Butler made at least one catch of greater than 20 yards. He has the athleticism and the speed to be a difference maker when on the field.
ADP: 107th WR and 301st overall
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The Wide Receiver 2 Verdict
If I had to choose which one to draft now, it would be Williams. He has the experience in the offense and the rapport with the quarterback to keep the job.
That said, I’ve bought stock in Brice Butler in my dynasty league with a deep roster (25 spots), because I think he has a real shot at winning the number two job.
Fantasy Prediction: One becomes the starter and goes for 48 catches for 950 yards and 6 TDs. The other becomes the 4th WR finishes with 18 catches for 350 yards, and 2 TDs.
The Slot Guy, Cole Beasley
This is one guy whose fantasy value stays about the same no matter the WRs on the outside. He has the ability to get open and win in the slot. Good for more than 35 catches a year in 2013 and 2014, Beasley’s numbers reached career highs in catches, yards, targets, and touchdowns in 2015.
Part of this is due to the check-down nature of the 3-headed backup quarterback monster that ran rampant in the 2015 season. The other part is due to Beasley being a trusted weapon in the slot.
With Jason Witten’s quickness in decline, Beasley is the matchup that Romo looks to if he needs to get the ball out quick. His job as the slot receiver is safe, but the output is limited to the number of targets he receives in a game.
PPR leagues and deeper leagues are where you’ll draft Beasley at the bottom-end of the draft. In a standard 10 team league, he isn’t on your roster. It’s unlikely he sees Wes Welker or Julian Edelman targets to become a fantasy asset.
Fantasy Prediction: 45 catches on 57 targets, 515 yards, and 4 TDs.
ADP: 100th WR and 291st overall
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The Man with the Gadgets, Lucky Whitehead
Lucky is more of a gadget player for an offense that isn’t short of play-makers. If you are in a league with KR/PR points, then Lucky could be a deep roster hold, and maybe even a handcuff to play the slot if something happened to Cole Beasley.
Outside of return duties, Whitehead only saw 16 touches (10 carries, and 6 catches on 8 targets) in 2015. With the likelihood that Lance Dunbar starts the season on the “physically unable to perform” (PUP) list, Lucky could be in line for more opportunities in his second season.
He shouldn’t be drafted or rostered in standard leagues. You should only considering a roster spot for Lucky at the moment in deep dynasty leagues and leagues that offer points for kick and punt return yards.
Fantasy Prediction: 30 total touches, 225 total yards, 2 touchdown.
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Others to Watch
While, these may be the 5 that have the best chance for fantasy value, there are others to take note of. Devin Street is in his third training camp with the team and has some of the natural route running ability necessary to play the wide receiver position at a high level. Another name to watch is Andy Jones, the rookie from Jacksonville University, who has been making noise in the offseason workouts.