Going into last season, Dez Bryant appeared to be jeopardizing his promising career. He was arrested for hitting his mother in the summer of 2012, a charge indicative of maturity issues that had followed him since his days at Oklahoma State University. Bryant’s name found headlines throughout his first two NFL seasons, but too frequently for the wrong reasons. He posted a respectable 68-923-9 statline in 2011, but had yet to develop into the dominant outside receiver that Jerry Jones drafted him to be.
Enter the 2012 season.
Over the first half of the year, Bryant amassed a stellar 503 receiving yards and two TD, putting him on pace for a 1000-yard season. Stellar, but unspectacular.
In the second half of the season, Bryant caught fire. He ran circles around opposing defenses to the tune of 109.9 YPG and 10 TD, nearly doubling his per-game average. In Week 16 against the Saints, Bryant established just how unstoppable he can be as he thrashed New Orleans for 9-224-2. The huge spike in TDs demonstrates Bryant’s dominance in the red zone, an area the Cowboys were surely hoping he would succeed in when they selected him with their first pick of the 2010 draft.
Stretched out over a whole season, Bryant’s second half of 2012 would give him a 1758-yard year. Stats are often projected in this way, and many times it can seem unrealistic, but not for Bryant. His combination of speed, route-running, hands, and strength make him nearly uncoverable at times. If Miles Austin can stay healthy and give defenses another legitimate threat to worry about, Bryant’s ceiling is sky-high for 2013.
As for Bryant’s off-field issues, he appears to have gotten the memo. The man himself, Michael Jordan, recently told Bryant to stay out of trouble, and His Airness seems to have gotten through to the star receiver.
Entering 2013 without any tumultuous offseason storylines, there is no reason Bryant cannot set new personal bests in every receiving category. If he picks up where he left off, the Cowboys’ pass-catcher could easily end the year as a top-3 receiver.
Fantasy football gurus—take note.