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Fantasy Impact: Dez Bryant Injury

Sep 15, 2015

How will Dez Bryant's absence impact fantasy football?

How will Dez Bryant’s absence impact the rest of the Cowboys?

It was a rough week for receivers, particularly for Dez Bryant owners who spent an early, possibly even first, pick on him. Bryant suffered a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot in the Cowboy’s 27-26 win over the Giants on Sunday night. An injury of this magnitude is tricky, with time tables ranging from four-to-six weeks, six-to-eight weeks and even longer. His timetable to return is currently as murky as it gets.

There is a small sliver of hope that the Cowboys have chosen not to place him on injured reserve with the designation to return. The team feels he will be back this season and the best-case scenario is that he heals and rehabs quickly and effectively, allowing him to suit up right after the bye for a Week 7 return, but that is highly optimistic. While you certainly cannot drop Dez, you can begin considering trade offers. For the mean time, he will be joining your bench along with his team’s bench. So, now what?

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With no double coverage needed by defenders, the running game could take a hit. Defenses can stack the box if they choose. Not that there is a clear cut candidate to own in the backfield at the moment, but I would slide Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden down in your rankings. Lance Dunbar had a huge game Sunday and we can expect him to resume that role, but his value likely takes a hit as well. He is the Dallas running back worth owning in deep leagues, specifically those that award points per reception (PPR).

The receiving game, on the other hand, should have you scrambling your waiver wires for Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley if they are not already rostered. Williams assumes the role as the WR1 in Dallas and his breakaway speed after the catch will be beneficial to your team if Tony Romo targets him often. Cole Beasley is the consummate mismatch out of the slot and is already a headache for defenders. If Romo peppers him with more targets in Bryant’s absence we could see weeks where he leads the Cowboys in fantasy receiving points. If you are a Bryant owner and want a piece of this offense, now is the time for you to target these receivers in trades, before they play this week. In very deep leagues, consider Devin Street and even this summer’s dark horse to make the team, Lucky Whitehead.

The immediate beneficiary of the Bryant injury is none other than old reliable Jason Witten. He finished with eight  catches for 60 yards and two scores this weekend. Romo will be looking to his long tenured tight end often, on third downs, in critical situations, and near the end zone. Witten already had the upside of a top tier tight end, but Bryant’s injury raises his ceiling even more. He has shown no signs of slowing down in his “old” age and has missed one career game in 12 full seasons. Witten is another target to consider in trade talks but he will cost you much more than the receivers listed above.

Do not panic quite yet on Dez. If he returns closer to the early time table for this type of fickle injury you will have a dominant receiver for your playoff push. Monitor local reports in the meantime, considering the beat reporters are the true eyes and ears of each team. Pay attention to the internet doctors who chime in but take it with a grain of salt. You cannot drop Dez because a physician (who did not perform his surgery or see his x-rays) online said it could be a 12-week recovery. Remain optimistic but be realistic over the next few weeks when we see how his rehab is progressing. Hustle your league mates and waiver wire to find your (hopefully) temporary replacement for your stud receiver.

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Jen Ryan is a correspondent at FantasyPros. Click here for her archive and feel free to reach her and talk all things fantasy @FFdeJENerate.

Correspondent, Injuries, NFL