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Will Dez ever reach potential?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Potential is a dangerous thing for fantasy owners.

Just look at who Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was drafted ahead of this season -- Brandon Lloyd, Antonio Brown, Dwayne Bowe, Eric Decker, Vincent Jackson, Stevie Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Torrey Smith and Reggie Wayne, to name a few.

And yet, Bryant's potential continues to far outweigh his production.

What should have been a night of celebration for him Monday turned into his latest disappointment. Bryant established a new career high for receiving yards in a single game against the Bears, but fantasy owners will only remember the plays he left on the field.

Bryant dropped three balls, including a potential 40-plus yard gain in the second half, and had a miscommunication with QB Tony Romo that led to a pick- six.

This has been the story with Bryant, now in his third season. He has all the physical gifts in the world but he hasn't caught up mentally yet. And who knows if he ever will.

You'll notice I didn't mention the exact yardage total Bryant posted Monday, because that number speaks volumes about the player. Three years in, and Bryant's new career high is ... 105 yards? Yup, that's all. In 31 career games, the 6-foot-2 receiver has only managed two 100-yard games with a high of 105.

You'd expect there to be at least one or two big games sprinkled in, but Bryant has never been able to sustain dominance on the field for long stretches without suffering lapses both physical and mental.

And that brings us back to Monday. Bryant's "career night" could have been so much better, perhaps even enough to swing the game in favor of the Cowboys (who were walloped by the Bears, 34-18), if he hadn't made so many mistakes.

I'm sure there are plenty of fantasy owners who haven't watched many Cowboys games and think Dez is doing just fine. After all, his statistics aren't terrible. In 31 games, Bryant has 129 catches for 1,758 yards and 15 touchdowns. That averages out to 67 catches for 907 yards and seven touchdowns in a full season.

This year, he's on pace for 84 receptions for 1,077 yards so the former 24th overall pick is far from a bust. But his lack of impact on the game is evident in some of his statistics this year; for instance, he has zero touchdown catches and his longest catch went for 38 yards.

Judging by Bryant's 49.3 ADP in Yahoo! drafts, this is not what fantasy owners expected from the Dallas pass catcher. In Yahoo! auction leagues, owners paid an average of $20.3 for him. Seems like an awful investment now considering Smith went for $8.80 and Brown went for $12.80.

Dallas has a bye in Week 5, giving Jason Garrett and company extra time to work out the kinks and get everyone in sync after Romo threw five interceptions Monday and had numerous slip-ups with his receivers aside from Bryant's miscues.

The Cowboys will travel to Baltimore in Week 6 to face a Ravens defense that has allowed 300-yard passing games to Michael Vick, Tom Brady and Brandon Weeden in the last three weeks, so things could get better for Bryant.

But it's more like he'll continue to tantalize fantasy owners with his tools before underwhelming again when he steps on the field.

It's just too bad you don't get fantasy points for potential, because Bryant would be a game-breaker in that category.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.


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