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The rise and (expected) fall of Antonio Bryant

Antonio Bryant will likely post about 60 catches for 725 yards and five TDs this season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Anyone who was playing fantasy football last year, knows what Tampa Bay wide receiver Antonio Bryant did in last year's fantasy playoffs.

For those who need a refresher course, he opened up Week 14, the first round of the playoffs, with a nine-catch, 200-yard, two TD performance. In Week 15, against Atlanta he posted eight more receptions for 108 yards and another score and in the fantasy league finals grabbed six balls for 127 yards and a score.

I don't know about your team, but he carried one of mine to a championship.

So much for 2008.

The problem staring Bryant in the face when he turns to catch a pass this Sunday is the wholesale change at the quarterback position. His 1,248 yards receiving came from quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese. In the off- season, Garcia signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders and Griese was released by the Buccaneers.

In their place are Byron Leftwich, rookie Josh Freeman and untested Josh Johnson. Leftwich is as mobile as a cigar store Indian and takes about as long as one to get the ball off with his long throwing motion. Given the problems Tampa has had with it's offensive line in preseason, it's likely that Leftwich will be lying on his back after he throws a pass more often than he is standing up.

Josh Johnson and Josh Freeman have never thrown a pass in a regular season game.

So who will throw the ball to Bryant, and how often he will be targeted are major questions you must answer before drafting or starting Bryant.

For me the answers aren't pretty which is why on the first five teams I've drafted this year, Bryant isn't on any of them despite my loyalty to his helping me win a title.

The bottom line for me is he'll likely post about 60 catches for 725 yards and five TDs this season. Since his current Average Draft Position (ADP) is 63.5 according to the latest RapidDraft numbers, I am not going to spend a fifth- round pick on that level of production.

Antonio Bryant Career Statistics
Year Team Rec Yds Ave TD
2002 DAL 44 733 16.6 6
2003 DAL 39 550 14.1 2
2004 CLE 58 812 14.0 4
2005 CLE 69 1,009 14.6 4
2006 TB 40 733 18.3 3
2008 TB 83 1,248 15.0 7


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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