An era has come to an end. To my surprise and the surprise of many Dez Bryant has been cut to save the Cowboys 8.5 million in cap space. This move has several implications. It was widely assumed the Cowboys would be looking for a receiver in the NFL draft. The wide receiver free agency market has been thoroughly ransacked and with the release of Bryant, it’s practically guaranteed the Cowboys will draft a wide receiver early, possibly as early as the first round. Let’s take a look at the immediate impact of the Dez Bryant release.
The Cowboy’s remaining Wide Receivers
This leaves the Cowboys wide receiver core very thin with Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Deonte Thompson, Ryan Switzer atop the chart. Looking at this depth chart if Allen Hurns stays healthy he could be the big benefactor and is going very late in best balls and can be had for next to nothing in dynasty. Terrence Williams has been given opportunities in the past and has proven he is better suited as a wr2/3 for Dallas. Where Williams was not a target of mine upon the Hurns signing, I now consider him a decent late round wide receiver for best ball drafts. Using the Rotoviz game splits app also reveals that Williams might be a good target in Dynasty or maybe even redraft leagues.
Cole Beasley should maintain his slot role and see a slight uptick in targets. Beasley should be a decent target in best ball leagues, a deep bench stash in dynasty and afterthought in redraft leagues. Deonte Thompson could be an interesting name to monitor, he has shown to be serviceable when called up in Buffalo and could stretch the field nicely with over a 90% 40-yard dash and speed score according to playerprofiler. His most comparable player is Robert Meachem who was a great field stretcher for Philip Rivers. Late round 2017 rookie draft target Ryan Switzer not draftable in best balls and redraft leagues, but his dynasty stash status may see a slight uptick in value.
There are two big winners in this, and they are Ezekiel Elliott and Jason Witten. As if Zeke’s target share and carry load weren’t guaranteed to be very high, with this move I expect him to lead the league in carries. He will get a very big workload but look for him to face many stacked boxes. Elliott might match his overall career production of 58 receptions in 2018 alone. Jason Witten is quietly the biggest winner from Dez Bryant leaving Dallas. He will be Dak Prescott’s safety blanket and I expect him to be a TE1. Witten can regularly be found in the double-digit rounds of best ball drafts even in FFPC where the tight end receives 1.5 points per reception. I love the idea of pairing him with a high upside tight end like Trey Burton or George Kittle. Come time for redraft leagues I will likely have a lot of Witten as well and be content with his weekly top 10 scoring all season. In DFFs April mocks (Dynasty leagues) Witten has an ADP of nothing. As in he’s not being drafted within the top 180 picks. For the cost of a late 3rd round or early 4th round pick, Witten is worth trading for with the expectation of possible low-end TE1 production.
What About Dez
On to Dez Bryant, landing spot will have a lot to do with his value. Dez may have lost a step but if he lands on the right team I still believe can provide wr2 production. I can see two scenarios playing out that could significantly alter his value. Scenario one, which I think is more likely, is that Dez lands on a team looking to make a Superbowl push. Being a Giants fan I have always hated Dez Bryant, but I can’t deny that he is very passionate about the game and if put in the right scenario can help a contending team make a push. The other scenario is he could end up on a wide receiver-needy team where he could still be a wr1/2 and command a nice target share. In dynasty, I like to capitalize on other owners fear of the unknown. Right now everything about Dez’s future is unknown and it’s time to pounce. Dez could likely be had for anywhere from a late 1st through a late 2nd round rookie pick. I believe Dez still has some left in the tank and could return nice value this year in redraft and a nice buy low in dynasty leagues.