The Dallas Cowboys picked up arguably the most dramatic victory in Week 1 of the NFL season with their 27-26 triumph against the New York Giants, but some of their top wide receivers failed to take advantage of Dez Bryant’s absence.
Bryant went to the locker room with a foot injury in the second half. Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated passed along an update from NFL Network, saying Bryant broke a bone in his foot, but Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley finished without a touchdown. Here is a look at their final totals:
Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports noted Bryant will miss four to six weeks because of the injury, which clearly has fantasy implications for the rest of the receiving corps. Bryant tallied more than 1,200 receiving yards and reached double-digit touchdowns in each of the last three years, and that production will go elsewhere while he heals.
Only Jason Witten saw more targets than Williams for the Cowboys during Sunday’s win, so quarterback Tony Romo was looking to get his speedy playmaker the ball in space. That’s what fantasy owners need moving forward, even if Williams didn’t score a touchdown Sunday.
The former Baylor Bears star posted a combined 1,357 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns over the past two years and finished in the top 20 in the NFL with eight touchdowns in 2014. He checks in at 6’2” with leaping ability to go along with his speed, so he has all the ingredients to be a red-zone threat and should score often in 2015.
Look for some of the touchdowns that would normally go Bryant’s way to find Williams’ hands in the next month.
As for Beasley, he posted a combined 916 receiving yards during his first three seasons and never topped 420 in a single campaign. He is more of a slot possession receiver than anything else, which doesn’t always transfer in fantasy football circles unless the player is posting ridiculous touchdown numbers like Wes Welker used to do with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Beasley notched only six touchdown catches in those first three years and doesn’t have the height, at 5’8”, to make plays on fade routes near goal line or come down with jump balls.
Williams is the safer play, although the presence of Witten should scare fantasy owners.
The tight end went for over 1,000 receiving yards in four of the last seven years and caught the final touchdown pass Sunday (it was his second score). Romo is comfortable throwing the ball Witten’s way with the game on the line and will likely do so more often without Bryant on the field.
Lance Dunbar tallied a team-high 70 receiving yards and figures to earn more targets in Bryant’s absence as well.
Bryant also faced plenty of double-teams, which gave Williams and Beasley more room to operate against single coverage. Part of Beasley’s value came from exploiting that weaker coverage, especially when it came from linebackers. There are too many options in the Dallas passing game to trust Beasley, even if he receives more targets moving forward.
However, if Williams assumes the No. 1 receiver role in the Dallas offense for the next four to six weeks, he is a must-start in fantasy football.
Romo threw for at least 3,448 yards in seven of the last eight years (the only time he didn’t was because of an injury-shortened campaign in 2010) and reached the 4,000-yard mark four different times. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and any top receiver option catching passes from him must be in your fantasy lineup.
If you are starting a Dallas wide receiver in the near future while Bryant is on the mend, make sure it’s Williams.
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