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Pulse of the Twitter Versus

Dez_Bryant3

Twitter has been an amazing tool for fantasy sports enthusiasts.  It’s paramount when getting information quicker than your competition and is the only place in town where you can go from talking fantasy football to talking about “Saved By The Bell” within four tweets.  Twitter is also where I found my love for writing.  I would have never started this unique journey had it not been for Twitter – so blame them when you read my work.

I recently posed the following question to my Twitter followers: “Who are your biggest concerns going into the 2013 fantasy football season?” I’ve never asked questions like that on Twitter, but thought why not? The results varied and responses were all across the board.  As I previously stated, Twitter is such an invaluable tool, especially for fantasy sports, that it seems like I should be asking these types of questions more frequently.

That got me thinking.

For this series, I decided to take some of the most popular questions floating around Twitter and post my own viewpoints on them here on DLF.  Remember, if you have specific questions, Tim Stafford answers all the mailbag questions for DLF and he’s an excellent source for information that can help you in your decision making this “off-season.” We also have our new “Dynasty Doctor” for you to submit any questions in regards to medical science.

I was asked a question by one of our own, Mark Rockwell, regarding the values of two of the upper echelon wide receivers.  The comparisons are so close that I decided to devote this week’s article to that one question because I believe it will be a decision many dynasty start up owners will be faced with.  So, instead of Pulse of the Twitterverse this week, this is truly Pulse of the Twitter VERSUS.

@Mark_Rockwell85 asks: Dez Bryant vs. Demaryius Thomas

Choosing between these two wide receivers is like choosing between Kate Upton and Katy Perry.  They’re both young and sexy with tons of upside.  I won’t get into the specific attributes that can aid you in decision regarding these two, but I will discuss the man crushes that are Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas.

Bryant has always been a freak of an athlete ever since his days at Oklahoma St., but hasn’t been able to live up to the hype until this season.   Taken by the Dallas Cowboys with the #24 overall selection, Bryant managed just one 100 yard game in his first 30 NFL games.  In his next 13 games, Bryant hit the century mark in receiving five times, including one game where he had over 200 yards.  His 2012 season was a tale of two halves – the first eight games and the last eight games.  In the first half of the season, Bryant tallied 42 receptions, 503 yards, and two touchdowns (13 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues).  During the second half of the season, Bryant had 50 receptions, 879 yards, and ten touchdowns (24.7 fantasy PPG) – good for the number one wide receiver in fantasy football during that time.  Let’s take a moment and think about what those numbers could have been if we extrapolate them into a full season.  This is what you’d get: 100 receptions, 1758 yards, and 20 touchdowns- that’s just sickening.

Thomas, a fellow top wide receiving prospect, was drafted with the #22 overall pick by the Denver Broncos in 2010.  The Georgia Tech product played in only 21 games in his first two seasons before having his breakout season in 2012.  Thomas put on display his playmaking ability in the 2011 playoffs when he took a pass from Tim Tebow to the house for an 80 yard game-winning touchdown against the Steelers. Thomas was also the more steady receiver for fantasy owners as his second half almost mirrored his first half totals.  In his first eight games, Thomas had 45 receptions, 752 yards, and four touchdowns (18 PPG).  In the last eight games, he had 49 receptions, 678 yards, six touchdowns (19.1 PPG).

While Bryant hurt you more than he helped in his first eight games, he more than made up for your loyalty by providing one of the best eight game runs for a wide receiver when you needed him the most.   Their final numbers ended up looking like this, less than a five point difference in PPR leagues:

Name

Rec

Yards

TDs

Points

Bryant

92

1382

12

302.2

Thomas

94

1434

10

297.4

Looking into the PPF Signature Stats, it amazed me how close these two truly are:

Wide Receiver Rating

Thomas is ranked number one with the best wide receiver rating (50% targets) of 126.2.  A very interesting stat that was brought up to me by Mark (the person who asked this question) when he noted Peyton Manning did not throw a single interception when throwing Thomas’ way.  Bryant, ranked third overall, had a WR Rating of 123.2 when Tony Romo threw him the ball.  Another push.

Deep Passing

Perhaps this could separate the two?  Again, Thomas led all wide receivers, catching 16 of his 30 deep ball targets (53.3% catch rate) with five touchdowns.  Bryant was the second best wideout, catching 12 of his 24 targets (50% catch rate) with five touchdowns as well.  I guess we’re not done comparing.

Drops

Surely if I look at the drops, we will have a hands down winner between the two, yes?  Can you guess who were the 21st and 22nd ranked wide receivers in the drop category?  Yep, Thomas and Bryant, respectively.  Thomas dropped 11 of 105 catchable balls for a 10.48% drop rate, while Bryant dropped 11 of 103 catchable passes for a 10.68% drop rate.  On a side note, Anquan Boldin dropped two passes this season for a 2.99% drop rate, leading all wide receivers. Please don’t retire, Anquan.

Red Zone Targets

The only stat that really separates these two is red zone targets.  Thomas had 21 targets while Bryant had only 14.  Even though Thomas has more; he wasn’t even his team’s leader in that department – that distinction goes to his teammate, Eric Decker, who led the league with 25 targets and 12 touchdowns inside the 20 yard line.  And though Thomas was the clear cut winner total-wise, it was Bryant who garnered a better percentage of his team’s red zone targets at 23.1% compared to Thomas at 17.1%.  Take from that what you will.

Since their 2012 seasons were so similar, let’s compare the two from a physical standpoint:

Bryant

 

Thomas

4.52

40 Time

4.38

24

Age

25

6’2″

Height

6’3″

220

Weight

229

3

Experience

3

From a pure physical standpoint, Thomas has the superior stats with the only exception being their age, but they’re fairly similar overall.  From an eye test, Bryant has the better intangibles.  When he catches the ball, he’s far more difficult to bring down- almost looking to run defenders over even though Thomas has a better YAC at 5.9 (compared to 5.1 for Bryant).

Dynasty mock drafters are having a terrible time choosing between Bryant and Thomas early into the dynasty “offseason” as well.  In the early mock drafts held in January, Bryant’s ADP was 13 versus Thomas’ 15.  This is how it shook out:

Player

Mock 1

Mock 2

Mock 3

Mock 4

Mock 5

Mock 6

 Bryant

12

12

8

14

14

16

Thomas

19

15

15

11

16

14

In my most recent mock draft, Thomas was selected at 2.03, while Bryant was drafted at 2.05.  I asked our resident mock coordinator, Ryan McDowell how this most recent wave of mock drafts have shaped up and he said Bryant’s ADP is 15 and Thomas’ 14, so there has been a changing of the guard already, be it ever so slightly.

What we need to look at going into 2013 and beyond isn’t just stats and physical skill sets- it’s the variables surrounding these two in the years to come.

Variables

On the Broncos’ side, they have Manning locked up for another four years of fantasy goodness.  It took only a couple weeks before both fake and real football enthusiasts saw the Peyton Manning we’ve all come to love (or hate depending on your allegiances).  Even with their offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, leaving to become the head coach of the San Diego Chargers, the offense won’t skip a beat.  We all know Manning is the real play caller wherever he is, so there shouldn’t be any worries there.   According to PFF, Denver led the league in pass blocking efficiency as well.  Of the 613 pass attempts, Manning was sacked only 13 times.  He had just 96 total pressures allowed, giving the Bronco offensive line an 87.7 pass blocking efficiency rating.  Most of that credit will go to Manning’s quick decision capabilities but make no mistake about it, their line is legit.

On the other side of the coin, the Cowboys are working on an extension with Romo that Bryant owners (more so than Cowboy fans) are hoping will occur.  Jerry Jones has taken away the play calling duties from his head coach, Jason Garrett, and given them to offensive coordinator, Bill Callahan.  Callahan is a run first offensive mind which should serve Romo and the passing game well.  If DeMarco Murray can stay relatively healthy (big if, I know), it will take an enormous amount of pressure off of Romo and the passing game.  PFF had the Cowboys as the #23 ranked offensive line giving up 26 sacks with a total of 196 pressures allowed (78.1 rating).  Again, if the ‘Boys can sustain a running game a la 2011, it will help the passing game open up with less Romo on the ground and/or running around throwing to opposing defenders.

Conclusion

You really can’t go wrong with drafting (or keeping) either of these elite wide receivers.  I’m a gambler at heart, so I tend to go for the guys who can turn in seasons like Bryant did his last eight games.  He’s a liability off the field (no need to get into those matters), but has finally shown he can take over a game in BOTH halves of a football game.  Thomas is your guy if you want steady, top-end production from your WR1.  He’ll always be around the top ten each week because of his quarterback and intelligence, both on and off the field.  And while they both have a history of injuries (major or minor), give me the guy who has shown the ability to silence his critics and “man up” on the field.  That guy is Dez Bryant.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Ben

    February 12, 2013 at 5:19 am

    Very nice article. But I still can’t decide. Okay give me Dez. My #4 overall WR.

  2. david hedstrom

    February 12, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Great job guys. This is one of the most well written, well thought articles I’ve seen in some time. This is an argument that to be honest I don’t think has a loser. For me I like Demary. But I’m not going to lie the presence of decker and meanings ability to spread the rock does leave me frustrated some Sundays. Again great article.

    • Chad Scott

      February 12, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Thanks David. Decker is really my only concern as well with DT. It worked out well this season for both but can it sustain? Thanks again for reading!

  3. Todd Ransom

    February 12, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Great article, and it shows how close these guys are. What is more interesting in debating them is they came out of the same draft and both were physical freaks. The only thing that I think is slightly skewed is their 40 times. I don’t think their long speed has that much of a difference with DT at a 4.3 and Dez at a 4.5. I remember Dez running his after missing most of the season and I believe he was out of shape at the time, and wasn’t that time for DT just a rumor? I thought he was injured and couldn’t run the 40 that off-season? Game speed Dez seems much faster then that.

    But as the article points out it’s splitting hairs. I think if Decker wasn’t there DT would have more “blow up” potential but since he is Dez is probably going to have more monster games in the near future. His last 8 games were pretty epic, he won a lot of games for owners during that stretch.

  4. Rob

    February 12, 2013 at 7:11 am

    I’ve got both in my league! =) we had a startup auction in ’10 when both these guys were entering their rookie years and I snagged Demaryius for a couple bucks while forking out a pretty penny for Dez, who at the time looked like the second coming of not just Randy Moss, but the savior himself. Needless to say, it worked out splendidly last year. Look for both to build upon last season and post even better #s next year, particularly Demaryius. His potential w/ Manning is spooky.

  5. Cyrus

    February 12, 2013 at 7:24 am

    For me, if I had to choose, I would choose Bryant. I love Thomas and think he could be great while Manning is QB.

    But the two things that persuade me are:
    1- Thomas and Bryant had similar stats, but Bryant was ramping up production. If he can continue producing even 80% of what he did in the last 8 weeks, he will outproduce Thomas.

    2- Thomas had 21 red zone targets while Bryant had only 14. Yet Bryant had 12 TD while Thomas had 10. Add to that the fact about DEN being in the red zone so often…

    I think DAL will improve this coming year, so Dez will get more red zone targets. To me, that means more TD’s.

  6. Dge

    February 12, 2013 at 8:38 am

    This is all wrong!!!… Kate Upton blows Katy Perry away. They aren’t even in the same league. There’s no comparison. Terrible article! 😉

  7. Robert

    February 12, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Lol to bge. Most people don’t realize Thomas and Bryant are actually genetic clones! Check Thomas’ birth certificate–DEZMARYIUS!

  8. VoiceofUnreason

    February 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

    You take DT 100% of the time. Why? Because the next time Dez gets arrested you’ll get him half off. People have such short memories and also get so scared the second anything bad happens.

  9. Robert

    February 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Love ’em both, but I’ll take Dez. YACMonster! He’s like King Kong, swatting away DBs.

  10. Justin Kilmer

    February 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Great Article!!!! Dge, Kate Upton and Katy Perry are both hot!

    • Chad Scott

      February 12, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      I’ll take either…of the women

  11. Ryan Throckmorton

    February 12, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    My question is this, and I don’t mean to insinuate nything by it but rather simply provoke thought and debate:

    Throughout comments, articles, and the forums, I have read numerous quips about Kaepernick’s value and concerns over sample size — the last half of last season, in effect…

    …Taking that same position statement, can one not translate it pretty comfortably to Dez? It seems to me his last half of the year has allowed folks to, on one hand, dismiss his poor play prior to, and elevate him to top 5-6ish WR territory; but, on the other, the same is not being done with Kaep….

    That said, I am doing somewhat the oopposite in my taking Dem here but also not worrying about Kaep’s sample size. Give me Dem, Dez worries me too much.

    • Chad Scott

      February 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      I you bring up a valid point but I think the difference is the league will now have an entire offseason to study Kaep. I tend to think he’ll be just fine, but there is some concern there for him, Wilson, and Griffin…I’d think.

      As far as Bryant goes, he’s always been a top 5 WR physically…he just finally ‘got it’ mentally now. When Tony Romo made reference to him actually knowing how to play the game and run the correct routes, I took a lot of stock in that- and it obviously showed in his last 8 games.

      I’m not saying Dez will ever replicate that again…but I’m not saying he won’t either.

      And again, I can’t blame anyone for taking DT over him…either way, you’re going to be set. Thanks so much for reading AND commenting, Ryan.

      • Ryan Throckmorton

        February 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm

        Well thank you for the thank you Chad!

        See, one comment of yours somewhat strikes me unnervingly, if you will. Dez was always a top 5 PHYSICAL player…

        …really? Since when did value remain constant or only moving upward because of a physical capacity when the actual production on field was so lackluster?

        I have been tremendously hard pressed to find aplayer in relatively recent memory to do this to owners — he is so talented physically, he just loos so good in a uniform, but his on field production has truly been abhorrent until this past end year.

        Take Ryan Mathews – physically taleneted? Murray, same? DMC, same? There are probably many, mahy others…

        None of those guys command this same fan fare while being so lackuster in production for multiple years now but equally being physical specimens.

        • Ryan Throckmorton

          February 12, 2013 at 7:59 pm

          Y’know, I thought more on this and as a philosophy/neuropsych/psych guy, I wanted to say the fan fare I speak of above is probably just a matter of recency effect with a tinge of self serving biases from those who were believers in Dez from the start.

          • Cyrus

            February 13, 2013 at 7:18 am

            Nope. Dez was always a physical beast. Kind of like the hype Crabtree had during college, Dez had massive hype during college.

            Now that they both seem to be producing, the people that loved them in college and think they are physical freaks are valuing them highly again.

            Dez only dropped in the draft due to maturity and mental issues; Thomas going ahead of him was kind of a shock. I think Thomas is a physical freak too, so that doesn’t distinguish them for me, but I have considered them both to be two of the most physical WR’s since college.

          • Ryan Throckmorton

            February 13, 2013 at 4:23 pm

            That’s just it though Cyrus, they “seem to be producing” – not are definitively. The fact that he is such a specimen is quie trivial to me until I see production equal to that specimen ranting and raving.

            Dez has noot done this but for just the last half of last year — very, very recent; recent enough to skew folks into thinking he has finally elevated his play to his specimen potential.

  12. Scott Peak

    February 12, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Great article Chad.

    Both are extremely close, but I’ll take Thomas. I think his situation is more stable, so long as Peyton Manning is there. Thomas seems to have a good head on his shoulders, and doesn’t have the knucklehead factor of Dez. Thomas does have an injury history that is a bit more concerning than Dez, but Bryant hasn’t exactly been injury-free, either. Plus, the whole yearly Dallas drama is too much for me to take. Again, it’s close but I’ll take Thomas.

  13. Robert

    February 12, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Of course, Manning is older and (presumably) more at risk of a career-ending injury, although one would think Osweiler will be ready to hit-the-ground running–er, passing, and Dez doesn’t have such a safety valve, but Denver’s O-line is better, so Manning the Machine can “throw” DT open easier, but Romo’s a slithery snake that extends plays, which plays into Dez’ strengths, but Denver’s a better team, but Dallas gets into more shootouts, but Demaryius can cover twenty yards in three steps, but Dez is bullet-proof, but Elway runs the Broncos, but Garrett’s on the way out (did I just say that?)…

    So you see, it’s a simple decision…IT’S DEZ!!!

  14. coach

    February 13, 2013 at 12:23 am

    give me demaryius. bryant is a loose cannon. always go with the guy that is more stable.

  15. Matt Caufield

    February 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Great topic and very well written. I’ve watched both Dez and Demaryius play and both are tremendous talents. As many have said, you cannot go wrong with either guy. But if both are available to me in a draft, I’m taking Dez. When I’ve watched Dez play, he simply seems like the best player on the field; a man amongst boys if you will.

    I know Dez has the reputation as being a risky/volatile player on & off the field, a reputation he’s certainly earned. Having said that, from what I saw in 2012 I think he’s matured quite a bit. I don’t believe we have seen the best of Dez yet, which is a scary thought.

  16. Forrest Cohn

    February 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    What has Dez Bryant ever really done off the field that makes people think he is such a “loose cannon”? He is from a tough part of town and talks like it but he never really has done anything that stupid off the field. It was always mental lapses on the field that held him back. He seems to have figured that out so I don’t see the concern

    • Chad Scott

      February 13, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      Slapped his momma…kind of big in my book… but not enough to not draft him

      • Ryan Throckmorton

        February 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm

        Agreed Chad & Forrest, my problem with Dez has always been the inconsistency. I could care not that he is such a phy sicalspecimen if he doesn’t produce.

        Hell, Kellen oh so bad Davis is a specimen and a half but is just plain horrible, at best.

        As to your comment Forrest – you have got to do some things off the field for your team to enact a policy and curfew governing your off the field affairs, something Dallas did do this year.

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