Editor’s Note: This article is co-written by Member Writer Eric Dickens and DLF Partner Ken Kelly. It’s an opinion piece designed strictly to make a strong case for two particular players matched up head-to-head. After reading, cast your vote in the poll for who you would choose between these two players.
We continue on with a staple series of articles here at DLF – the dynasty debate. These debates are designed to give an argument for either keeping or trading for a player of similar value. Use these debates to help you in making trade decisions or in your initial dynasty league drafts.
The Case for Dez Bryant
Bryant tends to be in the news for the wrong reasons more often than not, but that’s all about to change.
After being drafted late in the first round by Dallas in 2010, Bryant posted a respectable 45 receptions, 561 yards and six touchdowns before having his season cut short by injury. When you consider the loss of Tony Romo and the fact that Bryant missed all of training camp with an ankle injury, that’s a pretty successful rookie campaign. Remember, this is the same player who put up a gaudy 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns on 87 catches for Oklahoma State in 2008.
What you don’t see within his statistics is an undeniable “it” factor with Bryant. Whether it’s returning punts, leaping for a ball in the end zone, or shedding tacklers with ease, it’s obvious that Dez is a supreme once in a decade type of talent.
Roy Williams is bracing for a backup role to Bryant this year and may even be released. Regardless, Dez is penciled into the starting lineup from day one in “Big D.” Tony Romo and Dez are back healthy again and hope is springing eternal for Cowboy fans. The stars are aligned and Bryant is poised to explode. With Miles Austin and Jason Witten keeping defenses honest, Bryant should find more than enough holes in any defense. The way Dallas plays, there are more than enough balls to keep everyone happy.
It would be foolish not to address his off the field issues when considering this debate. Bryant has undoubtedly made some poor choices over the past few years, leading to an NCAA suspension, a few lawsuits over money and some other minor incidents. It’s important to note, however, that Bryant does have the full support of his team, even with his youthful and cavalier attitude when it comes to decision making. There are also no felonies or violent behavior issues that raise any serious red flags for dynasty owners.
While the laundry list of off the field incidents is a cause for concern, it’s also wise to put it into perspective. Bryant’s transgressions are consistent with a young man who needs some good old fashioned leadership. The hope is the lockout ends soon so some of the veterans can take him under their wing. After all, he’s a meal ticket to victories.
When looking at the other side of the debate, Brandon Marshall is undoubtedly a supreme talent with a track record for two things – making plays and wearing out his welcome. Unlike Bryant, Marshall’s off the field behavior truly is disturbing. He’s made a mockery of practices, been suspended by his own team, had an accident with a McDonald’s bag and was nearly killed by his wife in an offseason stabbing incident. Sadly, those are just a few of the bad headlines he’s made over the years.
Marshall is the only Dolphins receiver not to participate in team workouts so far this Summer, further alienating his teammates. Many pundits have suggested he’s already rubbing the brass in Miami the wrong way after just one season. It took him four to do that in Denver! He’s also stuck on a team without anything close to a franchise quarterback, thus making his disappointing three touchdown campaign in 2010 even more disturbing. It’s hard to imagine, but that could be the start of string of poor seasons as Miami rebuilds their offense. Add to that his age (27) and ongoing hip trouble and this debate isn’t close.
Dez Bryant is hands down the choice to have between the two in a dynasty league. When you look at his supreme athletic ability, age, situation and potential, he could skyrocket into the league’s elite as quickly as this season. The risk is there with Bryant, but it’s not nearly as alarming as the risk you take with Marshall.
Roll the dice on Bryant. You may just have the next big thing.
The Case for Brandon Marshall
As NFL prospects coming out of college, Brandon Marshall and Dez Bryant couldn’t be more different. Marshall, drafted 119th overall in the 4th round, was an unheralded wide receiver out of the University of Central Florida. The scouting report highlighted his lack of blazing speed, inability to separate from defenders and questioned his top-end speed.
Bryant missed most of his senior season after getting into hot water with the NCAA. He was easily considered a top ten talent and was the number one receiver on most team’s boards going into the draft. Despite the character concerns, Dez was selected 24th overall by the Dallas Cowboys (the second receiver overall behind Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos).
Fast forward to the 2011 offseason and you will find many dynasty owners deliberating over which or these receivers is more valuable and which would deserve a higher priority on their fantasy roster. If you scour the web for dynasty rankings or check out the Dynasty Essentials Guide, you’ll most likely find the two separated by a mere handful of spots. While they should be considered in the same tier, Marshall is the better option of the two whether your team is rebuilding or contending.
The multitude of arguments against Marshall include run-ins with the law (although Kenny Britt is currently the leader in the clubhouse in this category), immaturity in the locker room, and lack of talent at the quarterback position.
The character concerns are obviously a big deal, but if we’re comparing Marshall to Bryant, then it’s a wash on the football field. The immaturity in the locker room (and on the practice field) seems to have subsided since the trade from Denver to Miami. Unfortunately, the quarterback concerns have the potential to have the most impact on Marshall’s numbers. As for now, Chad Henne will get another shot to prove he can be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. If he wants to hang onto that starting position, he will look to Marshall early and often in the passing game.
Brandon Marshall will be entering the 2011 season with four straight 1,000 yard seasons, averaging 6.55 receptions per game over that span. He’s shown the ability to be a force in the red zone, despite last season’s paltry three touchdowns scored. In fact, you could argue that natural regression could lead you to believe his touchdown numbers will bounce back towards the 6-7 range.
Marshall’s physicality and ability to break tackles are his biggest assets, allowing him to create separation without blazing speed. He has been described as “the toughest guy to bring down” by free agent corbnerback Nnamdi Asomugha. His yards after the catch are typically some of the highest in the league at his position. Simply put, he has the ability to overwhelm smaller defenders and take over a game. The question isn’t if he will do it again, but rather can he do it with subpar play from his quarterback?
You could easily say yes. Last season’s totals of 86 receptions on 132 targets, 1,014 yards, and three scores were the lowest of his starting career and came in only 14 games played. If healthy and able to play a complete season, you could safely project somewhere around 102 receptions (154 targets), 1,170 yards, and six scores. The improvement will likely come from an increased focus on getting him the ball in space and a better running game to keep defenses honest.
Of course, there is risk involved with making Marshall a centerpiece of your dynasty team, from future suspensions to an inaccurate player throwing to him. The risk involved is worth the 100 catch, 1,000 yard consistency we’ve come to expect from Marshall.
You can’t say the same about Bryant.