Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/5/12
I looked back to the tapes of the very first week of the 2011 regular season when the Dallas Cowboys came into New York to play the Jets.

During the first five minutes of the game Cowboys wide receiver, Dez Bryant, showed flashes of greatness, and more of what I believe he will bring to the Cowboys’ offense, as well as your fantasy league in 2012.

In the first minute, Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, threw across the middle of the field to find Bryant for a 10-yard pass and catch, but then Bryant was able to shed some tackles and uses his elusiveness and balance to pick up an extra 33 yards after the catch.

Shortly after that 43-yard gain, Romo threw a back shoulder fade to Bryant in the endzone.

What I found intriguing about this play was that Bryant positioned himself perfectly so that once he turned to face the ball it was already at his hands. And secondly, Antonio Cromartie could not have defended the play any better than he did. Third, Even with the great defensive play by Cromartie, Bryant still had the strength and vertical jump height to reach above Cromartie and steal the interception away for a touchdown.

You have to remember, Cromartie is not getting paid $8M a year by the Jets because he’s a mediocre NFL cornerback. Even with one of the top cornerbacks in the league positioned on Bryant, the Jets were forced to pull Cromartie off of Bryant and have the best corner back in the league, Darrelle Revis, cover him instead. That goes to show the talent level Bryant possesses.

In respects to fantasy football, the rest of the season did not go as well for Bryant compared to the first five minutes of the season opener. He picked up 145.3 fantasy points in 15 games played which averages out to just less than 10 points per game. Those statistics aren’t horrible because they were well enough to label Bryant as a No. 2 fantasy wide out in the 2011 year. The reason why it was considered a lackluster fantasy performance on his part is due to the fact that he was deemed as a No. 1 wide receiver and a potential candidate to break out.

The reason why I mentioned the opening game last year against the Jets is because the player Bryant was in the first five minutes is the player I see him being for the majority of the 2012 Cowboys’ season. At 23 years old and going into his third season, Bryant has shaken off the rookie jitters in 2010 and adapted to being the No. 1 wide receiver (ahead of Miles Austin) on the depth chart in 2011. If you look at the trend of wide receivers that break out in the NFL, it usually occurs in their third season; I see it being no different for Bryant.

Bryant is a tall (6’4”) wide receiver who possesses great athleticism and strength, but the big difference I see is that his work ethic this offseason compared to previous offseasons is much improved. Word from training camp is that Bryant is constantly progressing each day, and the chemistry between him and Romo is better than ever.

If the beginning of last season is what we expect to see on a constant basis, which I believe will hold true, then Bryant will be considered a high-end No. 1 fantasy wide receiver in standard fantasy leagues. Do not be surprised if you see him in the top five in fantasy points in 2012 at his position.

Look for him to be drafted in the fifth to sixth rounds in fantasy drafts; I would advise you not to wait that long to pick him up though. I would take Bryant in the third or fourth round just to solidify that his talent is on my team next year as I am predicting around 70 receptions for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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