Tue Sep 14 05:55pm EDT
If you were expecting Dallas to ease Dez Bryant(notes) into the action slowly in the early weeks of the regular season, with four or five passes per game … well, no. That's not how it's going to be, not at all.
The rookie was targeted 12 times on Sunday night, more than any other Cowboys receiver. Most of the looks were from short-range, so Bryant finished with eight catches for a modest 56 yards. But if he's going to see workloads like this going forward, his owners will collect a decent profit on his draft day price. (Except you, Schwartz. Dez is all wrong for your team. You should deal him. Stop dragging your feet, coward).
It's not often that skill players as talented as Bryant fall into such fantasy-friendly systems. When they do, it's nice to be an early investor.
If you examine the spreadsheet below, you'll notice that a few other first-year players appear among the target leaders for Week 1. Bryant heads the class, but Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham(notes) is close behind (10), and so is Mike Williams version 2.0 (9). Brandon LaFell(notes) was targeted nearly as often as Steve Smith (8), but Matt Moore(notes) was a mess, so neither wideout was set-up for a big day.
Roddy White(notes) was the intended receiver on 23 of Matt Ryan's(notes) 44 pass attempts against Pittsburgh, which is fairly ridiculous. That explains why there wasn't even a millisecond of hesitation from Troy Polamalu(notes) on this fourth quarter pick. Basically every member of the Rams made the target list, as Sam Bradford(notes) put the ball in the air 55 times. That won't happen every week, clearly, but St. Louis will be playing from behind most of the season. Mark Clayton(notes) (16 ) and Laurent Robinson(notes) (9) could become regulars in this feature.
Here's your full target leaderboard from Week 1, in traditional Arcade colors…
Bad font? Yeah, maybe. We don't have an official font around here, so I'm open to your thoughtful suggestions.
Normally we'll run the weekly and year-to-date target leaders in this space, but today those lists are obviously the same. For your pleasure, here are a few more names and numbers…
Photo via Getty Images