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Running the Numbers: Projecting Dez Bryant in 2013

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At DallasCowboys.com, I submitted my 2013 projection for wide receiver Dez Bryant.

The other way to determine the likelihood of Bryant’s 2,000/20 season is to project him as normal and then work from there. As in my projection of Miles Austin, we can use some math to come up with a “typical” 2013 season for Bryant.

Bryant saw 137 targets last year. Even though the Cowboys were down a lot in 2012 and thus forced to throw the ball often, there’s a good chance we’ll see Bryant’s total targets increase. He’s now the clear No. 1 option on offense, so his target rate will probably resemble the nine per game that he saw over the second half of the 2012 season – good for a total of 144 passes thrown his way.

Bryant caught 67.2 percent of his 2012 targets, but that rate will probably decline in 2013. First, few No. 1 receivers continually post such efficiency simply because they often see a lower quality of targets than other receivers. When Romo looks to someone to make a play in a low-upside situation, it will typically be Bryant. Last year, only two true No. 1 wideouts had a higher catch rate than Bryant: Andre Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. A bunch of No. 2 wide receivers checked in above Bryant – Eric Decker, Josh Morgan, Golden Tate, Jordy Nelson – but those sorts of receivers usually have a higher catch rate because they see superior targets. When all is said and done, Bryant’s catch rate will probably hover somewhere around 64 percent, meaning the most likely catch total is exactly what he had in 2012: 92.

Last year, Bryant posted 10.1 yards per target. That’s really a standard number for an elite wide receiver, although Bryant could see a slight decrease in efficiency due to increased defensive attention. If we drop that number just a bit to 9.8, Bryant would be in for a 1,411-yard season.

Bryant converted 13.0 percent of his catches into touchdowns in 2012, nearly matching his career mark of 13.5 percent. With the Cowboys likely throwing deep to Bryant more often and targeting him even more in the red zone, I actually anticipate his touchdown rate jumping to 15.0 percent this year. That would make 14 the most likely touchdown total for Bryant in 2013.

So using a little math, we’ve got an initial projection for Bryant: 92 receptions for 1,411 yards and 14 scores, a phenomenal season that tops his 2012 breakout campaign, but a far cry from 2,000 and 20.

Check out the whole article at the team site.

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