Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
So what does Dez Bryant have to do to be better than Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson?
Nothing. He's already better.
Just to be clear, those are his words, not mine.
"I think I'm the best at what I do," Bryant said earlier this week in an interview with ESPN Radio in Dallas. "I believe I can do whatever [Johnson] can do."
Before you jump to conclusions, let's give Cowboys owner Jerry Jones a chance to weigh in.
"That Johnson at Detroit has got to be the best receiver or end target if you want to put it like that, the best guy to go to right now in the league," Jones told KRLD in Dallas. "Dez can aspire to be that and has a chance to be that."
Okay, your turn, Nate Burleson.
"Listen, I like Dez. I think he's one of the best receivers in the game right now. Very talented, fast, big, strong -- he possesses all the tools to possibly be as good as Calvin," the Lions receiver said Tuesday, presumably while simultaneously eating pizza and operating a motor vehicle (Too soon?). "But he's not Calvin Johnson. No way, no how. Sorry Dez. Keep it real."
Then it's settled. Two against one. Calvin wins. Dez is overruled. End of column. Drive home safely (especially you, Nate).
To borrow a catchphrase from the great Lee Corso, "not so fast!" (Somebody give me a mascot head)
If I had to choose right now, I think I might go with Dez. Seriously.
Have a look at their season fantasy totals.
Bryant: 94 fantasy points
Johnson: 85 fantasy points
Interesting, but misleading. Calvin missed one game with a knee injury. If Johnson hadn't, he'd probably be somewhere in the 99-100 point range, putting him slightly ahead of our good friend Dez.
So I guess that got us nowhere. Let's look at some other statistics.
In terms of double-digit fantasy games this season, the two are dead even (four apiece). They also have the same number of two touchdown games (two each).
When a player scores 20 or more fantasy points in a given week, I like to call it a "jackpot" game. Dez holds a slim 3-2 advantage in that area.
For yards per game, Johnson leads by a razor thin 82 to 81.3 margin.
It's too close to call in the touchdown department (six to six).
What we're finding here is that Johnson and Bryant, different as they may seem, are essentially the same player, at least statistically speaking. The only area I was really able to find any difference between the two was in catch percentage.
Bryant has caught 42 of 71 passes this season for a 59.2 percent success rate. Johnson, or Megatron as he's often referred to, has hauled in 33 of the 62 passes Matthew Stafford has thrown in his direction. That computes to a 53.2 percent rate of success.
Dez wins that battle and he also wins the battle that matters most: points. I know we said earlier that Calvin is averaging more ppg this season but if you go all the way back to the last half of 2012, Dez holds the edge. Over their last 14 games, Dez has run up 231 fantasy points to Johnson's 221, mostly because of Bryant's 15 touchdowns over that span (just 10 for Megatron).
And here's the most telling statistic of all. On ESPN, Bryant is being started in 100 percent of leagues. For Johnson, that rate is only 97.5 percent. Whether it has to do with Johnson's knee or some kind of vendetta fantasy owners have against Detroit (we can't all be Kid Rock fans), Bryant is the player we trust more.
I know that Calvin is an insane physical specimen. What other 6-foot-5, 240- pounder can run a 4.3 40 with a 42-inch vertical leap? The answer is no one.
But remember, Johnson is four years older than Dez. He's already in his prime. Dez, incredible as he's been, hasn't reached his yet. In fact, through his first 50 games, Bryant is off to a much better start than Johnson.
Bryant's first 50 games: 242 receptions, 3,440 yards, 33 TD
Johnson's first 50 games: 217 receptions, 3,362 yards, 25 TD
Sunday these two will meet for the first time since 2010 when Bryant's Cowboys travel to Ford Field. And Dez's confidence couldn't be any higher.
"I honestly believe when I'm [in Detroit], I'll be feeling there's nothing I can't do. Whatever the coaches ask me to do, I'm going to do it."
Unless they tell you to eat and drive at the same time. Don't do that.