Scouting Notebook: Bryant's baggage

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

Dez Bryant is a monster right now, raising questions of where he should be drafted in 2013. I've been very down on him given that his off-field lack of discipline seemed to find its way on the field, too, in the form of maddening inconsistency that could only be attributed to a lack of care/focus. This is a game where talent triumphs, though. And Bryant's gifts take a back seat to no one's, including Megatron's. But you also have to acknowledge that Bryant can fall apart for many reasons at any time. Given that it will probably take a first-round pick to land him in 2013, I'd still have to pass.

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Christian Ponder underutilized Adrian Peterson's receiving skills this season. (Getty)

Adrian Peterson is clearly the fantasy MVP if not the NFL one (that's reserved for quarterbacks on merit). But he did little favor for his owners in Week 16, getting stymied by the Texans run defense. Peterson did next to nothing as a receiver (one catch for four yards). And he's averaging less yards on his 39 catches (5.5) than he is rushing (6.0). I place the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of Christian Ponder. Peterson came into the season averaging about nine yards per catch.

Andre Johnson now has four 100-catch seasons, tying Brandon Marshall and Reggie Wayne but trailing Wes Welker (five) among active leaders. Since 2000, there have been 42 seasons where a receiver has 100-plus catches. From 1964 to 1990, there was one – Art Monk of the Redskins in 1984. And 1990 is about the year when the modern passing game took hold, with almost all teams by then employing Bill Walsh-styled passing concepts.

Josh Freeman put up okay numbers if you don't pay an interception tax, I guess. But Sunday was the 12th game he's had with a rating of 60 or lower (1-11 team record in those games). That's nowhere near Mark Sanchez territory (18). But Sanchez is very bad far more than he's very good (12 games with a rating over 100). Freeman also has 14 games with a plus-100 rating. So is he Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? I do not care to find out first hand through owning him.

You do have to tip your cap to the eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons that Steven Jackson will post after next week. Since 2007, he has 31 rushing touchdowns. Incredibly, the Rams as a team in the period have only 38. The Patriots have 117 and the NFL median in the period is about 75. Given that Jackson scores about 82 percent of the Rams rushing scores, he'd have about 31 more rushing TDs the past six years if the Rams were even average at generating them. Some blame falls on Jackson, though, who is far below average at converting short, goal-line runs.

I'm so surprised that I keep getting pushback over how highly Alfred Morris should be drafted next year. I expect Morris to grab at least 20-to-30 passes next year. He's dropped one pass this year, suggesting his hands aren't a big problem. He gets a bump for consistency. And I think there's 15-to-20 touchdown upside in this offense. I'd still take him over Trent Richardson, who just gets hurt too much. And Jamaal Charles is too inconsistent given the Chiefs QB woes. How Charles gained 10 yards against the Raiders last week is one of the great fantasy mysteries of my time playing this game.

Man, that Tony Romo – what a bum. Losing another big December game. He only managed a 123.8 passer rating. Since 2010, teams are 140-14 when their QB has a rating over 120. Seriously, Romo is the most criminally underrated player I can remember in any sport. And Cowboys fans are the worst offenders.

Andrew Luck is a very big work in progress still. Kansas City's pass defense is terrible and he still couldn't manage to complete half his passes or lead his Colts to even 300 total yards.

Kansas City's 350-plus yards on the ground in a losing effort has never happened before in NFL history. The takeaway for those who play in playoff fantasy leagues is to target the running backs of whoever the Colts play in the postseason. But do it quick because the Colts will be one and done, guaranteed.

Brandon Lloyd has been quite the bust, hauling in just 12 percent of Tom Brady's touchdown passes despite starting most every game. I think he will be playing elsewhere in 2013.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis will never be far better than 4.0 per carry and the Bengals do not have the kind of offense to generate a lot of touchdowns to make up for that, especially with A.J. Green siphoning off a lot of the in-close work. I'm thus uncomfortable starting The Law Firm most weeks.

Lots of changes are coming in Buffalo but definitely expect C.J. Spiller to be featured more heavily. Can he withstand 300-plus touches? I think that's unlikely. His body mass index is 27.1 according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. That puts him right between Ahmad Bradshaw and Felix Jones and slightly ahead of Darren McFadden, James Starks and Jamaal Charles. All guys who have missed a lot of time with injuries.

Reggie Bush owners eliminated in Week 15 are bemoaning the outburst that came a week too late. Bush is another low BMI guy who will have to have his workload managed, probably on another team in 2013.

The Raiders have played stoutly in run defense now for two straight weeks, making a monkey this time of touts like me who starred DeAngelo Williams as a championship week play.

Ryan Grant still isn't any good but managed a productive day courtesy of a couple of touchdowns, which happens when you score 55 points.

You could have won a lot of money in Vegas betting that James Jones would lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns. His 722 receiving yards is the second fewest since the merger for any player with 13 or more scores. Darryl Turner of the Seahawks had 13 in 1985 with just 670 receiving yards. His highest total after that in a season was seven.

That'll teach Greg McElroy from even thinking he wants to be the Jets starting quarterback.

I would draft Demaryius Thomas over Dez Bryant next year, figuring I get almost as much freak upside with less off-field risk. And I understand that Thomas has had some legal issues, too.

The Giants didn't seem to care for David Wilson's backflip after his touchdown, judging by his subsequent lack of touches. But why worry about sending messages when your season is crashing down around you? Maybe, though, that's why Tom Coughlin has won a couple of Super Bowls in recent years. Wilson isn't a coach favorite, to put it mildly.

Hakeem Nicks isn't healthy and his injuries have a chronic feel to them since they have lingered already for multiple seasons. I'd stay far away from him in 2013.

Ho-hum, another great day by Russell Wilson against an elite defense. Yes, I'm saying it again – top 12 QB easy next year and maybe top five if the Seahawks feature the read option as much as they have the last two weeks. I know we prefer three rushing touchdowns, but four passing ones will do, too.

There haven't been many No. 1 seeds who have gone into the postseason with as big a question mark at running back as the Falcons have with Michael Turner. That wouldn't be a big deal if Matt Ryan were Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. But he's isn't by a long shot.
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