The Duel

Would You Rather: Have Amari Cooper or a Prime Dez Bryant on the Cowboys for the 2020 Season

Jason Schandl
Amari Cooper has posted the best numbers of his career in Dallas, but is he as good as Dez Bryant was?
Amari Cooper has posted the best numbers of his career in Dallas, but is he as good as Dez Bryant was? / Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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There's plenty of uncertainty surrounding Amari Cooper's outlook for the 2020 NFL season, with no guarantee that the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent returns to the Dallas Cowboys. He has been incredible in the almost two seasons he has played since being acquired in a trade in 2018.

The last Cowboys wideout to perform as well as Cooper was Dez Bryant. With a few days remaining before teams are able to bring us any real NFL news, let's take a look back at Bryant's Cowboys career to see whether he or Cooper would hypothetically bring more to the Cowboys in 2020.

Cooper exploded for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns on 53 receptions over nine games after being traded to Dallas in 2018, and he went on to add 1,189 yards and 8 touchdowns on 79 catches in 2019. Those were career-best marks for him in both yards and touchdowns, as well as yards per reception (15.1).

Bryant, however, beat those yardage and touchdown totals in three consecutive seasons from 2012 to 2014. His production peaked in 2014, when he had a league-best 16 touchdowns to go with 1,320 yards. He was named a first-team All-Pro and helped lead the Cowboys to the second round of the playoffs.

We can't look at just the raw stats there, however, as Cooper had plenty of competition for targets from Michael Gallup in 2019, so he only had 119 targets while Dez averaged 144.3 targets per year from 2012 to 2014.

That three year stretch saw Bryant rack up 14.4 yards per reception — not quite matching Cooper's big-play production. Dez also falls short of Cooper on a per-target basis in that sample, averaging 9.1 yards per target to Cooper's 10.0. Of course, Cooper benefited from having Gallup take same attention away, while it's always going to ding a wideout's efficiency when they're being forced a ton of targets.

With Cooper's efficiency not giving him much of an edge over Bryant, what really pushes Dez over the top is those elite touchdown numbers. He averaged 13.7 per season over his three-year peak, while Cooper has never scored more than 8 in a single season.

Of course, coming up shy of matching the production of one of the best wide receiver in Cowboys history isn't necessarily a knock on Cooper. If he returns to Dallas in 2020, he can still bring a ton of value to Dak Prescott and the rest of the offense.


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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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