Tony Romo’s Fantasy Analysis

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A Productive But Uneven Career 

Tony Romo is set to begin his 11th season as a Dallas Cowboy, and has been the team's starter since 2006. He has thrown for 25,737 yards, amassed 177 TDs, and tossed 91 INTs. During his tenure in Dallas he has also completed nearly 65% of his passes, while establishing a collection of franchise records, and being named to three Pro Bowls. Unfortunately for Romo, the Cowboys, and their passionate fan base, his excellent statistics have been countered by an unenviable succession of inexplicable errors during crucial moments. These mind blowing miscues have occurred to such an alarming degree, that they have become firmly attached to his legacy. And are mainstays in any discussion regarding his career.

Of course, examining how effectively Romo has guided the Cowboys in critical regular season games and postseason contests is one topic. While analyzing how proficient Romo has been as a starter on fantasy teams is another. And the numbers that he has delivered to fantasy owners have been very favorable. He has  generated over 4,000 yards in four of the past six seasons, even though he missed 13 starts during that time. He has produced at least 26 TD passes in five of the past six seasons, with the lone exception occurring in 2010. That is when a broken left clavicle prematurely concluded his season after just six starts.

An Enticing Option At A Deep Position

His output in 2012 was also noteworthy, as he nearly passed for 5,000 yards. Plus, his total of 4,903 was the NFL’s third highest, and the most in his career. He also produced 28 TD passes, which was sixth best among all signal callers. Yet, he also tied for the league lead in the dubious category of INTs (19), and the specific highs and lows that occurred throughout the process of attaining each of these numbers is indicative of the unpredictability that his owners must sometimes endure. 13 of the INTs took place in the first seven games of the season, then he avoided tossing any in six of his next eight. But he generated three costly picks in the final regular season contest against Washington, which represented his third game with at least three INTs during the year. And even though his final yardage and TD totals were impressive, there was a lengthy portion of the season in which his performances created massive disappointment and even  anger among many of his owners. So much so that numerous owners attempted to trade him, and some experienced enough frustration to consider jettisoning him to the waiver wire.

He did rebound considerably during the latter half of the season, and constructed another impressive year statistically. He has been a legitimate QB1 for owners in the past six seasons, and will remain so once again this year. But he is no longer firmly entrenched in the middle of your first 10 QB options. The collective emergence of RG3, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck, has combined with the revitalization of Peyton Manning to provide owners with an expanded collection of signal callers that can deliver highly productive results this season. The vast depth at the position has escorted Romo down the list of options to the point that his inclusion within the top 10 is highly questionable. And from my perspective, he no longer has that distinction. For the best fantasy football draft strategy on the many other options within this year's deep assortment of QBs, make sure that you check out my recent QB Draft Strategy article, along with our similar pieces for the other critical positions.         

Romo is now at the low end of viable QB1s who should not be selected before the middle of this summer’s drafts. But that still supplies owners with an acceptable alternative, if they wish to avoid choosing their QB in the first half of their draft process. He has proven that he can generate crucial fantasy points, and should have the weapons at his disposal to continue that process this season.

Outstanding Weapons At His Disposal

Which brings us to Dez Bryant, whose proficiency is so vast, that he has the potential to become the NFL’s second most prolific wideout behind Calvin Johnson this season.  He exhibited his brilliance during the final eight games of 2012, by averaging 110 YPG, and finding the end zone 10 times during that span. He should only intensify his systematic torture of defensive backs this season, which will build Romo’s numbers as well.

Miles Austin was targeted 118 times last season, and performed in all 16 regular season contests. But his numbers - 66 catches for 943 yards and six TDs - declined in each major category, when compared to other years in which injuries did not force him to the sidelines. Particularly when measured against 2010, when he caught 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 TDs. And those numbers were achieved with just seven more targets than he received last year. That was his most productive season, and it seems that those numbers are no longer attainable, given Bryant’s burgeoning output. Yet, he certainly supplies Romo with a viable third option, behind Bryant and Jason Witten. The dependable TE is entering his 11th year as a Cowboy, after garnering a career best 110 receptions last season. That total led all players at his position, and was surpassed by just four WRs. Witten also amassed 1,039 yards, which was the second highest total during his tenure with Dallas.

A New Play Caller

Romo’s 648 passing attempts in 2012 established a new career high. And it is fair to ponder whether or not he will be asked to launch as many throws this season. For the first time since 2007, Jason Garrett will not be calling plays for Dallas, as those duties will be handled by Bill Callahan. While it is unlikely that the Cowboys will sizably reduce the degree to which they rely upon their aerial attack, the one change in philosophy could occur in the red zone. It is very conceivable that the percentage of running plays that are designed near the goal line will increase somewhat, as only four teams scored fewer rushing TDs than the eight that Dallas attained last season. That will be partially dependent upon the health of DeMarco Murray, who has demonstrated that he can be very productive, but also has an alarming history of injuries. If he can remain in the lineup, it will provide a boost to the team’s rushing attack, and help keep opponents off balance. But ultimately, even though Garrett is no longer calling the plays, the Cowboys will continue to rely upon a pass heavy approach, utilizing Romo and his primary trio of receiving options.

Where You Should Draft Him

Of course, the question regarding Romo is not whether or not he will manufacture numbers that are anticipated with a genuine QB1. Instead it is where he ranks in relation to his peers, which will pinpoint where he should targeted in your drafts. His health is fine, even though he did have surgery to remove a cyst from his back, and that caused him to miss OTAs. But that should not affect his availability for training camp. His job security is not an issue either, as Romo and his $108 million contract will certainly not be jettisoned to the bench this season. He has highly capable targets, starting with Bryant. Whose talent is so exceptional, that he might establish himself as a superstar this year. Factor in Witten and Austin, and you have the ingredients for another highly effective season by Romo. He should generate at least 25 TD passes and approach 4,000 yards, with a specific forecast of 27 and 3,900 respectively. That is more than enough for him to be a QB1. But it won't make him a top 10 producer of fantasy points at his position. Instead, he will reside on the periphery of that group. As a result, Romo should be 12th QB selected during your drafts, and he should be targeted in Round 7.