2013 Fantasy Football Profile and Projection: Cowboys QB Tony Romo
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Well-respected Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin recently called it "unbelievable" and a "huge flat tire" that will haunt the Cowboys for eight years.
Of course, he's referring to the seven-year contract extension for nearly $120 million that the Cowboys gave Tony Romo this offseason.
Ultimately, the value of any good or service is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. Whether or not Jerry Jones should have given Romo that contract is a debate for another day. Today, we will look at Romo's value from a fantasy perspective.
In fact, Romo is one of the posterboys for value when it comes to fantasy quarterbacks.
Although he tied a career worst with 19 intercepted passes thrown last season, his interception percentage of 2.9 percent was near his career average (2.8 percent) and his third best since becoming the team's starter seven years ago.
On a positive note, Romo also set a career high with 4,903 passing yards, which ranked third in the NFL last season behind Drew Brees (5,177 yards) and Matthew Stafford (4,967). In addition, no quarterback had more 400-yard games than Romo (three) and only two others -- Brees and Stafford -- had multiple 400-yard games. Before last season, Romo had only one career 400-yard game in 105 games played.
Last season, Romo threw 648 pass attempts, which is 98 more than his previous career high of 550 set in 2009. It would only be natural to expect his passes thrown to dip some as his total last season was the 10th-most all-time.
That said, 600 pass attempts has become much more common these days and that trend should continue. Here are the number of quarterbacks that have thrown 600-plus attempts over the past four years: none in 2009, one in 2010, three in 2011 and six (including Romo) in 2012. In fact, Stafford became the first-ever quarterback last year to throw more than 700 pass attempts in a single season.
With the exception of his two injury-shortened seasons (13 games in 2008 and six games in 2010), Romo has thrown for 4,000-plus yards in four of the past six seasons. Based on his 16-game average over the span, he is averaging slightly more than 4,400 passing yards (4,401.7). During that span, Romo ranks sixth in touchdown passes (158).
Perhaps the Cowboys' biggest weakness on offense has been the team's play on the interior offensive line. While I disagree with the value of drafting a center in the first round, the Cowboys have taken a step toward protecting their huge investment in Romo by drafting Wisconsin center Travis Frederick. Even though he would be a better value a round or two later in the draft, Frederick should start immediately and be an upgrade as a rookie.
When it comes to his supporting cast, Dez Bryant finally put it all together and became the dominant receiver many thought he could be given his size, athleticism and natural abilities. Bryant finished with 1,382 yards, the most by any Cowboys receiver not named Michael Irvin, and scored 12 touchdowns. In addition, Jason Witten set the NFL record for most receptions in a season by a tight end last year.
Miles Austin is one of the better No. 2 receivers in the league and DeMarco Murray is a talented running back even though they both lack durability. With a solid core already in place, the Cowboys added several skill-position players throughout the draft as well: tight end Gavin Escobar (Round 2), wide receiver Terrance Williams (Round 3) and running back Joseph Randle (Round 5).
Fantasy Strength of Schedule
Based on the cumulative fantasy points allowed by their opponents from Week 1 to 16, Romo has the league's most favorable schedule among quarterbacks. If Romo leads your fantasy team to the championship, the Cowboys face the Redskins in Week 16. The Redskins had the league's 30th-ranked pass defense (281.9 yards allowed per game) last year.
With a talented nucleus of weapons and a favorable strength of schedule, Romo certainly has the potential to come close to last year's numbers.
Even if he doesn't, he's an excellent value for those that wait on the position. Based on average draft position (ADP) data from Fantasy Football Calculator, Romo has been selected as the 12th quarterback, on average, in fantasy drafts over the past month.
Projection: (Passing) 399/605 Comp./Att., 4,689 Yards, 31 TDs, 16 INTs; (Rushing) 45 Yards, 1 TD