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Player Spotlight: Tony Romo

A detailed look at Tony Romo's fantasy prospects for 2013

Setting the Stage

Tony Romo was a four-sport high school athlete from Burlington, Wisconsin. He started at quarterback for his last two seasons, started for the basketball team and also played tennis and golf. He received a few honors including All-State first team, but was not recruited by any 1-A schools.

He attended Eastern Illinois University and played 1-AA college football. After Romo’s senior season, he was the first ever Ohio Valley Conference player to win the Walter Payton Award as the top Division 1-AA football player. Despite the multiple honors, passing for 8,212 yards and 82 TDs over three years, and being invited to attend the NFL Combine, he went undrafted. Following the draft, he was signed by the Dallas Cowboys.

Romo’s play was limited to holding for place kicks for his first three seasons and he finally took his first snap at quarterback in October of his 4th season, in 2006. A week later, Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe and has been the starting quarterback for the Cowboys ever since. His career statistics are provided below, with 2003-2005 omitted.

Year Gms Comp Att Yds ypa Pass TDs Ints Rushes Yds ypc TDs
2006 16 220 337 2,903 8.6 19 13 3.4 102 3.0 0
2007 16 335 520 4,211 8.1 36 19 30 129 4.3 2
2008 13 276 450 3,448 7.7 26 14 28 41 1.5 0
2009 16 347 550 4,483 8.2 26 9 35 105 3.0 1
2010 6 148 213 1,605 7.5 11 7 6 38 6.3 0
2011 16 346 522 4,184 8.0 31 10 22 46 2.1 1
2012 16 425 648 4,903 7.6 28 19 30 49 1.6 1
Totals 99 2,097 3,240 25,737 7.9 177 91 185 510 2.8 5

Looking Forward to 2013

The Cowboys hired Bill Callahan as their offensive coordinator in 2012 and he remains in that position for 2013. Cowboy fans hoped that Callahan’s hiring would help out their offensive line play, but that has not been the case yet. The team drafted a first round center in this year’s draft, but many thought they reached on Travis Frederick. Footballguys.com ranks Dallas as the 23rd best offensive line, so that continues to be a challenge to Tony Romo, but he does have good mobility.

The Cowboys have long been a team that relies on quarterback leadership and the passing game. Tony Romo has consistently been a very productive passer for the team during his seven years as their starter. The team seems to be content having their primary focus on the passing game.  The chart below provides the play calling differentials between the running and passing games for the Cowboys over the past four seasons. It should be noted that quarterback sacks are not included so the actual number of passing plays is slightly decreased from the actual numbers with this comparison.

Year Rush Plays Rush % Pass Plays Pass % Total Plays
2009 436 44.2% 550 55.8% 986
2010 426 42.6% 575 57.4% 1,001
2011 408 41.7% 570 58.3% 978
2012 355 35.0% 658 65.0% 1,013
Totals 1,625 40.8% 2,353 59.2% 3,978

Despite the overwhelming dependence on the pass while Jason Garrett was the offensive coordinator, the passing play percentage actually increased in Callahan’s first season and in fact the number of passes and the percentage of passing plays has increased every year for the most recent four-year period. Expect that trend to continue in 2013 as the Cowboys continue to pass the ball early and often. The number of targets will remain high for Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten, Romo’s primary weapons. Each of these three players has the skill set and should have the opportunity to produce 1,000 yard receiving this year. They only missed that level last year when Miles Austin totaled only 943 yards and he played hurt several games.

Positives

  • Romo has been a consistent producer for the Cowboys as his average of 4,523 passing yards and 28 TDs for years 2009, 2011, and 2012 proves
  • He has two excellent wide receivers, one top flight tight end, and two capable receiving running backs as weapons
  • The offense will consistently run through him

Negatives

  • Poor offensive line play keeps Romo on the move often
  • He forces things too often and has high turnover numbers

Projections

  Gms Comp Att Pass Yds ypa TDs Ints Rush Yds ypc TDs
David Dodds 16 382 590 4,443 7.5 28 17 28 57 2.0 1
Bob Henry 15 380 580 4,430 7.6 30 15 27 55 2.0 1
Jason Wood 16 375 595 4,485 7.5 30 16 25 55 2.2 1
Maurile Tremblay 16 415 647 4,766 7.4 27 20 31 62 2.0 1
Stephen Holloway 16 435 640 4,864 7.6 30 10 25 50 2.0 1

Final Thoughts

Tony Romo has finished the previous two seasons as QB7 and QB8 and yet his current ADP is at QB12 and 74 overall. With many proclaiming this as the year to wait and wait on drafting a quarterback, he could wind up going even later in many drafts and should be an awesome bargain for such a consistently high production player with such good weapons. The fact that Romo has been ineffective in critical situations and especially in the post-season helps make him even more affordable for fantasy drafts.

Other Viewpoints

Bri in the Spotlight Thread http://forums.footballguys.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=683431#entry15702246

Few QBs have ever struggled so much in the big games and still received so much love from their franchise. Not long ago I saw a reporter used the phrase "Not since Danny White..." and that fits oh so well here too. White was the heir to the legend Roger Staubach. He inherited a team with future hall of famers and a HOF coach with assistants that would become NFL coaches and...he never did too much either. In the past, I've compared him quite closely to the QB that he often credits as showing him the ropes-Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe was often a dunderhead in big games.

There's something a little weird about Romo in big games. This affects the public perception of him and he clearly falls in rankings every year. It's horribly irrelevant for FF and a big mistake. As others have said, he's an excellent value for FF. As a later pick, you get a 4k yard QB with some awesome weapons that has the total support of his franchise so is likely never being benched for a backup either. Who cares if he wins for FF? This guy puts up stats. A QB that threw for 4900 yards last year is going in the 8th round. The previous two complete seasons for him were 4100 and 4400 yards. There's not a whole lot of risk in this pick either.

Matt Waldman in his player comments

Romo won’t win you fantasy leagues with his play, but he’s good enough to help you keep pace while leaning on other stars to have big games. The fact that Dez Bryant finally put a full season together was a big help. Jason Witten is still going strong, so even if Miles Austin, DeMarco Murray, and the offensive line blow tires, Romo has still gotten it done as a fantasy starter. This alone should make him a guy that you target as among the safer options at quarterback.

Darin Gantt from PFT http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/06/07/roger-staubach-thinks-change-can-benefit-jason-garrett/

Gantt quotes Roger Staubach “If I have an opinion, I would like to see more of the no-huddle offense with Tony Romo,” he said. “I see some of these guys today, Peyton Manning, who are changing plays a lot more than we did in the old days and even calling plays at the line of scrimmage. I would have really loved to call plays at the line of scrimmage if you have a no-huddle offense. “I think Tony is great at the no-huddle offense. He’s smart. He moves around and keeps the team off guard. And the [opponents are] not bringing in their extra guys. So the no-huddle offense really is not fun for the defense and it’s fun for the offense.”


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