TE Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
HT: 6-5, WT: 257, Born: 5-6-1982, College: Tennessee, Drafted: Round 3
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Average draft position
Current as of May 21st. [Full ADP list]Overall: R Mathews (51), H Nicks (52), Jason Witten (53), E Decker (54), D Bowe (55)
Position: R Gronkowski (25-TE2), A Hernandez (43-TE3), Jason Witten (53 - TE4), T Gonzalez (61-TE5), V Davis (78-TE6)
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PPR Average draft position
Current as of May 21st. [Full PPR ADP list]Overall: C Newton (43), P Manning (44), Jason Witten (45), J Nelson (46), M Colston (47)
Position: R Gronkowski (19-TE2), A Hernandez (39-TE3), Jason Witten (45 - TE4), V Davis (73-TE5), D Pitta (74-TE6)
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Last offseason Jason Witten suffered a spleen injury that had some worried he might miss a major portion of the season. Luckily his malady was of the minor variety, and Witten was on the field for all 16 games. Ultimately we shouldn’t have been surprised since Witten has now played in 159 of a possible 160 regular season games in his 10-year career. Not only was Witten on the field last year, he set an NFL record for the most receptions by a tight end (110 receptions) on route his 8th Pro Bowl. Witten ranks 3rd all-time among tight ends in receptions (806) and receiving yards (8,948) and has shown no signs of slowing down. A true two-way tight end, Witten is a mauling run blocker and pass protector on top of his obvious receiving talents. The Cowboys have talked about using more 2-TE sets this season, but one thing’s for sure – Witten will remain a focal point of the passing attack and Tony Romo’s most trusted option.
|1||New York Giants|
|2||at Kansas City Chiefs|
|3||St. Louis Rams|
|4||at San Diego Chargers|
|7||at Philadelphia Eagles|
|8||at Detroit Lions|
|10||at New Orleans Saints|
|12||at New York Giants|
|14||at Chicago Bears|
|15||Green Bay Packers|
|16||at Washington Redskins|
2012 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Jason Witten was clearly not himself on Wednesday night and the Cowboys could have easily won the game without him. He was nothing more than a name and a player to cover, as he had reduced speed and did not go down the field very often. He was also used somewhat more in blocking and only managed two catches on the day for very short gains. Witten dropped another pass but it would have resulted in a minimal gain also. Witten will hopefully be recovered for the next game because he won’t be a productive target for Romo until he is further healed.
Week 2 - Witten had a day to forget on Sunday, despite surpassing the 700-catch mark for his career. Tied for the team lead in targets with 10, Witten had a case of the dropsies, with at least four legitimate drops. Witten’s best catch went for 23 yards, but a bad angle combined with a missed tackle from safety Kam Chancellor was the only thing that made the catch and run possible. Witten just missed a huge play on the TD drive when Romo underthrew him on a broken play, but an argument can be made Witten contributed to the incompletion on the backend with a drop. Witten again missed a huge play, probably a TD, with a drop as he ran uncovered up the seam and Romo delivered a perfectly thrown ball but Witten just outright dropped it. Despite now being healthy, it is clear Witten and Romo are still working the kinks out after Witten missed the majority of the preseason.
Week 3 - Witten had two more drops against the Buccaneers. One of them was on a deep route up the seam that bounced around in Witten's hands for five yards before he finally fell down, losing the ball completely. Witten's drops so far this season have been alarming and even though Head Coach Jason Garrett seems reluctant to give James Hanna more snaps at tight end, Tony Romo is clearly beginning to grow frustrated with his usually-reliable tight end. Witten is still hard to cover coming off the line of scrimmage and is one of the better route runners at the position in the league, but his hands appear to have deserted him in recent weeks.
Week 4 - Witten came into the game, frustrated the fact that he had only eight receptions over the first three games. He also had four drops as well, motivating him to get back to that sure-handed safety blanket reputation that he had earned in previous seaons. The Cowboys got him involved early and often, and he was targeted 14 times, making 13 catches on the day. He opened the game with two short curls on the opening drive for six and seven yards respectively. He continued to work the middle of the field on crossing routes and come-backs, giving Romo a big target that he could count on whenever he needed Witten. However, most of the passes were for less than 10 yards, and with three minutes to play, Witten already had nine catches, but only 64 yards receiving. With Kyle Orton in at QB, the Cowboys marched down the field for a meaningless last minute TD pass, where Witten had four catches for 48 yards, including a five yard TD reception on a stick route with just over 30 seconds to play. It was a nice cap to the day from a fantasy prospective, but the game was out of reach when Witten did the most damage.
Week 6 - After a mediocre start to the season tight end Jason Witten rebounded in a big way against the Ravens in week 6. Witten caught 6 of his 7 targets for 88 yards and provided Tony Romo an excellent option between the hashmarks all day long. Witten's speed off the line of scrimmage made him a tough matchup for the Baltimore linebackers and Romo recognized the mismatches early. His best reception came on a 35 yard reception in the first half. On the play, Romo bought time by moving to the right side of the pocket. With Witten leaving the line from the right side of the line and crossing to the left sideline, Romo threw a high arcing pass off his back foot, over Witten's back shoulder allowing his tight end to turn upfield for a large gain before being pushed out of bounds. Witten's concentration when the ball is coming his way appears much improved from the first three weeks of the season when he was regularly dropping passes.
Week 7 - Jason Witten was used early in the game primarily as the Panthers’ defense failed to shade coverage to him or even bump him off the line of scrimmage. As a result, Witten had some easy receptions against zone that Romo seized upon. Later in the game, the Panthers adjusted and forced the football elsewhere. Witten could have scored on a long touchdown that Romo didn’t see him on, so his day could have been more productive. As a blocker and a receiver, Witten looks fantastic and should continue this form for the remainder of the season.
Week 8 - Jason Witten had a truly dominant performance against the Giants on Sunday. The Giants had no answer for the TE who burned them time and time again on basic patterns. They watched helplessly almost as Witten caught passes against LBers and safeties all game long. Witten was a big threat over the middle. Witten had a lot of option routes and was able to beat his man to the outside/inside a lot. Witten caught a lot of quick outs and curl patterns for first downs when the defense was playing soft. Witten was a big beneficiary of the dangerous WR combo of Austin/Bryant who were also having a lot of success against the Giants. The middle of the field was often vacant and open for exploitation by Witten who gladly complied. The Giants also gave Witten a lot of free releases at the line of scrimmage, not making life too difficult for the veteran TE. He had his way with the secondary of NYG for the entire game and the Giants can only blame themselves for giving up so many catches to Witten. The burst and speed Witten used to have is no longer there but the chemistry and knowledge of defenses is as strong as ever.
Week 9 - Witten established the Dallas Cowboys career receptions record with a 7 yard catch in the fourth quarter. He spent most of the day running quick slants and crosses between the hash marks as the Cowboys worked to keep the Atlanta safeties near the line of scrimmage and away from Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Despite his seven receptions (on eight targets) Witten was unable to gain any real yardage after the catch. Most of his routes found him catching the ball either while standing still or while moving laterally. That said, Witten appears to have finally gotten over the case of the “drops” he had in the season's first two weeks. He remains a vital outlet receiver for Tony Romo and this game appears to be an anomaly with regard to the targets he normally receives further down the field.
Week 10 - Witten finished the day with eight short catches on ten targets against the Eagles. The Cowboys seemed intent on using Witten on slants, outs, and quick curls in the middle of the field to keep the Philadelphia linebackers from stunting too aggressively to the middle. Witten was most successful when lining up off the line of scrimmage away from the other linemen (as opposed to starting as an in-line blocker). Witten was targeted on three successive plays in the third quarter on quick passes by Tony Romo. On that series, he was lined up on both the left and right side as the Cowboys slowed their pace on their way to tying the game. Witten's best play came in the fourth quarter as the Eagles kicked an onside kick while down one touchdown. Witten fell on the ball essentially securing the Dallas victory.
Week 11 - This was a typical Witten game. He caught seven of his eight targets and was the safety net for Romo on short hitch and out routes. There were no high leverage targets near the goal line or with much chance for additional yards. This was Witten’s seventh straight game with six or more receptions. He is a very high floor weekly option at tight end, especially in PPR formats.
Week 12 - Another Dallas game, another target feast for the all-time leader in catches as a Cowboy for the veteran tight end. Witten received a staggering fifteen targets from Tony Romo, catching nine balls for seventy-four yards through the air. Witten is as sure-handed as they come, but the Cowboys’ desire to move the ball quickly down the field – given the point deficit and game clock scenario – forced Witten to run a series of quick outs , hitch routes, and curls and give Romo a safe, short passing game option. Witten’s long catch of the day only went for fifteen yards. Given the sieve-like state of the Cowboys’ offensive line and Dallas’ lack of a run game without DeMarco Murray, it stands to reason that Witten will continue to be busy as Romo’s safety valve in the weeks to come.
Week 13 - After some early season struggles with catching the ball, Witten has performed as well as any tight end or receiver in the league for the last two months. He has averaged over eight receptions a game since the Cowboys bye in week 5 and was stellar again against the Eagles in catching six passes for 108 yards. Witten's best catch came on a double move up the left side. On the play, Witten lined up tight to the line of scrimmage, easily beat the coverage at the line of scrimmage, and faked a cut outside before turning upfield and catching the ball for a 36 yard gain. He also had a spectacular catch deep in Eagles' territory to set up first and goal. On that play, Witten broke off the line of scrimmage down the right seam. Instead of heading straight for the end zone, however, he slanted his route to the left allowing him to split two defenders and make the easy catch before being tripped up just short of the goalline. Witten primarily ran curls and go routes down the seam against the Eagles, forcing the defense to choose between covering him with a linebacker or leaving Miles Austin single-covered downfield. The plan worked as Tony Romo had a field day targeting Witten between the hash marks.
Week 14 - Jason Witten had a fairly quiet day by his standards, though he did catch all 4 of his targets. Witten nearly scored on a seam route directly after the Andy Dalton interception, and later caught a dumpoff and turned it into a 25 yard gain. Witten also had a huge 3rd and 5 conversion for 9 yards on the last drive of the game. Besides that, it was a quiet day at the office for a man who hadn't had this few catches since Week 3.
Week 15 - Witten's first target was a reception...for a touchdown. Witten was wide open off of play action in the endzone for an easy score. His next target came on the following drive over the middle, but the result was very different as he dropped the ball against tight coverage. Witten caught a curl route against off coverage for an five yard gain. Witten worked back to the football for a seven yard gain that was negated by a penalty on the Cowboys' offensive line. The Cowboys replied by running exactly the same route for the same gain on the next play. Witten caught a curl underneat the Steelers' safety coverage for a nine yard gain and a first down. With the Cowboys driving to win the game, Witten caught another curl route underneath for six yards.
Week 16 - Jason Witten had a very Witten-like day, with 6 receptions at a 10 yards per catch clip. Witten operated as a usual reliable outlet and safety valve for Tony Romo. Witten had a couple nice grabs on the day in traffic, and a long gainer of 19 yards. None of the catches were highlight reel or anything of the sort, but on the plus side, Witten had no real errors.
Week 17 - The future Hall of Famer paced the Cowboys with seven catches and tied Dez Bryant for the team lead in targets with eight. Witten gained fifty-six yards through the air, primarily running short and intermediate routes. He functioned as Tony Romo’s safety valve in the face of pressure from a constantly blitzing Redskins defensive line. Witten caught a touchdown in the second quarter against Washington – only his third score of the season – after a controversial no-call by the officiating crew allowed the Cowboys to run a play after the play clock expired. With Romo buying time in the pocket, Witten evaded the Redskins defense for a stunning eight seconds before jumping over coverage to reel in the touchdown pass. The ten-year veteran from the University of Tennessee finished 2012 with career-best marks in receptions, becoming the fastest tight end to reach eight hundred career receptions.