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In Defense of Tony Romo


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In the United States of America, every person is entitled to an attorney when accused of wrong doing. In the fantasy football world, I believe the same to be true. Even though Tony Romo could easily afford a high-profile defense team (he could spare some of that new $108 million), I will do my best to present the facts and show why he is one of the most consistent, reliable and under-the-radar fantasy quarterbacks available.

It’s really easy to hate on Tony Romo – just ask any hardcore Dallas Cowboy fan. He plays the most difficult position on the most scrutinized team in the NFL. The silver helmet with the blue star on the side brings a never-ending amount of criticism and pressure. Not to mention the memories of the great Cowboy quarterbacks (Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, etc.) casting a long shadow over his every move on the field. Despite all of the Jessica Simpson jokes and the late-game mistakes that fans are so quick to point out, all Tony Romo has done is turn in stellar fantasy football campaigns year in, year out.

Even though Romo may not be a top-3 real football quarterback, over the past four seasons he has proven to be an extremely valuable fantasy commodity. Last season, Romo finished third in passing yards behind only Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford. He tossed a respectable 28 touchdown passes. As of this writing, Romo’s average draft position of 74th makes him an absolute steal as the 12th quarterback off the board. Entering a season where nearly all mid-tier QBs have some question marks accompanying them, Romo is a solid QB1 with very little unknown attached.

The emergence of Dez Bryant into a truly elite receiver in the latter-half of 2012 has been well documented. The wealth of potential that so many saw in him finally came to the forefront. In the last eight games of 2012, Bryant averaged almost 110 receiving yards and 1.25 touchdowns per game. Offseason reports have been fairly quiet regarding Bryant, which come as a pleasant surprise considering his propensity for off-field issues in the past. Assuming he stays on the field and extends his late-season play into 2013, he could easily vie for the No. 2 overall receiver spot come seasons end. The importance of having a weapon like Bryant cannot be understated. Not only is he a deadly threat in his own right, but he also makes defenses game plan to minimize his impact. This leaves open areas for other receivers to work.

Jason Witten is a terrific example. Last season, Witten set an NFL record for tight ends with 110 catches. He has shown over his 11-year career to be a reliable weapon over the middle of the field. Although he has only caught eight touchdowns in the last two seasons combined, his hands are not the problem. If Romo would target him more in the red zone, there’s no doubt he would be able to produce. For the value of Romo, however, Witten exists mainly to move the chains and keep the Dallas offense on the field. He is also a tremendous “garbage-time” performer, evidenced by his 18-catch performance in a loss against the New York Giants last season.

Other than drafting Joseph Randle in the fifth round in April, not much was done in the offseason to amend the Dallas running back situation. The Cowboys seem content to rest all hopes on DeMarco Murray to play a full season, something he has not been able to do since entering the league in 2011. For the Cowboys, having an ultra-talented, though ultra-fragile lead back is frustrating because it puts more pressure on their quarterback. In fantasy land, however, this only increases Romo’s value. Murray may very well prove me wrong and play the majority of the season. Perhaps Joseph Randle steps up and becomes a surprise producer. However, until either of those situations materialize, I tend to err on the side of caution and recent history.

The only worry regarding Romo is the lack of attention paid to the porous offensive line play in 2012. Romo was forced to run for his life on many occasions last season. Though adept at moving outside of the pocket, it’s clear he is much more effective with time and space in the pocket to make decisions downfield. Evan Silva at Rotoworld ranks the Cowboys’ offensive line at 27th in the league entering 2013. First-round draft pick Travis Frederick may help, but they have a long way to go as a unit. Even if marginal improvement can be attained, Romo should have no trouble equaling his numbers from last season.

Finally, the Cowboys 2013 schedule appears quite favorable for Romo through the air. Even though ranking strength of schedule is not a perfect science due to changes in the offseason, it can be a fairly useful tool in determining how a player may fair in the upcoming season. 

If you play the waiting game when drafting your quarterback this season, as most are advocating, once the top-tier guys are gone, a larger group of quarterbacks emerges. The second-year starters (Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck) all present a mixture of risk and upside. However, Tony Romo, a consistent QB1, should be waiting almost 10 picks after all four of the above are gone. Waiting on Romo will allow you to load up at other positions of need, knowing that you can secure a strong starter in the much-maligned, though ever-productive, 11-year pro from Eastern Illinois.