2014 Draft Prep: Tony Romo will be the top value QB
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You may not want Tony Romo on your Fantasy team this year. You might think he's old at 34 and brittle coming off back surgery for the second time in two years. You probably consider him overrated.
While all of that might be true to some degree, he's still an above-average Fantasy quarterback. And this year he's going to be great. The prediction is Romo will be the best value at quarterback on Draft Day.
Heading into the second week of preseason action, Romo's Average Draft Position on CBSSports.com is No. 78 overall in Round 7. That value is good, but the bigger issue is some of the quarterbacks being drafted ahead of him in Tom Brady , Colin Kaepernick , Nick Foles and Robert Griffin III .
I'd rather have Romo. Here's why.
Romo has the perfect cocktail for Fantasy success this season. He has an awesome receiving corps and offensive line, an awful defense and a pass-happy play-caller in Scott Linehan. He also has a good history of success. He's has been a top-10 Fantasy quarterback in four of the past five years, including three in a row. He was No. 8 in Fantasy points last year in a standard league with 3,828 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 64 percent completions.
He missed the final game of the season last year with his back injury, but if he played in that game and reached his average of 21 Fantasy points he would have been No. 6, just two points shy of Cam Newton at No. 5. And he should improve this year as long as he can remain healthy.
The addition of Linehan, coupled with a defense that could keep Romo in hurry-up and comeback mode, should allow for big games. As the play-caller in Detroit, Linehan had Matthew Stafford throwing at a ridiculous pace. Stafford was fourth, first and first in pass attempts the past three years. He was No. 7 in Fantasy points last season, No. 11 in 2012 and No. 4 in 2011. Romo is going to challenge for the pass-attempts lead and that should lead to a potential career year.
Romo averaged 0.6 Fantasy points per attempt in 2013. If he had Stafford's pass attempts last season at 634 with his same point per attempt average, Romo would have been at 380 points, which would have made him the No. 3 Fantasy quarterback behind Peyton Manning and Drew Brees .
Now, there are other variables to consider besides Linehan. Most of them are positive.
His offensive line is elite, highlighted by Tyron Smith and Doug Free at the tackle spots and Travis Frederick at center. The Cowboys spent a first-round pick on right guard Zack Martin and the team should improve with its protection after Romo was sacked 35 times, which was No. 17 among quarterbacks.
Romo also has tremendous weapons in Dez Bryant , Jason Witten , Terrance Williams and DeMarco Murray . Last year, Bryant led the NFL by being tackled inside the 5-yard line seven times. Had Bryant converted those touchdowns with Romo scoring an additional 42 Fantasy points (based on six points for passing scores) then he would have been third behind Manning and Brees in total scoring.
Now, it would help if Romo was more consistent this season compared to last year. He had just eight games with more than 20 Fantasy points, including only two of his final six. And Murray's rushing prowess could cut into Romo's productivity, especially if Dallas tries to keep its terrible defense off the field.
The back surgery is also troubling. Romo has to prove he's over the problems from last year. But the Cowboys didn't invest heavily in a backup option, instead going with a castoff in Brandon Weeden and passing on Johnny Manziel in the NFL Draft. They obviously feel Romo is ready to go. I'm confident in him, too.
There could be other quarterbacks with better value on Draft Day -- Jay Cutler at No. 88 overall is a strong candidate -- but I'll go with Romo. I'll let other owners draft quarterbacks early while I stockpile talent at running back and receiver, and then I'll gamble on Romo in Round 7 or later depending on how the draft goes.
You know what you're getting with Romo, which is at least a top-10 finish based on his history. And with the other factors surrounding him this season, a top-5 finish is not out of the question.