Who's hurt the most in Fantasy Football by Tony Romo's retirement?

Whether he’s retiring or stepping away or not playing “for now,” it’s safe to assume that Tony Romo won’t be a part of your Fantasy Football adventures this year.

That’s not a good thing.

Romo was never going to start for the Cowboys again, not with Dak Prescott blossoming into their stud under center. But the Broncos and Texans were (and still are) in a quasi-quarterback limbo. Adding a veteran arm like Romo would have done wonders for their offenses, their receiving corps and their playoff chances.

It’s not like the Broncos and Texans were willing to pony up a big draft pick or a huge contract to lure Romo to play with them -- both teams were actually pretty lukewarm about Romo, at least whenever they fielded questions from the media. But now that Romo is out of the picture, both teams seemingly have to settle for what they already have at quarterback.

The Broncos

Trevor Siemian QB / Denver (2016 stats)
CMP%: 59.5 YDS: 3,401 TD: 18 INT: 10
Paxton Lynch QB / Denver (2016 stats - 3 games)
CMP%: 59.0 YDS: 497 TD: 2 INT: 1

Broncos coach Vance Joseph said all along his team was going ahead with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch at quarterback, and he’s true to his word.

Siemian is the more experienced of the two and should be considered the first-string quarterback when training camp opens. But that’s assuming he’s healthy -- Siemian had offseason surgery on his non-throwing shoulder and the damage was pretty extensive. He’s expected to be ready for training camp, but if Lynch can do anything to show he’s improved from his rookie season, there will be a quarterback battle.

Neither Broncos quarterback is reliable for Fantasy use, but Lynch still has plenty of long-term appeal.

Demaryius Thomas WR / Denver (2016 stats)
TAR: 144 REC: 90 YDS: 1,083 TD: 5
Emmanuel Sanders WR / Denver (2016 stats)
TAR: 137 REC: 79 YDS: 1,032 TD: 5

Remember 2014? Remember when Thomas and Sanders each had over 1,400 yards and nine-plus touchdowns?

Yep. History.

Maybe the duo would have had a shot at getting kind of close to those beautiful stats with Romo under center, but for now they’ll have to settle for the underwhelming tandem of Siemian and Lynch.

Not that those passers are completely awful. Both Thomas and Sanders had over 70 catches and 1,000 yards last year, but they each had five touchdowns. Romo would have absolutely helped them catch more scores.

Thomas had seven games with 10-plus Fantasy points (five in the first seven weeks) while Sanders had four. Frustrating as it is, don’t expect them to have more in 2017 without some sort of improvement at quarterback.

Thomas is still considered a good No. 2 Fantasy receiver, though his slow finishes over the past two seasons are certainly alarming. Sanders is at best a No. 3 wideout for Fantasy simply because he’s hard to handicap from a week-to-week basis. Both are more reliable in PPR formats.

The Texans

The news hits the Texans particularly hard, especially since they went to great lengths and costs to dump Brock Osweiler and his bloated salary to make room for Romo.

But like the Broncos, the Texans were never in a mad rush to get Romo. Would they take him as a free agent? Yes. Would they trade a big draft pick for him? Dude, they traded a second-round pick to get rid of Osweiler. They weren’t going to move another.

Tom Savage QB / Houston (2016 stats - 3 games)
CMP%: 63.0 YDS: 461 TD: 0 INT: 0

It leaves Tom Savage as their starting quarterback, though it would make sense for Houston to also draft a passer later this month. Savage gave the Texans offense a lift when he replaced Osweiler last season, but injuries have held him back from reaching whatever potential he has.

Because Savage might be nothing more than a placeholder, Fantasy owners shouldn’t consider him.

DeAndre Hopkins WR / Houston (2016 stats)
TAR: 151 REC: 78 YDS: 954 TD: 4

Everyone seems fully aware of just how horrible Hopkins was last season, especially compared to his raucous 2015. Hopkins never hooked up with Savage for a touchdown but in pretty much eight quarters of play together, Hopkins had 10 catches for 120 yards on a robust 21 targets.

Just like his peers in Denver, Hopkins would have seen his value rise with Romo as his quarterback. While it’s great he’s no longer stuck with Osweiler, it’s not like Savage is going to turn Hopkins’ numbers into what they once were. Hopkins, like Demaryius, is a No. 2 Fantasy receiver.

The Wild Cards

But what if the Broncos or Texans still decide to add another quarterback via trade or free agency? Who’s available and who would help out the most for Fantasy?

Jimmy Garoppolo QB / New England (2016 stats - 2 starts)
CMP%: 71.2 YDS: 496 TD: 4 INT: 0

The Patriots say they’re not trading him, and chances are they won’t give Garoppolo to a fellow AFC contender. But if they get a great offer for him, they’d have to think about it. In either town, Garoppolo would have a little appeal as a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback, but he’d absolutely make people feel better about the receivers he’d be throwing to. He would be a nice upgrade.

Jay Cutler QB / Chicago (2016 stats)
CMP%: 59.1 YDS: 1,059 TD: 4 INT: 5

There’s no way Cutler will end up back in Denver where his career started, and it seems highly unlikely he’ll play in Houston. I can’t imagine Cutler’s cavalier attitude would mesh well with Bill O’Brien’s toughness. But, just for the sake of imagination, if he were to wind up with the Texans, he’d definitely push Hopkins’ numbers over the hump.

  Cutler has a pretty established track record of slinging it to his No. 1 receiver regardless of the coverage, or the outcome.

Colin Kaepernick QB / San Francisco (2016 stats)
CMP%: 59.2 YDS: 2,241 TD: 16 INT: 4 ATT: 69 RUSH YDS: 468 RUSH TD: 2

If Kaepernick was a more consistent passer, and more importantly, a more consistent winner (3-16 in his last 19 starts), he’d be signed by now. Then again, he probably wouldn’t have been cut by the 49ers if he was real good in the first place.

It wouldn’t make sense for the Broncos to bring him in when they have a pair of equally inconsistent quarterbacks already on the roster. The Texans might be gun shy to spend anything significant on Kaepernick, even if he was a slight upgrade on Savage. It would probably mean a slight boost for Hopkins.

Ryan Fitzpatrick QB / N.Y. Jets (2016 stats)
CMP%: 56.6 YDS: 2,710 TD: 12 INT: 17

Like Kaepernick, Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be an upgrade for what the Broncos have already on the roster. And the Texans had Fitzpatrick for a go ‘round in 2014. While that went well for Hopkins, it led to a .500 record in Fitzpatrick’s starts and no playoffs for the Texans. Pretty sure the team would rather draft a rookie quarterback than lean on the Harvard alum again.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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