Is Tony Romo a fantasy no-no?

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Tony Romo is infamous for his ill-timed decisions, and his seemingly constant failure to perform when it matters most. In his eight seasons as the Dallas Cowboys’ starting quarterback, Romo has led the team to the Playoffs three times, winning just one game. He has drawn recent criticism from a former NFC East rival in the shape of retired ex-Redskin London Fletcher, and has been a polarising player for quite some time.

Despite his shortcomings for the Cowboys, Tony Romo has been a valuable fantasy starting quarterback over the past few seasons. Since 2009, he has averaged 237.74 fantasy points, according to NFL.com’s fantasy scoring, and has finished the season as a top-10 fantasy quarterback four out of five times. That includes 2010, a season in which Romo played only six times, recording only 99.10 points. If that season is regarded as an outlier and is removed from calculation, then Romo’s point average since 2009 jumps up to 272.41. His lack of late-game heroics may hurt the Cowboys, but by the end of the game quarter Romo has usually done enough to appease his fantasy owners, and establish himself as a fantasy asset.

But will Tony Romo continue to be as productive in 2014?

Dallas’ main problem is their defense. They were ranked dead last in yards allowed last season, and have already lost arguably their best defensive player this offseason after cutting DeMarcus Ware. Although they were shaky on that side of the ball, Dallas remained competitive and in the Playoff hunt until the final game of the regular season, which was largely down to their offense, as well as the faltering seasons of their fellow NFC East competitors.

Romo still has a lot of offensive firepower surrounding him, including the likes of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, and DeMarco Murray, who can run as well as catch. Dallas have a decent offensive line, and Romo’s height, coupled with his quick release and arm strength mean that he has no trouble getting the ball out of his hands.

A good offense means that Romo should still fare pretty well in 2014. In the last three seasons alone, the former undrafted free agent has thrown for 12,915 yards and 90 touchdowns, in addition to throwing 39 interceptions and fumbling 10 times. By the start of the 2014 season, Romo will be 34, so there could potentially be a decline in his play. But with the talent he has surrounding him, the former Eastern Illinois Panther should have no problem getting at least close to his recent totals.

It does depend on, of course, whether or not he can stay healthy. After picking up an injury in week 15, Romo had to have season ending back surgery; although it appears that he should be healthy in time for OTAs. However, it isn’t the first time the player has had injury issues. In 2010, Romo missed 10 games as the Cowboys went 6-10, and again failed to reach the Playoffs. Another thing that may hurt his draft stock is the emergence of quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck and Cam Newton as top fantasy performers, as well as the potential that players such as Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have to be productive fantasy players.

The general feeling you get when you look at Romo’s average draft position is that it is based on the perception that he has failed to carry the Cowboys at crucial moments, as opposed to his overall play and fantasy statistics. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Tony Romo’s average draft position over the span of five years has been 56.12 overall, and 8.2 amongst quarterbacks. Last season, his average draft position fell to 92.5, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that slide continue this year.

He might be a later-round steal. This isn’t to suggest that he will still be hanging around with the fodder at the end of any fantasy drafts, but having Romo as one of the top quarterback possibilities on a draft board would allow greater flexibility to select better offensive players in other positions, before selecting Romo at a later stage. Tony Romo probably won’t be a top-five quarterback in 2014, but his track record suggests that he will be more than a solid starter for any fantasy team, who should still be on the board after at least three rounds.

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What would the signing of Chris Johnson do to the fantasy value of the Jets’ backfield?

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With the release of running back Chris Johnson from the Tennessee Titans a couple of days ago, plenty of reports are linking the seventh-year pro with the New York Jets. The Jets already have two established running backs in Bilal Powell, and Chris Ivory, who the team traded their fourth round pick for in last year’s draft. That duo combined for most of the Jets’ 2,158 rushing yards – the sixth best total in the league – over the course of the season.

Despite the duo’s play, both Ivory and Powell lack the same home run threat that Chris Johnson has, which comes mainly from his blistering speed. Johnson, who still holds the record for the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, scored six touchdowns last season – more than both Powell and Ivory combined – and has at least 1,000 yards rushing in each of his six seasons with the Titans, including one year where he managed to run for 2,006 yards.

At the moment the landing spot for ‘CJ2K’ is still unclear, because his release isn’t official until tomorrow afternoon. However, if he does sign for the Jets, then Johnson will surely have a significant impact on the fantasy value of the Jets’ backfield.

The former first-round pick would almost certainly go to the top of the Jets’ depth chart, or at worst would fight Chris Ivory for the starting job. Fullback Tommy Bohanon and Alex Green would be non-factors. Their fantasy impact is likely to be little, if anything at all. Mike Goodson could potentially be cut. Not only would Johnson be an upgrade on Goodson, but the Jets could replace an injury-prone player who has had off-the-field issues, with someone who has missed just one game in his career.

That would then leave Johnson, Ivory, and Powell as viable fantasy selections. With the addition of Chris Johnson, it would be no surprise to see Bilal Powell’s fantasy value fall dramatically. The former Louisville Cardinal was the thirty-seventh ranked fantasy running back in 2013, playing in every game for the Jets. He wasn’t much of a factor in the passing game either, and the addition of Johnson would probably reduce his playing time. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go undrafted in fantasy drafts, becoming a waiver pickup if either of the running backs ahead of him go down with injury.

In comparison, Chris Ivory ranked two placed higher than Powell, despite playing in one less game and dealing with injury issues. It would be easy to envisage Ivory sharing touches with Johnson, a similar role which he played in 2013, where he eventually became a valuable fantasy back in the second half of the season. If he excels in the role, then he may be a great late-round selection, though would carry some obvious risk if it didn’t work out for the former Saint.

2013 saw Chris Johnson outperform both of the Jets’ lead running backs, finishing as a top 10 player at the position. Another 1,000 yard season may have been surprising, as some feel he has lost his step. But it is impressive, considering he managed the feat behind a shaky offensive line. New York should have a better line than Tennessee next season, which may give Johnson a better chance of rushing for more yards and touchdowns than he did the year previous; although if he has to share touches with two other backs in a pass-heavy West Coast offense, then his production may decline. Still, expect Johnson to be drafted in the mid rounds – probably closer to the top than the bottom.