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.