Finding Value: Let's Give Tony Romo Some Love
We can thank the young bucks for that. Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III certainly have upside. Not only did their first year as starters in the league prove they’re for real, but each one of these signal callers posted starting fantasy quarterback numbers for the better portion of their 2012 seasons.
Everyone – well, mostly everyone – have the majority of these dudes ahead of Romo in their current quarterback rankings. It’s understandable; they’re obvious potential is attractive to fantasy owners.
But could that potential actually be equivalent to our expectation from Tony Romo?
We often make the mistake of judging fantasy performance based on real football success. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all done it. And at the quarterback position, the most scrutinized position of them all, it’s easiest to do it.
To many, Tony Romo isn’t a good quarterback. Whether you believe that or not (I don’t at all), it’s become a polarizing topic since the Eastern Illinois quarterback got his first start back in 2006. Being undrafted, talent wasn’t there in the eyes of scouts and team management. Perhaps that’s the reason Romo has seen such unfair judgement.
Regardless, we have to be cognizant of what Tony Romo has done, in fantasy football terms, since becoming Dallas’ starter in 2006. On a per game basis, Romo has averaged 1.9 passing touchdowns per contest since his opening year as starter. For some perspective, Aaron Rodgers has averaged 2.18 passing touchdowns per game since becoming the new Brett Favre in Green Bay.
If Romo were to continue this average per game into 2013, given a healthy 16-game season, he’d throw around 30 passing touchdowns. That’s something only Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan did a season ago. And it’s not unfathomable, as Tony’s thrown 59 of them over the last two years.
Actually, part of Romo’s intrigue in 2013 stems from the fact that he had such a low passing touchdown rate in 2012. If you take a look at a piece I wrote on pass attempts earlier in the off-season, you’ll find that Romo has a lot of room for improvement in the touchdown efficiency department. When there’s room to grow, there’s opportunity. And when there’s opportunity, there’s clear value.
So he’s got the touchdown numbers and a fairly high ceiling. Great. What about yardage? Well, considering Romo’s 2012 passing yardage total ranked ninth in NFL history, I’d say he’s doing just fine. Much of his yardage success last season had to do with his impressive 648 pass attempts, but he still tallied almost 4,200 yards in 2011, too.
His numbers are there, but he doesn’t get the love. This is nothing new; we see this every year with Tony Romo and fantasy football. He’s always over-delivering, even though fantasy owners tend to shy away from him as their top quarterback. In 2006, Romo’s ADP hovered around the QB19 spot. He finished as the 16th-best passer. In 2007, people drafted him as the seventh-best quarterback. He finished as the second best. Really, aside from his injury-ridden years, Tony Romo has yet to disappoint when his output is compared to his pre-season ADP.
And now, in May of 2013, Tony Romo is, on average, the 12th passer off the board. He’s gone from throwing the ninth-most yards in NFL history to the worst starter in a 12-team league. People view the generally unproven — given their lack of experience — Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson as better fantasy options than Tony Romo.
It’s not necessarily wrong — nobody is right in May — but we have to ask ourselves: Why?
Guys, Tony Romo had just as many top-12 finishes a season ago (excluding Week 17) as Matt Ryan. He had more of them than Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck. And he ranked 8th in the NFL in terms of top-6 finishes in 2012, only behind the most obvious quarterback names you can think of.
It’s not as though Romo’s upside is non-existent. If he gets close to the pass attempts in 2013 that he accumulated in 2012, he can certainly become a top-five fantasy quarterback. We all saw Dez Bryant turn it on over the second half of the season, and that helped Romo out, from a fantasy perspective, tremendously. In fact, from Week 9 on, Tony Romo was a better fantasy quarterback than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III and Matthew Stafford.
It seems ridiculous that Number 9 could overcome the odds and become a top-five option, but it’s factual. Tony Romo puts up numbers, and he puts up numbers really, really well.
Look, I understand the interest in getting one of the youthful cannons in your fantasy draft next season. But we have to recognize value. Romo can be found nearly three or four rounds after some of those quarterbacks, allowing your team to be built on significant depth at the running back and wide receiver positions. He, for all intents and purposes, embodies the perfect late-round quarterback value.
Don’t let his team’s consistent 8-8 record cloud your fantasy judgement. Tony Romo is a stellar fantasy quarterback, and he can be found at a massive discount in 2012 because of the immense signal calling depth. Go get him.