Four Fantasy Notes: NFC East
With training camps opening around the NFL, it’s time to take one more offseason spin around the league. Below are some interesting stats from 2014 that will be relevant as we head into the new season. It will help get us through the “after rehabbing this injury, I’m even stronger than I was before it” soundbites, until the real news starts flying in. Let’s head over to the NFC East.
Dallas threw 112 fourth quarter passes (31st-most), mainly because they were winning on the fourth-highest percentage of those snaps. It was 51 less than the league average. If Tony Romo maintained his fantasy-point-per-attempt rate (0.65; 3rd-best) for 51 additional attempts, it would have elevated him from the QB12 to the QB7.
Some gains Romo gets from increased volume will be offset by decreased efficiency, but thanks to his offensive line, not all of them. The Cowboys averaged a PFF pass-blocking grade of 20th-best from 2008 until last year, when they ranked third-best. Romo was under pressure on 30-to-35-percent of dropbacks every year before 2014. He’s average when facing pressure, but a top-three passer with a clean pocket.
More passing volume would obviously boost Dez Bryant, who led the NFL in PPR points per opportunity (0.64). Over his last seven weeks, he averaged 97.9 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game – and was the fantasy WR2 on only 5.4 targets per game (21st-most). Ascending slot man Cole Beasley and veteran Jason Witten – who ranked eighth in PPR points per target among tight ends with at least 40 targets – also stand to benefit from a healthier and more active Romo.
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman