Scott Linehan loves to pass the football probably more than you or I love anything. Since 2006, Linehan has overseen offenses in St. Louis and Detroit that have ranked 3rd, 8th, 15th, 6th, 3rd, 1st, 1st and 5th in pass attempts- an average of 5th most in the league over that span. Whether it’s been Marc Bulger, Sam Bradford, Shaun Hill, or Matthew Stafford, Linehan loves to chuck the pigskin.
Now, Linehan has relocated to Dallas to oversee a Cowboys offense loaded with talent. I’m here to prove to you that this will make Tony Romo an absolute steal in summer drafts- allowing you to play the “late-round QB” with top-5 upside and a top-10 floor, assuming health.
Matthew Stafford vs. Tony Romo, 2011-2013
Let’s take a look at how Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo compare to each other over the past three seasons (I threw out 2009 because it was Stafford’s rookie season and 2010 because Stafford and Romo played a combined nine games). Pay most attention to the vast difference in pass attempts:
|Matthew Stafford, 2011-2013||Att/G||Y/A||TD%||Int%||Fantasy Finish||Pass Att. Rank|
|Tony Romo, 2011-2013||Att/G||Y/A||TD%||Int%||Fantasy Finish||Pass Att. Rank|
It’s actually quite astonishing: On average, Romo has a better yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage. In other words, he makes more of his pass attempts than Stafford does.
This begs the question: why does Romo have barely two top-10 fantasy finishes over the past three years, while Stafford has two top-5s? The answer: pass attempts. Stafford has lead the league twice over the past three years, never finishing lower than fourth. Romo, on the other hand, has seen higher than 11th just once over that span. Since Linehan is now in Dallas, what would Romo’s statistics look like if he kept up his three-year average of yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage?
Tony Romo’s Efficiency Combined with Stafford’s Pass Attempts
If Tony Romo kept his efficiency up while getting Stafford’s three-year average of 42 pass attempts per game, what would his statistics look like? Let’s find out:
Att/G Yards TD Int Fantasy Pts 42.16 5126 36 15 334
Pretty impressive numbers. He would tie his career high of passing TDs and shatter his career passing yards record. Most importantly though, are his fantasy points: assuming 4 points per passing touchdown, 1 point per 25 passing yards, and -1 per interception, Romo would finish with 334 fantasy points without counting any rushing statistics whatsoever. Romo’s extrapolated 334 fantasy points would have made him QB6 in 2011, QB5 in 2012, and QB3 in 2013. Considering his current ADP is QB11 according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, that is an absolute steal. However, it is rare that extrapolated numbers turn out to be the final statistics. But in Romo’s case, I’m here to tell you those figures are entirely possible.
Why Romo’s Extrapolation Is Reasonable
While it is natural for efficiency to drop when volume increases, I’m a believer in Romo’s potential to put up career highs across the board in 2014. Here are three big reasons why:
1. The Cowboys weapons: In Detroit, Linehan made Stafford a top-tier fantasy quarterback with Calvin Johnson at his disposal. Having the all-world Megatron was undoubtedly a huge advantage, but who else did Stafford consistently have to throw to? Brandon Pettigrew? Nate Burleson? Tony Scheffler? A couple games of Ryan Broyles and a season of Reggie Bush? Let’s not forget the inexcusably poor Kris Durham. While the Cowboys don’t have Megatron, they have a top-5 receiver in their own right: Dez Bryant. Jason Witten is better than any tight end that Stafford has ever experienced, and promising sophomore Terrance Williams has the potential to be better than any 2nd receiver Stafford ever got to throw to. DeMarco Murray is a very good receiving running back, and the Cowboys pass blocking ranked 9th in the NFL in pass blocking last season according to Pro Football Focus. Romo will be able to sling it around the yard without being forced to feed anyone in 2014.
2. The NFC East Pass Defense: Just for fun, let’s take a look at the defenses in Tony Romo’s division, including his own:
2013 NFC East Defensive Statistics Pts Allowed Pass Yards Allowed PassTDs Allowed DAL 26th 30th 30th NYG 18th 10th 7th PHI 17th 32nd 14th WAS 30th 20th 24th
First off, the Cowboys defense was absolutely atrocious last season. Without a very significant improvement, the Cowboys are going to be involved in plenty of shootouts this fall. Secondly, 2 of the 3 defenses he will be facing twice a year were absolutely atrocious in one way or another in 2013. The Giants have a chance to be above average if they stay healthy, but a looming suspension/possible release for Will Hill really hurts. Defensive ranks are somewhat volatile year-to-year, but there is nothing to suggest Washington or Philadelphia will be much improved at all.
3. Given The Pass Attempts, Romo Has Done It Before: Lets look at Romo’s statistics and fantasy finish when he gets more than 450 pass attempts in a season:
Year Pass Att Cmp% Yards TD Int Y/A Fantasy Finish 2007 520 64.4 4211 36 19 8.1 2nd 2009 550 63.1 4483 26 9 8.2 6th 2011 522 66.3 4184 31 10 8 7th 2012 648 65.6 4903 28 19 7.6 9th 2013 535 63.9 3828 31 10 7.2 11th Average 555 64.66 4321.8 30.4 13.4 7.82 7th
With an average of 555 attempts per season, Romo has averaged a 7th place finish among fantasy QBs. If he approaches Stafford’s 2011-2013 average of 674, he is almost a shoo-in for a top 5 finish. With the weapons at his disposal, the terrible defenses he’ll be involved with, his personal history of putting up stats when given the opportunity, and his late 8th-round ADP, Romo should arguably be the number one target of “late-round QB” strategists.