Though this preseason has been relatively quiet with injuries, there was a major bombshell that dropped earlier today that will inevitably change 2016’s fantasy landscape. …
Tony Romo has a compression fracture of his L1 vertebrae, per @toddarcher, an injury that could sideline him 6-10 weeks.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 27, 2016
Appearing in his first action of the preseason on Thursday, Tony Romo was tackled from behind while attempting to slide. Now that injury will cost him a substantial chunk of the season. While we will certainly keep Romo in our thoughts and prayers during his recovery, it’s also our job to analyze this from a fantasy perspective. Particularly at the quarterback position, you are going to want to draft Dak Prescott.
Prescott was somebody I was extremely high on as a prospect. He was an efficient collegiate passer in the SEC, posting an adjusted yards per attempt (AYA) of 8.7 or better in each of his final two seasons at Mississippi State. He did this with basically no NFL talent to throw to. Prescott was also a tremendous rushing threat, going for 2,521 yards and 41 touchdowns on the ground during his college career. Overall, I ranked him as the third-best quarterback in this class, which built in his expected draft position.
Since we know what Romo’s timeline is, let’s take a look at his prospective schedule via the RotoViz Buy-Low Machine.
As you can see, Dallas actually has the second-easiest quarterback schedule over the first 10 weeks of the season. If I shortened that range to just six weeks, they are seventh-best. So no matter what you think of Prescott, he is going to be set up in a ton of situations to be successful for as long as he is the starter. And the better he plays, the more likely they hold Romo out to ensure he is at full health before returning to the field.
The real reason you want to select Prescott this year is his ceiling. Prescott has a world-class offensive line, and one of the best wideouts on the planet to throw to in Dez Bryant. He also has a great safety-valve in Jason Witten, and some decent ancillary targets in Terrence Williams and Cole Beasley. Running back Ezekiel Elliott is also an accomplished pass-blocker and receiver. Prescott finds himself in one of the most ideal situations for a rookie signal caller.
Then there is what we have already seen from him this preseason. In three games, Prescott has completed 39-of-50 passes (78 percent) for 454 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He has also added 53 yards and two scores on the ground. Do I expect him to maintain this crazy level of efficiency during the regular season? Of course not. But the fact that he’s a dual-threat who can score multiple ways and is a very capable passer bodes well for his success.
In a week-to-week setting against a good schedule, and with a bad defense that probably keeps him active in the offensive attack, he has a tremendous weekly ceiling. Keep in mind both Russell Wilson and Cam Newton were QB1s as rookies, and while Prescott probably isn’t that good, even Geno Smith was QB20 in total points, with some monster games in wins for the Jets. Prescott is absolutely going to have some huge scores during his time as a starter.
I have already updated my rankings on the site, and put Prescott at QB15. That is definitely on the aggressive side of things, but even in 2QB formats I firmly believe quarterback is a fairly replaceable position. In that sense, I want to be maximizing my weekly upside every time I set a lineup, and think that Prescott will do that better than a lot of signal callers this season.
The best part is I probably won’t have to select him anywhere near that ranking. Romo had an ADP of QB16 in our mock drafts, and I doubt Dak ever gets that high. In fact, you can probably get Prescott as a QB3 pretty easily. That said, he will definitely be someone I target aggressively in 2QB drafts the rest of this summer.
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