Recency Bias Is Turning Tony Romo Into a Steal
I’m going to simply start this article off with a tweet from Pat Thorman and the only relevant data point for Tony Romo’s 2015 season. …
@AMirch729 pretty much zero to take away from Romo/Dez in 2015, other than what we already knew: helps to be healthy.
— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) July 31, 2016
In Week 1, the only week of 2015 where both Romo and Dez Bryant were healthy, the Cowboys signal caller put up almost 29 points. We already know Romo is good when playing with Dez. Unless you are concerned about Romo’s health, 2015 should be erased from your memory. Romo was unhealthy pretty much all season, and when he returned to play with no Dez, he predictably suffered. When the offense played without him, they rotated in a myriad of incapable QBs (Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, Kellen Moore) that played with a cast of incapable WRs and an injured Dez Bryant.
A Solid Sample of Outcomes from Tony Romo
Last season I wrote a piece on why 2014 was a fluke for Tony Romo. If you recall, Romo was the most efficient he had ever been, yet only finished as the QB11. While the Cowboys appear intent on trying to re-create that offense for Romo by drafting Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall, Brian Malone pointed out why that might not be realistic for 2016. The Cowboys won’t be able to mask their poor defense as much this season as they did in 2014, since they lack so much talent up front and have been hit hard by suspensions. This means Dallas will more likely than not have to pass more than they did in 2014, which means Romo’s efficiency will plummet. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, as Romo has basically shown the ability to produce on all different levels of volume.
Looking at his QB Card, if we throw out 2015 for the irrelevant data point it is, we have three seasons of solid data where Romo:
- Played in at least 15 games
- Set a career high in attempts (648), a career for attempts in at least 15 games (435), and somewhere in the middle (535) (courtesy of pro-football-reference.com)
- Finished among the Top-11 QBs in points per game
- Finished outside of the Top-24 in just 13% of his games played
Romo has basically been a reliable low-end QB1 for much of his recent career in a variety of different offenses. If you’re not drafting him as a QB1 he should be your first target as a QB2. His consistency is what makes him most valuable to drafters.
The Hate Has Gone Too Far: Tony Romo the Bargain
According to our 2QB July ADP Data, Romo is currently being drafted as the QB15, behind the likes of Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Blake Bortles, and Kirk Cousins. This is basically stealing. Romo has a significantly larger body of work than all four of these quarterbacks and historically holds a much higher floor week-to-week. I get chasing upside, but doing so at the expense of one of fantasy’s steadiest QBs is a mistake. All four quarterbacks listed face some serious regression in at least one category.
Let’s look at Denny Carter’s Equity Scores for these QBs. They’re reflective of standard league setups, but it’s looking at the range of outcomes that matter for each quarterback, not their specific ADP.
Carr, Bortles, and Winston have negative median equity scores and rather low high equity scores for their ADP. Cousins has the best scores among the four, but Romo also as a positive median equity score and a decent high equity score. Drafters should be content with taking Romo knowing what they’re getting rather than worrying about the downside of the other four QBs. Among that cohort, I like Cousins the most behind Romo, but his small sample size and regression risk still scare me.
According to FFtoolbox, the Cowboys have the second easiest schedule among QBs for Weeks 1-16. If you take a look at Pat Thorman’s always helpful Fantasy QB Strength of Schedule Guide, you’ll see Dallas has a fairly easy slate of opponents between the NFC East, NFC North, and AFC North. Looking at the full grid also illustrates that Romo’s schedule is very enticing, especially come playoff time compared to most other quarterbacks. Romo is the only QB to have three ideal matchups for the fantasy playoffs, facing the Giants, Buccaneers, and Lions. In fact, he only has a few difficult matchups as well (Minnesota and Washington).
Don’t Leave Your Draft Without Tony Romo
I will be gobbling up Tony Romo this year. He’s proven he is a reliable producer with different volume thresholds, is in a position where he will either be efficient or have to air it out, is being criminally underdrafted, and has one of the most favorable schedules heading into 2016. He’s likely to finish as a QB1 or right on the cusp, and has the right combination of consistency, floor, and ceiling (health concerns aside). If you’re a proponent of waiting on QB, Romo is an ideal target come draft day.