Monday, June 15, 2009

Where to draft Romo?

By Steve Schwarz, Fantasy Sports Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In 2008, Tony Romo (Average Draft Position 15.3), was one of the top-four quarterbacks drafted along with Tom Brady (ADP 5.9), Peyton Manning (ADP 11.9) and Drew Brees (ADP 21.2).

But for all sorts of reasons, Romo, the 2002 Sports Network Walter Payton Award winner and starting quarterback for the Cowboys since 2006, didn't live up to preseason forecasts. Romo's yardage slipped from 4,211 in 2007 to 3,448 last year and touchdowns dropped from 36 to 26. Part of the reason for the drop in production was an injured hand which kept him out of three full games.

Now throw into the equation the loss of No.1 wide receiver Terrell Owens during the off-season and one of the primary quarterback questions for 2009 (along with questions about Brady's health) is where to slot Romo?

Romo will still have his favorite "security blanket," tight end Jason Witten, whom he will always look to when he is in trouble. Romo's roommate caught 81 passes for 952 yards in 2008 despite also playing with injuries. Witten has averaged 88 catches, 1,048 yards and 6.5 TDs per year since 2007 and he should do it again in 2009.

But the question of whether the Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers can produce should tell us whether Romo is a top-four quarterback or something much less.

Who will pick up Owens' 1,000+ yards and double-digit touchdowns in 2009?

That receiver, if any, will likely have to come from the foursome of Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin and Sam Hurd.

Williams is the most accomplished of the group, having been the primary receiver in Detroit before the arrival of Calvin Johnson. In 2006, he caught 82 balls for 1,310 yards and seven TDs. That could fill the "Owens" gap, but that was three years ago. Last season, Williams was not fantasy worthy after the trade from Detroit in October. He caught just 19 balls for 198 yards in a Cowboys uniform.

Can he be expected to carry the load in 2009?

If you are selecting Romo in your fantasy draft, you better hope so.

If you are looking to draft the Cowboys' signal caller, in early mock drafts he is currently going around the end of the fifth round, as the No.7 quarterback selected behind Brees, Brady, Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Kurt Warner. Given the quality of wideouts the top-seven have versus the quality that Romo has, it's a fair market value. On the other hand, if Williams can return to top form, then Romo might be the best quarterback bargain in this year's draft.

However, until I see the pair in action during preseason, I think I'll have to agree with the masses, drafting Romo as a third-tier quarterback.

Current Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Statistics from 2008


Patrick Crayton...WR......39.......550.......4

Miles Austin......WR......13.......278.......3

Roy Williams......WR......19.......198.......1

Sam Hurd..........WR.......0.........0.......0