In his 12 years prior to arriving with the Cowboys last year, Scott Linehan’s Offense’s had never finished in the bottom half of the league in Passing Attempts. In fact, 9 of his 12 years his offense ranked in the top 10 in PAtt, and 5 of those 12 years finished in the top 5. So last season when the Cowboys brought him in to be the Passing Game Coordinator and play caller, most people assumed more of the same. What ended up happening was the opposite of his career, Dallas finished 31st in the league in pass attempts. This of course, was on the heels (literally) of DeMarco Murray and the strong and steady running game. Bottom of the league in attempts didn’t mean poor fantasy numbers, the Cowboys offense did finish 4th in the NFL in Passing Touchdowns, thanks to league leading WR Dez Bryant.
A year later, Linehan is now officially the Offensive Coordinator, Bill Callahan has moved to the division rival Washington Red-erh, uh, football club, but the offensive line he built remains intact. What has not stayed intact is the runners, specifically the league leading DeMarco Murray (484 more rushing yards than anyone else in the league). This is a huge hole to fill for an offense that relied so heavily on one player. Many people think Joseph Randle can steal and run away with the job, including Jerry Jones. I personally believe the way the Cowboys will respond to the hole is to go back to Linehan’s roots and let Tony Romo throw the ball more, a lot more.
Last year the Cowboys relied on the run game so much in part because it was the best way to keep their defense off the field. That strategy paid off, and the defense held their own when they were on the field. With an improved defense this year, I don’t think Jason Garrett will be as worried when his defense takes the field as he was going into last year (2013 Cowboys Defense finished dead last in yards allowed). What also happened last year was that Tony Romo quietly led the league in Quarterback Rating, ESPN’s QBR, Y/A, and Completion Percentage. Basically, Romo was a low volume yet incredibly efficient quarterback. This is great for an NFL team but just average for a fantasy team, he finished 11th in standard scoring leagues. Had he not missed one game last year, he would have been top 10.
Romo is completely healthy, and with the top offensive line in the league, should continue to be able to lead the league in yards per attempt. His elusiveness mixed with that line makes for a ton of time for Dez Bryant and company to get down field. The Cowboys also have the 8th easiest Passing Strength of Schedule this year. While SoS doesn’t always work out as a predictor for the season, it’s not a bad thing to take a look at. An easier SoS means more feasting for Romo and Dez. I especially love the idea of stacking Romo and Dez. Stacking is NOT just for daily fantasy leagues, stacking adds value to season long leagues as well. And who would you want more to stack with any QB than the league’s top TD receiver Dez Bryant?
At the time of this post, Tony Romo is being taken as the 12th QB off the board with an ADP of 108. He is being selected behind Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, and Tom Brady (although Brady is trending down). I think Romo is a huge value in the 10th round and would even reach for him in the 8th if I grabbed Dez early. I think that if healthy he could finish as high as top 5, and his floor on a healthy season is definitely top 10. Don’t waste early picks on QB when you can wait and get huge value out of Romo later. Projection: 4250 yards, 35 TD, 12 INT