The Terrell Owens trade had me thinking about the Cowboys. It seems pretty clear that the loss of T.O. will hurt Tony Romo's fantasy value. Dallas may still bring in another high-end WR, but even so it will be tough for Romo to replace the WR1 he has worked with for the past three years.
Then I thought: what if it's more than just a loss of a WR? What if it's bigger than that?
So it's time for Episode Four of...
Skeller's Big Fantasy Football Questions
Players Heavily Affected: QB Tony Romo, RB Marion Barber, TE Jason Witten, WR Roy Williams.
Terrell Owens joined the Cowboys before the start of the 2006 season. Tony Romo became a starter during the 2006 season. Before that, Romo was just an unknown backup from Eastern Illinois. There have been some very good QBs from little schools -- two current examples that spring to mind are Kurt Warner (Northern Iowa) and Joe Flacco (Delaware) -- but that's the exception rather than the rule. Usually, you don't see a successful QB come from anywhere other than BCS-conference schools. So...Eastern Illinois? Really? How'd that happen? Let's take a look at Romo's career:
2006 - Replaces an ineffective Drew Bledsoe mid-game in Week 7 but the Cowboys lose to the Giants and fall to 3-3. Romo takes over as the starter the following week and goes 6-4 the rest of the season. Becomes a star for a 5 TD game against Tampa, but throws eight INTs vs six TDs in December.
Final Stats: 2903 yds, 19 TD, 13 INT (2008 Equivalent: Kyle Orton)
2007 - Julius Jones and Marion Barber find their groove and everything is clicking for the Cowboys' offense. Romo becomes a fantasy stud and Dallas streaks to a 13-3 season. Romo throws more INTs than TDs in December for the second straight year though.
Final Stats: 4211 yds, 36 TD, 19 INT (2008 Equivalent: Phillip Rivers)
2008 - Julius Jones has left to Seattle and the passing game starts to sputter. He misses three games to injury and doesn't seem to be quite the same quarterback after his return. Throws more INTs than TDs in December yet again.
Final Stats: 3448 yds, 26 TD, 14 INT (2008 Equivalent: Donovan McNabb)
Keep in mind that Tony Romo has had only ONE GAME as a starter without Terrell Owens in the lineup. His entire career as a starting quarterback has included a future Hall of Famer as his WR1. That's a big, big way to start your career. Now that future Hall of Famer is gone and I think there's a chance that he's going to be exposed this season as a good-but-not-close-to-great fantasy quarterback. If you need a canary in the coal mine (an underrated song by The Police, by the way), his completion percentage has dropped each of the last two seasons.
I think Romo really struggles this year trying to throw the ball to Jason Witten and some other guys he's never needed to remember the names of before now. In fact, you could argue that backup Jon Kitna might be a better choice. But that's for another post...