Using STATSPass, I researched Romo’s red zone success relative to others around the league. Amazingly, Romo recorded a passer rating of just 82.7 despite throwing 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions in the red zone. The main reason for that was because Romo completed just 34 of his 73 red zone passes—46.6 percent. Romo ended up 25th in the NFL in red zone passer rating and one spot lower in completion percentage.
But guess what? That’s actually good news for Dallas fans! See, Romo isn’t actually a poor red zone quarterback…Romo’s 121.8 red zone passer rating in 2010 ranked him first in the NFL, and his 105.9 rating in 2011 was fourth-best. The reason that Romo’s red zone success declined so much in 2012 is because teams just aren’t in the red zone all that much; only 11.3 percent of Romo’s 2012 pass attempts came in the red zone, so there’s a whole lot of variance there. A few outstanding or poor passes can skew the results.
Look, say what you want about the Tony Romo contract he just signed this offseason ($108 million/6 years, 55 million guaranteed). The fact is Romo has put up solid numbers year in and year out as a fantasy quarterback. And with Jonathan Bales projecting that Romo’s red zone production will increase, those fantasy numbers just might see a spike.
But who really benefits from all of this? I don’t see fantasy owners reaching to draft Romo past his projected ADP just because of a few red zone numbers. Rather, these numbers help shape my perception of Dez Bryant. In his breakdown of which receiver should be drafted behind Calvin Johnson, Jacob Meyers argues for three different receivers: Bryant, Brandon Marshall and A.J. Green. And while Meyers concludes that Marshall should be drafted next, the edge he awards Marshall is razor thin. The potential increase in Romo’s red zone projection should at least put Bryant back in the discussion and could potentially have him jump past Marshall and Green as the second receiver off the board behind Megatron in 2013. Be sure to check out a full breakdown of Dez Bryant’s Similarity Score by the RotoViz staff.