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Fantasy Football 2011: Tony Romo, Cowboys Could Prove To Be Fantasy Gold

Week 2 of the NFL preaseason begins tonight as the New England Patriots head to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers and the divisional rival Eagles take on the Steelers in a battle of two of the most hated teams. Aside from being excited for the NFL in general, it's time for most football fans to start focusing on their fantasy football drafts - which should be happening within the next two to three weeks. The Cowboys' skill players figure to be getting a lot of attention early on in drafts, as the offense looks like it could be explosive with Tony Romo back at the helm.

Romo, who made only six starts last year, looks like he should be poised for a good if not great year in 2011. Romo will be surrounded by weapons at every single position, with at least one elite option at wide receiver in Miles Austin. Dallas' release of Roy Williams opens the doors for Dez Bryant to step in and contribute in his second season. Romo will have Jason Witten at tight end once again, and he's coming off of a season where he had a career high nine touchdowns - with Jon Kitna at quarterback for most of the season. 

Further, big things are expected out of Felix Jones this year - at least if you believe what Jerry Jones has to say.

While this is all well and good, where does it leave Romo compared to the other quarterbacks in the league - at least for fantasy purposes?

SB Nation's fantasy blog, Fake Teams, has Romo rated as the ninth best fantasy quarterback option coming into this year. The names ahead of him aren't terribly surprising: Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees, Matt Schaub and Matt Ryan. Romo slots in after Ryan, but ahead of Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler and Josh Freeman

Looking at that list of quarterbacks, there's much more of a drop off between Romo, Roethlisberger and the quarterbacks below them than there is between Schaub, Ryan and Romo. In 2009, Romo threw for nearly 4,500 yards with 26 touchdowns. Unless you plan on using an early pick on one of the top quarterbacks - and I'd shy away from Vick, personally - then Romo could be a pretty good if not great option as drafts head toward the middle rounds. 

It's certainly tough to justify taking Romo ahead of the likes of Schaub or Ryan, I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see Romo post better numbers than either this season - though, Ryan's offense should be  explosive with the addition of Julio Jones. Still, Romo should prove to be in that tier of quarterbacks this season fantasy wise as Dallas' offense looks poised to have a good season. 

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.