Tony Romo takes a lot of heat for his "failures in the clutch."
You've heard the criticism: He's 1-3 in his playoff career, 12-16 in his regular-season career from Dec. 1 forward, and he has been the Dallas Cowboys' starting quarterback for 14 blown fourth-quarter leads in his career.
Now what you don't frequently hear: Romo has orchestrated 19 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career, sixth-most by any player since 2000, and 20 game-winning drives. This included his Week 9 performance in which he found Dwayne Harris for a 7-yard touchdown with 35 seconds remaining to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 27-23.
All this attention Romo receives tends to overshadow his fantasy exploits, and, coming off a game like Sunday's, it's a good time to remind people that, to date, he's actually enjoying his most productive -- and consistent -- season.
Through nine games, Romo has 166 fantasy points, third most among quarterbacks. That puts him on pace for a career-high 295, which would place him seventh among quarterbacks when pacing them all over a 16-game season. But more importantly, he has warranted a fantasy "Start" five times in nine contests; his 55.6 percent Consistency Rating is his best since 2007.
Let's take a look at Romo's yearly consistency history since taking over as the Cowboys' starter in Week 8 of 2006:
2006: 50.0 percent Consistency Rating (10 G, 5 Start, 1 Stud, 3 Stiff)
2007: 56.3 percent Consistency Rating (16 G, 9 Start, 4 Stud, 2 Stiff)
2008: 50.0 percent Consistency Rating (13 G, 8 Start, 0 Stud, 3 Stiff, 3 Sat)
2009: 50.0 percent Consistency Rating (16 G, 8 Start, 3 Stud, 3 Stiff)
2010: 12.5 percent Consistency Rating (6 G, 2 Start, 1 Stud, 1 Stiff, 10 Sat)
2011: 50.0 percent Consistency Rating (16 G, 8 Start, 1 Stud, 2 Stiff)
2012: 37.5 percent Consistency Rating (16 G, 6 Start, 1 Stud, 3 Stiff)
2013: 55.6 percent Consistency Rating (9 G, 5 Start, 1 Stud, 1 Stiff)
Totals: 44.3 percent Consistency Rating (102 G, 51 Start, 12 Stud, 18 Stiff, 13 Sat)
CONSISTENCY RATINGS BENCHMARKS
Using 2013 statistics, and fantasy points determined by ESPN's standard scoring, the charts contained in this column rate players based upon how consistently reliable they are. To familiarize you with some of the terminology:
Start: The number of times that the player's point total in a given week was worthy of having had him active in an ESPN standard league.
Stud: The number of times the player's point total ranked among the top at his position.
Stiff: The number of times the player's point total ranked among the worst at his position, making almost any waiver-wire option a smarter choice.
These are the benchmarks for what constitutes a "Start," "Stud" or "Stiff" performance, numbers identifying the player's rank at his position:
Sat: The number of times the player missed a game. Players are not charged "Stiff" points for sitting out, but it hurts their overall Consistency Rating.
%: The player's overall Consistency Rating, calculated as number of "Start" performances divided by scheduled team games.
Putting Romo's fantasy performance into context, his numbers fall shy of the "elite" at his position: Peyton Manning (6), Aaron Rodgers (4), Tom Brady (3), Drew Brees (3), Jay Cutler (1), Robert Griffin III (1), Cam Newton (1), Philip Rivers (1), Matthew Stafford (1) and Michael Vick (1) all have more seasons of at least 10 "Starts" -- that's a top-10 fantasy point total among quarterbacks in the given week -- than Romo, who has none. But Romo has had at least eight Starts in a season four times and is on track for a fifth such season, and only Brees (7), Manning (7) and Rodgers (5) have more.
In other words, those theorizing that Romo is a sell-high candidate considering his late-season history are doing themselves a disservice. As long as he's not regarded as a surefire top-five quarterback, he's well worth having to lead your team down the stretch. After all, after his Week 11 bye, he has the New York Giants (Week 12), Oakland Raiders (Week 13), Green Bay Packers (Week 15), Washington Redskins (Week 16) and Philadelphia Eagles (Week 17) as five of his final six matchups, all of which are outstanding for a quarterback.
Perhaps Cutler, who has two seasons of eight Starts and one of 10 in his career, could mount a challenge to Romo in fantasy scoring going forward, partly because he has one additional game remaining on his schedule and an even more favorable schedule down the stretch (DET, BAL, @STL, @MIN, DAL, @CLE, @PHI, GB). Rivers, who has three seasons of eight Starts and one of 10, might also be a comparable value to Romo.
But that's still a certain top-10 fantasy quarterback going forward.
Consistency Ratings chart
Players are initially ranked in order of their Consistency Rating, calculated as the percentage of the player's scheduled games -- not games played, scheduled games -- in which his fantasy point total registered a "Start" score. All categories are sortable as ascending and descending; just click on the headers to sort.
Players must have at least a 25.0 percent Consistency Rating in either standard scoring or PPR leagues for inclusion in the chart. All defense/special teams are included, regardless of whether they met those minimums.
These statistics are for 2013 only. Statistics for games since 2010 can be found here.