35-Year-Old Tight End – Dallas Cowboys
2017 Fantasy Football Outlook
Witten has already punched his HOF ticket, as much for his durability (one missed game in 14 years) as his accolades (10 Pro Bowl trips, two All-Pro teams). He's only scored six times in his last two ...
Jason Witten Contract Information:
Signed a four-year extension with Dallas in March 2017.
The Cowboys signed Witten to a four-year extension that runs through 2021, ESPN's Todd Archer reports.
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|Receiving||Rec Distance||Big Rec Games||Rushing||Kick Ret||Punt Ret||Fumbles|
|2017 Proj||35||DAL||Subscribe now to see our 2017 projections for Jason Witten|
Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
|Fantasy Points Per Game||Receiving Stats||Red Zone Targets||Rushing Stats||Red Zone Runs|
|2017 Proj||35||DAL||Subscribe now to see our 2017 projections for Jason Witten|
Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
|Snap Count||Receiving||Rec Distance||Rushing||Fumbles||Kick Ret||Punt Ret||Red Zone Targets||Red Zone Runs|
A blank stat line is used above whenever a player was not on the field for any plays in the game that week.
Jason Witten: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Witten had a three-year high in receptions last year, but his efficiency dropped significantly and he was limited to a three-year low in touchdowns, which bookended his season – two in Week 1, one in Week 17. Dez Bryant's seven-game absence created more targets for Witten, but ultimately it did more harm than good as defenses had little else to worry about. And without Tony Romo, who missed 12 games, Dallas' backup QBs used Witten as a dump-off more than anything. Nearly 80 percent of Witten's 104 targets – 83 – were on passes 10 yards or less. As a result, he had only four receptions of 20-plus yards after averaging 10.6 the previous six years. Also, his 9.3 YPC was a career low and his 6.9 YPT was his lowest since his rookie season. Romo's return should help Witten get more downfield targets, and Bryant's presence will ensure double-teams go his way. But Witten has posted middling yardage totals the last three seasons and is 34 this year; his days of 1,000-yard seasons are long gone. More than ever, his fantasy value has to come from the red zone. Any 6-6, 261-pound TE with good hands who knows how to use his body to outduel defenders has upside at the goal line, though he'll need more than the seven red-zone targets and four targets inside the 10 that he received in Weeks 2-16 last year.
Witten's numbers fell for the second straight year with his receptions matching a nine-year low and his yards the fewest since his rookie season. The Cowboys' rushing emphasis — the team passed 110 times less than in 2013 — cost Witten targets as he broke a string of seven consecutive years with at least 100. Unlike wideout Dez Bryant, who made up for in greater efficiency what he lost in opportunities, Witten's YPC and YPT were similar to 2013. He was perhaps most hurt in the red zone where he saw his fewest targets (8) since 2009 and only had three touchdowns after five last year. And if Witten wasn't scoring, he wasn't producing much fantasy value. He had less than 35 yards in half his games, less than 50 yards in 10 games and for the first time since 2006 failed to record a 100-yard game. At 33, Witten is not as fast as he once was, but he's still a good route-runner and is adept at using his size (6-6, 261) to outmaneuver defenders. The Cowboys lost DeMarco Murray to free agency, but they plan to be similarly dedicated to the run this season, which likely means more middling numbers for Witten.
Coming off a record-setting season, Witten predictably saw significantly fewer targets in 2013. More surprising, though, was his eight touchdowns, his most since 2010. Witten had his fewest catches and yards since 2006, but the touchdowns matched his previous two years combined and helped salvage an otherwise inconsistent season with 8.3 fantasy points per game in standard leagues, sixth among tight ends. Witten saw more work near the goal line than in 2012 (seven targets inside the 10), but it was big plays that provided the extra touchdowns. He had three touchdowns from outside of the red zone, as many as he had in the previous four years combined. Witten's production was hit-and-miss week to week, though. He had three 100-yard games but seven games with less than 40 yards. At 6-6, 261, Witten is a physical receiver who uses his size to shield defenders. He runs precise routes and can make catches over his shoulder and in traffic. Witten is one of the most durable players in the league. He's missed one game in his 11-year career, caused by a broken jaw in his rookie season that probably would have laid up most players for multiple weeks. He'll again fill the role of a No. 2 receiver in the offense after Dez Bryant and likely see 100-plus targets for the eighth consecutive year.
Despite a preseason spleen injury that limited him to eight catches in the first three weeks, Witten finished 2012 with 110 receptions, an NFL record for tight ends. He led the position in targets with a career-high 149 and topped 1,000 yards for the fourth time in his career. Somehow, he scored only three touchdowns, though, his lowest total since his rookie year. He now has just eight touchdowns the last two seasons, revealing Tony Romo's tendency to look elsewhere inside the red zone, especially from in close – Witten had only two looks inside the 10 and none inside the five. Heading into his eighth season, Witten has never missed a game. He isn't the fastest player but runs crisp routes and has reliable hands. The emergence of Dez Bryant along with an occasionally healthy Miles Austin allows Witten to work between the numbers without being double-teamed. Witten should again get his yards – he's averaged more than 1,000 the last six years – but the nine touchdowns he scored in 2010 continue to look like an outlier.
Witten came out of the gate hot last season, recording 366 receiving yards over his first four games but only 576 over his final 12, and his five touchdowns were down markedly from the nine he had the previous season. Even though his red-zone targets held steady, he converted five fewer, including three fewer inside the 10-yard line on one more target than he had in 2010. Laurent Robinson took his 81 targets to Jacksonville, which should help Wittten, who finished with a five-year low 117 targets last season. A model of consistency, Witten has played every game since entering the league (eight years) and provides a solid blocking option at the edge to seal off opposing defenders. He runs precise routes and has above average agility and footwork for a player his size that helps him get separation from defenders. Witten’s reception percentage (67.5 percent) was a three-year low, though that could be attributed to Tony Romo playing injured. Witten has recorded between 942 and 1,030 receiving yards each of the last five seasons, so it’s pretty easy to know what to expect on that front. Don’t expect a return to his 2010 touchdown numbers, however, as he’s had more than seven touchdowns just once.
While Tony Romo's season-ending injury in Week 7 last season doomed the Cowboys' season, it was a boon for Witten. Unable to stretch the field, weak-armed replacement Jon Kitna made Witten his favorite receiver (at the expense of Miles Austin). But not only did Witten's per-game averages increase (4.6 catches to 6.5; 54 yards to 67) after Kitna, more importantly, his red-zone targets increased as well. As usual with Romo, Witten was targeted little in the red-zone, getting only four receptions and two touchdowns there in his first six games with Romo. After Kitna took over, Witten saw 12 red-zone targets and scored seven touchdowns. What's more, Witten's seven targets inside the 5-yard line (only one from Romo) were five more than in 2009. Witten was again a PPR monster, catching a position-high 94 passes, 17 more than the next closest tight end. Romo is due back for the Cowboys this season, which means Witten probably won't see a repeat of his career-high nine touchdowns. But Witten has evolved into one of the most consistent tight ends in the league. He’s honed the craft of route running, using sharp breaks to cut into the open or come back to the football. Once the ball is secured, he can make defenders miss and can break tackles. So, he should still see plenty of receptions and challenge for 1,000 receiving yards for the fifth consecutive season.
The hope last year was that the departure of Terrell Owens (and his 33 red-zone targets in 2007-08) would open up things at the goal line for Witten. That didn’t happen. Once again, Witten posted excellent receiving numbers but failed to do much in the red zone. He finished second among tight ends with 94 receptions and third in receiving yards with 1,030, but his paltry two receiving touchdowns ranked last among the 16 tight ends with at least 46 catches. Witten saw only seven red-zone targets, just one more than the six he had in 2008 with Owens in the fold. Witten is more valuable in PPR and yardage leagues, but his strong receiving skills and precision route running helps him convert a consistently high number of targets (125 last year, fifth among TE) into quality numbers that easily make him a top-10 tight end no matter the format.
Witten was busy again last year, finishing with 121 targets (2nd for tight ends), which resulted in 81 catches (3rd) for 952 yards (2nd). He has always been able to get open down the field, catching 14 passes of over 20 yards, ranking second among tight ends. One of the best route runners in the league, Witten’s two best years directly correlate with quarterback Tony Romo’s two full years as the starting quarterback. Witten was blanketed in the red zone and finished with only four touchdowns on six red-zone targets. In fact, over the last three years he has consistently drawn extra attention near the goal line, accumulating just 12 scores. During the offseason, Terrell Owens took his traveling circus to Buffalo along with his 33 red-zone targets from the past two years. While a wide receiver will obviously take Owens’ place, it’s reasonable to expect that Witten will get more of those abandoned scoring opportunities inside the 20. He holds extra value in leagues that reward yardage - he averaged over 870 yards per season (2nd among tight ends) over the last three. It will be imperative that Marion Barber stay healthy, and Romo improve his numbers with the new No. 1 wide receiver Roy Williams to take some of the pressure away from Witten.
Witten exploded in 2007, catching a team high 96 passes after averaging 65 the previous two years. It was his fourth consecutive season with 60-or-more receptions. He became less of a target when the Cowboys got close to the end zone (his three looks from inside the 10 ranked 36th), but his seven touchdown receptions were still good for fourth at the position. Overall, he was targeted 141 times (3rd for the position), averaged 11.9 yards per catch and was the top producer at the position in standard scoring systems. Witten should continue to be a vital part of the Cowboys offense, which was second only to New England in points and touchdown receptions last season, but with Terrell Owens and Marion Barber around, don’t expect a bump in redzone looks.
Witten was a big target of Tony Romo, but not when it came to getting in the end zone. Despite 93 targets (9th among TEs), including 12 red-zone targets (10th among TEs), Witten scored just one touchdown in 2006 after accumulating 12 in the two previous years. On sheer volume of receptions alone –- he’s averaged 72.3 catches and 830.3 yards the last three seasons -- Witten is worth rostering. Even though Terrell Owens will be the team’s top red-zone target, expect Witten to convert a couple more of his own looks for touchdowns in 2007.
Witten put up strong numbers for the second consecutive season in 2005, catching six TD passes and finishing seventh at the position with 47.3 YPG. However, he was targeted less in ’05 (89, after 120 in ’04), and the Cowboys added wide receiver Terrell Owens, who will steal a lot of red zone looks. Dallas drafted TE Anthony Fasano in the second round, but he is not considered a threat to Witten’s starting job or overall production.
Witten’s emergence in 2004 is not a shocker, but he surpassed all expectations by ranking third among tight ends with 61.2 yards per game, including two games with more than 100 yards and 10 with more than 50 yards. Witten needs to produce for another season to prove last year is no spike. The Cowboys, though, did little in the offseason to change the make up of the receiving corps, meaning Witten likely will be used similarly this season. A new quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, brings adjustments, but Witten should continue to be a top target in the team’s passing offense.
Dan Campbell is listed on the depth chart as the No. 1 tight end, but Witten caught 15 more passes for 152 more yards than Campbell. The trend toward Witten was evident during the last five games of 2003 when he caught 23 passes for 223 yards (44.6 yards per game).
Bill Parcells likes to use the tight end in the offense, and Witten offers him a nice combination of blocking and hands. He may have the starting job by midseason. Keep an eye on the Cowboys training camp for any indication that Witten will be Parcells' man.