Will Grant's Thoughts:
In 2011, Victor Cruz came out of nowhere to rock the fantasy world with a 1,500 yard, 9 TD performance. He finished 4th among fantasy receivers and the debate raged as to whether he was a fluke or legitimate fantasy stud. Last year, he just missed the Top 12 for fantasy wide receivers, posting 1,092 receiving yards and 10 receiving TDs. Not exactly a fantasy stud, but certainly worth a starting spot in any fantasy league. If you drafted him expecting WR1 performance, you might have been a little disappointed, but Cruz was still a pretty valueable part of your team.
All or Nothing
Cruz provided a bit of frustration for fantasy owners last season. Although he had 10 receiving TDs for the season, three of them came in Week Five against Cleveland and it was his only multi-TD game of the season. Now seven TDs over 15 games is still an above average performance for an NFL receiver, but from a fantasy prospecitve, it can create a lot of 'down' weeks for your fantasy lineup. In the case of Cruz last season, he had eight games with less than 10 fantasy points, including five games with 4.2 points or fewer.
Even worse, Cruz faded down the stretch when fantasy owners needed him the most. In Weeks 15 and 16, when most leagues have their playoff and Super Bowl match-ups, Cruz posted a devastating six receptions for just 36 yards. If one of your starting receivers posted two points or less in a playoff game, you probably had a hard time winning.
Consistent Passing Game
If anyone had a fluke season in 2011, it was Eli Manning. He had 4,021 passing yards in 2009, 4,002 in 2010 and 3,948 last season. 2011 was an outlier year with 4,910. Manning hasn't missed a game in the last eight seasons, and he was sacked a league-low 20 times last season. The New York passing game is about as consistent as it comes, and has the offensive line to back it up.
Future In Question?
Cruz is a restricted free agent, and as of the first week of June, he was still unsigned. After June 17, the Giants can reduce their tender offer down to about 1/4 of the $2.9 million that is on the table now. While on the surface, this seems like the potential for a long, drawn out negotiation, you can expect that the Giants and Cruz will come to an agreement before training camp. Cruz is a huge part of their offense now and the Giants know they really need him under contract if they hope to compete this season.
Last season, Cruz became the go to guy for Manning and the Giants. His 86 receptions were a team high, and the next closest guy was tight end Martellus Bennett with just 55. Cruz also led the team in receiving yards with 1,092, and the next closest guy was Hakeem Nicks with just 692. Bennett is now with the Bears, and the Giants would be foolish to take any chances with Cruz's long term relationship with the team. As I said, you should expect things to be worked out before training camp begins.
Return to Fantasy Stardom
As the top receiver for the Giants this season, Cruz should improve on his performance from last year. A little more consistency in his week to week output should result in a return to the fantasy elite. He may not get back into the top five like he was two years ago, but a Top 10 finish is not out of the question. Brandon Myers (Martellus Bennett's replacement) will need time to build chemestry with Manning and Hakeem Nicks always seems to miss a few games due to injury. Cruz will see plenty of targets. With Eli throwing for another 4,000 yards, Cruz should have no trouble crossing the 1,000-yard mark again this year.
- Consistent QB play from Eli Manning and a proven Chemistry makes Cruz a key component of an offense that will throw for 4000 yards and 25+ TDs again this season.
- Proven big-play threat with over 300 targets in two seasons. If he's in the game, the Giants are going to throw to him.
- No real receiving threat outside of Hakeem Nicks who is often injured and has been #2 to Cruz for the last two seasons.
- Streaky performance and disappears at times. Had seven games with fewer than seven fantasy points last year.
- Limited offensive weapons means defenses will focus their attention on stopping Cruz in every game.
- Prolonged contract issues could prevent Cruz from attending key summer workouts.
Victor Cruz Projections
“They’ve run these plays hundreds of times before, so they’ll be able to get in the flow of things,” Manning said. “But you’d still like them back here just to work on things that we didn’t do as well last year. They know what they’re doing. It’s just a matter of improving how they’re doing it sometimes.”
Quote from The Daily News 'Eli Concerned about Absence of Nicks, Cruz' by Ralph Vacchiano
“I don’t think anything is easy,” Gilbride said. “I think it all takes work and timing and development of your individual skills, of your grasp of the offense and the detail. I don’t think it’s easy, but I think those two, Victor and Hakeem, have the ability and the mental capacity to step in and basically play catch up like we talked about and get caught up pretty quickly.”
Quote from Giants.com 'David Wilson Prepares for Lead RB Role' by Michael Eisen
This isn't the most talented player on the Giants' depth chart. Nor the most physically gifted player. Yet somehow Victor Cruz has managed to become New York's most productive and durable wide receiver in the past two seasons.
Quote from The Bleacher Report 'Giants Wide Receiver Breakdown: Complete Depth Chart Analysis' by Ted Vouyiouklakis
More from Will Grant:
Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football: Section XI - July 2
Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football: Section X - June 30
2015 Commissioner Guide - June 29
Commissioner Guide: Section V - June 27
Commissioner Guide: Section VI - June 27
Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football: Section VII - June 22
Commissioner Guide: Section III - June 19
Commissioner Guide: Section IV - June 19
Commissioner Guide: Section I - June 15
Commissioner Guide: Section II - June 15