Victor Cruz: Why the New York Giants' Receiver Is Still a Top-5 Fantasy Option

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIISeptember 1, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 24:   Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants acknowledges the fans before the game against the Chicago Bears during a preseason game on August 24, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The general opinion on New York Giants WR Victor Cruz’s fantasy prospects is that his spectacular performance in the past is too fluky to be repeated in 2012.

Cruz racked up touchdown after improbable long touchdowns in 2011 en route to 595 yards after the catch, good for second in the league. He only trailed the league leader in receptions, New England Patriots WR Wes Welker, in that metric.

He even took one to the house from 99 yards out against Darrelle RevisNew York Jets in Week 16.

Cruz’s statistics, however, were inconsistent in the playoffs, none more modest than his Wild Card showing when he recorded just two receptions for 28 yards in the Giants’ 24-2 thumping of the Atlanta Falcons.

He was just a decoy while Hakeem Nicks led all NFL pass-catchers with 444 postseason receiving yards and four touchdowns on 28 catches.

That’s what happened, right?

Or was it that Cruz was actually a pleasant surprise in 2011, and he should be able to meet expectations in 2012?

Cruz's breakout season included three receptions for 110 yards and two receiving touchdowns in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to that point in the season, he’d collected only two grabs for just 17 yards.

Let’s throw those out. In the final 14 games of 2011, Cruz tallied 80 receptions for 1,519 yards and nine touchdowns. That’s a better yards-per-game average than Calvin Johnson.

Yes, that Calvin Johnson.

While the big plays Cruz creates seem fluky, it should be noted that the third-year wide receiver will have more opportunities to make those plays in 2012 with a full season in Eli Manning’s cross-hair.

Cruz’s performances last season were equally part dynamic and part consistent. He recorded at least 99 yards and at least one touchdown in seven individual games last season. In addition, he caught at least six passes in ten games, including eight of his last ten regular season appearances.

New York lost Mario Manningham to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. Cruz was already heavily targeted, but he should have even more chances to make plays early in the season while recent draftee Rueben Randle is still getting acclimated to the NFL regular season.

Cruz has proven himself to be worthy of a No. 1 fantasy WR position. In any given week, his statistical floor is manageable from a fantasy football perspective while his ceiling is very high.