Should Victor Cruz be unable to participate in the New York Giants' season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 8, it would deliver a devastating blow to his team’s chances but would be received as positive news for fantasy owners of Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle.
The superstar’s sterling preseason résumé took a major hit on Sunday, when the wideout went down with a heel contusion in a meaningless contest against the Indianapolis Colts.
Kim Jones of the YES Network has the latest from Cruz’s press conference on Tuesday:
Victor Cruz in walking boot & using crutches. Says it is heel contusion, has swelling. "Once swelling goes down, I think I'll be ok."— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) August 20, 2013
"Hopefully I can b ready before" 2 wks from now, Cruz said. "I do envision" playing against Cowboys in opener. pic.twitter.com/JxA3lgCxPE— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) August 20, 2013
Cruz has two weeks to recover from this heel injury, but isn’t projected to practice on Tuesday according to Art Stapleton of The Record:
Victor Cruz has a heel contusion + likely will not practice Tuesday. #NYG— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) August 19, 2013
Will Cruz be healthy Week 1?
The main benefactor of Cruz’s absence will be Nicks, the oft-injured but incredibly dangerous No. 1 receiver. His targets significantly declined last year due to Cruz’s emergence and his own nagging injuries, but should be in line for a big bump in 2013.
Nicks is about to kick off a contract season and needs to show the G-Men—and the rest of the league—that he can stay healthy and still perform at an elite clip.
The 25-year-old simply cannot afford to be hindered by injury, as he can capitalize on Cruz’s heel issue by garnering more targets, more receptions, more yards and more touchdowns than ever before in his fifth season.
Cruz’s presence definitely cut into Nicks’ production, as the No. 1 receiver went from 79 receptions on 128 targets for 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns in 13 games in 2010—before Cruz saw the field in the regular season—down to 53 receptions on 100 targets for 692 yards and three scores in 2012.
Randle is also in line to be a strong beneficiary in the case that Cruz misses some time, as the second-year receiver would likely line up across from Nicks as the No. 2 in that situation.
He put together a solid, if unspectacular rookie campaign last year, hauling in 19 receptions on 32 targets for 298 yards and three touchdowns.
The LSU product is widely expected to capitalize on that performance and have an incredible year, regardless of Cruz’s presence. However, that breakout would be expedited in the event that Eli Manning’s top option is sidelined.
Remember, Cruz has received a whopping 274 targets over the past two years and turned that into 168 catches for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. Someone else would need to pick up the slack, and that someone in this case in Randle.
Make sure you monitor the situation in the Big Apple closely, as Cruz and Big Blue may not be letting on how serious the heel contusion is.
If Cruz is forced to miss any time, the fantasy value of both Randle and Nicks will skyrocket. Don’t draft any of these players until you do your research, and if your league has already started hit the waiver wire immediately and snap up Randle if he’s available.