I want you to close your eyes, and drift into a deep sleep. Basically, do the same thing you do whenever you read anything here. Alright good, we’re started then.
Remember those promising days back in late August, when fantasy draft season was at its peak? Of course you do. That’s when winning seemed possible, long before you passed on Adrian Peterson and allowed him to fall a few rounds because you thought his knee was all screwy. And before you took Cam Newton in the first round, thereby giving him permission to kill half of your season. Ahhh, memories.
But surely you remember when we pondered some of life’s great questions just prior to the beginning of the 2012 regular season, yes? Of course you do. Through the magic of hindsight over the next week or so we’re going to look back at those queries, and see if we can learn anything from the result (I know, I’m pretty skeptical too).
First up: did Victor Cruz repeat his long bomb, home run catching from 2011?
In a word, no. In two words, hell no.
This was immensely concerning during draft time, because last year Cruz reached an all new level of absurdity by consistently scoring through long catches. In 2011 he had five touchdown receptions of 65 yards or more, becoming the first receiver to do that since 1951. As Grantland’s Bill Barnwell noted, that led to a troubling skew in his fantasy scoring. Specifically, Cruz had 82 total catches last year, but just those five grabs represented over 30 percent of his fantasy scoring (overall he had 205 fantasy points).
Using standard scoring, just one of those catches would tally at least 12 points, meaning a fall by, say, three +65 yarders in 2012 would have a significant impact. Yes, that was foreshadowing.
With the fantasy season completed and one game remaining in the regular season, Cruz has recorded just two 65-yard catches, both touchdowns, and they both came early in the season. The first was an 80-yard catch against the Bucs in Week 2, and the second was a 77 yarder against the Redskins in Week 7.
That decrease in deep-ball scoring led to a steep drop off in fantasy points, as it’s a decline that accounts for roughly 36 points. Cruz currently has 151 points, which places him in 12th at his position.
The gap created by his decline of deep catching is even more significant if we look at Cruz’s overall yardage, or his lack thereof. Through 15 games he has 1,040 receiving yards, and for the purposes of this discussion if we assume he doesn’t blow up this week and instead remains within his season weekly average (69.3 yards), then he’ll finish with 1,109 yards. That represents a decrease of 427 yards from his 1,536 yards last year, which put him third behind only Wes Welker and Calvin Johnson. If we add in the three 65 yarders he’s missing this year, Cruz is still short of his 2011 yardage total, but he’s significantly closer (1,304).
It’s commonly known and assumed that wide receiver is the most volatile position in fantasy football due to the long list of factors beyond a receiver’s control that have to align properly for a high-end fantasy day. A wideout can’t throw to himself, and he has only moderate control over the game situation (is his team down and passing often? Or up huge and grinding away the clock?) which is also influenced by the defense. We all know and accept this when we choose to spend an early-round pick on a wide receiver.
Cruz, though, was and still is the union leader of the elite but still random WRs, and his decline in long balls that led to a sharp drop in his fantasy production was expected. It was the risk you purchased, and you did so fully aware that Cruz may not be worth his premium price, as his production would be extremely difficult to repeat.
Yep, hindsight is still the worst. Always be mindful of last year’s numbers, but don’t overpay for them.