What to do with Jordy Nelson and Victor Cruz?
Byron Lambert, Rosterwatch.com
Our composite rankings have Jordy Nelson and Victor Cruz listed as our #11 and #12 fantasy wide receivers, representing #1 WR status in 12 team leagues. Deservedly so. Both had stellar production in 2011. Both enjoy team dynamics that support future production. Both are young and talented, with plenty of growth in sight. Why then do I even wonder if I can really draft Jordy Nelson or Victor Cruz as a “true” #1 fantasy football wide receiver for my team this year?
Is it because I’m a fantasy football frontrunner? That’s a definitely a possibility, given my penchant for studly lineups chock-full of sickness and name recognition. I can’t help but experience a certain degree of cognitive dissonance when seeing names like Miles Austin, Steve Smith, and Vincent Jackson in arrears of Nelson and Cruz.
Usually though, when your gut speaks there’s something to it (insert fart jokes here). Austin, Smith, and Jackson all have much larger samples to draw upon when setting expectations and I tend to prefer guaranteed production early in the draft. These guys have a much larger history of consistent production in combination with plenty of upside. It doesn’t help either, that statistically, Victor Cruz and Jordy Nelson are really just one-year-wonders.
What’s fair is fair though. I’m not in love with Jordy Nelson’s 68 receptions, but I am in love with his outrageous 2.25 fantasy points/target . If the 2011 ratio is indicative of his role in the offense moving forward, then even when you adjust for a decrease in volume you have very respectable fantasy numbers. When it comes to Mr. Cruz, his fantasy points/target ratio of 1.587 is not as eye-popping but still very healthy. His 82 receptions in 2011 are what appeal to me. Factor in the removal of Mario Manningham from the offense and the foot issues Hakeem Nicks may face early in the season and it sets up nicely as a fantasy scenario for Cruz in 2012.
My conclusion? Legitimate week in week out #1 receiver is a bit thin in this year’s draft. There are a number of question marks. If you can stomach a little bit of risk, go ahead and swing for the fences and draft Jordy Nelson or Victor Cruz as your #1 WR. Do so though with the intention of drafting a high-ceiling #2 as a compliment (Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace, etc..). At minimum, this strategy will ensure integrity at your WR position, but you may very well walk away from your draft with the best fantasy receiver corps in your league.