Victor Cruz has a new home in Chicago. Should he salsa his way onto your fantasy team?
The Chicago Bears made a mildly surprising move in late May when they signed former New York Giants WR Victor Cruz to a one-year contract. For a short stretch, Cruz was once one of the elite receivers in the league but injuries derailed him and he became a complimentary piece for the Giants last season.
Cruz thinks he has plenty left in the tank and the Bears are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. If Cruz can even be 75% of what he was a few years ago, the Bears have a steal. If he’s just 50% of what he once was, the Bears have a contributor.
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Cruz is happy in the slot and that is certainly where the Bears plan to use him. With this signing, the Bears slot position has become quite crowded with Cruz, Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton and Daniel Braverman. UDFA Tanner Gentry also has slot abilities (but also projects outside).
For fantasy owners who want Cameron Meredith or Kevin White on their squad, the Cruz signing shouldn’t have too much of an impact. Sure, there will be a few less targets to go around, but White and Meredith will line up on the outside and Cruz should handle the slot.
First, unless Cruz has a nightmare training camp, he’s a lock to make the roster. The Bears don’t have someone with enough talent to justify unseating Cruz. Cruz should also be expected to start.
If Cruz, Meredith and White are starting, who will be backing them up? Kendall Wright is versatile and will probably back up both outside and in. Wheaton has $6 million guaranteed so you can bet he will make the roster. Plus, Wheaton can play outside and inside so his versatility will be appreciated. The last wide receiver spot is up for grabs but unless Gentry makes a huge impact, don’t expect the last person to steal many targets (Sorry, Daniel Braverman fans).
The reason I bring up Wright and Wheaton is that while they could steal some of Cruz’s targets, their versatility means they will be subbing for all three starters, not just in the slot.
From a fantasy perspective, what does that mean for Cruz? He should see a steady stream of targets, but his injury history has to be of major consideration at this point. But, if Cruz stays healthy, with White’s injury history and Meredith’s inexperience, Cruz could become the top receiving target on the team. While that’s not likely, that is definitely a possibility. Cruz is a sharp guy and I’m sure that played into his decision.
Cruz is only worthy of a late round flier in standard leagues and is worthy of a late round selection in deep leagues. If White stays healthy and develops, Cruz will be the number three option on the team, but there is a strong chance that Cruz rises to the second option, but probably not the first.
Cruz’s keeper value is nil, and his dynasty impact is simply that of a roster spot. Cruz no longer holds the potential at 31-years old to be a viable long term option in those formats. However, because of the Bears uncertainty at WR, Cruz is worth snagging in the late rounds to see if he can make an impact on your squad. If he doesn’t look good the first couple games, no harm, he’s easily cuttable for your first great waiver acquisition.
Victor Cruz 2017 Projections- 13 games, 46 catches, 653 yards, 14.2 YPC, 3 TDs