Will Fuller can be successful as Houston Texans top wide receiver

Will Fuller Houston Texans (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Will Fuller Houston Texans (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans need Will Fuller to step up in a big way for the 2020 season with DeAndre Hopkins being traded, and he has the abilities to do so.

When the Houston Texans all but made Will Fuller their No. 1 wide receiver when they sent All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in a trade earlier this month, it was not only the end of an era, but it seems that it was a vote of confidence in the oft-injured receiver as well.

Fuller joined the Texans in 2016 as a first-round pick by the Texans, and when he’s healthy, Fuller is the real deal in that he has the potential to be one of the very best when he’s on the field. Fuller is one of those receivers who puts fear in the opposing defense with his speed and his overall wide receiver abilities, but at 6’0, 184 pounds, Fuller isn’t the best built receiver ever.

Fuller played in 11 of the 16 regular-season games last year, and with 49 receptions for 670 yards, he was on his way to a possible 1,000-yard receiving season. He also caught three touchdowns last year and averaged 13.7 yards per reception.

For his 42-game career, Fuller has 156 career receptions for 2,231 yards and 16 touchdowns in regular-season games, averaging 14.3 yards per reception. That means Fuller underperformed last season when he was on the field, and it still feels like when he played he was having a good season.

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In 2019, Fuller had 10 receptions for 20-plus yards and four receptions go for 40-plus yards, as he caught 26 passes for first downs, had just one fumble and was targeted 70 times by Deshaun Watson.

Pro Football Focus gave Fuller a 75.9 grade for his overall play last season, and compare that to the 2018 season when Fuller had a PFF grade of 81.2, as that season Fuller caught 32 of the 42 passes that went his direction for 503 yards and four touchdowns. That season (’18), Fuller averaged 15.7 yards per reception in seven games before an ACL tear ended his season.

For Will Fuller to become the No. 1 receiver and stay there, it comes down to his overall health and him staying on the field. It is as simple as that, because the talent is there for Fuller, though he was tied for 19th last season in dropped passes with four.

Matt Conner of FanSided last week wrote about the Houston Texans and their receivers following the trade of Hopkins. The article had a spotlight on Fuller and how he performed with Hopkins:

"“When playing alongside Hopkins as a healthy downfield target, the Texans passing offense worked out as hoped. Few offenses were capable of matching the Texans’ ability to move the chains, even with their offensive line concerns …”"

That said about Fuller, during his time in the NFL with the Texans, the wide receiver has had some big games, including this past season when he had a 217-yard, 14-reception game against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 6 in Houston. Fuller had three touchdowns in that game in what was a 53-32 win over Atlanta. Fuller’s touchdown receptions went for six yards, 33 yards and 44 yards in the win.

Fuller and Watson make a good receiving duo, but now one other difference for Will Fuller this upcoming season is he’s going to get all the top pressure from the opposing defense like Hopkins did during his entire run in Houston. Also last season, on Nov. 21 against the Indianapolis Colts, Fuller had a seven-reception game for 140 yards, averaging 20 yards per reception.

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Fuller truly has the experience, the attitude and the overall talent to be a No. 1 receiver for the Texans, but again, it all comes down to one thing with Fuller and that is staying on the field.