Houston Texans: Will Fuller set up for a make-or-break year in 2020

Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

Oft-injured wideout Will Fuller needs to prove once and for all that he can play a full 16-game season — and as a WR1 for the Houston Texans, no less.

There’s no denying the fact that Will Fuller V is a dynamic weapon on offense for the Houston Texans … when he’s healthy.

Consider that just last season, Fuller had a game where he went off for 14 catches on 16 targets, 217 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. He single-handedly torched the Atlanta Falcons in that thrilling 53-32 Week 5 win.

Just two weeks later, though, Fuller was forced out of a pivotal clash with the Indianapolis Colts because of a hamstring injury. He ended up missing three games.

Fuller returned for the Texans’ second matchup against their division rival and once again had a terrific game, reeling in seven catches on 11 targets for 140 receiving yards.

And then, yet again, he missed time — sitting out the Texans’ Week 14 matchup agains the Denver Broncos because of aggravation of his hamstring injury.

He returned for Week 15, suffered a groin injury in Week 16, missed Week 17 and Houston’s Wild Card win over the Buffalo Bills, returned for his third-best showing of the year in the Texans’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional round, then underwent sports hernia surgery.

This sequence of events should be considered a perfect microcosm for Fuller’s larger NFL career in a nutshell.

One second, he looks like he’s the fastest, most explosive athlete on the field. The next second, he’s submerged beneath the blue sideline medical tent for the umpteenth time.

Fuller’s injury history, quite frankly, is maddening. As frustrating as it is for Texans fans, though, you have to believe it’s that much more frustrating for Fuller himself.

Unfortunately, as the old adage goes in professional football: The best ability is availability. And while it might not be Fuller’s fault that he keeps getting hurt year after year, sooner or later, the Texans are going to have to ask themselves if it’s worth it still for them from a business standpoint to continue investing in him.

This could be ‘the last hurrah’ for Will Fuller unless he manages to stay healthy

That point might be coming right around the corner, actually — perhaps as early as next spring.

It’s fair to say that 2020 should be viewed as a make-or-break year for the former first-round pick out of Notre Dame. Entering the fifth-year of his rookie deal, Fuller will be a free agent next spring.

Despite his obvious talent and abilities as a football player, unless he can make it through this upcoming season unscathed, it might be in Houston’s best interests to move on.

In each of his four seasons, he’s missed significant time: two games in 2016, six games in 2017, nine games in 2018, and five games in 2019. To date, he’s dealt with a collarbone fracture, a rib fracture, a knee injury, a groin injury, multiple hamstring injuries, and a torn ACL.

And those are just the injuries that have been officially reported as culprits for missed time and action on the field during the season.

Next. 5 questions for Houston Texans entering 2020 season. dark

Hopefully, Fuller will finally get his chance to play a full season, wire-to-wire. Especially now that DeAndre Hopkins is gone, he’s the new WR1 in town — and the Texans will be relying on him to play as such.