What a transition the Houston Texans’ offense has gone in the past couple years. First it was the release of arguably the franchise’s best player in Andre Johnson prior to the 2015 offseason. To succeed that, the Houston front office cut the best running back in team history after an injury-riddled season from Arian Foster. Bill O’Brien has completely revamped the offense, and one of the new centerpieces? You guessed it, 1st round pick Will Fuller.
In what I thought to be an unnecessary move, the Texans moved up one spot to flip-flop the Redskins in the draft to snag Will Fuller – his speed and vertical ability proving to be worth it to O’Brien and the Texans. While Fuller made his fair share of big-time plays during his days at Notre Dame, that comes with a price. Often referred to as a “hit or miss” type receiver, Fuller will put you at awe with some of the big plays he makes, but at other times make you want to pull your hair out with routine drops. The Ryan Howard of football, if you will.
With the signing of Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller over the offseason, the Texans have done arguably the best job of any team in the NFL at improving their offense as they look to repeat as AFC South champions. Drafting guys like Fuller and Braxton Miller add an extra dimension to the unit as they look to add some playmakers to compliment DeAndre Hopkins. This new-look offensive unit is going to come right at you wish flashy yet smash mouth football.
The most vital piece of this offensive group is DeAndre Hopkins – a guy who solidified himself as a top 5 WR last season despite a QB situation in Houston comparable to a game of musical chairs. Hopkins still managed to end the season in the top 3 in both targets and receiving yards. His presence on the field has a huge effect on Fuller’s production. Where teams would usually double-team a guy like Hopkins, Fuller adds that vertical dimension which will force them to shadow him up-top – in return, opening more opportunities for Hopkins in man-to-man. If anything, I think Fuller benefits Hopkins more as opposed to the other way around as Osweiler will surely look towards him more – especially if Fuller isn’t quick to prove himself as a reliable target.
Now let’s talk about the guy who will be throwing Fuller the ball, Brock Osweiler. The $72M man is one of the tallest QBs in NFL history at 6’7” – based on his size, you’d think he has the arm strength to go with that. However, his arm strength has never matched his size which is a concern for a guy like Fuller who will rely on stretching the field. Osweiler also has inconsistent accuracy, which doesn’t bode well for Fuller.
What I expect from Fuller in his rookie season is a lot of hot and cold, but mainly on the colder side of the thermometer. While his speed and athletic ability is undeniable, I don’t see him hauling in a consistently productive rookie campaign. Sure, he’ll have his fair share of highlights, but he won’t be the performer you need on a weekly basis. Think Ted Ginn here with Fuller. Hopkins will steal the show on offense, and I expect Jaelen Strong to emerge as a reliable #2 for Osweiler – one of the big sleepers heading into the season. Plus, you know they’re going to run the ball with free agent acquisition Lamar Miller along with a brusier like Alfred Blue and 4th round pick Tyler Ervin.
At the end of the day, Fuller won’t be consistent enough or have a big enough role on Houston’s offense to warrant a spot on your fantasy team – unless you want to take a chance on him based solely on upside. When you factor in unpredictable QB play from Osweiler, Fuller is at the bottom of my list among WRs drafted in the first 2 rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.