Can Texans' Will Fuller Be A No. 1 Wide Receiver?

Brandon Scott
May 29, 2020 - 1:47 pm

(SportsRadio 610) -- With DeAndre Hopkins out of the mix, Will Fuller's teammates expect him to become their No. 1 wide receiver. 

Fuller, when healthy, formed a dynamic duo alongside Hopkins over the past four seasons. 

Yet Fuller has been active for just 29 of 51 games (including the playoffs) since 2017, calling into question is durability. 

If he does become the No. 1 wideout, he'd be replacing a player in Hopkins who has only missed two games in his seven NFL seasons. 

Still, Hopkins in an Instagram Live video last month noted Fuller as a touchdown machine who should have already been named to a Pro Bowl at this point. 

Hopkins is correct about the touchdowns. 

In 2017, Fuller's second season, he became the first player since 1991 to reach seven receiving touchdowns on 11 catches or fewer. That same season (Deshaun Watson's rookie year), Fuller and Hopkins combined for 20 receiving touchdowns, which was the most by a pair of teammates in franchise history.

Fuller was also the first Texans player to catch 10 touchdowns in his first 25 games.

James Palmer of the NFL Network reported earlier this week that every Texans player he spoke with believes Fuller is clearly a No. 1 wideout. And cornerbacks who have played against Fuller told Palmer that his incredible speed overshadows the fact he's a complete receiver.

So, is Fuller a viable No. 1 option?

Former Texans defensive lineman and SportsRadio 610 morning show co-host Seth Payne had this to say Friday:

"He totally, 100 percent can (be a No. 1 wide receiver). I think the question is whether he is going to have the same production ... Can Will Fuller matchup with No. 1 cornerbacks? The teams that have cornerbacks who travel around with the best receiver, those guys are now going to be tracking Will Fuller. How does he do against them? His production is not going to be quite as electric. But yes, he has beaten those guys before, plenty of times.

"The other big difference will be the safety help will be rotated over toward Will Fuller. For Will Fuller's entire career, when teams and defenses have gotten aggressive with their defensive backfield, they've gotten aggressive on DeAndre Hopkins. Cornerbacks can go up and get super aggressive on DeAndre Hopkins because they always have safety help over the back. So this corner can come up and just try to physically bludgeon DeAndre Hopkins because the defense is rotated over and helped out that cornerback. 

"Will Fuller, meanwhile on the other side, hasn't had as many opportunities where teams feel like, 'OK, we're going to get up in Will Fuller's face and put safety help over the top', because you can't. You need that safety to go over and help (on) DeAndre Hopkins. Now, all of that safety help is going to be over on Will Fuller's side, or at least more often. That's another big challenge. So I think he's very capable of being the No. 1 guy on many teams. The question is how much is his production going to drop on a per-snap basis. It's going to drop a little bit, but I think it's still going to be pretty damn good."