Will Fuller was Deshaun Watson’s No. 1 target Thursday night, but is he now a legit WR1 for his fantasy owners?
Over the last five seasons, the Houston Texans passing game was DeAndre Hopkins and everyone else. His target shares were over 31 percent in three of those seasons, and just under 29 percent in one of the others. Will Fuller never emerged as a consistent No. 2 option, as injuries regularly took him off the field.
Fuller dropped his first target on Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, and a late-game 31-yard catch could have been a 52-yard score with a better throw from Deshaun Watson. But he still finished with eight receptions for 112 yards, on a team-high 10 targets. No other Texan had more than five targets. So Fuller had a Hopkins-esque 31.3 percent target share for the game, and an August report he had added some weight passed the eye test.
Watson and Fuller have shown great rapport,, which has regular been derailed by Fuller missing time. Heading into this season, via Ian Hartitz (then of Rotoworld):
Watson with Fuller (22 games): 2.27 TD/game, 0.91 INT, 276.5 yards, 8.72 yards per attempt
Watson without Fuller (16 games): 1.31 TD/game, 0.56 INT, 227.1 yards, 7.16 yards per attempt
Is Will Fuller now a legit WR1 in fantasy?
With matchups against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 2 and Week 3 look tough for Fuller and the Texans. But opportunity is king in fantasy football, and Fuller’s target share probably isn’t going away. It’s worth noting, however, that Brandin Cooks was limited by a quad injury in Week 1 and fellow offseason acquisition Randall Cobb didn’t register a catch until deep into the fourth quarter.
After the games against the Ravens and Steelers, the Texans will play the more vulnerable-looking secondaries of the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4 and 5. After the Tennessee Titans (Week 6), the Green Bay Packers (Week 7) and a bye, the Jaguars are on the slate again in Week 9.
Any talk about Fuller emerging as a bankable WR1 for fantasy comes with the “if he’s healthy” qualifier. Consistency has been an issue after a big game. Thursday night was his ninth career 100-yard game. He has followed a 100-yard game with another twice. The other six previous follow-ups to a 100-yard game went like this by yardage: 31, 32, 49, 0 (out, missed rest of 2018), 44 and 8.
It’s easy to overreact to a big game, especially in Week 1. But Fuller’s fantasy managers should pretty much lock him into their lineups for Week 2, and until further notice as long as he’s healthy (there’s that caveat again), unless they have two or three better wide receiver options. That said, the idea Fuller is now automatically a legit, bankable WR1 in fantasy (with or without continued health) is a step too far.