Is Will Fuller Still A Fantasy Football Buy At Increased Cost?
With the news that DeAndre Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, Will Fuller’s dynasty fantasy football value got a nice little boost. The Texans also do not have a first-round pick and actually do not select all the way until the 57th pick. They spent some of their available salary cap (of which there is less thanks to the David Johnson trade) on Randall Cobb so their WR group as it looks now is Fuller, Cobb, Kenny Stills, Keke Coutee, Deandre Carter, and Steven Mitchell Jr.
It would be reasonable to assume (and we have in our projections) that Fuller will take a leap in target share but not necessarily become a target-hot in the same way that DeAndre Hopkins was. However, Fuller has a long history of both being more efficient than his teammates and beating his fantasy points expectation per target. For those looking for a quick answer to is “Is Will Fuller still a buy?” the answer is a resounding yes and we will dig in to a few reasons why.
First, Fuller is extremely dynamic and efficient, even in offenses with other dynamic and efficient players. Using the Rotoviz Adjusted Yards Per Attempt graph, you can see that Fuller is the most efficient player who has ever played with DeShaun Watson.
Of all players who have had at least 50 targets from DeShaun Watson, the most positive result per throw happened when Watson targeted Fuller and this includes a 2019 season in which Fuller was injured and really, just not up to his usual standard of per-target excellence.
As long time readers of RotoExperts will know, one of our favorite things to do is to check historical comps for players to see if they fall into “good” or “bad” buckets. Similarity scores can do a great deal in helping us projecting players going forward. Using the tools at Pro Football Reference, I ran a screen to view all players in NFL history, in their first four seasons who played 45 games or fewer with over 2,000 receiving yards, over eight yards per target, and more than 15 receiving touchdowns and it is an extremely elite list of players.
Being in the same bucket as Smith-Schuster, Kenny Golladay and Cooper Kupp in terms of production is certainly interesting because neither Fuller’s redraft or dynasty fantasy football average draft position is anywhere near those players. Smith-Schuster and Kenny Golladay are almost always gone by the end of the third round and Fuller is often still sitting out there in double-digit rounds. This would suggest that Fuller is being valued at his floor, not even his median. We know his ceiling is up there with players like Smith-Schuster or Golladay, but he isn’t being valued that way in dynasty leagues.
In fact, Fuller’s current average draft position per DynastyLeagueFootball is WR51!!!! Some wide receivers who are being drafted ahead of Fuller: Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson, and both CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. Really, not even one of those players over Fuller makes much sense. Fuller is 25 years old and has already been a productive NFL player. There is certainly some stigma associated with Fuller because of his various injuries but I think it makes more sense to take advantage of players who are available at a discount because of being “injury-prone” as opposed to not drafting players at all who have had injuries.
Fuller’s two big career injuries have been an ACL tear in 2018 and groin/hamstring strains in 2019. He also fractured his ribs in 2017 but as with all bone breaks, there doesn’t really seem to be anything systemically wrong with you if you break a bone. Some would say that Fuller will always struggle with soft tissue injuries but he played in every game of his sophomore and junior season at Notre Dame and did not come into the NFL with an “injury-prone” reputation.
The reasons not to buy Will Fuller would be that he is “injury prone”, he might not be “cut out” to be a #1 or there might be some sort of systemic failure of the Texans offense without DeAndre Hopkins. I do not buy any of those reasons, but they are reasons that exist so they should be presented in good faith. The reasons for buying Fuller should be clear as well: he is still young, has presented above-average efficiency every year of his career and now has an opportunity to be a volume hog for the first time in his career.