William Vincent Fuller V was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fuller is 26 years old and attended Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia. He was named MVP of the league as a senior, recording 57 catches for 932 yards and a touchdown. Determined to be a four-star recruit and the 19th best wide receiver in his class, he originally committed to Penn State but eventually switched to Notre Dame.
Fuller didn’t play much as a freshman but broke out as a sophomore, where he recorded 76 receptions for 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns, tying Golden Tate for the single-season school touchdown record. During his junior year, he had 62 catches for 1,258 yards and 14 scores. He averaged 17.4 yards per catch in his career at Notre Dame and decided to enter the 2016 NFL Draft.
Fuller is just over 6’ tall, weighs 186 pounds, and ran a 4.32 40-yard dash, which is lightning fast. Houston chose him with the 21st pick in the 1st round. Fuller was the second wide receiver taken after Baylor’s Corey Coleman, who went number 15 to the Browns.
Fuller played 14 games in his rookie season, catching 47 passes for 635 yards and 2 touchdowns, also returning 13 kicks for almost 200 yards as well. Fuller's 2017 season didn’t start as expected, as he broke his collarbone in early August, with the initial timeline of being out two to three months. He made his season debut in Week 4 and managed to play in 10 games, catching 28 passes for 423 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Fuller missed the opening game of the 2018 season with a hamstring strain and unfortunately only ended up playing in seven games this season, as he tore his ACL in week eight. Last season, 2019, Fuller returned from his ACL reconstruction surgery and managed to play in 11 games, marred with hamstring injuries throughout the season. He caught 49 passes for 670 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Let’s talk about Fuller’s injury history, which is pretty significant for someone who has been only in the league for four years. One thing you will recognize with Fuller is that he continues to struggle with hamstring injuries throughout his career.
Starting in Week 1 of his rookie season, he suffered a hamstring injury but managed to play through the game. Less than a month later, he missed a game secondary to the same injury. Fuller suffered a left knee injury that cost him a game in the middle of the 2016 season.
2017 didn’t start any better, fracturing his collarbone/clavicle in the preseason, causing him to miss the entire preseason (valuable reps and timing) as well as the first three games of the regular season. Less than three months later, he suffered broken ribs, which cost him another 3.5 games.
Shortly after returning, he suffered a left knee injury in Week 17 that ended his season prematurely. Fuller’s knee injury sounds like a meniscal tear, and he ended up undergoing surgery. More than likely, he had arthroscopic surgery to remove some of the torn menisci and help calm down the knee.
In 2018 during the preseason, he suffered another hamstring injury, causing him to miss the whole preseason with a grade 2 injury (partial-tear). Then in late October, Fuller tore his right ACL and had surgery. It’s just one injury after another.
Traditional ACL tears take approximately 9 to 12 months to return to the field, but up to two years to mentally be confident in the knee again. He returned to start the 2019 season but unfortunately missed three games in October secondary to another hamstring strain. Less than six weeks later, he re-injured his hamstring, causing him to lose a couple more games.
Finally capping another injury-filled season, Fuller injured his groin in Week 16, causing him to miss Week 17 and a playoff game as a result of a sports hernia, for which he underwent surgery in the off-season.
For such a young player, Fuller has dealt with a significant amount of lower leg and soft tissue injuries. Between his recurrent hamstring strains and knee injuries, he has not played in a full 16 game season in any of his four NFL seasons.
Hamstring injuries are notorious to re-injure since the muscles often do not heal well, and sometimes scar tissue develops. There are two central locations for hamstring tears, one is where the muscle inserts into the bone up near the buttocks, and the other is in the middle of the muscle, literally in the middle of the back of the leg. At this point, it appears Fuller has suffered hamstring strains on both legs (specific locations unknown) and has suffered injuries to both knees as well.
Will Fuller has been in the league since 2016 and has not played in one full season. Fuller has missed 22 games in a possible 64 (34 percent), and at least five games in three straight seasons.
When healthy, Fuller has always been a nice down the field weapon for the Houston Texans. He has developed an intermediate and short route capability to his repertoire. In the nine games played, Fuller accounted for 7.7 targets per game or 25% of the offense. He trailed only DeAndre Hopkins, who is now in Arizona. In those weeks, Fuller was a WR13.
The football field will be less crowded for Fuller now that Hopkins is gone. Throughout his career, he has posted WR1 type numbers in nearly 24 percent of his games, which ranks 30th among all wide receivers since 2000. Unfortunately, he has also posted WR3 or better numbers in just over 33 percent, ranking 94th during that span.
Fuller does know how to get into the end zone. He crosses the goal line on an average of 2.5 games. Scoring touchdowns may be more difficult as Hopkins drew tight coverage, and Brandin Cooks, who arrived from the Los Angeles Rams, is not nearly the quality.
Deshaun Watson has the longest relationship with Fuller now at wide receiver. The rest of the core is new for the young quarterback. Kenny Stills arrived last season in a trade from Miami, and Randall Cobb was a free agent from Dallas. Keke Coutee disappeared in 2019 after looking promising in 2018. Houston also drafted Isaiah Coulter in the fifth round.
Another aspect that may strip opportunities away from Fuller is David Johnson, who has excellent receiving skills as a running back and Duke Johnson having equal, if not better, skill-set. At tight end, Kahale Warring was a rookie in 2019 but missed the entire season.
The floor is not any different than any other season. Fuller is a reliable weapon that can get downfield. Fuller’s bottom is around 60 catches for 858 yards and 5 touchdowns if he plays all 16 contests. His ceiling could hit 80 receptions for 1,144 yards and 8-10 touchdowns.
Sports Injury Predictor calculates that Fuller has a 55.4% chance of injury in 2020, which is the 22nd highest score for wide receivers in the NFL.
Although he should have one of the top 5 highest scores, as he is one of the riskiest injuries in the NFL, there is a good chance that he would miss at least two to three games in the upcoming season with a hamstring re-injury. The best predictor of future injury is past injury, and Fuller has continued to struggle with hamstring injuries.
There is no question that he is very talented when he’s on the field; the problem is he struggles to stay healthy. Fuller has missed 35% of the games that he was eligible to play in over the past four years. And this doesn’t even include the two full- preseasons (up to 8 games) that he missed with injuries.
Fuller is a burner and can get behind a defender, and that usually means he’s going to score a touchdown if Watson can find him. The problem is he struggles to stay healthy with the most important muscle group that gives him his speed - his hamstrings.
He’s consistently in and out of games after suffering these soft tissue injuries, which gradually start to build on one another as time goes on.
Fuller should have undergone a combination of regenerative medicine injections (PRP, bone marrow/stem cell, amniotic stem cell), working with an elite athletic/physical trainer who can continue to test and strengthen his hamstrings throughout the off-season.
Additionally he needs to be regularly doing Nordic hamstring curls, which are proven to prevent hamstring injuries. So that when he finally tests his hamstrings at full speed in August, they will already be ready, and he will not suffer any new injuries.
My (Dr. Morse) risk score for Fuller is one of the highest in the NFL, with an 8 out of 10. There is no confidence that he will be able to play in all 16 games based on his history. The recurrent hamstring injuries are very frustrating and make him hard to trust. Fuller only has to compete with the oft-injured Cooks (concussions), Stills, equally as hamstring-injured Coutee and the veteran Cobb. Will Cobb be the Texans’ WR1?
Fuller will not find his way onto any of my (Dr. Morse) teams in 2020, as he is too risky for me. I avoid players who I feel are going to get injured, one less headache.
Currently, Fuller has an ADP of WR35 and 87th overall. He is going at the beginning of the 7th round, just after D.J. Moore, and just before Devante Parker, Odell Beckham Jr., Courtland Sutton, and Christian Kirk. All of these players should go before Fuller. Draft him with caution.
Injury Risk: High. 8/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Dec 21, 2019||Inguinal Groin Sports Hernia||He sustained a groin injury in Week 16 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fuller missed the regular-season finale against the Titans and playoff game against the Bills. He underwent sports hernia surgery recently to repair his groin injury|
|Dec 4, 2019||Thigh Hamstring Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1|
|Oct 20, 2019||Thigh Hamstring Strain Grade 2||Fuller was forced out of the game against the Colts with a hamstring injury. He missed 3 games|
|Oct 25, 2018||Knee ACL Tear Grade 3||Fuller tore his right ACL in the 4th quarter of a Thursday night game against the Dolphins and missed the rest of the season. He had surgery in the last week of October.|
|Aug 15, 2018||Thigh Hamstring Strain Grade 2||Fuller "tweaked" a hamstring in an August practice. He sat out the whole preseason (coming off January knee surgery) and missed the regular-season opener.|
|Dec 31, 2017||Knee Strain Grade 1||Fuller left Week 17 early with a left knee injury. He had "minor" surgery shortly thereafter.|
|Nov 12, 2017||Chest Rib Fracture||Fuller left Week 10 in the 2nd quarter and missed the next 3 games with cracked ribs.|
|Aug 2, 2017||Shoulder Clavicle Fracture||Fuller missed the entire preseason and 1st 3 games of the regular season with a broken collarbone.|
|Oct 30, 2016||Knee Strain Grade 1||Fuller left Week 8 with an unspecified left knee injury that cost him the game after the Week 9 bye.|
|Oct 11, 2016||Thigh Hamstring Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Fuller missed 1 game because of a setback with his hamstring injury.|
|Sep 7, 2016||Thigh Hamstring Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Fuller popped up on the injury report leading up to Week 1 but played through his hamstring issue.|