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Texans rely on questionable Fuller for offensive boost

2016 - Will Fuller
2016 - Will Fuller (Getty Images)

Bill Parcells once said “The best ability is availability.” His coaching descendant Bill O’Brien (through the Belichick line) is sure to agree when it comes to Texans wide receiver Will Fuller. Fuller has played in just 42 of a possible 64 career games in his four NFL seasons.

When he’s healthy, the Texans have one of the best offenses in the league and Fuller is one of the league’s top deep threats. When he’s out, Deshaun Watson’s options are limited, especially when you get past Kenny Stills at wide receiver.

FULLER’S STATUS FOR THE AFC PLAYOFFS

Will Fuller is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, after missing the past two games with a groin injury. Fuller got in limited practices all week, which is a good sign and Friday said he wants to play. Texans coach Bill O’Brien called it a game time decision, but right now, it looks like Fuller may have a better chance than he did last week against the Bills. Fuller missed time earlier in the season due to a hamstring injury he suffered against the Colts in week 7. He also entered training camp coming off ACL surgery.

FULLER’S IMPORTANCE TO THE OFFENSE

Here’s where we get into the numbers, which don’t lie when it comes to the Texans offense.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, without Fuller, the Texans have these stats in the regular season:

5.29 yards per play (Would rank 21st)

6.32 yards per pass attempt (Would rank 19th)

10.7% sack rate (Would rank 31st)

32.9% third down conversions (Would rank 28th)

As you can see, without Fuller the Texans are a below average offense, and struggle on 3rd downs especially.

Here’s what the Texans looked like this season when Fuller was on the field:

6.08 yards per play (Would rank 4th)

7.78 yards per attempt (Would rank 5th)

7.8% sack rate (Would rank 25th)

51.9% third down conversions (Would rank 1st)

Outside of sack rate (which has more to do with the Texans leaky offensive line and Deshaun Watson’s tendency to hold the ball in hopes of a big play), Fuller’s presence gives the Texans one of the best offenses in the league, including an incredible over 50% 3rd down conversion rate.

We’ve seen Will Fuller at his best over the years, including this season. His 14-catch, 217-yard, three touchdown performance against the Falcons is one of the most productive games by a wide receiver in NFL history. If Fuller can play and stay on the field against the Chiefs, the stats show Houston can match Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s explosive offense.