DeAndre Hopkins said "the sky's the limit" for Fuller (knee) if he can stay healthy, ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop reports. "[Fuller]'s fast, he's getting stronger in the weight room, he's actually dedicating his time toward football," Hopkins said. "I think he's going to have the best season."
Fuller had a minor procedure on his knee in January, but it sounds as if the recovery process didn't have a major impact on his offseason training. The larger concern is Deshaun Watson's rehab from a torn ACL suffered in November, with early reports suggesting the quarterback is ahead of schedule. Fuller returned from an August collarbone fracture to catch 13 passes for 279 yards and seven touchdowns in the four games he played with Watson, but then managed just 15 catches for 144 yards without any scores in his remaining six contests. The 21st overall pick in the 2016 draft was similarly inconsistent as a rookie, accumulating 51 percent of his receiving yards and all three of his touchdowns (one on a punt return) within the first four weeks of the year. Fuller's skill set may always lend itself to large fluctuations on a week-to-week basis, but he should have better luck avoiding the prolonged slumps if he and Watson manage to stay healthy at the same time. The speedy wideout also figures to improve on last year's mark of five targets per game, as the Texans haven't made any major offseason moves at the skill positions and don't own a first- or second-round pick in the upcoming draft.
Fuller is scheduled to have a minor procedure on his knee in the near future, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports.
In the four games Fuller was active before Deshaun Watson's fateful ACL tear, the wideout was a touchdown machine, hauling in seven among his 13 receptions. Otherwise, Fuller didn't reach the end zone in a season in which he suffered a trio of injuries. The most-recent concern forced him to the sideline in the season finale, but with knee concerns rearing their head throughout his first two years in the NFL, he'll undergo surgery in the early days of the offseason. Fuller is expected to be a "full go" in a couple weeks, according to McClain.
Fuller, who left the regular-season finale with a knee injury, remained on the sideline in full pads, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. That Fuller remained on the Texans' bench for the rest of the game suggests his removal was a precautionary decision.
On a more ominous note, the second-year wideout suffered three separate concerns in 2017. The Week 17 knee issue followed a preseason bout with his shoulder and a midseason ribs absence. The knee may not be serious, but the multitude of setbacks suggests he's injury-prone. Coupled with his rookie 2016 season, when he wore down over the course of the season and struggled against physical corners, there are red flags entering 2018. Optimists can counter those warning signs with the immediate chemistry he established with quarterback Deshaun Watson (knee). Fuller averaged 70 yards and caught seven touchdowns over four games the duo played together. He finished 2017 with 28 catches, 50 targets, 423 yards (15.1 YPC) and seven touchdowns in 10 games. With Watson expected to be in full health come next summer, Fuller is in line to be a productive fantasy receiver, providing he continues to builds strength and can remain healthy.
Fuller has been ruled out for the remainder of Sunday's game against the Colts due to a knee injury.
Fuller's absence for the remainder of the Texans' season finale leaves the team extremely thin at wide receiver, as fellow starter DeAndre Hopkins (calf) is sidelined as well. Braxton Miller, Chris Thompson and Cobi Hamilton will be in line for increased roles throughout the remainder of Sunday's contest with quarterback T.J. Yates at the helm. Heading into Week 17, Fuller had caught 26 receptions for 406 yards and seven touchdowns on 48 targets in nine games during his 2017 campaign.
Hopkins didn't see his productivity dip substantially during quarterback T.J. Yates' three extended outings (two starts) this season with 11.6 targets and 98 yards per game to go with four touchdowns, but expecting Fuller to replicate those numbers might be asking too much. While Fuller should see his volume increase after seeing only five targets in each of the last three contests, he's largely failed to find success with any non-Deshaun Watson (knee) quarterback the Texans have put on the field this season. In the five games he's played with either Tom Savage or Yates under center, Fuller has caught only 13 of 26 targets for 127 yards and no touchdowns. A matchup against a porous Colts secondary works in Fuller's favor, but Houston's continued conservative approach on offense sans Watson may cap the wideout's upside even with a target hog like Hopkins out of the picture.
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