They trawl fantasy football circles. You must constantly stay vigilant and on the move lest you become overwhelmed and end up one of them. They slowly shuffle toward you. Horrid, putrid, rotting carcasses. Zombies, as you know them. More dead than alive, but existing in a horrid state between the two, crying out in pain, longing for a long-distant past. Their dreadful visages… rotten and festering. Their barely-connected jaws fall open, the sinews stretching to their near-breaking point to keep their rotten mandibles attached, and a slow moan comes from deep down inside their decaying torso: “Will Fuller will smash, when healthy.”
Will Fuller Truthers hold onto a long-distant past, a past wherein he scored seven touchdowns in five games in October through November of 2017. These were his first five games with Deshaun Watson in his career, which are now almost three years in the past. Since then, he’s had some pretty great games! But he’s also had some pretty terrible games. There was a mass hallucination recently, wherein people were saying that if Will Fuller had a whole season guaranteed, he would be a top-twelve wide receiver. This is from people that forget that Will Fuller is a boom-bust receiver and that fantasy football is a week-to-week game.
Let’s body slam this myth that Will Fuller produces when healthy. That comes from a nice, fun unsustainable sample size: the first five games of Deshaun Watson’s career. In those five games, Fuller had seven touchdowns and everybody lost their minds. How unsustainable were those first five games? Well, let’s look at the figures:
13 catches on 22 targets for 279 yards and seven touchdowns.
In deference to Will Fuller Truthers, I’ll ignore his sixth game with Watson (2 catches, 32 yards) and the remainder of his 2017 season without Deshaun Watson.
Obviously, the thing people point to here is the 7 touchdowns. This is the fun and flashy thing that they remember about the Watson2Fuller connection. But look deep inside your soul: seven touchdowns on thirteen catches over the course of five games. Does that sound sustainable to you? No? Well, that’s the backbone upon which the “Will Fuller smashes when he’s healthy” house of cards is built.
In 2018 and 2019, Will Fuller has scored in five games of the eighteen that he played. Four of these games came in 2018, which means Will Fuller scored in just one game in 2019. Sure, when healthy, he smashes. But that was one game out of eleven. He had sixteen targets, which he turned into 14 catches for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. Nobody is denying that Will Fuller has boom games. It’s the bust games that are the problem.
Before I break down these statistics about starting Will Fuller week-to-week… A reminder that season-end stats don’t keep you warm at night and the one victory you get for Will Fuller going off doesn’t make him worth the headache you get from the other weeks if you slot him into one of your three starting wide receiver slots.
Okay, Will Fuller in 2019 most definitely did not “smash when healthy.” He played in eleven games last season or 75% of the year. He left two games with injuries, so I’ll knock that number down to ten. Again, trying to be fair to Will Fuller Truthers. So nine healthy games last season (wherein he played at least 75% of snaps): one game inside the top-five, one game between WR7 and WR12 on the week, and one game as WR25-36. Two top-12 WR weeks, one top-36 week. Six weeks where Will Fuller boned you. This doesn’t even count the two games where you could have started him and he left with an injury. These are full Will Fuller games.
Three usable weeks in the entirety of 2019. This isn’t an isolated incident, either. Since 2017, he has 8 games inside the top-twelve, one game as a WR2, and 3 games as a WR3. He has 16 games (A WHOLE SEASON) of games outside the top-36.
But, this isn’t to say Will Fuller doesn’t have a place as a boom-bust flex option for an extremely solid team, since you can hide him when he has a bad matchup and slam dunk him when he has a good matchup. But, if you draft Will Fuller as a 3WR flex option, he could win you weeks. If you draft Will Fuller as a weekly starter, who you rely on, he will lose you weeks with his bust games.
Right now, Fuller is going as someone’s starting wide receiver, in round seven (WR33). Tread carefully with Will Fuller, and don’t get too far over your skis drafting him. His end-of-season numbers hide a deep, dark truth that he has far more games that hurt you than help you.
More like Will Emptier, folks…