The Texans lost more than a game against the Colts on Sunday. They also lost the services of wide receiver Will Fuller for several weeks.
Will Fuller isn’t the best receiver the Texans have, but his presence on the field is crucial to keep Deshaun Watson’s offense operating at maximum efficiency. That’s why his hamstring pull has the potential to derail Houston’s march towards the playoffs.
The talented deep threat is set to miss “several weeks” of action, according to Ian Rapoport, after scans revealed a “pretty significant” hamstring pull. Fuller should be back to help his team later in the regular season, but playing without him even for a few weeks is going to be a challenge for the Texans offense.
Fuller’s absence obviously will make life more difficult for DeAndre Hopkins. He’s one of the most talented receivers in the game, but Fuller’s presence on the other side of the field does limit the opponents’ ability to double team him on every snap. Hopkins should expect to see bracket coverage more often than not while Fuller is on the sidelines.
The attention defenses can now pay to Hopkins will also have a trickle-down effect on how Watson can play the quarterback position. The Texans’ receiving corps becomes easier to cover without Fuller in the mix. That means Watson may be forced to hold on to the ball longer in the pocket to watch patterns develop. The Texans offensive line has played better football in recent weeks, but it’s not a group that should be trusted to give Watson a comfortable pocket for long stretches.
The Texans are only a half-game behind the Colts for the division lead in the AFC South, but they’re also just one game ahead of both the Jaguars and Titans. Any minor slip by Bill O’Brien’s team could easily result in the Texans missing the playoffs. That would be a major disappointment for a team with this much high-end talent.
The franchise can’t afford to rush Fuller back, but if he’s forced to miss too many games it could be fatal to the Texans’ postseason hopes. The lack of depth on this team is a serious issue, and losing a quality starter at wideout could highlight that weakness in a major way.