The Miami Dolphins signed free agent Will Fuller last week to strengthen their receiving core. The reaction to the acquisition has been mixed, with many calling the former Houston Texans wide receiver "overrated."
In the wake of DeAndre Hopkins' departure to the Arizona Cardinals, Fuller assumed WR1 responsibilities for the Texans last season. With the talented Deshaun Watson under center, Fuller amassed 879 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches by Week 12. If those stats were extrapolated across the entire campaign, Fuller would have finished as one of the very top wideouts in the NFL.
Unfortunately for Will Fuller and the city of Houston in general, the receiver tested positive for a PED before the Texans' Week 13 clash against the Indianapolis Colts and was suspended for the rest of the season. His actions drew the ire of some of the NFL's leading analysts and former players and prematurely ended the best season of his career.
With the ecstasy and agony of Fuller's 2020 season barely out of the rear-view mirror, can the former University of Notre Dame star prove his critics wrong about being overrated?
Let's take a look:
How good is new Miami Dolphins receiver Will Fuller?
Will Fuller is one of the league’s most dangerous deep threats and has caught 31 passes of 20 or more yards since he first made his debut for the Texans back in 2016. He is a legitimate WR2, and even when not targeted, Fuller's agility is enough to worry safeties and cornerbacks. His breakaway speed prompts them to drop back or stay deep in coverage, creating space for other receivers. At worst, Fuller is an explosive offensive weapon and an excellent wide receiver.
That being said, Fuller mostly played second-fiddle to DeAndre Hopkins during their time in Houston together. He also missed numerous games due to injuries during his time with the Texans. Though Fuller's pace has always caused opposing defense issues, he has never amassed more than 900 receiving yards in an NFL season.
As mentioned, Fuller was in the midst of a career year in 2020 before it prematurely ended due to suspension. That has definitely cast a shadow over Fuller's ability to be an elite receiver in the NFL.
Can Will Fuller prove the critics wrong about being overrated?
So far in his career, Fuller has had the privilege of playing with Deshaun Watson as his quarterback. The Texans star led the league in passing yards in 2020 with 4,823. Fuller played alongside one of the best passers in the NFL with the Texans, a luxury he won't have in Miami.
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa was known for his accurate deep-balls when he played for Alabama in college, but fans didn't get to see much from the rookie in 2020. Tua managed just 1,814 passing yards in ten games and his 6.3 yards/attempt is also lower than Watson's 8.9. You can't really pin the QB's poor performances to the team's offensive line either.
The Miami Dolphins' O-line ranked 28th in the league in 2020 while the Texans' ranked 23rd. Deshaun is just the superior playmaker of the two and has the better, more accurate arm.
Long story short, Fuller is likely to see a decline in his output without Watson. That is unless Tua reaches incredible, new heights in his sophomore campaign. It's easy to see why some analysts believe he's overrated, but he will have the chance to prove his critics wrong next season.