Wide receiver Will Fuller V, who is enjoying a breakout season with 450 yards receiving and three touchdowns, left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury that is considered serious, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Test results on Monday revealed that Fuller would be out for several weeks while he recovers from the injury. The update comes as bad news for a Texans team that slipped out of first place in the AFC South over the weekend.
With a loss this significant, Houston will need to squeeze more production out of its running game behind Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde. Houston is already in the top-10 of the league with 134 rushing yards per game and that number could increase without Fuller in the mix.
Fuller has been the Texans’ secondary receiver behind DeAndre Hopkins. Behind those two, Kenny Stills leads the pack with 293 receiving yards and just one touchdown but only just returned from an injury himself. Fuller’s absence will draw more attention to Hopkins and Stills without much tertiary production behind that duo.
The likely replacement in the Texans lineup is Keke Coutee, who has multiple catches over his last three games including a 72-yard performance already this season. Coutee will have to play a big role to draw defenders off Hopkins. To do so, the Texans will have to place greater trust in the second-year wide receiver out of Texas Tech.
Potential Fantasy Replacements
Fuller is out for a few weeks, meaning 98.1 percent of fantasy owners need to find a replacement ASAP. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for receivers as well, with Josh Gordon going down for New England and Adam Thielen out for Minnesota.
That means you’ll have to act fast with those waiver claims but also need to find that diamond-in-the-rough free agent quickly.
Why not go with Coutee? In Fuller’s absence on Sunday, he made three catches for 25 yards while adding a short four-yard touchdown carry. Owned by 11.3 percent of fantasy owners, Coutee will likely be available and will benefit statistically with Fuller out of the mix.
Given that Stills is still working his way back into the mix and adjusting to a new offense, Coutee has a bit of an advantage in that department as well. If the Texans trust him enough, you should as well.
Outside of Houston, Jamison Crowder may be a sleeper pick at receiver. He is owned in 30 percent of leagues and his stats might not be totally eye-catching, but give him a chance.
In the games where Sam Darnold has been active for the Jets, Weeks 1 and 6, Crowder has approached 100 receiving yards and gotten over 15 fantasy points. Now that Darnold is healthy again after a bout with Mono, Crowder could become his top target given his versatility in running routes. The Jets are struggling to run the ball and moving to a more pass-heavy regiment will benefit Crowder even more.