Since the 2017 regular season has come to a close, it is time to reflect on the Houston Texans and the performance of different position groups throughout this disappointing, 4-12 season. The specific position group I’d like to focus on today are the wide receivers; highlighted by players such as DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, Braxton Miller, and even the injured Bruce Ellington.
DeAndre Hopkins – A+
Drafted 27th overall in 2013, Hopkins has made a massive return on investment for the Houston Texans. Hopkins continued to dominate opposing corners and solidify himself as the best jump-ball receiver in football. His jump-ball ability was highlighted by the amazing catches against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars (shown above). Furthermore, he had 96 catches for 1,378 yards and a league-leading 13 touchdowns. Those 96 catches were sixth in the league and his 1,378 yards were fourth. These amazing numbers, especially with mediocre quarterbacks like Tom Savage and T.J. Yates most of the year, lead to Hopkins deserving an A+.
Will Fuller – B-
The other major wide receiver on the Texans and big play threat Will Fuller had an up-and-down season that is expected when his source of production is so unreliable. The boom-or-bust receiver had outstanding performances from Weeks 4-8. During this stretch, Fuller scored all of his 7 touchdowns on the year. Not so coincidentally, Fuller had these great games while Deshaun Watson was at the helm. But once Watson got injured, Fuller’s production went down tremendously. For comparison, Fuller had 279 yards and 7 touchdowns from Weeks 4-8. But from Week 9 and on, had 144 yards and no touchdowns over six games. This drastic drop in production brought an A performance down to a B-.
Braxton Miller – F
Braxton Miller is a player the Texans must replace,; I personally think Jordan Matthews is a good option to sign in free agency. Miller was consistently underperforming in the slot, and only had two games with 20 or more yards the entire season. Despite having two good games from Weeks 12-13, Miller had another horrible season with a low catch rate of 65.5%. Though I think he should be replaced, Miller has shown improvement. His 65.5% catch rate is still substantially better than the 53.6% clip he had during his rookie year. Keep in mind Miller was a quarterback in college, so some patience is required as he develops into a better player that can patrol the slot for the Texans.
Bruce Ellington – D-
Ellington came to the Texans in 2017 after an injured-plagued campaign in San Francisco. Ellington sadly couldn’t find any success with the new scenery, being ranked the 99th best receiver in football with a 46.7 grade according to Pro Football Focus. In addition, he only had three games above 40 receiving yards and just 2 touchdowns all year. This poor production was coupled with the fact that Ellington suffered a season ending injury in Week 13. Sadly, Ellington couldn’t get away from his injury concerns that he had in San Francisco and receives a D- grade on the season.
That is all there is to say about the Texans receiving core this season, and sadly there were only two wide receivers who deserved a passing grade. Hopefully next season Deshaun Watson can start elevating other receivers besides Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins to a higher level.