Houston Texans, Def, Texans
2015 Outlook: Stud (low risk)Last updated on Aug-20-2015 by Shawn Childs
The Texans will face nine offenses with below-average rushing attacks. Their best matchups will come against the Buccaneers, Falcons and two against the Tennessee Titans. The Bills' ground game will be improved with LeSean McCoy. Houston faces two teams with strong rushing attacks: the Jets and Bengals. They have four games against strong aerial attacks: Atlanta, New Orleans, and the Indianapolis Colts twice. The Texans have nine games against with below-par passing attacks.
Houston finished 10th in rushing yards allowed (1,681) and gave up only six rushing touchdowns. They totaled 38 sacks, which was one fewer than the league median. They allowed the 12th-fewest passing yards (3,890) to go along with 28 TDs and 20 interceptions. Opposing offenses attempted the second-most passes per game at 38.7.
Defensive end J.J. Watt produces just insane numbers when attacking the quarterback. Last year, he had 20.5 sacks, 44 QB hits and 54 QB hurries while delivering solid value in run support. It's almost like he has twice as much value as any other NFL defensive player.
Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt
Each of the Texans' other defensive linemen delivered negative value against the run and picked up a combined total of seven sacks. Vince Wilfork will hopefully shore up the run defense. Houston has a weakness at defensive end opposite Watt. Jared Crick, who started 15 games at end last season, had only four sacks and some issues in run support.
The Texans are hoping linebacker Jadeveon Clowney will be healthy this season after having microfracture surgery on his right knee in December. The first overall pick in last year's draft was on the field for only 146 plays as a rookie. LB Whitney Mercilus played well against the run and recorded five sacks, 10 QB hits and 25 QB hurries.
Injuries have taken a toll on Brian Cushing over the past two years. The linebacker played his best ball as a rookie in 2009 after being taken 15th overall. He really has no value attacking the QB and was a liability in run support after playing well in limited action in 2013. Brian underwent surgery on his left knee, left ankle and right wrist during the offseason.
Second-round rookie Benardrick McKinney is slated to start at inside linebacker. His attacking style should play well when following the havoc created by the mighty Watt.
The last outside linebacker slot will go to either John Simon and Kourtnei Brown. Both players have no real upside.
Cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph played well in pass coverage while providing neutral support against the run. Rookie corner Kevin Johnson will add upside depth to the position.
The safety position in Houston is loaded with question marks and mediocre talent.
Overall, the Texans have the best player in the league on defense with three possible upside linebackers. They should be stronger against the run and have enough talent to defend the pass effectively as long as Watt is in the QB's face. Watt is the leader, but Clowney is the wild card. Last year, the Texans had a top-five Fantasy defense due to their six defensive scores. They should be drafted as such.
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