ESPN, like Pro Football Focus, like the NFL overlords themselves, has their own top 100 players list. The Texans have four members, well only three, if you only count players who have a contract with the Houston Texans. This list is the usual suspects. DeAndre Hopkins is ranked 4th, J.J. Watt 14th, Jadeveon Clowney 41st, and Deshaun Watson 47th.
This is what ESPN had to say:
5.) DeAndre Hopkins
2018 rank: 24
Deshaun Watson believes his No. 1 receiver is the best in football, and Hopkins has backed that up over the past two seasons. Hopkins has the most receptions (528) by a player in his first six seasons and is on track for a third straight campaign being named First Team All-Pro. -- Sarah Barshop
Signature stat: Hopkins accounted for a league-high 37.7% of his team’s receiving yards last season. Atlanta’s Julio Jones was next on that list at 33.9%.
2019 projection: 103 catches, 1,391 yards, 9 TDs
14.) J.J. Watt
2018 rank: 41
Watt is coming off his best -- and first healthy -- season since 2015 and finished second in the NFL with 16 sacks. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year said he’s “in a great place” after not having to spend an offseason rehabbing and has a lot of confidence going into the season. -- Sarah Barshop
Signature stat: According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Watt’s 3.61-second time to sack was the league’s second-lowest for players with at least five sacks, behind only Aaron Donald (3.6).
2019 projection: 59 tackles, 12.0 sacks
41.) Jadeveon Clowney
2018 rank: 33
Clowney excelled against the run last season, earning a run defense grade of 91.2 from PFF. After holding out because he and the Texans couldn’t agree to a new contract before the franchise-tag deadline, Clowney will have a lot of motivation in his contact year. -- Sarah Barshop
Signature stat: According to ESPN’s pass rush win rate, Clowney beat his block within 2.5 seconds on 35% of pass rushes in 2018, the second-best mark among DE/OLB (min. 300 pass rushes).
2019 projection: 52 tackles, 8.0 sacks
47.) Deshaun Watson
Head coach Bill O’Brien said Watson is “light-years” ahead of where he was before the 2018 season in terms of understanding defenses. Watson was sacked a league-high 62 times last season, and if he can get a rid of the ball quicker and take fewer hits while still using his mobility, DeAndre Hopkins thinks “the sky’s the limit.” -- Sarah Barshop
Signature stat: Since the start of 2017, Watson’s 83.1 QBR on plays from outside the pocket is the third-best in the NFL. His 64% completion rate on passes outside the pocket is also third in that time (league average is 51% in that span).
2019 projection: 4,002 passing yards, 25 TDs, 11 INTs