The Texans are a team built around two players, one on each side of the ball. Deshaun Watson leading the offense, and J.J. Watt leading the defense. As long as these two are healthy and playing at a top level, the Texans can compete with with nearly every team any week.
Pro Football Focus recently came out with a list of the top 50 players in the league entering the 2020 NFL season. They agree with the analysis in the first paragraph of this post. They have both Watt and Watson ranked in the top 50, at 13th and 43rd, respectively.
J.J. Watt had a four-season stretch in his career that rivaled Aaron Donald’s before injuries started to bite deep and derail things, but Watt has still shown glimpses of that dominance since those setbacks. In 2018, he played a full year and earned a PFF grade above 90.0. He was on track to accomplish that feat again last season before a torn pectoral muscle ended his regular season, and his return in the playoffs wasn’t quite at the same level. At his best, Watt is still a dominant force in the league, and the only question about that is his health, rather than his level of play.
Watson’s play looks like that of Patrick Mahomes for the majority of the time, only Watson has far less help. It’s the small subset of below-average play that separates the two players, however, and if Watson can just eliminate that in the way Russell Wilson did over the past season or two, he would vault into the top echelon of players on this list. Last season, in the fourth quarter of one-score games, Watson had both the No. 1 PFF grade (88.6) and yards per attempt average (10.3) among all quarterbacks, showing he is at his best when the game is on the line.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, DeAndre Hopkins is ranked 9th.
What DeAndre Hopkins has been able to do in his NFL career with the quarterbacks he’s worked with, outside of Deshaun Watson, has been remarkable. He should be able to maintain strong quarterback play heading into 2020 with a new team and Kyler Murray under center. Over the past three years, no receiver has a higher PFF receiving grade than Hopkins’ 93.7 mark, and he has the fourth-most contested catches — all while dropping just 11 passes on 469 targets.
You can read the rest of the list here. It’s a quick and easy way to get a gauge of the top talent distributed across the entirety of the NFL.