It might just be me, but it feels like this offseason has dragged on longer than ever. As such, the 2021 season can't get here fast enough. 17 games. Three preseason tilts. It's time to get this thing ROLLING in a hurry. In those 17 regular season tilts, the Texans will face their share of legends and emerging stars so I sat down with all 14 rosters and the schedule to put together another unique version of the Harris 100 - the best players the Texans will face in 2021.
Without specifically ranking them as I do for the NFL Draft (Rams star Aaron Donald would be number one if I did do that), I came up with the top 100 players the Texans will face and a handful of Honorable Mention names to watch as well. I will break this into position groups over the next couple of weeks. Last week, I started with the quarterbacks and today will move on to the running backs (in chronological order when the Texans face each player).
A few quick "By the Numbers" notes on the 2021 Top 100 running backs from the 2020 season…
1 - 2,000 yard rusher - Derrick Henry. Dadgumit.
5 - 200+ yard games for Derrick Henry
5 - 200+ yard games for Derrick Henry against the AFC South
3 - 200+ yard games for Derrick Henry against the Texans
2 - 200+ yard games for Derrick Henry against the Texans in 2020
0 - 110+ yard games for Derrick Henry against the Texans prior to January 2020
4 - 1k rushers on the Top 100 - Henry, J. Taylor, Robinson and Chubb
7 - Texans faced those four running backs seven times in 2020
7 - Texans are scheduled to face those four running backs seven times, again, in 2021.
4 - All four of those rushers finished in the top 10 in rushing in 2020
37 - Christian McCaffrey touches the last time the Panthers faced the Texans in 2019
76 - Christian McCaffrey touches in 2020 season (injured for last 13 games)
I've examined running backs a bit over the past few weeks so let's rock on - these are running backs that made the Harris 100 - the best players the Texans will face in 2021:
Bold - Pro Bowl in 2020
* - 1st Team All-Pro in 2020 (AP, Pro Football Writers, Sporting News)
** - 2nd Team All-Pro in 2020 (AP, Pro Football Writers, Sporting News)
James Robinson, Jacksonville (Week 1 & Week 15)
Undrafted and undaunted, Robinson finished in the top ten in rushing in the league in 2020
1,070 yards rushing, 49 receptions and ten total touchdowns in 2020
Nick Chubb, Cleveland (Week 2)
3rd in the league in rushing yards per game, ran for 126 yards against Texans last November
1,067 yards rushing in 12 games, 12 rushing touchdowns
Kareem Hunt, Cleveland (Week 2)
Started just five games for the Browns, still ran for most yards as a complementary back in NFL
841 yards rushing, 16th in the league in rushing in 2020
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina (Week 3)
Last time he faced the Texans (2019 at NRG), he put on one of the best shows I've ever seen
Injured most of 2020 - 225 yards rushing in just three games in 2020 season.
Damien Harris, New England (Week 5)
Emerged as a second year guy with a bright future in New England
691 yards rushing and averaged 5.0 yards per carry in 2020.
Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (Week 8)
One of my favorite RBs in the 2020 Draft class, truly broke out over the last six weeks of 2020.
131 yards in playoff win at Seattle, 625 yards in his rookie season of 2020
Derrick Henry, Tennessee (Week 11 & Week 18)
The best non-quarterback, offensive player on the Texans schedule…*sigh* twice
2,027 yards rushing in 2020, 200+ yards rushing in both wins over Texans in 2020
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis (Week 6 & Week 12)
Colts season really took a step in a positive direction when Taylor took over as The Man.
3rd in league in overall yards & yards per game as a rookie - 1,169 yards in 2020
Devin Singletary, Buffalo (Week 4)
Chris Carson, Seattle (Week 14)