Pro Football Focus unveiled its Top 101 players of 2018 with six Texans players making the list. PFF, a football analytics website, graded players based on single-season performances and ranked them irrespective of position.
DeAndre Hopkins, selected as the PFF Offensive Player of the Year, led the Texans with a No. 2 ranking on the list while Pro Bowlers Deshaun Watson and Benardrick McKinney made their debuts on the Top 101.
2. DeAndre Hopkins
It clearly didn’t matter where he lined up, where he was targeted or whether he had to fight for the ball or not, Hopkins was in a class of his own this season, and it all led to the NFL’s highest overall (92.0) and receiving grade (92.2) at the position. His 115 catchable targets without a drop not only set the PFF record, but it also crushed the previous record of 60 held by Randall Cobb that he set back in 2016.
Hopkins was named First-Team All-Pro for the second consecutive season after setting career highs in receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,572) and finishing with the second-most touchdowns in a season (11) with zero drops.
19. J.J. Watt
Watt was back to his utterly dominant self this year. He was once again named a PFF All-Pro, and his 78 pressures were the second-most among edge defenders. Watt ended the 2018 regular season with at least three quarterback pressures in 14 straight games, which is the longest active streak by four games._
Watt returned from back-to-back season-ending injuries to start all 16 games and record an AFC-leading 16.0 sacks, 25 quarterback hits, 18 tackles for loss, four passes defensed and a career-high seven forced fumbles.
46. Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney had by far the best season of his career in 2018. The former first overall pick tied for the seventh-best overall grade (89.5) among edge defenders. He recorded 28 run stops on 283 run-defense snaps, tying for the tenth-best run-stop percentage (9.9%) at the position.
Clowney capped off his 2018 season with a third consecutive Pro Bowl nod after logging 47 total tackles (38 solo), 9.0 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, one pass defensed and tying his single-season career high in quarterback hits (21).
77. Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson came into this season surrounded by uncertainty due to his season-ending ACL injury last year, but he played a full 16 games this season and finished with the 12th-best grade (82.6) out of 39 qualifying quarterbacks. Watson made the best of one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines en route to a playoff berth, and that can’t be overstated. He led the NFL in total pressured dropbacks (281) and passer rating under pressure (88.2).
Watson started all 16 games after working his way back from a 2017 ACL surgery. He threw 26 touchdown passes and also attempted 207 consecutive passes without an interception (Weeks 11-17). He scored on five rushing touchdowns and his 551 rushing yards ranked third among all NFL quarterbacks in 2018.
85. Kareem Jackson
Alternating between safety and corner, Jackson had a career revival this past season. Jackson recorded an overall grade of 79.5 behind 10 pass breakups and no receiving touchdowns allowed, and he will be one of the more sought-after veterans if he hits the free agent market.
Jackson, the longest tenured Texan on defense, had two interceptions, 1.0 sack, five tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He is tied for the most career interceptions in franchise history with 16.
94. Benardrick McKinney
The fourth-year linebacker made an impact in all areas of the Texans’ defense this season. McKinney’s 81.3 overall grade ranked ninth at the position, while his 89.2 run defense grade listed at third-best, behind only All-Pro’s Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner. He recorded 32 total run stops this season with only four missed tackles.
McKinney signed a contract extension last June and finished his fourth NFL season with a Pro Bowl nod and a team-high 105 total tackles (63 solo), 1.5 sacks, a career-high seven passes defensed, five tackles for loss, five quarterback hits and one forced fumble through 16 starts.