When talking about the Houston Texans from an IDP perspective, the discussion essentially begins and ends with a certain defensive end. However, while J.J. Watt may be the crown jewel of the Houston defense, the 2014 NFL Defensive Player of the Year isn’t the only player of interest to fantasy owners.
Watt had a pretty good year in 2014 – that is, if you consider 78 tackles, 20.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three defensive scores and a No. 1 overall finish in IDP scoring (all positions) a good year. According to Tania Ganguli of ESPN, it didn’t take long for Watt to make an impression on new teammate Vince Wilfork.
“Just to be with him every day to see exactly what he puts in, because a lot of guys don’t put a lot of work in the game,” Wilfork said. “They just get to a certain level and they get complacent. They’re just happy with where they’re at. To see him work every day, he’s going to be a great player for a long time and it all starts with the way he works. He makes me work harder.”
Watt is easily the top IDP overall in 2015, and a legitimate first-round pick in IDP formats where defensive players aren’t marginalized. In fact, if defensive players score on par with their offensive counterparts, a strong argument can be made that Watt is worth a look with the No. 1 overall pick.
After topping 100 tackles in two of his first three NFL seasons, inside linebacker Brian Cushing has had all kinds of trouble staying on the field in recent years. However, Randy Gurzi of FanSided thinks a bounce back could be in store in 2015.
“At 28 years old,” Gurzi said, “Cushing is still in the prime of his career and now having a potential stud like Bernardrick McKinney lining up next to him, I expect to see the former Rookie of the Year freed up some and flying around the field even more. This season should be a resurgence for Cushing as the Texans continue to work towards becoming one of the most feared defensive units in the NFL.”
If that’s the case Cushing’s nearly non-existent asking price would make him a substantial IDP value, but I wouldn’t go betting the rent on it.
In fact, it may be the rookie McKinney who is of more interest to fantasy owners. As the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said, “This is a prototype inside linebacker, and you don’t get many of those coming out of the college game anymore. He’s a downhill thumper, but he also lined up on the edge, so there’s some versatility there.”
McKinney actually lined up outside some in OTAs, but the guess here is that his future lies inside next to Cushing. If that future includes subpackage snaps, there could be more than a little IDP potential present with the former Mississippi State standout.
With the release of 2014 starter D.J. Swearinger, the Texans are looking at a camp battle for the starting spot next to Rahim Moore at strong safety. According to the depth chart at Ourlads, the current front-runner is third-year pro Eddie Pleasant, although free agent acquisition Stevie Brown could make a push to start if he can recapture the form that saw him reel in eight interceptions in 2012 for the New York Giants.
That’s hardly a sure bet given that Brown ranked 67th at the position in pass coverage last year per Pro Football Focus, and none of the Texans’ safeties are more than a late-draft dart throw. The most valuable defensive back in Houston is cornerback Jonathan Joseph, whose sixth-place finish among cornerbacks last year makes him of interest to IDP owners in leagues that require the position.