Sean Pendergast

Who Will Be the Non-C.J. Stroud MVP of the Houston Texans?

Will Anderson may be the most valuable non-Stroud player on the Texans this season.
Will Anderson may be the most valuable non-Stroud player on the Texans this season. Photo by Jack Gorman
The Houston Texans are like most other NFL football teams, in that, despite how much deeper and how much mroe talented the roster is now than in years past, the teams will go as far their quarterback will take them. C.J. Stroud is the alpha and the omega when it comes to the Texans' ultimate success in 2024. Stroud will need help, though, so it begs the question — who will be the most valuable non-Stroud player on the Texans in 2024?

There are several candidates. Here are my top five:

5. TANK DELL, WR
You could probably choose any of the top three wide receivers on the team, and make a good case for non-Stroud MVP, and that position should be represented on a list like this, because that group will make the engine go on offense this season. I'm taking Dell, in somewhat of an upset, as I think he leads the team in receiving yards this season.

4. DEREK STINGLEY, Jr., CB
The biggest goal for Stingley should be staying healthy for a full 17 game season. He missed the last half of his rookie year with a hamstring injury, and then missed the beginning of last season with another leg injury. When Stingley returned in 2023, we got to see exactly what Nick Caserio saw when he used the third overall pick on him, back in 2022, with five interceptions. Stingley was one of the top rated cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus for the season, and if he's healthy all year, he unlocks a lot of things for DeMeco Ryans on defense.

3. DANIELLE HUNTER, DE
2. WILL ANDERSON, Jr., DE
The strength of this defense will be their ability to get after quarterbacks. Hunter has been one of the most consistent sack forces in the sport, with 16.5 in his final season in Minnesota. Anderson finished his rookie season with 7.5 sacks, but six of them came in the second half of the 2023 season. Flip a coin as to who might win, but there is no doubt that both of these guys will be in the conversation.

1. AZEEZ AL-SHAAIR, LB
My pick is somewhat of an upset, as Al-Shaair, in his sixth season as a pro, is only in his second season as a starter. He's been underrated throughout his career, mostly because he had to play behind Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner in San Francisco his first four seasons. Last year, in Tennessee, he had 166 tackles, and here in Houston, he is reunited with DeMeco Ryans and people are raving about his leadership in the building. If this defense takes a big step forward, almost inherently, Al-Shaair will be a key reason why.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast, on Instagram at instagram.com/sean.pendergast, and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast