Sean Pendergast

Houston Texans Midseason Fab Five Players

C.J. Stroud is climbing the NFL quarterback charts very, very quickly.
C.J. Stroud is climbing the NFL quarterback charts very, very quickly. Photo by Eric Sauseda
With an odd number of games on the NFL schedule, it becomes mathematically impossible to have a true "halfway point" of a season, based on games, unless you want to pause the league at halftime of every team's ninth game. The midway point is the time to reflect, dish out praise, and forecast what the rest of the season looks like.

For our purposes, with the season nine WEEKS old (several teams have played eight games and had a bye week), we will do the "dish out praise" part for the Houston Texans. As we've done a few times this season, we will recognize the Texans' five best players, according to their Pro Football Focus scores.

If we are being totally honest, in the last two seasons, it was tough to find five players on the Texans who were praiseworthy. This season is different. Several faces, new and old, are stepping up, so we start by giving honorable mention to the first five players outside our PFF Fab Five:


10. Steven Nelson, CB, 74.9
9. Jon Greenard, DE, 77.1
8. Tank Dell, WR 77.8
7. Laremy Tunsil, LT, 78.0
6. Noah Brown, WR, 78.8

Okay, now onto the PFF Houston Texans Fab Five for the season's midway point:

4 (tie). Will Anderson, Jr., DE, 79.0
We have a tie between the two players whose wagons Nick Caserio hitched his star to on draft night. Let's start with Anderson, who finally got his second sack of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. While the sack numbers haven't been there for Anderson, he's been solid in the run game, and he is causing a certain amount of chaos in the pocket. Currently, I feel good (not great) about the trade to move up and select Anderson.

4 (tie). C.J. Stroud, QB, 79.0
Stroud is a different story altogether. Different story than Anderson, a different story than any other rookie, and a different story than a whole bunch of veteran quarterbacks. He's been outstanding, so far, and on the heels of a record setting performance against the Bucs on Sunday (470 yards, 5 TD passes), Stroud has become a media darling. The national media loves him, and the Texans are getting the most attention they've received in a long time. Stroud is a runaway favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

3. Tavierre Thomas, CB, 81.0
Thomas has been an underrated performer for the Texans for the two-plus seasons he's been here. As the team's top slot corner, Thomas sees a lot of time in nickel packages, and among the secondary players, he's one of the more physical defensive backs on the team. He's certainly not the third most talented player, or third most valuable player, but as of right now, according to PFF, he's the third best at doing his job.

2. Nico Collins, WR, 84.4
While Collins' numbers have come back down to earth over the last couple weeks, he is still on pace for over 1,300 yards and 8 touchdowns on the season. Still, Collins has managed to maintain a "top ten at his position" PFF score, even with the dip in actual production, and that's likely because he's embraced the complete picture at wide receiver, including blocking downfield.

1. Blake Cashman, LB, 89.6
According to this scoring system, Cashman has been the best Houston Texan at doing his job, and it's actually a fairly wide margin. Cashman began showing up with flashy plays in training camp, as a Cashman interception seemed like a daily occurrence. His tackling has been very good, he's around the ball all the time, and he's been solid in pass coverage, too. If Nick Caserio is looking for a player to extend before the end of the season, Cashman is a good candidate.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at, on Instagram at, and like him on Facebook at
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