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Defensive Notes

Houston Texans

Good team to target for IDPs

The Texans made a splash during the NFL Draft by not only taking one of the top 2 quarterbacks, but then trading back up to take the first defensive player, Will Anderson. Their defense has some more work to do before being a strong fantasy choice, but it should have some nice IDPs.

Especially in the secondary. A year ago, Houston not only had the league's top tackling defensive back in second-round safety Jalen Pitre (pictured), it also had the league's 2nd-most productive player in that regard in Jonathan Owens. The Texans ranked last in run defense, and the result was that Pitre and Owens were extremely busy making stops downfield.

Pitre finished with the 2nd-most tackles by a defensive back since 2000, behind only Pat Tillman, who did it 23 years ago. Owens also snuck into the top 20.

Table shows the top 50 seasons for defensive back tackles since 2000. Those who made the list from 2022 are in bold. Data from pro-football-reference.com was used in compiling this table.

DEFENSIVE BACKS, TOP TACKLERS (2000-PRESENT)
SeasonPlayerTeamSoloAstComb
2000Pat TillmanARI11837155
2022Jalen PitreHOU9948147
2019Budda BakerARI10443147
2004Rodney HarrisonNWE9645141
2010Donte WhitnerBUF9644140
2011Antoine BetheaIND8059139
2013Barry ChurchDAL10728135
2015Reshad JonesMIA10629135
2008Gibril WilsonOAK9836134
2014Morgan BurnettGNB9436130
2002Michael GreenCHI10030130
2019Eric ReidCAR9733130
2016Johnathan CyprienJAX9631127
2015Corey GrahamBUF9631127
2000Rodney HarrisonSDG10126127
2008Eric WeddleSDG10522127
2016Landon CollinsNYG10025125
2003Rodney HarrisonNWE9233125
2000Mike MinterCAR9134125
2022Jonathan OwensHOU8441125
2009Tyvon BranchOAK9826124
2021Minkah FitzpatrickPIT8440124
2022Julian LoveNYG7945124
2020Jordan PoyerBUF9133124
2012Morgan BurnettGNB8835123
2022Richie GrantATL7053123
2010T.J. WardCLE9528123
2017Reshad JonesMIA9428122
2018Antoine BetheaARI10021121
2005Erik ColemanNYJ8437121
2006Chris HopeTEN8932121
2000Lawyer MilloyNWE9031121
2021Jalen ThompsonARI7942121
2008Yeremiah BellMIA10020120
2004Robert GriffithCLE9227119
2018John JohnsonLAR8237119
2020Budda BakerARI9028118
2021Derwin JamesLAC7543118
2015Barry ChurchDAL7839117
2019Landon CollinsWAS7839117
2021Logan RyanNYG7740117
2021Johnathan AbramLVR6452116
2002Adam ArchuletaSTL10214116
2009Erik ColemanATL8234116
2009Brian DawkinsDEN9521116
2022Rayshawn JenkinsJAX7343116
2017Keanu NealATL8333116
2018Jamal AdamsNYJ8629115
2012Roman HarperNOR8827115
2022Derwin JamesLAC6451115

Owens, incidentally, is currently a free agent, busy of late getting married to gymnast Simone Biles (that's your celebrity wedding news of the day). The Texans believe they've strengthened that group with one of new coach DeMeco Ryans' safeties from San Francisco, Jimmie Ward. A new defense creates some uncertainty, but Ryans' defense in San Francisco had the 17th and 32nd most productive safeties for tackles, and Ward himself might have been a third defensive back in the top 50 (projected) had he been healthy all year (he missed six games with a hamstring injury). Conceivably, the team could still bring back Owens before camp.

Pitre is going to be one of the top defensive back IDPs, and there will likely be a second one who's a factor, for those who utilize those positions in fantasy leagues.

The Houston Defense itself also has a chance to be fantasy relevant -- a spot starter, perhaps. Last year it was better than you might recall, ranking just 18th in sacks (39) but 4th in takeaways (27). And it's added Ward (3 interceptions in 12 games last year) and Anderson (27.5 sacks in 28 games at Alabama the last two seasons). Pitre also had 5 interceptions as a rookie. Considering the AFC South looks potentially overloaded with rookie quarterbacks starting for suspect offenses, there's some value there.

--Andy Richardson

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