Performance Based Value: Houston Texans
In this series of pieces, Pro Football Focus is hammering into the value of players. To us it’s a “Performance Based Value” number, telling you what players were worth (by our grading) in 2012. You can read about the work we’ve done to create it here, but in short:
• It’s solely about what a player did on the field in 2012
• Players are grouped by positions so their play essentially earns them a portion of the positional salary pool
• It’s all about cap hits (these values are approximate)
Here are 2012′s most undervalued and overvalued Houston Texans:
1. J.J. Watt, Defensive End
This should surprise no one that is a regular reader at Pro Football Focus. Watt had possibly the greatest ever season by a 3-4 defensive end. He had at least two pressures in every single game this year, and 12 games with four or more stops. His 16 batted passes were by far the most, and he missed only four tackles. Things will get really interesting once the Watt contract negotiations start, as the sky is the limit to how much he could get paid.
2012 Cap Hit: $2.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $18.3m
Value Differential: +$15.7m
2. Duane Brown, Offensive Tackle
The Texans recently renegotiated Brown’s contract to lock him up for four more years. Even though this is the low end of cap hits on his contract, it never reaches $10.7 million. He is among the best left tackles in pass blocking, with a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 97.4% which was third-best. What sets him apart from the rest of the pack is his run blocking. Houston is lucky to have him contracted for so long at a good value.
2012 Cap Hit: $4.6m
2012 Performance Based Value: $10.7m
Value Differential: +$6.1m
3. Kareem Jackson, Cornerback
It took a few years but Kareem Jackson has finally lived up to being a first-round draft pick. Any possible number you look at will tell you Jackson was much improved in 2012 compared to 2011. His 46.8% catch rate allowed was fourth-lowest in the league for those with 50 or more targets, while his 14 combined interceptions/passes defended was among the best. Whenever you get someone in their rookie contract among the better players in the league, he will be under paid. Even if he is near the end of the rookie contract and is a first-round pick.
2012 Cap Hit: $2.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $7.4m
Value Differential: +$5.4m
4. Andre Johnson, WR – Cap: $6.4m, PBV: $11.2m, Value Differential: +$4.8m
5. Brooks Reed, OLB – Cap: $1.1m, PBV: $3.3m, Value Differential: +$2.2m
6. Bradie James, ILB – Cap: $610k, PBV: $2.5m, Value Differential: +$1.9m
7. Garrett Graham, TE – Cap: $660k, PBV: $2.4m, Value Differential: +$1.8m
8. James Casey, FB – Cap: $670k, PBV: $2.3m, Value Differential: +$1.6m
9. Tim Dobbins, LB – Cap: $610k, PBV: $2.2m, Value Differential: +$1.6m
10. Donnie Jones, P – Cap: $610k, PBV: $2.2m, Value Differential: +$1.5m
1. Arian Foster, Running Back
Yes, Arian Foster was one of just six running backs with over 1,400 yards this year. The problem is that it comes on a league high 351 carries, so his 4.1 yards per carry is just 28th out of 60 qualifying running backs. He has the benefit of running behind a few excellent run blockers, so he averages 1.9 yards per carry before he is even contacted. His 2.2 yards after contact per carry is just 40th out of 60 qualifying backs. Throw in 5.4 yards per catch, which is fourth-lowest among backs, five dropped passes, which is fifth-worst, and a high 12 pressures allowed, and suddenly Foster doesn’t look like one of the best backs in the league. Foster has the benefit of a lot of opportunities and teammates who can make him look better, but that doesn’t mean he should be getting paid like one of the top few running backs.
2012 Cap Hit: $8.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.6m
Value Differential: -$5.4m
2. Owen Daniels, Tight End
Prior to the 2012 season, Houston paid Daniels like a Top 10 tight end. He is one of several tight ends in the league that receives a high number of snaps because of his ability as a receiver, even though he can at times be a liability in run blocking. The problem is that in order to be a Top 10 tight end while hurting the team in run blocking, you need to be one of the very best at receiving. His 1.63 Yards Per Route Run was just 11th among tight ends. He certainly played well at times, but not well enough to match the money he was paid.
2012 Cap Hit: $5.2m
2012 Performance Based Value: $2.3m
Value Differential: -$2.9m
3. Johnathan Joseph, Cornerback
Similar to the other Texans overpaid players, Joseph is someone who played well in 2012 but just not well enough to match the money he is making. He had a great first year with Houston in 2011 with five interceptions and 10 passes defended, and those numbers dropped to three interceptions and five passes defended last year. In order for Joseph to get off this list in future years, he will need to play more like he did in 2011 as his cap hits are only getting higher.
2012 Cap Hit: $6.0m
2012 Performance Based Value: $3.1m
Value Differential: -$2.9m
4. Danieal Manning, S – Cap: $5.0m, PBV: $2.6, Value Differential: -$2.4m
5. Shaun Cody, DT – Cap: $3.0m, PBV: $820k, Value Differential: -$2.1m
6. Kevin Walter, WR – Cap: $3.0m, PBV: $1.5m, Value Differential: -$1.5m
7. Matt Schaub, QB – Cap: $11.7m, PBV: $10.6m, Value Differential: -$1.1m
8. Wade Smith, G – Cap: $2.8m, PBV: $2.0m, Value Differential: -$790k
9. Brian Cushing, ILB* – Cap: $2.7m, PBV: $1.9m, Value Differential: -$770k
10. Brice McCain, CB – Cap: $1.3m, PBV: $700k, Value Differential: -$640k
(* Denotes player missed significant portion of time through injury)
Summary – Team Value Differential: +$26m
Even ignoring Watt, the Texans are among the best teams for getting value for their players. A combination of great players getting paid good money, a number of young players stepping up, and just one major injury equates to Houston being a great team. They will continue being high in this category until it’s time to pay Watt.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke