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CJ Stroud: Fantasy football draft profile for 2023 NFL season

We break down the outlook for Texans rookie QB CJ Stroud heading into the 2023 NFL season.

C.J. Stroud #7 of the Houston Texans poses for a portrait during the NFLPA Rookie Premiere on May 20, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

With the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected quarterback CJ Stroud from Ohio State. The team had hoped that they found a discount quarterback solution in Davis Mills in 2021, but he didn’t secure the job in a dismal 2022 campaign. Stroud is the latest hopeful quarterback of the future for the Texans and will look to provide stability that has been lacking since 2020.

2023 Fantasy Football: CJ Stroud Profile

Recap of 2022 season

Stroud played out his final season with the Buckeyes last year. He played in 13 games and nearly led them to an undefeated season. Ohio State lost 45-23 to Michigan in the final week of the regular season and drew Georgia in the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff Semifinal. They lost 42-41 as their national title hopes were dashed.

Stroud finished with 3,688 passing yards with 41 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has escapability from the pocket but isn’t considered a true dual-threat quarterback. Stroud had 47 rushes last year for only 108 yards with no touchdowns.

Updated Texans outlook

How long will the Houston rebuild be? After the Texans scooped up Stroud, they traded back up to No. 3 to grab Alabama DE Will Anderson, giving them a solid foundation on both sides of the ball. While this could suggest a quick turnaround, the supporting cast for both units is unproven with how they will complement each other. The Texans still feel like an “Island of Misfit Toys”, but unless they purposefully tank, they should be able to improve on their dismal 3-13-1 record from a year ago.

Best-case scenario

Rookie quarterbacks don’t typically fare well as they adjust during their first seasons. Last year, only Kenny Pickett saw significant playing time among rookie quarterbacks. He played in 13 games and threw for 2,404 passing yards with seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. Pickett finished as the overall QB28 in fantasy football. When Trevor Lawrence was a rookie in 2021, he finished as the overall QB22 with 3,641 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions.

The best-case scenario for Stroud is that an offense of Dameon Pierce, Devin Singletary, Robert Woods, Nico Collins, John Metchie, and Dalton Schultz meshes perfectly, giving him ample reliable targets. Since he doesn’t come with rushing upside, he will have to air out the ball for his fantasy football production, limiting his upside. At best, there should be hope that he finishes in the QB14-18 range.

Worst-case scenario

The worst-case scenario is that Stroud struggles mightily as a rookie. If his teammates don’t get on the same page and can’t be productive, it will be a long year for Houston. Stroud is expected to have to adjust to the next level, but if it takes longer to get comfortable, he could see his fantasy relevance delayed to his second year, much like Lawrence.

Prediction

Houston is playing a form of “Moneyball” and is trying to mesh together the best squad it can while trying to save a pretty penny. This puts together an interesting cast of players for Stroud to lean on, and I am hesitant to claim that it will be successful early enough to bring him fantasy relevance. Stroud will likely be relegated to a streaming option if he gets a good matchup, and I think he finishes in the QB22-QB26 range, similar to recent rookies.