Draft C.J. Stroud onto a losing NFL team. Give him a makeshift offensive line, ordinary running backs. Pair him with a pedestrian receiver group, and then take the top receiver away.
I don’t think any of it matters. At this point, I’d follow C.J. Stroud into a burning building.
Stroud’s comeback magic was the NFL story for the second straight week, as he piloted the Texans to a 30-27 victory at Cincinnati on Sunday. Stroud threw for 356 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score. And when the Texans needed a drive inside the final 1:33 to steal the win, Stroud marched his offense 55 yards in five plays.
Nico Collins wasn’t available Sunday and Tank Dell was oddly inefficient on 14 targets (6-56-1), but Stroud found ways to move the offense. Noah Brown remained sizzling, catching 7-of-8 opportunities for 172 yards; he was finding plenty of separation downfield. Dalton Schultz (4-71-0, six targets) is part of a league-wide rally at the tight end position. And even running back Devin Singletary offered support, rushing 30 times for 150 yards and a score.
The Texans are now 5-4, very much alive in the playoff hunt. Stroud was already an overwhelming favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year — could he be an MVP candidate as well? He’s sitting on 15 touchdowns against just two picks on the season.
Stroud’s second pick came in this game, a poor throw, but otherwise the highlight tape is delightful to watch. Stroud is poised and accurate, athletic and smart. He makes plays in structure and out of structure. He’s mobile enough to extend plays, but usually does so with an eye towards downfield connections. Houston should be quarterback-set for the next decade. And just imagine what Stroud might do if the receiver room is upgraded.
Stroud will finish inside the QB1 cutline (that is, the top dozen) for the sixth time this year. He was top quarterback last week. The 2023 Texans have become must-see TV. And you have to figure they’ll make it rain next week against Arizona.
The Bengals offense wasn’t perfect Sunday — Joe Mixon only had 45 total yards and Joe Burrow threw a couple of puzzling interceptions. But Burrow also threw for 347 yards and two scores, and although Ja’Marr Chase was limited and only saw six targets, he still paid off for fantasy (5-124-1). Tyler Boyd stepped up with Tee Higgins out, posting a monster 8-117-0 line on 12 looks. Unfortunately, Boyd also had a late drop in the end zone, a play that would have likely secured the game for Cincinnati.
Maybe the Bengals were due for an off performance after four straight wins. At least Burrow looks healthy and is back to proactively scrambling. The schedule doesn’t get easier, with a trip to Baltimore coming Thursday, and then a home date with the Steelers. Fantasy managers do like Cincinnati’s playoff schedule, which bookends the Vikings and Chiefs around a rematch with Pittsburgh.
Jacksonville searching for answers
It’s now game on in the AFC South, as the Jaguars fell to 6-3 with an embarrassing 34-3 loss to San Francisco. Losing to the Niners is excusable, but not by this margin. Both teams came into the game off their bye week, which sets up the always-interesting reveal game. But all the Jaguars gave us was questions, not answers.
Trevor Lawrence has taken a shocking step backwards. He had three turnovers Sunday and took five sacks, and threw for just 185 yards despite trailing from the jump. The Jaguars can’t seem to get Calvin Ridley going (2-20-0, three targets), though Ridley did draw multiple defensive penalties. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help your fantasy count. Ridley hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 4.
Christian Kirk is established as the No. 1 target for the moment, and a 6-104-0 line is playable, though he did lose a fumble. Travis Etienne was ineffective and hardly used, finishing with 44 yards on 11 touches. He’ll probably have trouble running on the Titans next week, but at least that’s a plus matchup for Lawrence and the passing game.
If you dare to use those guys, of course. Lawrence still hasn’t made it to 20 fantasy points in a game this season.
Note: This story will continued to be updated with more Week 10 fantasy analysis.