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C.J. Stroud NFL Rookie Profile - Fantasy Football Quarterback Outlook

Former Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud has faced lofty expectations throughout his football career, and he has not yet disappointed. He joined Ohio State in 2020 as a highly-regarded recruit, and by his second season with the Buckeyes, he had become a dominant passing force.

Stroud racked up statistical accomplishments, awards, and wins during his time in college, and he entered the 2023 NFL Draft as an elite prospect. After spending the draft process jockeying with his peers for a top draft spot, Stroud wound up being selected second overall by the Houston Texans.

Let's take a deeper look back at Stroud's history to determine his fantasy football outlook for 2023 and beyond.


C.J. Stroud NFL Rookie Profile

Team: Houston Texans

College: Ohio State

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 214

Age: 21 (10/03/2001)

Arm Length: 32 5/8"

Hand Size: 10"

2023 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick: 2


Stroud's Early College Career

Stroud was a consensus four-star recruit and the third-best quarterback in 2020 according to the 247Sports Composite. He committed to the Buckeyes in December 2019 over Georgia, Oregon, and bitter rival Michigan. Other schools from which he received offers included Baylor, Kansas State, and Utah.

Given that Justin Fields was starring in Columbus in 2020, it is no surprise that Stroud barely saw the field as a freshman. His only statistical production in his first college season was a single rushing attempt. That run went for a 48-yard touchdown in a 52-12 blowout win over Michigan State.

Ohio State went on to lose the College Football Championship to Alabama 52-24. Fields then departed Ohio State for the 2021 NFL Draft, leaving Stroud to take command of the offense as a sophomore.


2021 Breakout Campaign

Stroud took the college football world by storm in his first season as a starter. He put up video game numbers with the Buckeyes in 2021; he had five or more touchdowns and/or 400+ yards in seven of his 12 starts. Michigan State particularly felt the onslaught, as Stroud dismantled the then-seventh-ranked Spartans by completing 32 of 35 passes for 432 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

Ohio State made neither the Big Ten Championship Game nor the College Football Playoff after losing two games. In those defeats to Oregon and Michigan, Stroud passed for a combined 878 yards and five touchdowns, completing 67 percent of his passes and tossing just one interception.

Opponent Completions Attempts Pass Yards Pass TDs INTs Rush Yards Rush TDs
Minnesota 13 22 294 4 1 13 0
Oregon 35 54 484 3 1 -3 0
Tulsa 15 25 185 1 1 -14 0
Rutgers 17 23 330 5 0 13 0
Maryland 24 33 406 5 0 8 0
Indiana 21 28 266 4 0 1 0
Penn State 22 34 305 1 0 0 0
Nebraska 36 54 405 2 2 -13 0
Purdue 31 38 361 5 0 -1 0
Michigan State 32 35 432 6 0 -4 0
Michigan 34 49 394 2 0 -30 0
Utah 37 46 573 6 1 10 0
Total 317 441 4,435 44 6 -20 0

Ohio State still qualified for the Rose Bowl against Utah, and in that game, Stroud had a performance for the ages. He passed for 573 yards and six touchdowns, both Rose Bowl records, and led his team to a narrow 48-45 victory over the Utes. Stroud finished the season fourth in the Heisman voting and was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

Due to Stroud's prolific passing, expectations were sky-high for both him and the Buckeyes as he moved into his junior season in 2022.


2022 Return

Although Stroud's statistics were a bit less gaudy in 2022, he still found a great deal of success. Ohio State began the year 11-0 under his leadership. Stroud again showed his contempt for Michigan State, shredding them with 361 yards and six touchdowns. He also helped the Buckeyes win an ugly game versus Northwestern; in extremely windy conditions, Stroud needed to rely on his legs more often than usual.

Ohio State did, however, lose their 12th and final regular season game. Stroud threw a season-high two interceptions in a 45-23 loss to the Michigan Wolverines. This handed Michigan the Big Ten East Division title and led Ohio State to sweat out the CFP Selection Show. They did still get seeded fourth, and they were chosen to face the defending National Champions, Georgia, in the Peach Bowl.

Opponent Completions Attempts Pass Yards Pass TDs INTs Rush Yards Rush TDs
Notre Dame 24 34 223 2 0 1 0
Arkansas State 16 24 351 4 0 -1 0
Toledo 22 27 367 5 0 9 0
Wisconsin 17 27 281 5 1 0 0
Rutgers 13 22 154 2 1 -1 0
Michigan State 21 26 361 6 1 -4 0
Iowa 20 30 286 4 1 -13 0
Penn State 26 33 354 1 0 5 0
Northwestern 10 26 76 0 0 79 0
Indiana 17 28 297 5 0 8 0
Maryland 18 30 241 1 0 -6 0
Michigan 31 48 349 2 2 -3 0
Georgia 23 34 348 4 0 34 0
Total 258 389 3,688 41 6 108 0

The semifinal matchup was an exciting bout between two elite teams. Stroud passed for 348 yards and four scores, and he added 34 more yards on the ground. Unfortunately for Ohio State, though, they were on the wrong end of a 42-41 result, ending their season.

Stroud's impressive season led to him being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Moreover, he finished third in the Heisman voting, one spot higher than he achieved the season prior. Stroud's success and accolades meant that he was a tantalizing prospect for teams in the 2023 NFL Draft.


C.J. Stroud Draft Stock Movement

Throughout the 2022 season, Stroud and Alabama's Bryce Young were considered the two primary contenders to be the first quarterback taken in the 2023 NFL Draft. When the NFL regular season wrapped up, the Chicago Bears were awarded the top draft choice; as Chicago already had a young QB in Justin Fields, it was unknown if they would take a defensive player first overall, trade Fields and take a passer like Stroud or Young, or trade down in the draft.

On March 10, the Carolina Panthers made the ambitious move to trade up with the Bears to the first draft spot. Stroud's stock quickly rose, as insiders suggested that Carolina had their sights set on the former Buckeye rather than Young. This was due in part to concerns over Young's small stature, as Stroud is a full five inches taller. However, the situation soon became hazy, and Stroud's standing among his peers fell a bit, partially because other quarterbacks reportedly performed much better on the S2 Cognition Test.

C.J. Stroud Mock Draft Data

C.J. Stroud Mock Draft Data

By the time draft day rolled around, Young was the consensus top pick, and Stroud was not even considered a lock to go second overall to the Houston Texans. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis and Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. were believed to be in the mix as well. Stroud did indeed go second to the Texans, though, becoming their presumptive quarterback of the future.


C.J. Stroud Fantasy Football Outlook

Stroud will very likely be Houston's starting quarterback in Week 1. Neither third-year passer Davis Mills nor veteran Case Keenum poses a realistic threat to Stroud's playing time. As Stroud steps in as the face of the franchise immediately, he is also worth a long look in fantasy circles.

The new Texan has solid arm strength and smooth mechanics, and he often made the right decisions while at Ohio State. However, he is particularly renowned for his accuracy. Stroud's excellent ball placement is what set him apart from his peers in this year's draft class. His ability to drop deep passes into the perfect spot is Stroud's best attribute.

Stroud's teams at Ohio State were stocked with elite wideouts, including some who have already been first-round picks (Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba) and others who soon could be (Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka). He will find himself in a very different situation with the Texans. Nico Collins and Robert Woods are not truly top options. John Metchie III missed his rookie season last year with leukemia, and Tank Dell was selected in the third round this April; these two could be sleepers this year.

As with all of this year's rookie quarterbacks, Stroud should not be considered a top fantasy choice this season. His clear status as the team's starter should make him a low-end QB2, but Houston's dearth of weapons and Stroud's lack of rushing upside limits his outlook. Stroud should be a top-5 pick in Superflex rookie drafts, and in Non-Superflex rookie drafts Stroud ought to go between 10th and 15th overall.

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