Heading into Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season, things appeared to be progressing smoothly for the Houston Texans’ offense. However, on Friday, it became uncertain whether C.J. Stroud would play in Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts. Stroud popped up on the injury report as a limited participant with a right shoulder injury and was listed as questionable.
Let’s look at whether Stroud looks set to suit up against the Colts and the potential fantasy football and betting impacts of his absence.
Is C.J. Stroud Going To Play Week 2?
Given the surprising nature of the injury on Friday, we have not had much of an update out of Houston regarding Stroud’s status. Early on Sunday morning, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweeted that it appears to be a legitimate game-time decision with Stroud this week. However, a few hours later, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Stroud is expected to play in Week 2.
#Texans QB C.J. Stroud popped up on the injury report on Friday with a right shoulder injury, but he is expected to play today, source said. He was listed as questionable.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 17, 2023
Wilson also revealed that if Stroud were to miss the game, it would be Davis Mills starting in his place. Stroud’s absence would be a big blow to a Texans team hoping to build through the season with the rookie QB. In Week 1, Stroud had 242 passing yards, going 25-of-44. He failed to find the end zone but also did not throw any interceptions.
Fantasy Impact of Stroud’s Potential Absence in Week 2
Last week, Nico Collins and Robert Woods were Stroud’s main weapons. Collins saw 11 targets, catching six for 80 yards, resulting in a 14-point PPR performance. That saw Collins finish as the WR24 in that format. Meanwhile, Robert Woods caught six of his 10 targets for 57 yards and an 11.7 PPR performance, good enough for WR32.
Looking at other scoring systems, Collins was WR28 in non-PPR, with Woods down at 43. Entering this week, both were viable PPR options if Stroud played, but fringe options in non-PPR and half-PPR. If Stroud doesn’t play, we have to downgrade the expectations just a touch, especially for Woods.
Collins played with Mills last year and has something of a rapport. That should help him overcome any rustiness of the two not having the bulk of practice time together. Woods does not have that same familiarity with Mills and would likely be more touchdown-dependent than Collins.
Those two are the only fantasy options in Houston affected by the change at QB. Stroud is a fringe 14-team Superflex starting option in PFN’s Consensus Rankings, and Mills would be unlikely to rank any higher if he were the starter.
In PFN’s Start/Sit Optimizer, Mills and Stroud are both projected for around eight fantasy points in four-point per passing touchdown formats and just under nine fantasy points in six-point touchdown formats.
Those demonstrate how neither is a reliable option for you this week.
Even in deep Superflex leagues, you may find more value playing an extra RB or WR at Flex than Stroud or Mills.
Betting Impact of Stroud’s Potential Absence
If Stroud misses the game, it downgrades the Texans’ chances somewhat. Mills is not a huge downgrade on Stroud at this point in their careers, but he is not the same talent as Stroud. Entering Sunday, the Texans are the slight favorites, but that likely flips if Stroud is ruled out.
We saw the threat that Anthony Richardson and the Colts provided last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It would be tough to back the Texans this week, regardless of who is under center. Houston did not look that impressive offensively last week, and whether it is a semi-injured Stroud or Mills playing QB, it would be hard to back them laying points against Richardson and the Colts in what could be a close game right to the end.
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