We’re headed to Carolina for a matchup of the first and second overall picks of the 2023 draft. There is a must-start quarterback in this game for fantasy managers and DFS players alike … that quarterback is C.J. Stroud. While he wasn’t the top pick in the draft, Stroud has been the best rookie QB so far this season, and he is easily a QB1 this week. He is coming off a bye week and should be plenty rested and ready to come out and prove that the Panthers made a mistake by choosing Bryce Young over him.
This week, C.J. goes up against a Panthers defense that gave up seven TDs to Jared Goff and Tua Tagovailoa in the two games prior to their Week 7 bye. The Panthers’ defense is still banged up with LB Frankie Luvu and starting safeties Vonn Bell and Xavier Woods listed on the injury report. They are also missing LB Shaq Thompson and DB Jeremy Quinn, which will leave the Panthers vulnerable over the middle of the field. Stroud should be able to exploit these injuries, targeting WR Nico Collins and TE Dalton Schultz in the middle.
Over the last four weeks, Carolina’s defense is allowing touchdown passes at the highest rate in the league, and opposing QBs are averaging 19 PPG against the Panthers over that stretch. The Texans also get Tank Dell back from concussion protocol, and he will be a great target to exploit against this defense with his speed down the field.
Stroud ranks tenth in passing yards (1,660) and seventh in yards per completion (7.8). Houston is sitting at second in the AFC South, and a win against the Panthers will prove they are right where they deserve to be. Stroud will have a very productive day with all of his receivers back in action, resulting in points for fantasy managers. Start Stroud with confidence this week and stack him with Collins or Dell if possible.