C.J. Stroud Has Arrived | Week 9 Risers and Fallers

by Jonathan Lange · Studs and Duds
CJ Stroud Fantasy

Welcome back to Risers and Fallers! Week 9 had everything for us. We saw a high-scoring shootout between Tampa Bay and Houston. Unfortunately, we also saw Baltimore smother Seattle. But have no fear. I’ve got my fingers on the pulse of the NFL. Here we outline all the Risers and Fallers from a massive week of action. Let’s start with a rising star at quarterback that may have sealed up offensive rookie of the year this weekend!


C.J. Stroud, QB β€” Houston Texans

Good gracious C.J. Stroud, those Buccaneer defenders have families! The former Ohio State product went off Sunday, throwing for 470 yards and five touchdowns, marching his offense 75 yards in 40 seconds and throwing the game-winning touchdown. He is now the record-holder for most passing yards in a game by a rookie quarterback. After people questioned his talents because of a failed S2 Test during the draft process, he’s now the frontrunner to win the Rookie of the Year Award. Stroud was masterful distributing the ball to all levels of the field, as the Texans had three players finish with over 100 receiving yards. It was a historic performance that will be remembered in football for a long time.

Jahan Dotson, WR β€” Washington Commanders

Jahan Dotson is far from the primary read in the Commanders offense, but after an incredibly slow start, he’s put together good performances in back-to-back weeks. Dotson started the season as WR40 or worse in six of the first seven weeks. But last week, we saw a productive game where he was second on the team in targets and scored his first touchdown of the season. He caught an impressive 33-yard touchdown Sunday and finished the game as the Commanders’ leader in targets. Dotson isn’t an Alpha Receiver by any stretch. But he is a quality No. 2 receiver who is running hot. Perhaps it took time to adjust to this system, but now we’re seeing the second-year receiver begin to develop as an offensive threat.

Keaton Mitchell, RB β€” Baltimore Ravens

Keaton Mitchell was an afterthought for most fantasy gamers, as he was placed on IR to start the season. After this Sunday, he’s no longer an afterthought; he’s a top waiver wire target in most leagues. Mitchell showed off his burst, ripping off two runs of 40 yards or more and a touchdown. This is the type of rushing performance that indicates a change in the backfield could be coming soon.

Gus Edwards performed well, with 50 total yards and two touchdowns, but he’s primarily a short-yardage back. The Ravens need juice from the backfield, as the longest rush by a Ravens running back this season is a 27-yard rush by Justice Hill. I’m expecting Mitchell’s usage to tick up, making him a top target on waiver wires this week.

Joshua Dobbs, QB β€” Minnesota Vikings

This week, head coach Jonathan Gannon stated that after watching the film, he would be benching Joshua Dobbs. Shortly after that, Dobbs was traded to Minnesota, but he was unable to take any practice snaps. The team planned to lean on rookie Jaren Hall, but left the game early due to injury. Then, as if we were all watching a movie, Dobbs entered and threw for two touchdowns, no interceptions, and added on 66 rush yards and a rushing score. Dobbs went from being benched, to being traded away, to completing a game-winning drive with his new team. Dobbs isn’t a top-15 or maybe even top 20 QB, but he’s got rushing upside, and Justin Jefferson is returning to the lineup soon. This Vikings team will be fun to watch.


George Pickens, WR β€” Pittsburgh Steelers

George Pickens was on his way to establishing himself as the primary option in the Steelers passing attack. Diontae Johnson was out during Weeks 2-6 and Pickens took advantage, finishing as a top-12 fantasy receiver in two of those four games. Then Johnson returned. Since Johnson returned, Pickens has finished with a combined 10 targets, three receptions, and 21 yards over two games. Pickens had a chance at a touchdown Thursday night, but he was unable to get a second foot down despite appearing to have plenty of space to do so. Pickens is an extremely talented receiver that can make the most exhilarating circus catches, but it’s hard to make a living with Kenny Pickett as your quarterback. And Pickens is primarily a deep-ball, contested-catch specialist. He’ll be good for some eye-popping catches, but Johnson is the No. 1 option in this offense.

Geno Smith, QB β€” Seattle Seahawks

Last season’s dream Cinderella season is this year’s nightmare scenario. Geno Smith has been underwhelming, and it was highlighted Sunday with his 46-percent completion percentage effort against the Ravens. Looking at Smith over the season, he’s finished with one week as a top-ten quarterback in fantasy. He’s committed eight turnovers over his last four starts. Smith has four games this season with 220 or fewer passing yards. His 13 fantasy points per game rate has him settled in as a low-end QB2. The Seahawks have had injury issues with their tackles this season, but many of us were expecting Smith to be more of a high-end QB2 than this low-end QB2 version that has been on display all season.

Miles Sanders, RB β€” Carolina Panthers

During the offseason, there was a video circulating where Panthers head coach Frank Reich told Miles Sanders he would be more involved in the passing game with his new team. I wonder if he told him that he would end up being a backup to Chuba Hubbard, as well. On Sunday, Hubbard led the Panthers in backfield snaps, carries, rushing yards, targets, and receptions. To be completely fair, Sanders is recovering from a groin strain and shoulder issue, but all reports indicated he had moved past those injuries.

Reich announced that Chuba would be the starter of this new committee, but he hoped Sanders could receive more touches. If only Reich knew someone that could get Sanders more opportunities on the field! Chuba has shown to be a capable back in the NFL, and moving forward it appears that Sanders is the new RB2 behind Hubbard.

Roschon Johnson, RB β€” Chicago Bears

This one hurts to type. Roschon Johnson is one of the more beloved players from this draft class that PlayerProfiler analysts, including myself, loved. After being sidelined for two weeks due to a concussion, he returned to the field against the Chargers, where he put together a modest stat line, and most importantly, he led the team in backfield snaps. Surely this would continue in Week 9 against the Saints, right? Wrong! D’onta Foreman had 59-percent of the backfield snaps compared to Johnson’s 28-percent. Johnson had only two rushes and one reception, gathering 15 total yards. Once Khalil Herbert returns from IR, the backfield will morph into a three-headed committee. Better days may be ahead for the former Longhorn, but those better days may be in 2024.


C.J. Stroud, Jahan Dotson, Keaton Mitchell, and Joshua Dobbs are the Risers this week. George Pickens, Geno Smith, Miles Sanders, and Roschon Johnson are the Fallers. There are two main takeaways here. Firstly, wait for George Pickens to have a crazy highlight circus catch. The moment that crazy catch happens, try to trade him away before he has another clunker of a game similar to what he’s had the past two weeks. Secondly, be ready to make a waiver claim on Keaton Mitchell. That dude could be the last difference maker we have come off waivers this season.