Cardinals @ Texans
Final Score: Texans 21, Cardinals 16
Writer: Christian Otteman (@COttemanPL on Twitter/X)
In a year defined by subpar quarterback play amidst injuries to some of the league’s best, rookie phenom C.J. Stroud has been amongst the best stories in the NFL this season and is a near-lock to with the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Stroud has been at the center of two of the NFL’s most exciting games this season, leading the Texans to last-minute wins over the Buccaneers and the Bengals in the past two weeks. Enter Kyler Murray, a dynamic dual-threat QB who led the Cardinals to their second win of 2023 in his first game of the season following a recovery from an ACL tear. With these two quarterbacks facing each other, this matchup promised fireworks, and it certainly delivered…
…for the first half. Yeah, this game got off to a fantastic start with both QBs showcasing their arms on deep touchdown passes to Rondale Moore and Tank Dell, but the second half was “highlighted” by several turnovers and failed 4th down conversions. It was hardly the stellar play we’ve come to know from these two signal callers, but it was probably the ideal outcome for both Houston and Arizona fans alike. The Texans improve their case for a playoff spot, while the Cardinals keep their position secure in the top 5 picks of the 2024 draft.
- Nathaniel “Tank” Dell – The rookie has now recorded 10+ targets, 6+ receptions, and a touchdown in three consecutive games, displaying the usage of an alpha WR with a truly elite ceiling. You should not only be starting him but trusting him every week as this offense continues to fire on all cylinders.
- Devin Singletary – It was another productive Sunday for Singletary in the absence of Dameon Pierce as the Houston RB handled 24 touches for 118 yards and a score. Singletary has been efficient as the lead back the past couple of weeks and should continue to see a good number of opportunities in this high-octane offense, even when Pierce returns to the fray. Contending teams, especially those in Dynasty formats, should consider buying ahead of the playoff push.
- Greg Dortch – Dortch was the leading receiver for the Cardinals today and was targeted eight times in his first significant game action of the year. There are a lot of mouths to feed in this offense, but this is a guy worth keeping an eye on, especially if the Michael Wilson injury continues to linger.
- Marquise Brown – That makes two straight duds for the Cardinals’ supposed WR1 with Kyler Murray at the helm. He will be difficult to trust as long as the offense continues to funnel through the likes of Trey McBride.
- James Conner – A very slight downtick, though for the second straight week, he failed to score and did not see significant passing work. I’m certain better days are ahead so long as the health is there.
Kyler Murray: 20/30, 214 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT | 7 carries, 51 yards, 1 TD
Kyler started his Sunday hot with a fantastic touchdown pass to Rondale Moore on the Cardinals’ first drive, which would, unfortunately, be his only score through the air, though he would add another on the ground–his second rushing score in as many games. The deep ball remains an area that needs improvement for Murray, as demonstrated by a deep target to Marquise Brown in this game. However, his rushing prowess and likely exposure to a come-from-behind game script for the remainder of the season keep him propped up as a rock-solid fantasy QB for the rest of the season. Kyler gets the Rams next week in an NFC West showdown certain to have a high game total.
- Kyler could have had an even better day on the ground if a 35-yard scramble hadn’t gotten called back on a holding penalty in the first quarter. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll just say he looked like the Kyler we know and love. A 100-yard rushing game is in the Cards for him this season.
James Conner: 14 carries, 62 yards | 2/3 receiving, 1 yard
Conner looked spry on a number of his touches this afternoon, shedding would-be tacklers and keeping the Cards moving for much of the first half. Playing from behind, Conner saw fewer opportunities in the second half, and it was Kyler Murray who punched in the team’s only rushing score of the day. Such is the norm when you share the backfield with a QB like Kyler, but Conner carries one of the safer floors in the league and commands a hefty share of the Cards’ backfield touches.
Tony Jones Jr.: 1 carry, 10 yards | 1/1 receiving, 11 yards
Jones continues to be efficient with his touches, albeit on a minuscule opportunity share. He should remain on waivers.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Greg Dortch: 6/8 receiving, 76 yards
In a week inundated with casing rumors for Marvel’s new Fantastic Four movie, The Human Dortch put his skills on display in a six-catch effort that was easily his best of the season. Deep leaguers may remember Dortch as a desperation flex play that popped on occasion in 2022, and he possesses similar longshot upside in a Kyler Murray offense should Michael Wilson miss any additional time. It’s not quite “Flame On” time, but keep a fire extinguisher on hand for those Week 13 and 14 byes just in case.
- Dortch was found on a 4th-and-3 in the 4th quarter but came up short of the 1st down, stopping the Cardinals’ drive just short of the red zone. This staff seems to trust Dortch, but he works better as a speedster than a guy fighting for extra yardage.
Rondale Moore: 1/1 receiving, 48 yards, 1 TD | 2 carries, 6 yards
Moore caught a deep ball from Kyler Murray on the first drive of the day en route to an otherwise quiet outing from the speedster. He’s still a TD-or-bust guy, but let’s take a moment to appreciate today’s score:
The throw 🎯
The catch 🔥 pic.twitter.com/4bJeASirK6
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 19, 2023
Trey McBride: 5/7 receiving, 43 yards
McBride turned in a good-not-great outing following his career performance in Week 10. He continues to operate as a centerpiece of the offense but needs to find the end zone more often to ascend to the upper echelon of the TE position. He remains at 1 TD for the season. Always the McBridesmaid, never the McBride, it seems… (we still love you, Trey).
Marquise Brown: 2/5 receiving, 18 yards
Another rough outing for Hollywood, with two of his looks coming on desperation plays on the Cardinals’ last two plays from scrimmage that never really had a chance. He’s certainly not a drop, but he shouldn’t be started until he can provide an outing that instills more confidence. The floor is simply too low for the moment.
Geoff Swaim: 2/2 receiving, 15 yards
In a league I for some reason partake in that requires managers to start five TEs every week, both Geoff Swaim and fellow Cards TE Elijah Higgins (1/2 receiving, 2 yards) are on waivers. I imagine they are both there in your league, too.
C.J. Stroud: 27/37, 336 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
C.J. Stroud has thoroughly exceeded expectations this season and has placed the Texans squarely in the playoff conversation following another win. Despite his success, there are still growing pains for Stroud as he adjusts to the NFL, as his stat line this Sunday was blemished by three interceptions, the first of which came on an ill-advised pass to Nico Collins in the end zone where he simply appeared to be unaware of the Cardinals safety. However, as we know, the most important thing when it comes to rookie QBs is not the mistakes they make, but how they respond to them. Stroud responded beautifully by leading the Texans down the field as the first half drew to a close, a drive that was punctuated by a 40-yard touchdown to Tank Dell. Despite his missteps, Stroud has time and time again displayed poise and maturity in his first season in the NFL and has a great career ahead. He deserves your full trust in the closing weeks of the fantasy season. If there was ever any doubt about his confidence following a 3-INT day, check out his response to the turnovers:
C.J. Stroud on whether throwing picks will affect his confidence in taking shots.
"Steph Curry don't ever stop shooting … Imma keep letting it fly."
— Jerome Solomon (@JeromeSolomon) November 19, 2023
I think he’ll be just fine.
Davis Mills: 1/1, 2 yards
Mills completed his only pass on his only snap as Stroud took a break after being sacked. The collective football world exhaled a sigh of relief when he retook the field one play later.
Devin Singletary: 22 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD | 2/2 receiving, 6 yards
Singletary turned in another top-tier RB performance for managers who decided to trust him after delivering a PPR RB3 finish in Week 10. His opportunities will probably decrease when Dameon Pierce returns in the coming weeks, though it’s worth noting this backfield was working towards a more even split before Pierce’s injury. Singletary has looked more explosive and elusive in the past two weeks than Pierce has all season and should be rewarded by taking on a larger share of the workload when this backfield is at full strength.
Mike Boone: 1 carry, 0 yards | 1/1 receiving, 5 yards
Boone’s lone carry came on a 4th-and-2 pitch that he failed to convert on Houston’s first drive of the day. He should only be rostered in the deepest of leagues with the deepest of benches.
Andrew Beck: 1 carry, 0 yards
A fullback makes an appearance in the box score. The world rejoices.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Nathaniel “Tank” Dell: 8/10 receiving, 149 yards, 1 TD
The man simply cannot be stopped. This week likely makes three straight Top-12 WR finishes for Dell, who is exhibiting top-tier chemistry with fellow rookie C.J. Stroud. Stroud has played phenomenally as of late, but Dell has also hit a new gear in the back half of his rookie season. Check out the route and catch on his TD at the end of the first half:
Still cannot get over this Tank Dell route. pic.twitter.com/mmfCol6NaH
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) November 19, 2023
Special play from a special player. Can’t wait to see dozens of highlights just like this in the coming seasons.
Nico Collins: 7/11 receiving, 65 yards
Opposite Dell, not only in on-field formations but also in stature, we have Nico Collins leading the team in targets. Collins didn’t find the end zone this week, but as we’ve seen multiple times this season, he has game-breaking upside. He should remain in your lineups as long as he’s in the Texans’.
Robert Woods: 5/8 receiving, 44 yards
Bobby Trees showed bits of his old self today and was missed on an end zone route by Stroud that could have resulted in a touchdown. He’s a player whose veteran leadership provides more value than anything he produces in the box score.
Dalton Schultz: 2/3 receiving, 32 yards, 1 TD
Schultz scored for the fifth time in seven games today and has quietly finished as a top-9 TE in six of seven weeks. His upside depends on his ability to find the end zone, but very few TEs don’t carry that qualifier, and Schultz has a better chance than most to find paydirt.
Steven Sims: 2/2 receiving, 25 yards
Sims was elevated from the practice squad before today’s game and showed his talents on a catch-and-run that earned the Texans a first down following a sack. Unfortunately, he’ll probably be relegated to practice squad duties when Noah Brown makes his return.
John Metchie III: 1/1 receiving, 12 yards
I am constantly rooting for Metchie as he works through his true rookie season after he battled Leukemia in 2022. He is a feel-good story that deserves every bit of success he earns in the coming years.