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Value of Things: Handicapping Texans QB Stroud’s chances in the MVP race

Has there been any movement for C.J. Stroud?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The “Value of Things” began as a more analytical look at the game of football. That can be no more present than in our look at the awards voting. Looking at statistics from week to week can seem like a little bit much, so I have staggered it a bit and looked every two games. Last week we handicapped win, place, and show for the award.

This week we will look at the top eight quarterbacks on the betting board. Tyreek Hill and Myles Garrett usually fill out the top ten. There might be some fluctuation as guys like Jordan Love make a late season push. We have to keep in mind our criteria where we are looking for not only statistically good quarterbacks, but good quarterbacks on winning teams.

C.J. Stroud firmly belongs there as the Houston Texans are 7-5 and more or less control their own destiny for at least a wild card berth. Naturally, every team can say that with five games left. Any team that is 6-6 or better guarantees themselves a spot in the playoffs with a 5-0 finish. So, saying they control their own destiny is not as impressive as it sounds. Yet, when we consider where this team has been the past three seasons it is extremely impressive.

We will be utilizing eight individual numbers and simply displaying each player’s rank in the eight categories amongst these eight quarterbacks. We could add up those ranks and come out with a composite score where the lowest sum wins. Let’s see how that tracks with the predictions we made a week ago.

Composite Rankings

Brock Purdy— 23
Dak Prescott— 24
C.J. Stroud— 30
Tua Tagviolia— 31
Lamar Jackson— 34
Jared Goff— 44
Jalen Hurts— 45
Patrick Mahomes— 46

These are composite rankings. We could go into a ton of reasons why this kind of analysis is faulty on its face. For one, it assumes all eight categories carry the same weight. We know that can’t possibly be true. It also does not rate the intensity or difference between the players. Hurts has 12 rushing touchdowns while Jackson is second with five. That’s a significant gap.

We also have to take into account that there are categories that weren’t included that might be significant in identifying quarterback success. Won-loss records matter. What surrounds a quarterback matters. So, I don’t present these composite rankings as anything other than another data point.

After all, Hurts has 31 combined rushing and passing touchdowns. So, he really isn’t the seventh best quarterback on this list. He may not be as proficient at passing as some of the other quarterbacks, but the combined resume is compelling. Prescott is second with 28 combined touchdowns while Brock Purdy comes in with 25 combined scores. That was not one of our categories.

However, C.J. Stroud has a surprisingly solid third place showing in the composite rankings. That is bolstered with the most passing yards and least number of interceptions His 23 combined touchdowns are not great, but beat the likes of Mahomes, Jackson, and Goff. Clearly he belongs in this group.

Is Stroud a Top Five quarterback?

This is an impossible question to answer in any definitive way After all, we have the likes of Josh Allen and Justin Herbert to contend with. Their teams haven’t been good but if you gave them better coaching who knows what could happen. However, we could make similar statements as far as Stroud is concerned.

What were to happen if he had a consistent set of lineman blocking in front of him? George Fant and Shaq Mason have played almost every down on the right hand side. Neither will make the Pro Bowl at their position. The other three spots have seen a turnstile of guys that can’t seem to stay healthy. This has partially truncated a running game that was supposed to be the strength of the offense. Neither Dameon Pierce nor Devin Singletary have consistently gained yards. Both have had flashes, but those have been few and far between.

Almost every quarterback could tell a similar tale. The key for Stroud is what will happen in the last five games of the season. If the team manages to finish 3-2 and sneak into the playoffs then he will get some votes. If they manage to go 4-1 or 5-0 and win the division then he could be a serious dark horse candidate. It’s anyone’s ballgame at this point.