Joe Mixon figures to lead the Bengals run game in 2018, but should you buy into him leading your Fantasy lineup? Despite leading Bengals runners in carries, total touches and work inside both the red zone and the opponents' 10-yard line last season, Mixon had just one game with over 100 rush yards, three with 100 total yards and four total touchdowns. Only twice did Mixon average at least 4.0 yards per carry when given 10-plus handoffs in a game. You can blame some of that on Bengals coach Marvin Lewis' hesitancy to feed Mixon early on as well as on a concussion that essentially sidelined him for three December games, but splitting work with Giovani Bernard was the biggest factor. That could continue, even as the Bengals label Mixon as a "bell cow" as they did in late February. Bernard held Mixon to just nine third-down touches last year and proved to be superior in passing situations. If these roles continue into 2018, Mixon will have a shot at around 250 touches, but his limited work in the passing game could cap his Fantasy upside. That's still good enough to make him a top-15 Fantasy running back in non-PPR formats and more of a top-20 option in PPR. Round 3 is where you'll find him on Draft Day.
Mixon gained eight yards on four carries and caught his only target for a one-yard gain during Saturday's 21-13 preseason win over the Cowboys. Mixon found the going extremely tough, contributing a long gain of four yards while totaling five yards on his other four touches. None of the other Bengals runners fared well either, so perhaps Mixon's struggles can be chalked up to a sound performance by an improved Dallas defensive unit. He figures to handle a sizable workload regardless of his preseason performance, but it would be reassuring for perspective fantasy owners to see him perform well in an exhibition contest. He'll likely get the opportunity to do so next week against the Bills before sitting out the final preseason contest.
Mixon left Wednesday's practice early due to an undisclosed issue, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports. Per the report, as Mixon left the field, he "was walking slowly, but he wasn't limping or anything." The Bengals should soon issue another update indicating whether the running back is dealing with an injury or something more harmless, such as cramping.
Mixon is down to 218 pounds, Geoff Hobson of the Bengals' official website reports. Mixon weighed 226 pounds at last year's combine, but he reported to rookie minicamp at 238 and played most of his rookie season around 230. A report from April had him around 225, and he apparently wants to take it a step further, even if that means sacrificing some power. In addition to the obvious benefits in terms of speed and acceleration, the second-year back may find that a slimmer physique helps him gain separation running routes. Perhaps more important than his own development, Mixon stands to benefit if the Bengals' offseason moves to upgrade their woeful offensive line end up being successful. In addition to trading for left tackle Cordy Glenn and drafting center Billy Price in the first round, Cincinnati hired offensive line coach Frank Pollack, who spent the last three seasons in Dallas. Giovani Bernard will still be involved in some capacity, but the Bengals seem intent on having Mixon handle the lead role.
Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin said Wednesday that Mixon will act as the team's lead runner in 2018 and will be relied upon heavily, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports. "Joe really came on for us in the later part of the [past] year, second half of the season. He's going to be our bell-cow running back," Tobin said. "We are going to combine him with [Giovani Bernard] and we really feel good about that position group." As a second-round rookie out of Oklahoma, Mixon saw lighter usage behind starter Jeremy Hill (ankle) during the Bengals' first two games before effectively emerging as the top back on the depth chart for the bulk of the campaign. Though he battled an ankle injury over the final quarter of the season and yielded more work to Bernard as a result, Mixon evidently made enough of an impression over his 14 games to earn the clear No. 1 role heading into 2018. In order to maintain the bell-cow role for the balance of the season and limit Bernard to change-of-pace work, however, Mixon will likely need to display more efficiency than he did during his first year in the NFL. Mixon's 3.5 yards per carry last season was the third-worst mark in the league for players who toted the ball at least 170 times, ahead of only Carolina's Jonathan Stewart (3.4) and Washington's Samaje Perine (3.4).
Mixon rushed 18 times for 96 yards and caught his lone target for one yard in Sunday's 31-27 win over the Ravens. Mixon was rolling in the first half with 14 carries for 77 yards, but he also lost a second quarter fumble. The Bengals offense stalled for much of the second half until their game-winning drive in the game's final minute, which the rookie watched from the sideline. The 96 rushing yards are Mixon's second-highest total of the season, and allow him to finish on a high note after dealing with a concussion and ankle injury in December.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|7||10/21||@Kansas City Chiefs||20||17.76|
|8||10/28||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||29||19.13|
|10||11/11||New Orleans Saints||12||17.22|
|14||12/09||@Los Angeles Chargers||23||18.38|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||178||626||4||30||287||0||110|