There are few workhorse backs in the NFL, and those who remain are worth a first-round pick. Joe Mixon is one of those backs. He had 290 touches in 14 games last year and finished as a top-10 back in both formats despite the missed time. Mixon should be among the league leaders in carries with heavy involvement in the passing game as well. The expectation is 1,600 yards and double-digit scores.
Mixon has high hopes for the Bengals under new coach Zac Taylor, SiriusXM NFL Radio reports. The Cincinnati defense doesn't look much different, but there's legitimate cause for optimism on Mixon's side of the ball after both he and Tyler Boyd enjoyed breakout seasons in 2018. With Andy Dalton, Tyler Eifert (ankle) and A.J. Green (toe) all expected to be ready for training camp, the Bengals have a strong group of skill-position players for Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to work with. The offensive line appears less promising, though first-round pick Jonah Williams and free-agent signing John Miller do give the unit some potential to take a step forward. In any case, Mixon wasn't too bothered by the shaky line play last season, averaging 4.9 yards on 237 carries to finish fourth in the NFL in rushing (1,168 yards) despite missing two games. Giovani Bernard still is around to handle passing downs, but his role wasn't a huge problem last season for Mixon, who caught 30 passes for 214 yards in the 10 games both running backs played.
Mixon will split his offseason between Cincinnati and California, focusing on his stamina and durability in anticipation of large workloads under new head coach Zac Taylor, Geoff Hobson of the Bengals' official website reports. It's easy enough to draw up comparisons to Todd Gurley, who also boasts above-average speed and excellent receiving skills while checking in around 6-foot-1 and 220-to-230 pounds. Mixon expects his new coach to borrow heavily from mentor Sean McVay, whose play-action-heavy offense propelled Gurley to per-game averages of 18.4 carries, 4.2 catches, 135 scrimmage yards and 1.4 touchdowns the past two seasons. Of course, Mixon won't have the same caliber of talent surrounding him on the field in Cincinnati, but he did prove capable of putting on a one-man show in 2018 when he led the AFC in rushing yards (1,168) despite missing two games. After averaging exactly 20 touches per game in 2018, the 22-year-old could be headed for a modest uptick in 2019, though the Bengals still have Giovani Bernard under contract for one more year. Bernard is one of the better No. 2 backs in the league, but he averaged just 5.4 touches per game in the second half of 2018, primarily playing in obvious passing situations.
Mixon carried the ball 13 times for 105 yards in Sunday's 16-13 loss to the Steelers. He also added one reception for two yards. Mixon bounced back from a disappointing Week 16 showing to surpass 100 yards on the ground for the third time in four games to close the season. Nearly half of his 105 rushing yards came on a 51-yard scamper midway through the fourth quarter, which led to a game-tying field goal at the time. Despite being one of the few skill-position starters still standing to close the season, Mixon well outpaced his rookie performance to take a step forward in his second campaign. Even with Giovani Bernard in the fold for at least one more season, there is no doubt that Mixon will enter the season as the team's lead back and is one of the better fantasy options at the position as a result.
Mixon accounted for 68 rushing yards on 17 attempts, adding two receptions for 10 yards during Sunday's 26-18 loss to Cleveland. The 22-year-old Mixon had been one of the best backs in fantasy of late coming into the weekend -- checking in as RB5 in PPR scoring over the past four weeks, and facing a Browns defense that ranked in the bottom 10 in rushing yards (1,460) and receiving yards (700) allowed to opposing running backs. Mixon was unable to take advantage of the favorable matchup, logging his lowest rushing output since Nov. 18 and snapping a two-game scoring streak by failing to get into the end zone against a sub-par Cleveland red-zone defense (bottom 12 in opponent TD percentage). His pass-catching floor has subsided some as well, as he's averaged 12.8 receiving YPG over his past four games compared to 35.8 YPG in four outings prior. In Week 17 he'll be facing a Steelers defense that has been dominant against opposing RBs, giving up just 1,117 rushing yards (seventh best) and 397 receiving yards (third best) to the position this year.
Mixon (wrist/thigh) practiced fully Friday and doesn't carry an injury designation into Sunday's game against the Browns. With wideout Tyler Boyd (knee) joining A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert on the sideline this weekend, Mixon is once again in line to be the focal point of the Cincinnati offense. He's logged 53 carries for 240 yards and three scores over his last two games and should continue his high-volume ways in Week 16.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/15||San Francisco 49ers||20||19.00|
|8||10/27||@Los Angeles Rams||14||17.26|
|13||12/01||New York Jets||18||17.75|
|15||12/15||New England Patriots||8||16.00|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||208||897||6||36||292||0||152|