by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Fantasy owners appear to be valuing the Bengals’ Joe Mixon like it’s a given that he’s a workhorse, three-down running back in 2018. He’s thus far been a borderline second round pick (his average ADP is 24.6), though the RB he’s going before aren’t unreasonable:
- LeSean McCoy (BUF) – 29.0
- Derrius Guice (WAS) – 35.0
- Derrick Henry (TEN) – 35.2
- Kenyan Drake (MIA) – 39.2
That said, is there actual value in selecting Mixon in the second round or would fantasy owners be better served to bypass him and instead wait on selecting a running back for a round or two?
Mixon’s performance (in 14 games) in his rookie season doesn’t justify this type of reach:
- Rushing – 178 carries for 626 yards and 4 TD
- Receiving – 30 receptions for 287 yards and 0 TD
Those are fine numbers, but they don’t represent second round production.
One argument will be that with Jeremy Hill no longer on the roster Mixon is a locked in early down back. Maybe that’s true, but Giovani Bernard (105 carries in ’17) showed better production in his chances (4.4 yards/carry) and at least will operate as the third-down back. Would it really be a surprise if he was asked to also do some early down work?
Then there is fourth round selection Mark Walton, whose draft stock likely fell due to a season ending ankle injury. If he was in the draft coming off his 2016 season (1,117 yards rushing yards and 14 TD), there would be a lot more chatter about him being in the mix. There has been talk that Walton has the potential to be a three-down running back and if he’s healthy there’s a chance that he gets plenty of touches as well.
In other words there’s risk that Mixon loses touches. Granted there aren’t many backs who are true workhorses these days, but we’d have more faith in the names going immediately before him (Christian McCaffrey, Jordan Howard & Jerrick McKinnon). It appears that fantasy owners who miss out on those three are reaching for Mixon, despite the lack of performance (he averaged 3.5 yards/carry) and risk that he doesn’t get quite the same workload (he only had 18+ carries in four games in ’17).
None of this is to say that Mixon isn’t worth owning, but selecting him in the second round may simply be an unnecessary risk (especially when you can get someone like Giuce or Drake on the wrap). There’s talent and upside, so if he falls into the third round we could get behind the pick, but at a second round value we’d be passing.
Sources – ESPN, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: