by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Fantasy owners want to believe in Joe Mixon and his potential to be a fantasy stud in 2018. There’s been talk of being in “great shape”, a typical preseason cliché, as he went from 230 to 218 lbs. adding fuel to the fire. Mixon himself was quoted by the team’s official website (click here to view) as saying:
“I was working in that heat,” says Mixon, who got it both barrels in his hometown of Oakland and his adopted home of Norman, Okla. “I feel like that’s where I play my best. I was trying to get low last year but I wasn’t able to make it. I feel real good. My body feels real good. I feel like I’m in really good shape.”
Despite the optimism the preseason results simply haven’t been there. Thus far he’s been given 13 carries, taking them for just 24 yards (1.8 yards/carry) and 0 TD. He has shown a little bit more in the passing game, turning 3 catches into 48 yards and 1 TD.
The ability to produce in the passing game helps, though when you look at the pre-draft scouting reports there were not only character questions but at least some doubt about his ability to thrive running the football. Here’s a quote from an NFC North area scout, courtesy of NFL.com:
“I’m not going to talk about any character issue because every team has to go through and make their own decisions. As a player, he can play all three downs but he’s not going to create for himself like Fournette or Cook. But he can also have an impact on the passing game that they can’t have. I see him as a top-40 player. Obviously, he won’t go there.”
That’s not to say that he can’t thrive, but in his rookie year he averaged 3.5 yards per carry, rushing for 626 yards and 4 TD. It’s easy to argue that Giovani Bernard outperformed him (4.4 yards per carry on 105 carries), and it’s easy to envision the duo sharing running back duties (both on the early downs and third downs). The team also added Mark Walton with a fourth round selection, and he showed a nose for the end zone while at Miami in 2016 (14 TD on 209 carries). He can also catch the football and could be an option on third downs/short yardage situations.
In other words, while the hype is there the risks are also for real. Mixon is being drafted as a borderline RB1, as the 14th running back coming off the board with an ADP of 23.6. It’s not an unreasonable draft slot, but it would be easy to argue that you’d be better off selecting a WR at the spot (Mike Evans or Tyreek Hill, for instance) and instead target someone like Alex Collins or Royce Freeman a round later.
Sources – NFL.com, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: