The Curious Case of Joe Mixon

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2020 was supposed to be the best year yet for Joe Mixon, a fresh $48 million contract, an incoming quarterback coming of arguably the greatest college campaign ever in Joe Burrow, a fit again Jonah Williams.

This year has not been kind to many people, besides the $19.3 million in guaranteed money, it has also not been kind to the former Oklahoma Sooner.

Story to date

Zero touchdowns through the first 3 weeks has Mixon owners concerned. The talent is not in question but between that O-line, Joe Burrow, game script and Zac Taylor it has not translated to a lot of fantasy points.

People forget that in 2019 Mixon led the NFL in evaded tackles. The man is talented, but it has not been apparent in his performances in 2020. The only team with an apparent worse O-line is the New York Giants, Saquon Barkley could not even get going on that offense this year.

The hope for Mixon owners will be that his 2020 campaign resembles his 2019 season, a slow start to the year had owners concerned (he was the RB32 between weeks 1 and 8).

Many believed they saw the real Joe Mixon in the back half of 2019. He was the 5th highest scoring RB between weeks 9 and 17, ahead of the likes of Saquon Barkley, Aaron Jones and Alvin Kamara.

The former Sooner finished the season the 2019 season with 1,137 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 287 receiving yards, 35 receptions and 3 receiving touchdowns.

Initial 2020 Outlook

Entering 2020 Mixon’s value had dropped slightly as many believed a holdout was imminent until he got a contract extension. This did not eventuate as shortly before the season kicked off, he signed the $48 million dollar contract. Armed with the reigning Heisman trophy winner, an improved offensive line, Mixon was going as high as the mid first in redraft leagues, his average ADP was 12.5. The script was set up perfectly for Mixon to have his best season to date, and for him to take the next step forward in fantasy football.

2020 season to date

Week 1

The Los Angeles Chargers presented a top defensive match up for the Bengals however they were missing some key personnel injured. Mixon’s usage was not the problem, he had 19 carries for the match, the Bengals RBs had 20 combined, Gio Bernard got one sole carry. Mixon finished with 69 rushing yards, averaging 3.6 YPC.

Mixon saw two targets for the match for one reception and two yards, Bernard had 5 targets, 4 receptions and 21 yards.

Starting right tackle Xavier Su’a Filo (ankle) left the game injured and was ruled out for the next few weeks.

It is worth noting that in 2018 and 2019, Mixon was super impressive if protecting the football. He totalled zero fumbles in these seasons combined. In 2020 in what came to a shock to many, he fumbled the ball against the Chargers.

Overall Mixon had terrific usage and it was encouraging signs for his owners, the touchdowns will come they thought and Gio will always be an annoying itch in the passing game.

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Week 2

Week 2 away against the Cleveland Browns Mixon again had incredible usage. Mixon had 16 carries, though these only resulted in 46 rushing yards at 2.9 YPC. He was repeatedly getting hit before the line of scrimmage. The Browns defence was causing the Bengals O-line all sorts of issues. Mixon was targeted four times by Burrow that match, he caught all four targets for 40 yards. This saved him from a mediocre day out and put a bit of credibility onto his fantasy score.

On Gio Bernard watch, he again only had the 1 carry for 3 yards. He did though total 7 targets, catching 5 of them for 22 yards.

Week 3

Week 3 away against the Eagles, Mixon again saw 16+ carries, this time with 17 carries and only 49 rushing yards. He only managed to haul in two receptions on three targets, finishing with 16 yards. He had his lowest output for the year. If alarm bells were not ringing in his owner’s ears previously, they were now.

Gio Bernard did not have a carry this match. His day totalled 3 targets for 3 receptions, with 55 receiving yards.

Week 4

Mixon is facing the Jacksonville Jaguars this week. His owners would be wise to think a breakout is likely. The Jaguars have been staunch against the run, allowing only three total rushing touchdowns and conceding a mere 3.2 yards per rush attempt to opposing RBs this season.

Final words

My advice, unless the offer is to good to turn down, hold Joe Mixon. Do not sell at his lowest value! We saw what he was capable of the back half of last season and in 2018. At 24 he still has plenty of football in front of him and the talent is not in question. I am of the belief we have a Bengals problem and not a Joe Mixon problem. It is just very unfortunate that this problem affects Joe Mixon.

Thank you for reading guys, I hope you enjoyed it and found it insightful. Part 2 of the Expert Consensus Rankings series, ranks 21-40 will be released next week. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @dynastyboyd and on Instagram @boydkillingworth. You can also find my other articles here.