Not Your Average Joe
The Cincinnati Bengals have been the NFL's definition of mediocrity. They've been the equivalent of watching paint dry, but more painful (maybe a lead-based paint?). It's no surprise that when looking back on recent fantasy seasons, it seems no fantasy GMs were jumping for joy at the opportunity to draft anyone on this unexciting roster.
Enter Joe Burrow: LSU's 2019 National Champion quarterback, 2019 Heisman winner, and 2020 first overall pick in the NFL draft. It stands to reason that Cincinnati is buzzing at the idea of having THEIR GUY, a player with the skill and swag necessary to lead an NFL franchise.
Though, from a fantasy perspective, I think Burrow will leave fantasy players wanting more once the initial hype wears off - at least at the start of his career. However, there is a Joe that I think will greatly benefit from the arrival of Joe Burrow...and that is Joe Mixon.
Because of his landing spot on the Bengals back in 2017, Joe Mixon has been to fantasy owners what vitamins are to kids -- you know you should probably take him because it'll probably be good for you, but...eh. Although not overly exciting, his ability is fantastic. The guy is a great running back with an amazing skill set - and he's only 24 years old.
If you drafted him last year, Mixon gave you heartburn for the first half of the year. Here are his fantasy totals for the Bengals first 7 games last year: 1.7, 2.7, 15.4, 6.3, 10.9, 3.9, 6.4. Woof. I mean, outside of Week 3 against Buffalo (15.4), Mixon owners were kicking themselves for wasting high draft capital on a guy scoring less than most kickers.
The second half of the season was a much different story. The Bengals began to feed Mixon the ball as they were able to stay in games. In fact, he actually had the most carries of any RB in the league in the second half of the year. Mixon turned the increase in opportunities into being #2 in rushing yards in the second half of the season (1st - Derrick Henry). In games 1-7, Mixon's fantasy points per game average was 6.7. In games 8-16, Mixon averaged 15.9 points per game. Night and day. If your fantasy team was able to overcome his shortcomings last year, you were rewarded with his great production down the stretch. So what does that mean for fantasy football owners this year?
In an article by Geoff Hobson on the team's website, there is much talk of Cincinnati's offensive coordinator Brian Callahan and how he views Mixon going into this season. In short, Mixon is referred to as a "volume carrier." Callahan is quoted saying, "He gets better as he gets more carries" and "The more Joe touches the ball, the better it is for our offense, without a doubt. All the ways we can find to get him the ball, the better it's going to be." This is music to a fantasy owner's ears. Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.
By the way, don't forget the added bonus of his co-stars. First, A.J. Green will make his triumphant return to the field in 2020. The team hopes his return will help provide a much needed boost in the passing game, which should in turn, open things up in the running game. Of course, Joe Burrow should add a lot of firepower to the offense as a proven playmaker in the college ranks. Burrow is a rookie quarterback coming into a season without preseason season games and has the pressure of being the savior of an NFL franchise desperate for wins. A young QB's best friend - a talented running back he can check down to.
Hear me out:
Joe Mixon is definitely worth a pick at the later end of the first round where he is currently being drafted. However, I think he has Top 5 upside if the Bengals offense is even a little more dynamic this year and OC Brian Callahan feeds Mixon the ball as much as he is hinting at. If you put any emphasis on strength of schedule, Mixon has the 13th ranked SoS for RBs in 2020.
Let others shy away from the boring Bengals back while you reap the rewards.