Joe Mixon’s fantasy football value for 2020 will rely heavily on another Joe recently added to the team in QB Joe Burrow. Mixon did well for the Cincinnati Bengals last season, but he was very boom or bust as a fantasy player. Mixon is currently going as the RB9 in Fleaflicker ADP (13th overall) when it comes to PPR leagues, but can he meet those expectations with a new QB under center?
Joe Mixon’s 2019 was hot and cold
For the 2019 season as a whole, Mixon’s stats looked okay. He managed 278 carries for 1,137 yards and five touchdowns as well as 35 catches on 45 targets for 287 yards and three touchdowns through the air. These numbers look great but fantasy football is a weekly game during the season, and week to week Mixon was a fantasy rollercoaster. He finished the year as RB11 in PPR, but he didn’t look like it to start the year.
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Mixon scored fewer than 10 PPR fantasy points in five of his first eight games, causing fantasy managers everywhere to consider trading or even dropping him in some leagues. He rallied in the back half of year though, scoring fewer than 10 fantasy points in only two of his final eight games. This wide range of scoring contributed to Mixon’s Consistency Score (CS) of 4.82, ranking him 18th for all RBs last season, just ahead of Miles Sanders and Melvin Gordon, who each had inconsistent fantasy output of their own last year.
Looking at Mixon’s individual rushing performance using PFN’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM) tells a similar story. For the year, Mixon ranked as RB46 with an OSM score of 9.11, which is far from elite. Even though the OSM model only accounts for rushing performance for running backs, it was clear that Mixon didn’t do much with the opportunities he was given. Even with his rough weekly scoring, he still finished as an RB1 in fantasy for the year, which just goes to show how misleading end of the year fantasy stats can be.
Bengals changes for 2020
During the offseason, the Bengals made a few changes to their offense. The most important addition was drafting former LSU QB Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Once the team had Burrow, they released veteran QB Andy Dalton who eventually signed with the Dallas Cowboys to backup QB Dak Prescott, making Burrow the clearcut Week 1 starter as a rookie.
The QB wasn’t the only position that changed, the WR group saw an upgrade as well. With the first pick in the second round, the Bengals added WR Tee Higgins to provide some spark on the outside. 32-year old WR AJ Green, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury, is back for 2020 after signing his franchise tag for $18.2M. These two pass-catching weapons should make defenses respect the pass more than they did last year, which should help open things up for the running backs.
The Bengals are all in on Mixon for 2020 and didn’t make any additions to their running back room. Not only that, but they also cut injury-prone backup RB Rodney Anderson during training camp in August, leaving RB Trayveon Williams as the 3rd RB on the roster. The Bengals still have RB Gio Bernard as their change of pace guy, but he hasn’t been much of a threat to Mixon’s volume in the past and it’s hard to see that changing given their respective talent levels. For all intents and purposes, this RB job belongs to Mixon for 2020, which should translate to high fantasy scoring as well.
Joe Mixon’s fantasy outlook for 2020
As I said before, Mixon’s fantasy value for 2020 will likely be determined by how Burrow performs to start the season. If Burrow comes out hot and has his offense moving the chains efficiently then Mixon could easily be a top-five RB option for fantasy. However, if Burrow struggles at all, and the team needs to lean on Mixon and the running game to get things done, that could force Mixon back into his hot and cold ways of last season, which would not be ideal.
Mixon is reportedly in the final talks to sign a four-year contract extension with the team. While playing on a contract year might have helped motivate the young running back, signing him to a long term deal will likely motivate him just as much. It had previously been speculated that the Bengals would try to renegotiate either during or after the season, but locking up your stud RB early is rarely a bad thing, especially for a team with a rookie QB looking to turn things around.
You can and should draft Joe Mixon with confidence heading into the 2020 fantasy season. He’s shown year over year that he’s a very talented player on the field and while his fantasy scoring can be inconsistent, he’s still someone worth drafting early in your redraft leagues. I would recommend that you try to pair him with running backs with higher floors a few rounds later like Kenyan Drake or Aaron Jones. That way your team can withstand his lower fantasy scoring weeks, should they occur again. Either way, you should feel great getting Mixon in the back half of the first round of your fantasy leagues, I have no doubt about it.
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Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering the NFL and Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.