It has been a rough start to the season for both Joe Mixon and fantasy football GMs who drafted him just a few weeks ago, and things got worse on Saturday as Mixon was added to the Cincinnati Bengals injury report as questionable with a chest injury. Through the first three weeks, Mixon has amassed just 164 yards despite seeing over 15 carries in all three of his games so far. Even if Mixon is on the field, is he worth starting in fantasy football leagues given his tough start to the season?
12:01 AM Update: ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Joe Mixon, who was added to an injury report with a chest injury that left him questionable, is expected to play Sunday vs. the Jaguars. For more on the injury and what we can expect from Mixon against the Jaguars, keep reading below.
What do we know about the injury?
Right now, we know very little about Joe Mixon’s injury, other than the fact it is a chest injury, and it is not something he has been dealing with the majority of the week. The initial instinct would be that it is bothersome, but not causing him a great issue as of Saturday. If the injury was immediately serious, the Bengals likely tag him as doubtful or out, so perhaps this is just precautionary.
However, late injury designations are never good, and regardless of what the problem is, Mixon now likely sees a split of his workload, be that with Giovani Bernard, Samaje Perine, or Trayveon Williams. Those three backs have a combined two carries this season, both of which belong to Bernard.
The final option is that Mixon is questionable awaiting further tests and could end up being downgraded later on Saturday, or even Sunday morning. Whichever of these scenarios is true; it is likely that Bernard sees a significant increase on his average of 4.67 touches per game. Bernard is a player to add if you have the space on your bench and need an option for Week 4.
Just how bad has Mixon been this season?
The numbers really tell their own story. 52 carries for 164 yards at 3.2 yards per attempt, seven receptions for 58 yards, zero touchdowns, amounting to just 27.2 fantasy points in PPR formats for Joe Mixon. No matter how you look at it, an average of just over nine fantasy points per game has been a disaster for a consensus top-15 fantasy pick this season.
If we use our expected fantasy points metric we can see just how bad it has been for Mixon this year. An average running back over the last decade that had seen 52 carries and seven receptions would have been expected to score 46.04 fantasy points. Therefore, Mixon has a Fantasy Points Differential of -41% compared to what an average back would be expected to return. Given that Mixon is generally considered one of the better backs in the league, the 2020 season has been a major disappointment.
Should you start Mixon if he is active?
There are many layers to the issues with Mixon this week, even before the late injury news. Through the first three weeks of the season, Mixon has registered Offensive Value Metric (OVM) of 3.19, 9.4, and 1.29 for an overall OVM of 4.6. OVM measures the impact a player has had on his team when it comes to factors in his control. To put how poorly Mixon has performed into perspective, the current highest OVM among the running back position is 16.01 for Myles Gaskin, more than three times higher than Mixon.
Therein lies the crux of the problem when it comes to starting Joe Mixon’s fantasy value in Week 4. Mixon’s offensive line has been widely criticized, but Mixon is also not making plays that are expected of a running back that has been paid as well as he has. This is not a new problem either. According to Pro Football Network’s Consistency Score, Mixon finished outside the top 15 at the position in 2019.
In terms of matchup, Mixon should have a chance to succeed this week. The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed the second-most PPR fantasy points to running backs in the league this year. Additionally, when it comes to PFN’s Defensive Points Allowed Consistency Score, the Jaguars defense ranks as the 11th-worst. Therefore, the Bengals running game should be able to have success.
If you drafted Mixon this year, then you likely gave up a premium pick to do it. That makes it extremely hard to bench Mixon in any given week. However, while I am a proponent of the “start your studs” theory, this is a week where Joe Mixon is likely a player I am going to find a way to bench given his injury concerns entering the game Sunday.