Now more than ever, competent running back play is important in fantasy football, as leagues near the home stretch of the 2020 season. The position is arguably as unpredictable as it’s ever been, and through nine weeks, only 15 running backs are averaging more than 12 points per game. Joe Mixon of the Cincinnati Bengals is one of those running backs, and consequently, his injury status may be of general interest to your fantasy football team. This begs the question – is Joe Mixon playing this week?
Saturday, November 14: Adam Schefter reported that Joe Mixon is officially out of the Bengals Week 10 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Is Bengals RB Joe Mixon playing this week after missing two games to injury?
Joe Mixon suffered a right foot injury in the first half of Cincinnati’s Week 6 game against the Indianapolis Colts. The issue sidelined him for the first two practices of Week 7, and in the lead-up to the Bengals’ showdown with the Cleveland Browns, Mixon was at best a limited participant and closed out the week as a non-participant.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor offered an update on Mixon shortly before the Browns game, saying: “He’s just got a foot injury. We’ll see how this weekend goes. The only thing I’d rule him out for is this game.”
Mixon expectedly sat out the Browns game in Week 7 but then surprised onlookers when he was also ruled out for the Tennessee Titans game in Week 8. In fact, leading up to that game, Mixon did not participate at all in practice. Giovani Bernard filled his spot in Cincinnati’s upset against the Titans, and Mixon’s lack of tangible progress leaves his status up in the air for Week 10.
No official updates have been provided to this point, but the Bengals did have a bye week to freshen up after the Titans game, and seeing that Taylor implied in Week 7 that Mixon would be week-to-week, it seems as though he should soon be gearing up to hit the field again.
With that being said, foot injuries can be tricky for running backs, and it’s not out of the question that this continues to linger. Tracking Mixon’s participation in practice this week will be key, but with the bye week having given him some time to recover, the odds that he plays are at least trending in the right direction.
Even if Joe Mixon plays in Week 10, he’ll have a tough draw and some competition
Depending on your depth at running back, you may be itching to get Joe Mixon back into your lineup after his return from injury, but Week 10 may not be kind to him even if he’s healthy. Mixon will face a tough opponent, and there are a few questions surrounding his role if he returns.
First and foremost, the Bengals face off against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in Week 10. Pittsburgh’s defense has noticeably paced the NFL as one of the league’s best units in 2020, and in fantasy, that impact can be clearly seen. Pittsburgh’s defense is allowing the sixth-least fantasy points to running backs. Mixon’s best game so far this season came against the Jaguars, currently the sixth-worst defense in that same metric.
Additionally, Mixon hasn’t been very efficient despite his solid fantasy production. He’s received a ton of volume from Cincinnati’s offense, earning 18 carries in the first half of the Colts game before his injury and averaging over 20 touches per week. He’s also been targeted 4.3 times per week, good for 13th in the NFL. But despite his many opportunities, Mixon has only averaged 3.6 yards per carry and 6.6 yards per catch, respectively. Additionally, Mixon has fallen below four yards per carry in all but one game this year, and in three games, he’s fallen below three yards per carry.
In contrast, Giovani Bernard had 15 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago against the Titans, and he’s logged three touchdowns in two weeks relieving Mixon. Mixon should still have a role if he returns, but after Bernard’s stellar performance against Tennessee, how long will Mixon’s leash be against a stifling Pittsburgh defensive front? And will Cincinnati siphon some touches from his game to accommodate other perceivably more efficient weapons in the running game?
With Mixon’s Week 10 injury status in flux, it will require updates closer to game day
For now, it’s hard to tell if Joe Mixon’s injury will allow him to play against Pittsburgh. Conventional wisdom says that if he was week-to-week ahead of the Cleveland game, and if he had a bye week to get healthy ahead of this contest, then he could be set to come back. But there’s always an element of uncertainty with injuries, so have a backup plan ready just in case.
Additionally, even if Mixon does play, he will have to answer some questions. Will he have recovered well enough to garner the full confidence of Cincinnati’s staff, and even if he is, will Cincinnati see his relative inefficiency and transition to more of a running-back-by-committee approach? And amidst all these other questions, does Mixon have what it takes to produce against an elite defensive unit, running behind a below-average Bengals line?
There’s a lot of questions, to be frank. But sometimes fantasy owners don’t have the luxury of answering all of these. Sometimes you have to line up a player and trust him. You’ll have to wait a little bit longer to get confirmation that Mixon will be available in Week 10. Still, he should be trending toward that direction, and with another full week to get ready, it’s reasonable to err on the side of optimism. As for his quality of play and the risks going up against Pittsburgh, that’s something you’ll have to evaluate for yourself after looking over your roster.
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