Should you start Samaje Perine or Chris Evans with Joe Mixon out in Week 18?

With Joe Mixon set to miss Week 18, what are the fantasy expectations for Samaje Perine and Chris Evans for the NFL regular-season finale?

Star Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list for Week 18 and is slated to be out on Sunday. Should Samaje Perine or Chris Evans be considered for fantasy football managers playing in the last week of the regular season?

Samaje Perine has been Joe Mixon’s backup this year

With Mixon out for Week 18, it looks as though the veteran Perine will be the fill-in running back on the Bengals roster. Perine is a capable running back and has proven to be a factor in the receiving game as well.

In Week 5, Perine stepped up when Mixon left the game with an injury, turning in 59 rushing yards, 24 receiving yards, and 1 TD through the air. Perine isn’t going to give you Mixon-level production, but Cincinnati tends to feature him when Mixon is unavailable.

Perine does have a low floor, however. Considering he typically doesn’t produce high yardage numbers, Perine relies on touchdowns to turn in solid fantasy days.

Fortunately for Perine and managers that might rely on him in the coming weeks, the Bengals’ offense has proven to be able to blow up in any given game.

Chris Evans hasn’t proven it yet

There’s a chance that Evans could be the better play than Perine. However, there’s nothing to indicate that he’ll get the usage. Evans was a sixth-round draft pick and is firmly entrenched behind the veteran Perine.

Evans has only 21 total touches this season, compared to Perine’s 82. Even when Mixon has been out, Evans hasn’t seen more than 7 touches in any game this season. There’s simply not enough there to anticipate that Evans will be able to make a meaningful difference.

Evans and Perine fantasy expectations

It’s very important to note that while the Bengals are playing the Cleveland Browns this week, Cincinnati is locked into their playoff spot. Therefore, they are resting quarterback Joe Burrow and other starters. The offense as a whole likely won’t put up anything remotely close to the numbers that we’ve been seeing out of them lately.

Perine figures to get the most work unless this turns into a game that resembles the preseason. That could result in Evans getting most of the second-half work in order to preserve the health of the players higher on the depth chart for the playoffs. That is a scenario that very well could factor in.

There are too many variables at play here for me to want to use either of these running backs in Week 18. I would rather play a back with a more predictable workload on a team that is still actively competing for playoff positioning in Week 18.

If you’re absolutely desperate, then Perine would be the preferred back out of the Bengals backfield.