Joe Mixon had a disappointing year in 2020. He only played 6 games last season due to a right foot sprain. That didn’t matter much because he ran the ball behind the worst offensive line in the league. Mixon is a dual-threat running back and the Bengals like to keep him on the field for both their running and passing attack. He managed to get 140 touches in the 6 games he did play, which averages 23.3 touches per game, so the opportunity is there for him to be productive. With a fully healthy Joe Mixon and Joe Burrow in 2021, the Bengals will look to score a lot to keep pace in a very competitive AFC North.
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Mixon was not able to stay on the field in 2020, which drastically affected his fantasy production. Scoring over 100 points in a 6 game stretch is impressive, however, 39.1 of those points came in a game against the 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars. Other than that huge outburst, Mixon was solid scoring as low as 5.6 points in a game against the Chargers, to a 13.9 point game against the Colts. Over his career, Mixon averages 13.7 fantasy points per game, which puts him solidly in the RB2 tier for fantasy. Mixon will look to get back on track in 2021 and prove why he is the right running back for the Bengals.
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The Bengals desperately need Mixon to be back and healthy if they want to make the playoffs in 2021. Mixon is an essential part of the Bengals offense because he can thrive anywhere on the field. He can run downhill between the tackles. He can be split out wide or in the slot and beat linebackers with his route running ability. He has the quickness to evade cornerbacks and safeties. He’s also fast enough to glide past linebackers and d-linemen. Mixon is the perfect gadget guy for the Bengals and Cincinnati likes to feed the ball to him. Assuming Mixon and Burrow stay healthy in 2021, we can see an explosive offense that any defense would have a challenge at stopping.
ADP & Auction Value
ADP: 25, Rounds 2-3, RB15
Auction Value: $35
While not one of the top dogs in fantasy, Mixon still offers plenty of value for fantasy owners. Yeah, he might be a Dalvin Cook or Christian Mccaffrey, but any owner would be more than happy to take him as your RB2. Right now, he is competing with guys like Josh Jacobs and D’Andre Swift for the borderline RB1 or top RB2 position. None of those guys are RB1 material, however, Mixon will most likely produce the best. This is because Josh Jacobs does not catch the ball and Swift plays for the miserable Lions offense. Mixon has a fairly high auction cost and that’s because experts know how difficult it is to find consistent pass-catching running backs like Mixon.
Mixon is an injured back playing behind a really bad offensive line. That is not a formula for fantasy success. Since entering the league in 2017, Mixon has suffered a concussion as well as ankle, knee, shin, and foot injuries. He has missed 14 games in his 4 seasons as a pro with his latest injury causing him to be placed on injured reserve and miss 10 games. That is worrisome, to begin with, but it becomes a bigger issue when you consider that the Bengals’ offensive line is arguably the worst in the league. The Bengals famously got Joe Burrow killed in their game against the Washington Football Team and allowed 48 sacks on the season, which ranked 5th highest in the league. If there is any reason that Mixon doesn’t produce in 2021, blame the injuries and the line.
Mixon’s fantasy numbers could soar into the stratosphere if everything works out this season. Mixon is ultra-valuable in PPR and half-PPR leagues because of his pass-catching ability. Mike Davis led the league in receptions by a running back with 59, so Mixon’s projected 44.7 catches will put him near the top of the league in that category. Mixon is also a high-volume player, averaging 18.82 touches per game over his career. So he rushes the ball a lot and also has the receptions to back that up, how can this guy fail? Now, Mixon is not too big to fail, especially with his injury history, but he will produce as one of the best RB2s in the league. And this tweet from Bengals OC Brian Callahan further adds to my confidence about Joe Mixon this season.
Cincinnati Bengals Offense
The Bengals have quietly built one of the best offenses in the league. Joe Burrow is the super confident and cool quarterback the Bengals have been tanking for. He is their franchise quarterback and is going to be a thorn in defense’s sides for a very long time. Joe Mixon is a dynamic running back who can do it all. They also have a sneaky good 1-2 punch on the perimeter as Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are not guys you can let run wild in the secondary. And to make matters worse for opposing secondaries, the Bengals added one of the top wide receivers in the draft, Ja’Maar Chase, to make cornerbacks and safeties everywhere quiver in their boots. All of these shiny new toys and weapons are nice, but the Bengals are famous for having one of the worst offensive lines in the league every year. This offense scored the 3rd fewest points in 2020, but that’s not going to happen again with all of the weapons they have. If the line can give Burrow and company enough time, then we can see an air raid passing attack so explosive, it would make a nuclear bomb look like a firecracker.
Strength of Schedule
The poor Bengals might have gotten screwed over in 2021 as they have to play the 6th hardest schedule. Their division is tough enough, as the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns are all capable of making the playoffs. Playing these 3 teams twice a year is difficult enough but the Bengals also have to play the NFC North, AFC West, Jets, 49ers, and Jaguars. This is a crazy difficult schedule for the Bengals to overcome as they have to play some of the best teams in the league like the Packers, Chiefs, Steelers, Ravens, and Browns. Other teams like the Vikings, Bears, Chargers, Raiders, and 49ers can also play and will probably beat the Bengals. The only games they should win are their games against the Jets, Jaguars, and Broncos but these wins are not guaranteed. Keep your expectations low if you’re a Bengals fan because this is going to be a long year for your team.
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