Fantasy Football Absurdity Check: What’s the Deal With Joe Mixon?

Joe Mixon Cincinnati Bengals

Through three games, few players have done less for their fantasy football managers than Cincinnati Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon. Fantasy players are apoplectic at his production so far, and are seriously considering what to do with Mixon going forward. If you have Joe Mixon, should you look to sell him? If you don’t have Mixon, is he a buy low? What the heck do we do with Joe Mixon, at this point?

Through three weeks, Joe Mixon has done very little to justify his first-round price tag this season. In half-PPR, he’s RB47 (week one), RB27 (week two), and RB32 (week three). Since I don’t really like week-ending rankings, let’s look at his fantasy points scored in these weeks. I like to use God’s True Scoring Setting, half-PPR: 5.6, 10.6, 7.5. He’s been okay after week one, there just are a lot of things that you don’t want to see from Mixon that you see from Mixon.

Let’s Dive In, Shall We?

First, his snap share. Mixon went at the backend of the first round because he wasn’t supposed to come off the field. That’s what was supposed to happen, but in reality, Zac Taylor has put Mixon on the field in just 59%, 50%, and 72% of snaps over the last three weeks, respectively. Not great for a guy who wasn’t supposed to come off the field. Through three games, he’s out-snapped Giovani Bernard just 138-80. Bernard is sitting at about a two-thirds to one-third split between he and Bernard. Last season, that split was just under 60%/40% to Mixon, so that’s moved into Bernard’s favor, despite how it feels.

Through two games, Mixon’s opportunity isn’t a problem. He ranks tenth in opportunities, averaging 20.3 targets + carries per game. The problem? His yards per touch ranks just above Peyton Barber and Frank Gore (in the non-exclusive goal-line back division headed by Jordan Howard). His fantasy points per touch ranks as the second-worst among top-fifty running backs so far this season (0.4 fantasy points every time he touches the ball). Given that he hasn’t scored a touchdown yet this season, thirty running backs so far this season scored more than twice as many points per touch than Joe Mixon. He’s getting plenty of opportunities… he just doesn’t do anything with it.

Here’s the biggest problem with trying to buy low on Joe Mixon right now: you’re trying to catch a falling knife. In the first three games this season, Mixon’s done battle with two teams in the bottom-ten in fantasy points per game to running backs, and all three rank in the bottom half. That means brighter days are ahead for Mixon, right?

Well, after Jacksonville (#13 against running backs), here’s the entirety of the teams he has for the rest of the year that currently sit inside the top-half in fantasy points allowed to RBs (good matchups): Miami (#11, week four), Tennessee (#14, week eight), and Houston (#7, week sixteen). The only other time Mixon has a matchup that is not catastrophically terrible is week nine… their bye. Outside of those three matchups, the average rank of the Bengals’ opponents in RB fantasy points per game is 28 (of 32). He has six games left against the 32, 31, 29, and 28th-ranked defenses. He should bounce back this week, but then I’m not entirely certain when the buy-low window on Joe Mixon closes.

Here’s the rub: he did this last year. He did this last year in a worse way. Through all his struggles, Mixon still has the 26th-most yards from scrimmage. He’s not blowing the world up, but he is doing just enough that if he hurt paydirt, you might not have noticed. That’s the whole problem with trying to put together a stance on Joe Mixon right now: he’s made those who have taken stances on him look silly in the past. In 2019, he finished with 494 yards and three touchdowns in his last four games.

If you own Joe Mixon, play him this week, then ship him off for something else. If you can get a top-24 RB for him, pull the trigger. That’s a win for you. Let the other owners try and struggle to put Joe Mixon into their lineups each week.

If you’re looking to trade for Joe Mixon, wait a while. Things are going to get worse before they get better for him if his matchups are any indication. He gets Baltimore, Indy, and Cleveland after the Jacksonville game, all of whom are in the top-six in terms of bad matchups. If he pops in these games, you missed your window, sorry. It’s more likely that he doesn’t pop until week eight against Tennessee. Find your harried Joe Mixon manager after week seven and see what you can put together for Joe Mixon.

It looks like it will be ugly for Mixon for the time being.

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About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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