Through two games, Joe Mixon is averaging a grotesque 2.6 yards per carry and 5.0 yards per catch. Those are the kinds of statistics that will make a basic Fantasy owner want to trade away his or her Draft Day “mistake.”
The real mistake would be dumping Mixon. The Bengals rookie running back is the first big buy-low candidate of the 2017 season.
And he’s not the only one on his own team!
Mixon’s production has been gross so far, but his usage suggests a lot of promise on the horizon. He’s already taking more snaps than teammate Jeremy Hill (38 to 26) and has more carries (17) and catches (four) through eight quarters than Hill and Giovani Bernard.
And if that’s not enough, then consider this: When the game was on the line and the Bengals were in the fourth quarter of their Week 2 game versus the Texans, Mixon took every single running-downs snap while Hill watched from the sideline. Hill didn’t play!
You can kind of tell that the Bengals have given Hill his token chance to claim the primary rushing role — and moved on. Every statistic, from snaps to usage to touches to total yardage, favors Mixon over Hill. Mixon even has more plays of five-plus yards (seven) than Hill (four).
The changing of the guard is happening in Cincy.
And not just at running back.
On Friday, the Bengals fired playcaller Ken Zampese after two touchdown-less games and gave his duties to ex-Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. In 27 games with Miami, Lazor was hyper-aggressive with the pass, dialing up dropbacks 64.5 percent of the time. That actually hurt then-Dolphins running back Lamar Miller since he wouldn’t get a ton of work very often, but that coaching staff didn’t seem to really buy into him as an every-down bully. Mixon seems to be a different story, plus he’s great as a pass-catcher and is just as beneficial to the offense working out of the backfield.
With Mixon’s playing time likely to keep increasing as the season keeps going, and with the Bengals schedule easing up after beginning the year with the Ravens and Texans (the Packers are next, then the Browns), Mixon still has a great chance to get over 1,200 total yards and six touchdowns. You could be a jerk and give crummy offers like Jonathan Stewart or Eric Decker for Mixon, but it won’t get you anywhere. Remember, folks spent a third-round pick on Mixon in most cases. Instead, offer up the likes of Doug Martin, Terrance West, Mark Ingram, Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald and Sammy Watkins for Mixon. Those names will get attention — and in a one-for-one deal should net you Mixon.
Don’t want to pony up that much for Mixon? Then go get his backfield mate instead.
Bernard has played as many snaps as Mixon and Hill combined. He also has 105 total yards to Mixon’s 65 and Hill’s 43. And as for explosive plays, Bernard has six with at least 5-plus yards including a 39-yard catch-and-run and a 23-yard scoot.
If the first two weeks are any indication, Bernard is locked into the Bengals’ passing downs role, including the two-minute offense, but he’s also been on the field for occasional first- and second-down snaps. It hasn’t netted big touch totals, but he’s certainly the most efficient running back the Bengals have thus far.
The thought here is that Hill’s eventual demotion will not only put Mixon on the field more, but also increase Bernard’s workload, up to potentially 12 touches per game. And again, with Lazor taking over the playcalling and the pass volume expected to rise, more targets and catches should come with Bernard.
Bernard is still available in two-thirds of CBS Sports leagues. Make him a waiver priority, especially in PPR formats, when waivers run. If he’s owned, it shouldn’t take more than one of your last two bench players to acquire his services.
It might be a long year in Cincinnati after starting 0-2, but at least their run game should pare down to two guys, both with receiving skills, who can help improve our Fantasy fortunes.