So far in 2022, Joe Mixon is going to cost you a late first-round or early second-round draft pick. He is going off the board as the RB7, according to FantasyPros consensus PPR ADP. Since his rookie season in 2017, Mixon’s PPR points per game ranks are: RB28, RB9, RB19, RB10, and RB7. You are forced to draft him at his career-best points per game rank right now.
The real question is: Should you? The simple answer is no.
You can take my word for it and leave now. Or let me explain how NOT drafting Joe Mixon at his current ADP will help you win your fantasy football league this season.
Note: Our Wednesday, August 3rd, No Punt Intended episode will look at Joe Mixon in fantasy football! We welcome the great Chris Allen from NBC Sports and Footballguys as a guest. The show will cover the Bengals and Rams, plus predictions for 2022.
Look Back at 2021
The Bengals came into 2021 knowing their offensive line was a significant team weakness. According to PFF, they were average in run blocking at 17th and poor in pass blocking at 25th. However, Joe Mixon is a skilled running back and performed well despite a slightly below-average offensive line.
Last year was Mixon’s best fantasy season. He was the RB4 in half-PPR scoring and RB7 in points per game. He flourished with opportunities: 3rd most carries in the league (292), 3rd most rushing yards (1,205), and 4th most rushing touchdowns (13). Those were all also career-highs. Plus, it was a significant boost in touchdowns from eight back in 2018 to 13 last year.
Mixon had the 6th highest snap % amongst running backs in 2021. Among running backs with at least 30 snaps/game, he ranked 8th, with a 47.9% touch per snap rate.
Joe Mixon 💀💀💀pic.twitter.com/ie4K9IcT0M
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 10, 2021
Mixon’s biggest hole in his game is the lack of involvement in the passing game. He is capable of catching the ball (87.5% catch rate in 2021), but the Bengals just do not use him much that way. He had the 20th highest target share (8.9%) amongst running backs with at least 30 snaps/game. That was still a better target share than the next best running back on the Bengals, Samaje Perine (5.7%). Mixon was 5th on the team in target share behind Chase (23.7%), Higgins (20.4%), Boyd (17.4%), and Uzomah (11.7%). Unfortunately, the lack of targets limits Mixon’s upside potential in fantasy football.
Twitter: “WHY OH WHY is Joe Mixon not used more in the passing game”
Me: Because after his rookie szn…he’s been a bad receiver out of the backfield
Yearly YPRR Ranks (min 20 tgs, PFF)
11th (rookie szn)
So yeah…it’s not gonna happen. pic.twitter.com/UCU3hAvCz6
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) August 1, 2022
Outlook for 2022
Fantasy football is all about value.
You increase your chance of winning your league by drafting the best players at the cheapest cost. That is obvious, but it is not thought about enough while drafting your team. For example, Joe Mixon has an ADP of RB7. I just explained that Mixon had a great season in 2021 but still finished as the RB7 in points per game. Based on Mixon’s skill and situation, is there a better chance that he outperforms or underperforms his RB7 ADP?
There is a much greater chance that he underperforms compared to that ADP.
Everyone expects the Bengals offensive line to improve in 2022 based on their offseason acquisitions. That is good news for Joe Mixon. However, he is expected to be limited in the passing game again. He needs a target share closer to 12% while maintaining his touchdown production to meet or exceed his RB7 ADP. Unfortunately, he will most likely fall short of the 10% target share, and it is hard to project 13 touchdowns again into 2022.
The Bengals may have the best wide receiver trio in the NFL with Chase, Higgins, and Boyd. I expect Burrow to improve from 2021 since he is another year removed from his ACL injury with an entire offseason to train without rehab. If we had reports coming out of training camp that the coaches wanted to use Mixon as a workhorse three-down running back, then he could easily exceed his ADP.
However, we had read reports telling us the exact opposite. It appears Samaje Perine and Chris Evans (not the Avenger) will split 3rd-down snaps. Training camp reports are not gospel, but it tells me not to expect Mixon’s target share to increase in 2022.
Zac Taylor says Samaje Perine has “a leg up” on third-down back role but Chris Evans could challenge… Calls Perine a “security blanket” for the offense at this stage.
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) August 1, 2022
If you want to win your fantasy football league in 2022, do not draft Mixon as the RB7. If he falls in your draft to around RB12, or laster, then scoop up the value.
Joe Mixon is a talented running back, but do not let last year’s performance mislead your expectations for 2022.
A Look Inside the Cincinnati Bengals
Editor’s Note: We asked our writers to focus on one player, but we don’t want to leave you hanging on the rest of the team. While Zach focused on Joe Mixon in fantasy football, here is a quick look at the rest of the Bengals, prepared by either Josh Hudson or Ryan Weisse.
Joe Burrow: Joe Brrr is ice cold. He looked the part of a franchise QB in 2021 and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to improve. And he had over 4,600 passing yards and 34 touchdowns. As Zach mentioned above, he has arguably the best trio of WRs in the league. 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns is well within the realm of possibilities. – Josh Hudson
Samaje Perine/Chris Evans: If Joe Mixon is going to stay healthy and see the volume he did last year, neither will have value more than an insurance policy, The issue is furthered by the fact that there is no clear-cut backup. They will split time and vulture each other. Probably hands off at drafts and race to waivers if something happens to Mixon. -Ryan Weisse
Ja’Marr Chase: Chase is easily one of the best WRs in the league and worth a look in the late first round. He has a little boom or bust to his game, but when he booms, he wins weeks. He and Higgins are more of a 1A, 1B situation, but there is no wrong answer. -Ryan Weisse
Tee Higgins: On any other team, he’d be a legitimate WR1. But he’s teammates with Ja’Marr Chase, so he’s arguably the best WR2 in the league instead. Some might argue his ADP is too high simply because he’s not the WR1 on his own team. But in a high-powered offense, a team’s WR2 could easily finish as a top 12 WR. Don’t over think it. Draft Higgins and smile in triumph. – Josh Hudson
Tyler Boyd: Boyd is the forgotten man in Cincy, but if you believe in Burrow, he is your cheapest entry point. If he sees over 100 targets again, and I think he will, he is an easy WR3 in fantasy for basically a dart-throw price. -Ryan Weisse
Hayden Hurst: C.J. Uzomah didn’t even have a 12% target share in 2021. His departure in free agency was only news because he signed for $10 million a year. Hurst may be taking his spot, but he’s not taking his target share. The former 1st round pick is on his third team in three years. There’s a reason for that. It’s okay to leave him on the waiver wire. – Josh Hudson
We hope you enjoyed our look at Joe Mixon for fantasy football this season. You can find all of our A Look Inside articles here!
If you’re prepping for your fantasy drafts, you can also find our 2022 Consensus Rankings here.