It’s hard to find value in the first round of fantasy football drafts because the top fifteen or so ranked players are absolute STUDS. Hence, the edge you gain versus your opponents is pretty minuscule even if you make a smart pick
The top-4 consensus top four running backs (Saquon, Zeke, Kamara, McCaffrey) are in their own tier as the most valuable fantasy players this year. However, if you pick in the top four picks, at least twenty players are off the board before your second pick. I’d still prefer to have one of the top four picks in the draft, but my next preference is to draft from the back of the first round. Why? So I can draft Joe Mixon and another top-15 overall player in the second round. I think the top-15 or so players separate themselves above the rest of the pack. There’s more security in drafting two top-15 players rather than a top-4 player and a top-24 player.
The Case for Mixon
Joe Mixon is currently being drafted as the twelfth player off the board (RB8). He finished 2018 as the RB9 despite missing two games to injury. He’s being drafted at his floor and has plenty of potential to break into the top-5 at the position. The more I researched Mixon for this article, the more I liked him.
Mixon improved significantly between his rookie season (126 fantasy pts) and sophomore season (222). He was truly a workhorse running back in 2018 and there aren’t many of those left in today’s NFL. Mixon is both a skilled rusher and pass catcher. He had double-digit carries in every game he played last season, and he topped twenty carries five times. He caught at least three passes in 57% of his games in 2018. He’s quick and explosive on the field. He’s also built like a workhorse RB and showed no signs of slowing down at the end of the season, posting at least 6.5 yards per carry (ypc) in three of his final six games. Mixon has guaranteed rushing volume and has proven that he’s one of the best players on the team.
I expect the Bengals offense to repeat as a middle of the pack offense in 2019. However, it’s possible that they take a step forward with a healthy A.J. Green and a new offensive-minded coach. Additionally, the Bengals defense should be improved in 2019 (3rd most points against in 2018), which should give the Bengals offense more time on the field. This means a couple more touches per game for Mixon.
Let’s do a player comparison…Who would you rather own this year based on their production last year?
Player A in 2018:
- Great games (>22) 29% of the time
- Good (>10 pts) 71%
- Bust (<7 pts) 7%
Player B in 2018:
- Great games (>22) 31% of the time
- Good (>10 pts) 56%
- Bust (<7 pts) 25%
What if I also told you that Player A is an RB but Player B is a WR? I always lean RB if I’m picking among similarly projected players from different positions in the first couple rounds.
Player A is Joe Mixon. Player B is Michael Thomas. Michael Thomas is currently being drafted ahead of Joe Mixon.
Seven Mixon Stats from 2018
Still not convinced? I’ll leave you with my favorite stats about Mixon from 2018:
- Mixon ran the ball for 4.9 yards per carry.
- He finished fourth overall in rushing yards (1,168) in the NFL.
- He also finished fourth in rushes for first downs last season.
- He received 75% of all Bengals rushing attempts inside the 10-yard line despite missing two full games. This tied Saquon Barkley for second in the league.
- His average output was only -0.45 pts lower against top-16 rushing defenses. He’s matchup proof.
- He was running behind an offensive line ranked 27th by Pro Football Focus. This should improve slightly (despite 1st round rookie Jonah Williams likely out for the season). Even if it doesn’t, Mixon has proven he can produce with a poor offensive line.
- The Bengals were 26th in team rushing attempts and 30th in offensive plays in 2018. This should certainly improve under offensive-minded head coach Zac Taylor, a member of the Rams coaching staff for the previous two seasons as the QB coach and WR coach. (Not to be confused with Zac Taylor of the New Zealand boyband Titanium, the one-time opener for Mariah Carey in 2014 (in New Zealand). Thanks for the clarification Wikipedia, wouldn’t want to confuse anyone.)
Mixon is a great pick at his ADP of 1.12. He’s extremely safe and has upside to be a top-5 RB. I’d consider him as early as the 10th overall pick in redraft leagues. Draft with RB1 confidence!