Ever heard of a sleeper? Of course, you have. Fantasy Football draft season is all about who the sleepers are. Every fantasy football website, magazine, and radio show has sleepers. Sometimes those sleepers get hyped up so much that they lose their appeal as a later round impact guy and become a target of every person in the draft.
Joe Mixon’s 2017 draft season is the perfect example. He was on everyone’s sleeper list and became such a hot name he climbed into the 4th round of many drafts. Unfortunately for those that drafted him, he did not return 4th round value as he finished with 178 carries for 626 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also caught 30 passes for 287 yards. His average per carry left a lot to be desired as he reached just 3.5 yards per carry.
Upon examining other rookie running backs since 2010, I found there to be two running backs that have produced similar numbers to Mixon’s rookie year. Those two are Chargers Melvin Gordon and Broncos Devontae Booker. Gordon finished with 184 carries for 641 yards as well as catching 33 passes for 192 yards. Gordon famously scored 0 touchdowns that year and average the same 3.5 yards per carry as Mixon. Booker ran the ball 174 times for 612 yards and 4 touchdowns. He caught 31 passes for 265 yards and 1 touchdown. Booker also averaged 3.5 per carry. Had Mixon not had off-field issues he very likely would have been a top 15 selection, likening him even more to Gordon.
Joe Mixon’s 2017 Gamelog
- Early ADP has Mixon going 3.03 in Standard Scoring leagues
From a talent/athleticism standpoint, Mixon’s draft profile compared him to Le’Veon Bell. Both come in at 6’1″ and weighing over 220 pounds. Mixon has quick feet, is a patient runner, and is a top end pass catcher coming out of the backfield. All of these are qualities that Bell has and excels with. Also, both were described as not being able to see cut back lanes. Bell’s rookie season saw him average just 3.5 yards per carry as well.
This leads to trying to determine the value that Mixon brings in 2018. Are we going to see a back that produces numbers similar to Gordon and Bell? If he does, Mixon will be an RB1 without question. Gordon scored 12 total touchdowns and rushed for just under 1,000 yards in an injury-shortened season. While Bell exploded for 2,215 total yards and 11 touchdowns. Bell also caught 83 passes in his second season. This is a solid ceiling for Mixon, however, I do know there are some people that have reasons to believe Mixon won’t be a top end talent in 2018.
The concerns for Mixon’s 2018 season starts with the offensive line. The Bengals have attempted to beef up the O-line with the trade for Cordy Glenn and I expect them to continue to address the line through the draft. Another issue some may have with Mixon is the presence of Giovanni Bernard. Don’t fret about Bernard, he has had fewer touches in every season since his rookie year. Mixon’s ability to catch passes and be a 3 down back will limit Bernard to change of pace duties.
If Mixon takes over the Jeremy Hill role he will see around 225 carries. If he can up his average per carry to 4 then he will finish 2018 with 900 yards rushing. I view this as Mixon’s floor for 2018 because I expect him to carry closer to 250 times with somewhere between 50-60 catches.
Mixon is primed for a true break out year in his sophomore campaign. If I am in dynasty leagues, I am asking the Mixon owner what he wants. I will also be targeting Mixon as a post-hype breakout candidate in all of my leagues this season.
Joe Mixon trucking a 240-lb Linebacker. pic.twitter.com/vRSMBEH7Vu
— Fusue Vue (@lifesyourcup) November 26, 2017
Let me know what you think of Mixon’s 2018 outlook in the comments and don’t forget to check out all of the possible Star Wars fantasy football team names as well.
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