Are you STILL not drafting Joe Mixon early enough?

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Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals

What You Need to Know:

– Mixon delivered his best fantasy season to date last year, finishing 4th among PPR backs and tied for 6th in points per game. He also checked in 4th in points per game in both half-PPR and non-PPR. His previous highs came in 2018, when Mixon ranked 10th among RBs in total PPR points and 9th in points per game.

– Mixon’s underlying metrics were merely solid. Among 61 RBs with at least 70 rushing attempts, he ranked 23rd in yards after contact per attempt, according to Pro Football Focus. That marked a rebound from 2020 (3.03 vs. 2.55) but came up short of his 2019 rate (3.15).

– Mixon ranked just 40th among the same group in PFF’s elusive rating, which seeks to measure the performance of a runner “independently of the blocking.”

– Football Outsiders rated him 32nd in DVOA and 24th in DYAR – their 2 main rushing-efficiency metrics – among 50 qualifying RBs.

– Cincinnati’s O-line delivered a roughly average-level performance, ranking 15th in FO’s adjusted line yards and 20th in PFF’s run-blocking grade. That marked an improvement over 2020, when the Bengals finished 31st and 21st, respectively.

– The team has sought to improve the line further this offseason. Cincinnati signed T La’el Collins and G Alex Cappa in free agency. PFF graded Collins 3rd-best in run-blocking among OTs last year. Cappa checked in 39th among 135 graded guards, 2 spots behind Bengals G Quinton Spain (whom he’s expected to replace at RG) but well ahead of the other 3 Cincinnati guards who played meaningful snaps.

– Mixon ranked 2nd in the league in carry share in 2021. His 67% share of Bengals rushing attempts trailed only Najee Harris (74.7%) and edged Jonathan Taylor (66.5%), despite Mixon sitting out the regular-season finale and being limited in several others while managing an ankle sprain.

– The Bengals threw him the ball more as the games got more important: Mixon drew just 7.7% target share through Week 15. From Week 16 through the playoffs, however, he garnered 15.3%.

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Mixon has been a favorite draft value of ours for a couple of years now, and he still looks capable of outperforming his current RB7 ADP in FFPC best-ball drafting. The advanced metrics say that Mixon isn’t the world’s greatest runner … but that almost doesn’t matter. The Bengals clearly love what he does. They made him 1 of the NFL’s most workhorse-iest ball-carriers last year. And then the playoffs found him targeted at a rate that would have ranked among the top at the position. If that trend continues into 2022, then Mixon has upside all the way to #1 among RBs – especially in an offense that ranked 7th in scoring last season and should be ascending.