Discussions surrounding Joe Mixon this offseason have primarily been centered around off-field issues and talks of being cut. While the NBA-esque drama surrounding Mixon is great for clicks, eventually we have to start answering the questions that fantasy managers want answers to: What is Joe Mixon’s 2023 fantasy value?
To put it simply, Mixon is criminally undervalued at the moment.
Let’s get one thing straight first, Joe Mixon will 100 percent be a Cincinnati Bengal in 2023. This has been confirmed by head coach Zac Taylor:
Mixon, the feature back in a premier Bengals offense is currently slipping to the back of the fifth round in fantasy drafts. This is primarily due to Mixon’s poor efficiency and overall stats in 2022. Mixon ended the season with a measly 3.9 yards per carry and 55.1 yards per game. Despite this poor efficiency, he was still able to finish the season as the RB10 in PPR.
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
While Mixon’s ADP will likely rise after his legal situation is cleared up, I still believe there is tremendous value in taking him at a slightly inflated ADP.
One of the biggest reasons I am comfortable reaching on Mixon is the sheer volume of touches he’ll be seeing. In 2022, Samaje Perine amassed 51 targets and 95 carries, earning a 38.8 percent snap share. Not to mention the 23 touches that Perine saw in the red zone. I believe many of these vacated touches will be heading to Mixon, especially these high leverage red zone looks. The Bengals have made only one addition to the running back room in the offseason, fifth-round pick Chase Brown. The rookie from Illinois, along with Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans will see snaps but none project to take significant opportunities from Mixon.
As we have highlighted in the Fantasy Football Stock Formula, opportunity and touches are a pillar of fantasy success for any player. Mixon projects to have an incredibly high number of touches, as he did last year, and I think this warrants a higher ranking than The Wolf’s RB14.
Another key factor to success is being fortunate enough to be a part of a productive offense. Mixon will benefit from an offense that finished last season as the eighth-best offense in yards per game and seventh in points per game. This Bengals offense will continue to succeed and Mixon will reap the rewards.
WHAT ABOUT THE BENGALS OTHER WEAPONS?
Unless you have been under a rock for the last two years, it should be clear that the Bengals have developed the strongest receiving core in the NFL. Undeniably, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd will get their fair share of targets. But there’s no need to worry, Zac Taylor will continue to feed Mixon.
What really gets me going is the fact that Mixon finished 2022 with more red zone touches than all three receivers combined. Mixon finished the season with 28 carries inside of the 10-yard line! This level of opportunity placed him second in the league for this vital metric. When we begin to consider the vacated red zone touches from Perine, Mixon will be seeing some of the most looks in the red zone of anyone in the NFL. I want as many shares as possible of a player who gets multiple looks in the red zone each game. The thought of getting this level of opportunity in the fifth round should be enough to get you all the way in on Mixon.
A STRONG CLOSE TO 2022
One of the most promising indicators of Joe Mixon’s future success is how he performed down the stretch last season. Prior to Week 9, Mixon averaged a disappointing 3.3 yards per carry and performed at a level that put him at RB19 in points per game. After Week 9 and an absolute explosion against the Panthers, Mixon did not look back.
Following his Week 9 explosion, Mixon finished off the season — including the NFL Playoffs — averaging 16.7 points per game. This level of performance would have put him at RB5 on the season.
THE FINAL TAKE
People may knock Mixon’s poor efficiency, mention that 23 percent of his 2022 scoring came in one game, or that the Bengals threw the ball at the fifth-highest rate in the NFL. At the end of the day, I don’t think any of this matters due to his current ADP.
I believe Mixon is set up to have top-five RB upside with an absolute floor of RB15. What’s better in fantasy than drafting a player at his floor? Nothing. I will be targeting Mixon in drafts that begin WR-heavy and he is someone that should be circled on everyone’s draft board. If someone tells you otherwise, send them my way and we can have a chat about my guy, JOE MIXON.