Why You Should Start Keaton Mitchell with Confidence in Week 14 Fantasy Football (2023 Outlook)

Explosive? Check. Increased workload? Check. Keaton Mitchell appears ready for blast off.

We’ve been on the Keaton Mitchell train since Week 5, which now appears to be hitting its full gear just in time for your fantasy stretch runs.

The explosive Ravens Rookie RB has flashed serious fantasy football upside on his limited touches this year. In Week 12, before Baltimore’s bye, Mitchell also saw a serious usage spike, which now has fantasy managers wondering:

Can you start Keaton Mitchell in Week 14 Fantasy Football? What is his fantasy outlook in Week 14 and for the rest of the 2023 season?

REMINDER: WHO IS KEATON MITCHELL? AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Image via PlayerProfiler

In one word: speed.

Mitchell, an undrafted back out of East Carolina University, was the third-fastest running back in his class, behind only Miami’s De’Von Achane and Detroit’s Jahmyr Gibbs. He posted a 4.37 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and had the fastest 10-yard split (1.48 seconds), too.

His speed makes him intriguing solely for his ability to extend plays. On runs that most RBs turn into nothing, Mitchell creates monster gains with a special gear few possess.

Mitchell constantly flashed this ability in college. He had only two games with under 100 yards rushing last season, and led the CFB in 15+ yard runs. Ultimately, Mitchell racked up 2,584 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns the past two seasons at East Carolina.

Mitchell finished with a 7.2 collegiate YPC (94th percentile). He was also a highly capable receiver, posting an 8.9% target share (70th percentile).

More importantly, Mitchell also flashes this explosive rushing ability in the NFL. He consistently pops off the tape as the fastest player on the field, and the stats don’t lie:

On just 29 attempts so far, seven have gone for 10+ yards (24%) and five for 20+ (17%). In fact, Mitchell is tied for second with three carries over 30+ yards, and trails only De’Von Achane and Breece Hall in 40+ yard carries, too.

While the sample size is small, Mitchell is averaging a whopping 9.3 YPC thus far. Only Achane has been better, with 9.5 YPC, and after these two, no other RBs are even at 6.0.

Simply put: Mitchell has a special gear that nearly no other RBs can match, and he’s consistently put it on display despite his minimal usage.

Encouragingly, the workload appears to be trending in the right direction:

WORKLOAD, USAGE, AND PRODUCTION: TRENDING UP IN ELITE RUSHING OFFENSE

Injuries have limited Mitchell to just four truly meaningful games to begin his NFL career. He didn’t see anything above 3% of the snaps until Week 9, against Seattle.

This is when Mitchell EXPLODED onto the scene.

On just 16.4% of the snaps and 10 touches (1 rec), Mitchell racked up 134 yards and a TD. His 20.4 FPs ranked as the RB5 on the week.

Befuddingly, despite a snap increase to 20.4%, Mitchell then saw just four touches in Week 10. He was his efficient and explosive self, racking up 66 total yards thanks to another 30+ yard TD, ultimately finishing with 13.6 FPs (RB19).

The usage has continued to climb, including 36.9% snaps and nine touches in Week 11, followed by a season-high 45% of the Week 12 snaps and 11 touches (2 rec).

Most encouragingly in Week 12, Mitchell actually bested Gus Edwards and all Ravens RBs in snaps (46% Mitchell v. 26% Gus), carry share (27% v. 24%), routes (39% v. 25%), and target share (7% v. 4%). He also scored 11 FPs without finding the end zone.

Charts via FantasyLife’s Utilization Hub

The rise in opportunity should come as no surprise. In fact, OC Todd Monken promised this was coming the more and more Mitchell capitalized on his chances:

“When you get your opportunity, you take advantage of it and that leads to more opportunities. I think that’s the simplest way to put [it] in anything in life. If you’re given an opportunity and you’re successful at it, you’re going to get more opportunities. You deserve it. You earned that. He’s earned that.”

Even more recently, Monken stated the team is “getting more comfortable with Mitchell in different personnel groupings.”

This consistent rise in usage, with room for even more, is why I’m so bullish on Mitchell, both in Week 14 and also the rest of the season. Based on his explosive run and TD rates, Mitchell is in the “Achane, only-needs-one-touch” type of mold. Thus, the more field time and opportunities we get, the higher the likelihood we get that explosive play that makes him a Top-10 weekly play.

True, Mitchell will likely always remain in a committee. He is unlikely to see north of 55% of snaps or rushes.

Yet, in a run game that leads the NFL in per-game carries (32.3), rushing yards (158.6), and total rushing TDs (22), even 45-50% of the work should be more than enough– especially when you’re as explosive as Mitchell.

KEATON MITCHELL WEEK 14 FANTASY OUTLOOK & PROJECTION

With incredible efficiency, homerun ability, a fertile rushing environment, and a surging workload, Mitchell is a recommended Week 14 Fantasy option.

The Ravens are 7 points home favorites vs. the Rams this Sunday. If this script hits, Baltimore should be as run-heavy as ever, and Mitchell seems in line for the biggest slice.

Oftentimes, NFL teams begin featuring their younger talent and rookies after a Bye Week. The Ravens had already begun to showcase Mitchell, who won’t need more than 45% of the workload to hit… but it sure wouldn’t hurt.

Granted, the Rams aren’t the best matchup on paper. They give up the 7th fewest fantasy points to RBs (15.94 Half-PPR to opposing backfields), and have surrendered just four total rushing TDs on the year.

Still, this Ravens line and rushing attack is a different beast. If Jerome Ford can post 13 FPs last week, Mitchell absolutely can cross that threshold — with the upside to double it.

The other risk is the Ravens could just turn the keys back over to Gus Edwards, and only toss 4-5 touches Mitchell’s way without reason. After four straight weeks of Mitchell’s snap-share increasing, I don’t expect this, but this is still a committee backfield.

Ultimately, similar to De’Von Achane last week, the risk feels worth the potential reward with Mitchell. Unless your a heavy favorite with an RB that has a safer workload projection, I would likely recommend playing Mitchell above many other options.

Mitchell is my RB23 (+6 ECR) in my Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings, and he may rise the more I write and reflect on him.

Keaton Mitchell Week 14 Projection: 12 touches (3 rec), 90 yards, 1 TD

Wondering if you should start Keaton Mitchell in your RB2 or Flex spot over someone else? Get that take of RotoBot – our brand new AI Fantasy Tool!

Author

  • Founder of Roto Street Journal. Lover of workhorse backs, target hog wideouts, and Game of Thrones. Aspiring to be the "Brady" and "Leo" of the fantasy universe.

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