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Joe Mixon: Fantasy football outlook and draft stock

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GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24: Marwin Evans #25 of the Green Bay Packers grabs the face mask of Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals trying to make a tackle during the first quarter of their game at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24: Marwin Evans #25 of the Green Bay Packers grabs the face mask of Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals trying to make a tackle during the first quarter of their game at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon had a disappointing season when it came to fantasy points. Where should fans draft him in 2018?

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon had somewhat of a disappointing rookie season, especially if you drafted him in fantasy football. Most fans expected Mixon to get more carries last year considering he was a second-round pick and one of the top running backs in last years draft class. Unfortunately, Mixon was not utilized enough in the Bengals offense last season, and the run game was never given a chance to get going.

Struggling behind an offensive line that was well below average last season, Cincinnati ranked 29th in rushing attempts last season. The team started the year off with Jeremy Hill as the starting running back but played him very sparingly until he went down with an injury in week nine. Mixon and Giovani Bernard took most of the snaps last season, but Mixon should take most of the snaps in 2018 as the best three-down back on the team.

Bernard and fourth-round pick running back Mark Walton will likely play mostly on third down situations this season. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor talked about Joe Mixon becoming a more all-around back in 2018 as the team finished mandatory minicamp. That should be good news for Bengals fans that are wanting to draft Mixon in their fantasy leagues.

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As the 2017 season progressed, Mixon got better. When Jeremy Hill went down with his injury, Mixon saw an uptick in rushes and produced better numbers as well. In the first nine games that Mixon was splitting carries with Hill, he managed 107 carries for 321 yards and three touchdowns which averaged out at 3 yards per carry. After Hill went down and Mixon saw more of the football, Mixon ran 71 times for 305 yards and one touchdown which averaged at 4.3 yards per carry in five games. In the one game that Mixon touched the ball 25 plus times in a single game, he ran for 114 yards and picking up another 51 yards through the air. It was also Mixon’s only 100 plus yard rushing game of the 2017 season.

In Mixon’s final six games of the season, he averaged over 4 yards per carry five of those times. The last four games of the season, Mixon averaged 5.0 yards per carry, and the team went 3-1 to finish the season. He finished the season helping his team knock their divisional rival the Baltimore Ravens out of the playoffs with 18 carries for 96 yards which averaged out at 5.33 yards per carry. Pro Football Focus ranked Mixon as the 16th best running back last season despite the poor offensive line play that kept him from making more big plays.

Cincinnati has worked this offseason to provide a better offensive line for the running back group to run behind. The hiring of offensive line coach Frank Pollack and linemen additions including left tackle Cordy Glenn and rookie center Billy Price should significantly increase the production of Mixon. Glenn has had difficulty staying healthy the last two seasons for the first time in his career but is one of the best left tackles in the league when healthy.

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It’s no question that getting Mixon the ball more in 2018 will help the Bengals offense have success. If they can build off of their final four games momentum coming into this season, we could see a big year for the sophomore running back. Mixon will likely come off most draft boards in the top 50 picks of most drafts and be a great number two running back. If you can land him as your third running back, you should be in play for some big numbers coming from your running back groups this season.

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