Bengals need Giovanni Bernard productive versus Cowboys

The Bengals need a productive day from running Giovanni Bernard is poised against the Dallas Cowboys NFL worst run defense.

With Bengals starting running back Joe Mixon declared out for Sunday by head coach Zac Taylor, backup Giovanni Bernard should have a productive game against the Dallas Cowboys NFL worst run defense. Mixon has been out since he suffered a foot injury in week six against the Indianapolis Colts.

Mixon was eligible to come off the injured reserve list this week. Bernard has started all six games with Mixon out averaging only 34.83 yards per game. That should change on Sunday against Dallas. The Cowboys allow 167.83 rushing yards per game and a porous 5.3 yards per carry. The Bengals have to be able to run versus Dallas.

The yards allowed by the Dallas defense on the ground are deceiving. Six times this season, the Cowboys have held their opponent to 125 rushing yards or less. Dallas also has four games this season allowing over 200 yards rushing. It has often been feast or famine for opponents running the football against the Cowboys.

In their last two games against Washington and Baltimore, Dallas has allowed 476 yards rushing. The Bengals will also have two more days to prepare for Dallas and are at home after the Cowboys lost to Baltimore on Tuesday in a game rescheduled from December 3. The Ravens ran for 294 yards in a 34-17 victory.

Fantasy Projections

The fantasy outlook for Bernard this week appears to be positive. The Bengals have to commit to the run against a Dallas defense giving up rushing yards in big numbers. Bernard has 36 receptions for 260 yards and two TDs this season. Dallas has been good at defending running backs as receivers.

The Cowboys have allowed 44 receptions for 251 yards and no receiving TDs to running backs in 2020. With 77 carries for 253 yards and two TDs, Bernard is averaging a second-worst 3.3 yards per carry in his career. The 3.2 YPC Bernard averaged in 2019 was the worst average tote of his career.

Expect to see Samaje Perine get some carries in relief of Bernard. Dallas opponents run an average of 32.5 times per game. Perine has 27 carries for 109 yards and one TD this season for a 4.04 YPC average, far more productive than Bernard. Perine has been us sparingly with three carries for seven yards in the last two games.

Dallas opponents are running 49.8 percent of their offensive plays with RBs getting  26.8 carries per game. The Cowboys have allowed 13 different RBs to rush for 60 or more yards in a game this season. Cincinnati has to be more committed to running against Dallas. The Bengals have run only 58 times in the last four games.

With quarterback Joe Burrow out for the season, the Bengals cannot rely on the pass. Bernard has 37 carries or 63.8 percent of the Bengals’ attempts rushing over the last four games. Against Dallas, Bernard should more than exceed his average ceiling and be considered a RB two or three in the first round of the fantasy playoffs.

As previously stated Dallas has been stout against opposing RBs as receivers, ranking first in the NFL. As it usually does, the success for the Bengals running on Sunday will come down to the game plan. Against the worst run defense in the NFL, Taylor needs to commit to the run on Sunday.