While you probably weren’t looking, as the Cincinnati Bengals have gone 8-24 over the last two seasons, Joe Mixon has been productive. He was a top-10 rusher in the league both seasons (fourth in 2018, ninth in 2019), yielding finishes of RB9 (2018) and RB11 (2019) in standard fantasy scoring. In 2018, he was a top-10 back in half and full PPR (RB13 in both PPR formats last year).
However inexplicably, Mixon played more than 60 percent of Cincinnati’s offensive snaps in just two of the first eight games last year. In the first seven games, he averaged just 12 carries and 36.3 rushing yards per game. Game script can be a factor in lack of commitment to the running game, but in that 0-7 start the Bengals lost by six points or less four times. If not for three receiving touchdowns in that first seven games, Mixon would not have scored during that early stretch.
In the last game before a Week 9 bye in 2019, Mixon got a touch on half of his snaps (21 out of 42). From there, things ramped up.
From Week 10-Week 17, Mixon had 177 carries for 817 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and five touchdowns with 16 catches for 177 yards. Over that stretch, he was RB4 in standard and full PPR scoring. Add in the pre-bye game in Week 8, and he was RB5 in standard scoring and RB6 in full PPR over that stretch.
Mixon had more than 20 carries in each of the final four games last year. He had at least 136 yards three times in that span, while averaging a robust 5.2 yards per carry.
Is that finishing stretch last year a sign of things to come this year? Does Mixon have another level in him?