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ADP Showdown: Joe Mixon vs. Josh Jacobs


It is officially past the midway point of August and fantasy football drafts are on the horizon. Whether you are in a competitive league for big money or a home league with your friends, it is important to go into your draft prepared. It is essential to go into your draft with a game plan, especially if you find yourself drafting late in the first round. That is a sweet spot for a second tier of running backs and there are a variety of options to consider.

Hitting on your early picks is crucial to fantasy football success. Having the right players allows fantasy players to take chances later in the draft or utilize bench players to make trades to fill gaps due to injuries or ineffectiveness. Having a draft strategy early should also guide your middle round selections to maximize the weekly upside of your roster. This article will be focused on two running backs that are late first-round picks in PPR drafts based on numerous ADP sources, Joe Mixon and Josh Jacobs.

According to the NFFC draft data, Joe Mixon is going off the board as RB6 while Josh Jacobs is the RB12. FantasyFootballCalculator.com has Mixon being selected as RB8 and Jacobs as RB10. Finally, FantasyPros' average PPR ADP has Mixon as RB7 and Jacobs as RB13. No matter how you look at it, both running backs are widely considered as RB1’s this season. If you are selecting late in the first round of your fantasy draft, you will likely get a shot at one of these players, but likely won’t get both. Depending on the team you are trying to build, both are viable options. The purpose of this article is to help you decide which building block to win your 2020 league with.

 

Joe Mixon - Cincinnati Bengals

If you are involved in fantasy football Twitter, you will struggle to find a more polarizing player in the first round of fantasy drafts than Joe Mixon. Some people consider him an easy top-5 selection, while others struggle to include him in their top-12 selections. Here are some things to consider when looking at Joe Mixon for the 2020 season.

Career Production

After failing to make a major impact as a rookie in 2017 (178 carries for 626 yards and four touchdowns with 30 receptions on 34 targets and 287 yards in 14 games), Mixon has put together consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with minimal talent around him on offense. In 2019, the third year running back played in 15 games, carrying the ball 278 times for 1,137 yards and five touchdowns while adding 35 receptions (45 targets), 287 yards, and three additional scores.

Mixon accounted for 72 percent of the team’s carries and seven percent of the team’s targets. Mixon has shown an ability to often make big plays out of nothing and 2019 was no exception. Mixon finished as RB13 in PPR leagues and his 14.1 points per game ranked 20th at the running back position. One aspect that has left fantasy players underwhelmed has been Mixon’s role in the passing game. He has yet to eclipse 55 targets in a season, which has limited his upside in PPR leagues the last three seasons.

Situation

Few players have had more material changes to the offense around them than Joe Mixon in 2020. The Bengals parlayed a terrible 2019 season into the number one draft pick where they selected Joe Burrow out of LSU. Burrow is coming off the heels of the most prolific college football season that we have ever seen out of the quarterback position and should provide a major upgrade for the Bengals at quarterback.

Beyond that, the Bengals get A.J. Green back in the passing game and they'll also finally see 2019 first-round selection Jonah Williams in-game action for the first time. All of these additions should take the pressure off of Mixon to make miraculous plays, avoiding being crushed in the backfield. Mixon led the league with 103 evaded tackles in 2019, mainly thanks to the lack of passing threat and an underwhelming offensive line. With the threat of an adequate passing game and an alpha receiver back in the fold, Mixon should find better running lanes, so long as the Bengals can keep games competitive.

The Bengals do have Giovani Bernard in their backfield as well, and while he does not have a significant role in the run game, the team has shown they have no problem designing him touches as a receiver. Bernard will have a role in Cincinnati regardless of Mixon’s ability.

Negatives

With that being said, Mixon does have some concerning red flags if you are selecting him in the late first round. Burrow faces a severe learning curve transitioning from college to the NFL, given the lack of veteran leadership in the quarterback room and an offseason devoid of preseason games. Burrow could struggle early on (we saw it his first season as a starter at LSU), which would allow defenses to focus on Mixon yet again.

The Bengals also had the 26th rated offensive line in the run game according to FootballOutsiders.com, and they return four of five starters from that unit. While Jonah Williams will certainly help, he is essentially a second-year rookie considering how early he got hurt in training camp in 2019. Nobody, including the Bengals, truly understands how much of an impact he will have in the Cincinnati offense. With luck, the Bengals offense will improve thanks to these young players, but it is hardly a lock to happen.

Finally, the Bengals Defense was a big problem in 2019. They were bottom-10 in nearly every meaningful statistic. While they did attempt to address these problems in the offseason by adding DJ Reader and Mike Daniels to the line and Mackensie Alexander, Trae Waynes, and Vonn Bell to the secondary, it is very plausible the defense will struggle with all these new parts. If the Bengals find themselves trailing again this season, it will force them into passing situations. More passing situations means a higher utilization of Giovani Bernard in the offense, which again will cap Mixon’s upside.

The Bengals have not shown that they are going to feed Mixon on passing downs, and until they do, we can’t assume he will see a significant uptick in that part of his game. Without a steady role in the passing game, Mixon carries some risk in PPR leagues thanks to a capped ceiling.

 

Josh Jacobs - Los Vegas Raiders

On the other side of this debate, we have second-year running back Josh Jacobs. The 22-year-old was productive as a rookie and carved out a significant role in Jon Gruden’s offense in Oakland (now Las Vegas). Thanks to his opportunities as a rookie, Jacobs finds himself as a borderline top-12 running back in fantasy drafts due to his high-floor. Here are some reasons to consider Jacobs with your late first-round pick.

Career Production

The Raiders were criticized by many after selecting the back with the 24th pick of the 2019 draft. However, Jacobs showed in his rookie season that the pick was justifiable in hindsight. He played in 13 games as a rookie, carrying the ball 242 times for 1,150 yards (4.8 per carry) and seven touchdowns. The Alabama product also added 20 receptions (27 targets) for 166 yards. Jacobs handled 55% of the team’s carries (this figure is lower because of the three missed games) and received five percent of the Raiders’ targets in the pass game. Jacobs finished as RB21 in PPR leagues with 191.6 points but ranked 16th overall in average points per game at 14.7.

Jacobs was not highly utilized in the passing game, but some of that can be attributed to him missing three games early in the season with a shoulder fracture. The injury isn’t too concerning long-term, but it does complicate our understanding of how he will be used in Las Vegas.

Situation

When it comes to 2020, the Raiders still seem to profile as an excellent place to be a lead running back in the NFL. Las Vegas returns their entire offensive line from 2019, a unit that ranked sixth in the NFL on FootballOutsiders in terms of adjusted line yards (weighting rushes based on their yards gained and the situation they were gained in). The Raiders were also a top-10 unit in stuffed runs, meaning Jacobs was stopped in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage less than most of the other running backs in the NFL. Jacobs averaged 18.6 carries per game, but only two targets per contest, which means he is doesn’t qualify as a bell-cow running back in today’s NFL.

Beyond the offensive line, there is a level of uncertainty of how the Raiders’ offense is going to look for the 2020 season. The Raiders let DeAndre Washington walk in free agency but added explosive rusher, Lynn Bowden Jr., as a running back in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft. They also retained Jalen Richard and added Devontae Booker in free agency. The Raiders also added Nelson Agholor as a free agent wide receiver and invested a first-round and third-round pick in the wide receiver position (Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards, respectively). This is all on top of Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller, who were important members of the offense in 2019.

Negatives

The Raiders love Jacobs as their main back, but they seem reluctant to fully run their offense through him. The Raiders utilized Richard (8% of the team’s targets) and Washington (7% of the team’s targets) more than Jacobs (5%) in 2019's passing game. However, Richard returns to the offense again and Washington was replaced by an equally explosive option in Bowden Jr. Also consider that rookies Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards on the perimeter represents a significant threat to Jacobs' role in the passing game as well.

The Raiders invested heavily in their defense during the free agency period this past offseason. They offered contracts to Maliek Collins, Nick Kwiatkoski, Cory Littleton, Damarious Randall, Jeff Heath, and Prince Amukamara. They also used one of their first-round draft picks on rookie cornerback Damon Arnette out of Ohio State. All of these additions were made to try and help a defense that struggled mightily against the pass in 2019. The Raiders gave up the ninth most points in 2019 (26.19), allowing a 64.1 completion percentage and 256 passing yards per contest while generating just 15 takeaways, which led to a -2 turnover differential on the season.

While there is a lot of talent on this defense now, a reduced offseason could impact the defense's effectiveness, especially early on the 2020 season. Until we know how Las Vegas decides to utilize these different pieces, a bad defense could result in reduced touches for Jacobs, thanks to negative game scripts.

Verdict

When making your decision, it ultimately comes down to what you want your team to look like in the early rounds. If you want upside early in your draft so you can take safer players later, then Mixon has to be your choice thanks to his explosive running style and improvements that can benefit him in 2020. If you want a safer floor, then it is hard to ignore the role Jacobs had in the Raiders offense in 2019. If he had played a 15-game season like Mixon in 2020, at his seasonal averages, he would have finished with 221 fantasy points, just four behind Mixon. Jacobs has also stated that his goal is to catch 60 passes in 2020, and if that comes to fruition then he can easily vault into a top-10 running back for the upcoming fantasy season.

In best-ball leagues where lineups are selected for you, Mixon is an excellent play since you’ll never have to guess the weeks he explodes or falls flat. In leagues where I am setting my lineups, I will personally be choosing Jacobs, if I am drafting late in the first round, thanks to his high floor and the ability for me to have a running back spot I can set and forget every week.



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RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More