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Joe Mixon is feeling little crowded in Cincinnati.
The rookie is clearly the standout among Bengals backs, but his workload is holding him back from being a fantasy stud. Mixon had just 11 touches against the Bengals, but that number stands to increase moving forward.
For one, the Bengals were getting blown out and abandoning the run. Trailing by three scores, the Bengals are more likely to use Gio Bernard more often in pass-specific scenarios. Still, coach Marvin Lewis had nothing but positive things to say about Mixon heading into Thursday’s game against Houston.
“He’s way better than I expected,” Lewis said on Tuesday. “He’s very, very talented. As a football player, he’s excellent and as a young man, I’m really impressed with him and just the way he carries himself and does things.”
If there’s anything going against him, it’s that Mixon didn’t break off any long runs in limited work. Hill had a 12 yard run, Bernard broke off 23 yards, but Mixon finished with nine yards and his longest carry went for eight.
Mixon didn’t see the snaps or the touches, but his team wasn’t competitive. If the game is in play, expect to see more of Mixon, especially in the second half.
Last week against the Texans, the Jaguars used Leonard Fournette as much as they possibly could. He rushed 26 times in his rookie debut, and finished with 100 yards as the Jaguars pounded the Texans. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bengals employ a similar strategy, which would help neutralize Houston’s All-Pro edge rushers.
A one-game sample size makes it tougher to project, but everyone knows the job will eventually belong to Mixon. Keep him on your roster, but let him ride the bench until he proves he can handle the workload.
Projection: 10 carries, 39 yards, 2 catches, 9 yards