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Joe Mixon Is Rounding Into Form
Joe Mixon looked fully healthy against the Lions. He rushed 18 times for 94 yards and caught five of his six targets for 59 yards and a touchdown. With Samaje Perine missing the game, Mixon saw the lion's share of the workload (no pun intended). The team leaned on Mixon this week to dispatch the lowly Lions. The Lions showed absolutely no spark on Sunday. Had the offense come to play, it’s quite likely that Mixon would’ve had an opportunity to add to his gaudy point total. Instead, we saw Chris Evans and Trayveon Williams get some usage towards the end of the game.
Mixon’s rushing workload has never been in question. However, his role in the receiving game has been quite suspect. The six targets this week were a season-high for Mixon, but it’s tough to gauge if the team is looking to use him in negative script. For example, in last week's overtime loss to the Packers, Mixon only saw one target. In fact, the six targets Mixon saw on Sunday were equal to the total targets he has seen from weeks 2-5 of the season. It appears that in games that are competitive, the team is happy to phase Mixon out of the receiving game in favor of their wide receivers.
Given that the Bengals opted to establish the run, it goes to follow that the wide receivers posted floor games. Ja’Maar Chase was ultra-efficient yet again, catching four of his six targets for 97 yards, whereas Tee Higgins posted a serviceable 3-44-0 receiving line. Tyler Boyd was the odd man out, catching one of his three targets for seven yards. QB Joe Burrow only attempted 29 passes this game and spread the ball out among auxiliary receivers such as C.J. Uzomah, Auden Tate, and RB Chris Evans. Unfortunately, given the run-heavy game plan, there wasn’t much meat on the bone left for the receiving game. I’d expect that the team must throw more next week against the Ravens.
Can Lamar Jackson Support Three Fantasy Relevant Pass Catchers?
TE Mark Andrews has thrived in the Ravens’ new pass-happy offense. Andrews broke out in a major way last week against the Indianapolis Colts, catching 11 of his 13 targets for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Andrews stayed hot with yet another huge performance against the Chargers, catching five of his six targets for 68 yards and a score. Andrews has finished as TE1 in four of his six games thus far and should be ranked ahead of George Kittle and possibly Darren Waller for the rest of the season.
Rookie phenom wide receiver made his season debut on Sunday. Despite having had missed most of training camp and all of the preseason, I was surprised that Bateman drew six targets. He caught four of them for 29 yards, but it’s quite heartening to see this usage. Seeing Bateman leapfrog wide receivers such as Miles Boykin and Devin Duvernay on his debut is a sign that his stock is pointing straight up. Bateman should be rostered in all 12-team leagues.
Adam Thielen Turns Back The Clock
The Vikings won another nail-biter, taking until overtime to defeat the Carolina Panthers. Kirk Cousins completed 33 of his 48 pass attempts for 373 yards and three touchdowns, continuing to build on a very solid season. Interestingly, we were treated to a vintage performance from WR Adam Thielen. Thielen had totaled 86 yards (with no touchdowns) the last two Sundays, but he caught fire on Sunday. He turned 13 of his targets into an 11-126-1 receiving line. Thielen had been trending the wrong way given Justin Jefferson’s emergence as the primary focal point of the team’s receiving corps, but he should still be started in pace-up shootout matchups.
Dalvin Cook was removed from the injury report and looked fully healthy on Sunday. He touched the ball 31 times and turned in an eye-popping 143 yards from scrimmage (and one touchdown). With Cook returning as the starting running back, Alexander Mattison was relegated to mop-up duty. Mattison only touched the ball thrice on Sunday and turned in 10 rushing yards. Note that I wouldn’t drop Mattison just yet, as we’ve seen him flirt with RB1 numbers when Cook is out of the lineup.
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Run Jonathan Taylor, Run
Consider this my plea to Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich – please let Jonathan Taylor cook. Taylor’s final rushing stat line of 14-145-2 looks tremendous in the box score. It’s even more impressive when you consider that most of those stats were compiled in the second half. Taylor somehow only had two carries in the first half against the Texans on Sunday. It wasn’t until Taylor broke off an 83-yard run in the third quarter did he start seeing regular work. Although it is the Texans, I should note that Taylor looked sublime and appears to be locked in as a top-8 running back for the rest of the season.
The Colts appear to be doing their best to rehabilitate Marlon Mack’s trade value, but today was a major step back. Mack carried the football five times for 12 yards and in general looked to be a shell of himself. Mack’s carries come at the expense of Nyheim Hines, who rushed four times for 13 yards. Hines doesn’t currently have much standalone value given his lack of receiving work but should remain rostered in 12-team leagues. When the team moves on from Mack, it’s conceivable that Hines should inherit those carries and target.
Quick Hits – Injuries
There were several injuries that fantasy gamers need to monitor over the course of the week.
Antonio Gibson looks to be struggling with the shin injury he’s been playing through all season. He rushed the football ten times for 44 yards and had two catches for zero yards. Gibson was also spotted on the sideline during the fourth quarter without his helmet, suggesting that his injury is far worse than the team is letting on. Gibson’s struggles opened the door for J.D. McKissic to see a bigger workload. McKissic rushed eight times for 45 yards and caught eight of his 10 targets for 65 yards. I’d expect that McKissic sees a larger than usual workload going forward. Note that if Gibson must miss time, Jaret Patterson is an intriguing speculative pickup. Patterson should carry the mail on early downs, allowing McKissic to continue mixing in on passing downs.
New York Giants WR Kadarius Toney was ruled out after sustaining an ankle injury in the first quarter against the Rams. Sterling Shepard returned to action this week from a hamstring injury and posted a 10-76-0 receiving line. Shepard will be the focal point of this offense until Kenny Golladay, Saquon Barkley, Darius Slayton, and Toney return.
Kareem Hunt injured his calf in the Browns’ Week 6 loss to the Cardinals. The severity of Hunt’s injury is currently unknown but he will be undergoing an MRI to assess the damage. The initial fear was that Hunt may have suffered an Achilles injury. Hopefully, Hunt isn’t out of the game for a long time. It’s possible that Nick Chubb (calf) returns for the team's Thursday Night Football game against the Broncos, however, I’d look to add either Demetric Felton or D’Ernest Johnson if you need running back help.