Every year fantasy pundits throw blows over who they like/dislike in drafts. Yahoo’s cast of characters is no different. Throughout the picking season, we’ll provide two sides to the story to help you decide between Player A or Player B. Read. React. And choose a winner.
Today’s showdown: Popular Round 2 selections, Dalvin Cook (17.6 ADP, RB11) vs. Joe Mixon (15.2, RB9).
Brad bats leadoff
When sorting through the top available list in Round 2, Cook is the hot sauce to a chicken wing, a perfect pairing for any elite RB (e.g., Saquon, Zeke, CMC, Kamara, etc.) or WR (e.g. Adams, Hopkins, Julio, etc.). Yes, his lower extremities are taco-shell durable, but IF — and that’s a humungous IF — he can log even 14 games, he’s a top-10 RB. His assertive one-cut ability jives seamlessly with the zone configuration OC Kevin Stefanski and assistant HC Gary Kubiak plan to implement. The run-stressed scheme combined with Minnesota’s rebuilt offensive line — which ranked No. 27 in run-blocking efficiency last year — all imply the arrow is pointing up. Most importantly, Kubiak has a rich history of unearthing rushing gems. Clinton Portis, Arian Foster, and C.J. Anderson are just a few names who exploded on his watch. It could be argued in pure talent terms that Cook is the best all-around rusher Kubiak has directed in his 23 years as an NFL coach. The sky’s the limit.
Ignore Cook’s superficial numbers from his prior injury-plagued campaigns. When on the field, he’s churned out righteous production in many advanced categories. Last season, for example, he posted the fourth-highest elusive rating among RBs with at least 100 carries, according to Pro Football Focus, forcing a missed tackle 21.8 percent of the time. He also tallied a sensational 3.02 yards after contact per attempt. Equally impactful as a pass-catcher (81.6 catch% in ‘18), he’s a certifiable three-down back who should thrive in an offense loaded with field-stretchers. North of 1,500 total yards with 10-12 TDs would be no surprise.
Mixon is slated to be a workhorse in his own right, but Cincinnati’s already battered offensive line, which is down Jonah Williams and Clint Boling, combined with his unexciting underlying profile (10.7 missed tackle%; RB48 in YAC/att) arrow to an underwhelming 2019.
Mark my words, Cook will be off the hook no matter format.
Scott trots in to close
I want to make it clear: I don’t have a ton of separation between these two players. I’m not the Mayor of Mixon, and I’m not the Crusher of Cook. I think they both have interesting cases and plausible upside. (Wait until we get into the Julian Edelman throw-down — that will be a 15-round bloodbath, I’m sure.) But we don’t fully agree on this case, so bring on the debate.
If you ask me to go one or the other, Mixon has to get my checkmark. He’s a little thicker than Cook, and I think that presents a likelier shot at a full season. And Mixon should be a safer bet for heavier touches — he had five games with 20 or more carries last year; Cook didn’t have any. I like that Mixon has already put together the end-season result (RB9 last year) that we’re hoping Cook is capable of, someday.
I realize Cook is a second year removed from his knee blowout, and the addition of offensive consultant Gary Kubiak is exciting. But the Bengals have a much-overdue coaching reset too, with Zac Taylor taking over. Surely he picked up a few things at the knee of Sean McVay over the last two years, when Todd Gurley lorded over fantasy. Neither the Vikings nor the Bengals have a plus offensive line, so that’s probably a wash. When push comes to shove, Mixon offers a better resume and a body type that’s a little easier to buy into.