One of the most difficult tasks in drafting a fantasy football team
is trying to decide between two players you feel have nearly identical
value. Knowing how to break such a “tie” can be important, as often
a pick comes down to a dilemma between Player A and Player B. The
purpose of this article is to not only identify players of similar
value in 2019, but also take a look at the process of solving those
dilemmas. Our final installment of this feature examines two running
backs playing on opposite sides of the state of Ohio.
Both Nick Chubb
and Joe Mixon
are in the prime of their careers. Chubb is entering his second
season while Mixon is about to embark on his third as a Bengal.
Both appear capable of carrying a significant workload this season
and both are being drafted either late in first rounds or sometime
in the second round depending on scoring systems. So, who gets Buckeye
State bragging rights in fantasy football? Let’s move in for a closer
Chubb had to wait his turn in Cleveland last season as Carlos
Hyde was the Browns’ starter at the onset and then Chubb
shared the stage with Duke Johnson before truly taking on the
role of a workhorse. Once given his chance, Chubb was explosive,
netting 996 yards rushing with less than 200 carries.
This year, given his likely increase in attempts, that 5.2 yards
per carry average should propel him well over the 1,000-yard mark.
In addition, the Browns’ offense is going to create plenty
of red zone opportunities and Chubb is coming off a rookie season
in which he scored 10 touchdowns while only starting nine games.
That makes him a more prolific scorer than Mixon all the while
residing on a far superior offense that never allows a defense
to stack defenders in order to stop the run.
In short, all signs point to Chubb being a top-5 RB during the
initial half of the 2019 season. The trade of Duke Johnson to
Houston helped to solidify that reality.
Mixon took a big leap forward in 2018 after a somewhat pedestrian
rookie season in Cincinnati. Mixon only averaged 3.5 yards per
carry as a rookie, but given the opportunity to carry the ball
5 more times per game, that number soared to 4.9 yards a tote.
Whereas Cleveland is emerging as an aerial assault team, Cincinnati
is looking to establish more of a ball control offense and Mixon
is the centerpiece of that plan, particularly without A.J. Green
being in the lineup. Giovani Bernard is a solid veteran, but no
longer poses a threat to cut into Mixon’s workload, making
Mixon one of the safest picks to be made on draft day. His ceiling
is lower than Chubb’s, but his 1,464 yards from scrimmage
in 2018 appear to be well within reach and could easily be surpassed.
The fact that Chubb found the end zone 10 times last season in
restricted use gives you an idea of what his TD upside is. However,
he’s got Odell Beckham Jr. to contend with for scores and
Beckham will likely be used near the goal line given his propensity
to physically dominate cornerbacks. Add in David Njoku as an emerging
red zone threat and it would be reasonable to suggest Chubb’s
TD totals won’t be any higher than last season.
The bigger issue facing anyone drafting Chubb, has to do with
Kareem Hunt’s eventual return post-suspension. If the postseason
is a possibility for Cleveland upon Hunt’s return, they
will no doubt lighten Chubb’s workload for a January push.
So, while you’re looking at a top-5 RB through October,
you might be looking more at a RB in the 12-18 range down the
Whereas Chubb will rarely see an extra man in the box to stop
the run, Mixon will see that formation often. Stopping him will
be top priority for defenses, perhaps even when A.J. Green eventually/hopefully
returns. The Bengals simply aren’t built for the kind of
offensive fireworks the Browns are and the result will be fewer
trips to the red zone and ultimately fewer chances for Mixon to
Mixon certainly has a chance to lead the league in rushing yards,
particularly if Ezekiel Elliott holds out into the season. But,
he also hasn’t topped 300 receiving yards in either of his
first two seasons.
If there were no Kareem Hunt to consider, this would be a relatively
easy choice for me. Chubb plays in a better offense and will have
better opportunities to score. He demonstrated last season that
he’s capable of having “monster” games and without Duke
Johnson to take away all of his third down work, his receiving
totals should rise.
Here’s the issue, though: You have to consider the impact
of Hunt, keeping in mind the Browns will be trying to keep players
fresh for a playoff run while that won’t be an issue in
Cincinnati. Fantasy playoffs take place in December and if I had
to project who would be the more productive back based on what
I’ve just noted, I’d lean Mixon ever so slightly.
Maybe you just need to base this decision ultimately on your league’s
playoffs. If it’s a liberal playoff system (at least half
of the league makes the playoffs), Mixon gets the nod as he’ll
be the slightly more valuable player down the stretch.
But, if only 1/3 of the teams in your league make the playoffs,
then you’ve got to worry first about getting there. That
would make Chubb the higher priority given how valuable he looks
to be the first eight weeks of the season.
In the end, I expect overall production to be similar with Mixon
garnering more yards and Chubb more touchdowns. Workhorse RBs
in the prime of their careers are always a great find on draft
day and it’s in the range of outcomes for you to get both!