In utilizing their 11 picks in the draft, the Cincinnati Bengals grabbed young, athletic players who should be able to help them in all three phases of the game.
The team’s top two picks, wide receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon, are two of the more high-profile players to come out of this year’s class and both provide a ton of upside for the offense. However, they will be fighting with other productive veterans at their respective positions, making the outlook of their potential statistical production tough to predict.
Obviously, from a Bengals fan standpoint, their respective production in helping the team gain wins is paramount. However, for most other NFL fans, possible fantasy football ramifications are questions of note.
We discussed the possible contributions to a fantasy team that Ross and Mixon may have this year on this week’s episode of the Orange and Black Insider. And while some believe that Mixon could be the more productive fantasy option, there’s more under the surface with Ross.
Each fantasy owner has their own specific strategy when constructing their team. Some believe that the stacking of running backs, both in the high and middle-tier categories is the way to go. Obviously, when you have a multi-faceted back on your fantasy roster, it usually pays off in high dividends.
Mixon, by most accounts, appears to be a guy that can help on the ground and through the air. As Scott noted on the program, Mixon was viewed by scouts as having some of the best hands for a running back in this year’s class. It was shown in his 2016 receiving output of 538 receiving yards, five touchdowns and a 14.5 yards per catch average (slightly higher than Ross’s 2016 campaign with the University of Washington).
Some think Mixon may have the inside track on the starting job for the Bengals this year because of past issues with Jeremy Hill, as well as Giovani Bernard rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered late last season, but even that designation comes with questions. Since the Bengals drafted Bernard in the second round of 2013, it’s been a bit of a “by-committee” approach.
Hill improved on some facets last year, but still hasn’t given the team the consistency he showed as a rookie in 2014. Still, he’s been effective in short-yardage and goal line situations, racking up 29 rushing touchdowns the past three seasons. So, even if Mixon gets significant touches, Bernard, when healthy, will be an option in the passing game, while Hill might still be the team’s goal line pounder. Even though it may be that Mixon gets more snaps than Ross early on, some of the big fantasy points might go elsewhere.
Ross’s path to production in 2017 is an interesting one. First of all, he sat out all practices so far due to NFL rules for players attending a school on a quarter system in addition to recovering from surgery to repair a labrum injury. Even if he proves to be very precocious as a rookie, A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert will be getting the lion’s share of the pass attempts (provided both are healthy).
Tyler Boyd is the chain-mover and Brandon LaFell had a nice bounce-back campaign last year, so Ross may be quite a bit down the passing option pecking order. Still, that speed, though...
Both for on-field production and in fantasy terms, Ross may be a feast-or-famine player in 2017. Now, let’s not pigeonhole him into a long ball, one-trick pony, because he’s much more than that. However, with the veteran talent in front of him, that may be what he’s initially relegated to in his rookie campaign. And, hey, if it takes coverage heat off of Green, Eifert and Co., even if it’s not something that shows up in Ross’s stat column, I think most of Bengaldom would be fine with that.
For fantasy football purposes, Ross is probably worth a late-round flyer pick, but owners should probably temper their expectations. He’ll probably have about 4-5 huge games, but there might also be a lot of single-digit and/or goose egg-like fantasy games from him this year. Scott and I both believed that Mixon may be the better option in fantasy football this year, but overall, it’s a tougher call than many think.
Will John Ross or Joe Mixon be the better fantasy football option for owners this year?
Who will have a bigger fantasy football impact in 2017?
This poll is closed
WR John Ross
RB Joe Mixon
Neither will have much of an impact
You can get the audio clip of this OBI segment here at SoundCloud.
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