ADP Battle: Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, or Joe Mixon?
There are an abundant amount of talented running backs featured in 2019 fantasy drafts. Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, and Dalvin Cook are all expected to have elite 2019 seasons. They’re also all being selected in the first two rounds of drafts, per fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Let’s look at some of the numbers and find out who should be selected between the three.
Chubb earned the starting job as a rookie after the Browns traded Carlos Hyde. He took the opportunity and ran away with it as he finished as RB8 after he was named the starter.
The charts above showcase how Chubb did with his opportunities last season and how he performed after Carlos Hyde was traded to the Jaguars. Chubb had the highest points-per-opportunity out of him (.88), Cook (.85), and Mixon (.83). The fact that Chubb was able to make the most of his opportunities bodes well for him in this battle and in 2019. In addition, based on the games he started, Chubb was on pace for 264.32 points over a full season, which would’ve made him RB9. The talent and results Chubb showcased in just his rookie year mean he will only improve in 2019.
With what Chubb showed last year, he was already considered a safe pick for 2019. However, the Browns recently traded receiving running back Duke Johnson Jr. to the Houston Texans. Johnson leaves behind 47 receptions (62 targets) and 40 rush attempts. Johnson Jr. was also on the field for over 42 percent of the Browns offensive plays. While all these snaps won’t go directly to Chubb, he’ll certainly take the majority off them.
The one question mark with Chubb is the addition of former Chiefs running back, Kareem Hunt. Hunt, who was drafted by current Browns general manager John Dorsey, had 824 yards and 7 touchdowns in 12 games last season. Hunt will serve an eight-game suspension to start the year. This is encouraging for Chubb for the first half of the year, but the second half of the season could be Chubb’s downfall. Hunt’s talent and past numbers may lead to first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens utilizing both running backs heavily, which would depreciate Chubb’s value in the second half of the season.
After a promising rookie year, Mixon broke onto the fantasy season last season as he became a clear workhorse in the Bengals offense. With a new coaching regime, Mixon will look to improve upon his 2018 season.
When looking at Cook and Chubb, neither has proven they can either handle a full workload or be the lone workhorse back. Mixon checks both of those boxes as he averaged 20 touches a game last season as the workhorse back last season. As you can see above, Mixon stayed consistent with his touches as games went on, which is encouraging to see from a player your drafting in round two.
The addition of new head coach Zac Taylor only means good things for Mixon. Taylor, another disciple of the Sean McVay coaching tree, was part of an offense that saw Todd Gurley’s average over 22 touches in 2018. Look for Taylor to take advantage of Mixon’s versatility and utilize him heavily throughout the season.
In addition to finishing as RB10 and averaging nearly five yards-per-carry in 2018, Mixon was consistent with his finishes. He comes out victorious in the two most valuable categories and should see no regression in 2019 assuming he stays healthy.
The main concern when it comes to Mixon is his offensive line, which ranked 27th in 2018 according to PFF. Cincinnati drafted Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams 11th overall but he’s been ruled out for the year due to a torn labrum. This could mean the offensive line will be among the worst in the league in 2019, but that didn’t stop Mixon in 2018 which could limit some concern.
Even with the Bengals not expected to succeed in 2019, Mixon still has the team makeup and talent to boast impressive numbers. His volume, consistency, and a new offensive-minded coach can lead to an impressive 2019.
Although Dalvin Cook has yet to play a full 16-game season, he’s boasted impressive numbers in the time he’s played. 2019 is hopefully the year we see Cook stay healthy.
Even though he only played four games in 2017, Cook still showed signs of an RB1. He was the ninth-ranked running back in that four-week stretch. This was also the year the Vikings had a decent offensive line. After an ugly 2018 performance from the offensive line, the Vikings drafted center Garrett Bradbury with the 18th overall selection. The improved offensive line will only mean good things for Cook.
The Vikings will also start 2019 with a new offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski. Stefanski replaced former offensive coordinator, John Difilippo in week 15. With Stefanski as OC, the Vikings averaged over 95 rush yards per game and one rush touchdown per game. With Defilippo, they averaged under 86 RYPG and .46 rush touchdowns per game. The chart above shows the Vikings 2018 per game rush attempts. In their five highest performances, Stefanski was the OC for two of them and was in the position for 10 fewer games.
Like the other running backs on this list, Cook has some flaws. He’s played in only 15 games through two NFL seasons. The Vikings also drafted Boise State running back Alexander Mattison in the third round of the NFL Draft. Mattison is similar to former Vikings running back, Latavius Murray. Murray scored 14 touchdowns in the last two seasons while Cook only has six through 15 games. Cook’s inability to score and the opportunity presented to Mattison could hurt Cook’s outlook in 2019.
At the end of the day, all of these running backs will be in great positions to perform in 2019. However, if you’re in the situation where you need to select one of the three, I believe the correct choice is Bengals running back Joe Mixon. His “downside” of an offensive line wasn’t an issue last year as he still produced good numbers. With Kareem Hunt coming back after eight games, Nick Chubb comes in right behind Mixon. For Dalvin Cook, I believe we need to see him stay healthy and produce over a full 16-game season before we put him ahead of running backs like Mixon and Chubb.
- Joe Mixon
- Nick Chubb
- Dalvin Cook
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