Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook both entered the NFL in 2017 as second round picks. However, their careers have taken different routes to this point. While Mixon served as one of the league’s best running backs on a dreadful Bengals team, Dalvin Cook has failed to live up to his promise for the most part. He looked like a steal before he tore his ACL and he is still trying to reach the status he held before his injury. Entering 2019, both have high expectations. With the departure of Latavius Murray, Cook has the opportunity to finally live up to his workhorse potential while Mixon enters 2019 with renewed promise after a great 2018 and under a new offensive mind in Zac Taylor. But which of the two provides better fantasy value?
The Case for Joe Mixon
Joe Mixon rebounded from an awful 2017 rookie season to play up to his standards and then some in 2018. After averaging 3.5 YPC his rookie year, Mixon made the leap and put up 4.9 YPC behind a modest offensive line, bad offense, and a disastrously average head coach. In 2019, he returns to a line that includes talented tackle Jonah Williams, an offense with a returning A.J Green, and a promising new head coach. At the very least, the circumstances around him should improve in 2019. If Jonah Williams lives up to the hype, Joe Mixon may have more running lanes to go through. Of course, any good back can do that. What separates Joe Mixon from other backs is his ability to break off a big run at any time and get YAC. His 6’ 1” frame enables him to muscle his way through defenders, but he’s still got a 4.5 second 40 in his back pocket. He’s a good pass catcher and is a true 3 down workhorse. Of course, being on a losing team hurts, but he’s proved that he can be effective despite that. He’s being taken in the back of the first in most drafts and that seems like a good place for him. His value there definitely isn’t a steal, but it’s a fair price and one most drafters should be willing to take.
The Case for Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook was taking the league by storm in the first 4 games of his rookie season. As a rookie coming out of the same Draft class as Joe Mixon, he looked like the superior player through the first four games of their careers. Of course, we all know what happened next. He tore his ACL and found himself in a timeshare with the painfully average Latavius Murray in 2019. In his limited touches, Dalvin Cook did do a good job, averaging 4.6 YPC and showing the receiving prowess that was supposed to make him a star at this level. A nagging hamstring issue and injuries to the Vikings, however, prevented Cook from truly breaking out. He enters 2019 with the potential to be a true workhorse. Alexander Mattison is a capable back, but Cook has shown he has the tools to be an elite RB. But can he stay healthy? Cook comes with a lot of potential but, at his current price, potential isn’t enough. Is that potential worth a second round pick when players like David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell will still be on the board? The answer should be no. Cook has the talent, but at the second round price you want someone who can provide you with stability. Cook could do that, but he has yet to prove he can sustain success. Mixon, Bell, Johnson, and Conner have all proven they can. For the price, Cook seems like a gamble in a round where there are plenty of safer, high upside options.
Dalvin Cook has high upside in 2019, but it is more likely that Mixon will still prove to be the safer, more stable player and is the player we’d rather target in 2019.