Growing up one of my favourite, and probably first, games to play on a games console was Street Fighter... an all-time classic! A simple 1 v 1 fighting game that brought me hours of enjoyment as a youngster. So I decided to bring it back... but in the form of fantasy football! I'm going to be running a mini-series of articles in this format over the next month or so of players who have similar positional ADP and see who comes out on top. I will be evaluating these 4 components of each player to see who wins:
Round 1 - Prospect - Taking a look at each player as they were entering the NFL.
Round 2 - Career so far - Comparing how each player's career has played out so far.
Round 3 - 2019 Results - Seeing how each player performed in 2019.
Final Round (Double Points) - Offense/Situation/Outlook - Evaluating each player's offense and how they will be involved to see who has the best outlook for 2020 and beyond. Double points as it's the one area, as dynasty owners, we most care about!
The player with the most points out of a possible 5 will be declared the winner!
So first up Dalvin Cook (ADP:9 - RB5) Vs Joe Mixon (ADP:11 - RB6)
Dalvin Cook Vs Joe Mixon
Round 1 - Prospect
Following on from 3 years at Florida State, Cook's final college stats looks like this:
Rushing - 687/4464/46
Receiving - 79/935/2
Next, let's take a look a look at his measurables following on from his NFL Combine results and his percentiles vs running backs:
40-Yard Dash - 4.49s - 70%tile
Verticle Jump - 30 1/2" - 10%tile
Broad Jump - 116" - 34%tile
3-Cone Drill - 7.27s - 10%tile
Bench Press - 22 reps - 72%tile
Following on from the combine, Dalvin Cook would be selected by the Minnesota Vikings during the 2017 NFL Draft in Round 2 (Pick 41)
As for Joe Mixon, he only completed 2 years in college with Oklahoma as he was suspended for the 2014 season due to an assault charge, before declaring for the NFL Draft following on from his sophomore year. His final stats were:
Rushing - 300/2027/17
Receiving - 65/894/9
Joe Mixon didn't receive an invite to the 2017 NFL Draft due to an NFL rule that bars draft prospects who had a history of violent crimes from the attending the combine in Indianapolis in 2017. However, his measurables from other sources (such as his Pro Day) and percentiles are as follows:
40-Yard Dash - 4.5s - 68%tile
Verticle Jump - 35" - 56%tile
Broad Jump - 118" - 48%tile
3-Cone Drill - 7.1s - 38%tile
Bench Press - 21 reps - 64%tile
In the same 2017 NFL Draft that Cook was drafted in, Joe Mixon was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals 7 picks later in Round 2 (Pick 48)
Stats - Cook had the more productive college career, and although Mixon was slightly more efficient with his touches, Cook's dominance on the ground gives him the edge here for me.
Measurables - both have rather similar profiles but Mixon had a slight advantage in the agility (3-Cone) and explosive drills (Verticle and Broad Jump) to give him the upper hand here.
Draft - Both Cook and Mixon were highly touted prospects entering the draft, both had the talent to be 1st round picks but fell during the draft due to off-field issues. Cook's more proven profile of being a capable workhorse back and less serious off-field issues was the likely reason he got chosen before Mixon
Current Score - Cook 1 - 0 Mixon
Round 2 - Career So Far
Cook made a slow start to his career due to injuries. He entered the NFL after just recovering from a shoulder tear but started off his rookie season in great form, putting up 354 yards and 2 TDs in his opening 4 games. Sadly, Cook tore his ACL during Week 4 which put an end to his rookie season. His 2nd season in the NFL went slightly better but again hamstring injuries resulted in him missing 5 games. Still, he put up over 900 yards from scrimmage and 4 TDs. 2019 was when Cook managed to finally have his breakout season, 1654 total yards, and 13 TDs to give him an RB6 finish, yet he still missed 2 games at the end of the season with a shoulder injury in Week 15.
Mixon had a solid, if not spectacular rookie season, partially due to sharing the backfield with fellow RB Gio Bernard. Yet he still put up a good stat line and finished his 1st season in the NFL as the RB34. It was 2018 when Mixon finally repaid his fantasy owners, Mixon took over the backfield and began to be the workhorse back for the Bengals finishing the season 4th in rushing yards and as the RB10. 2019 was a frustrating year for Mixon, he made a rather slow start to the year as the Bengals struggled, before things started to pick up from Week 8. The Bengals finally realized that they needed to get the ball in their playmaker's hands, averaging 21.5 carries a game from week 8 onwards. While his finish of RB13 was frustrating for his fantasy owners, his end to the season was encouraging.
Injuries have held Cook back so far in his career, so despite a great season in 2019, I have to give this one to Mixon, with a solid rookie season and back to back 1000+ yards rushing in 2018 & 2019 once becoming the lead back in Cincinnati.
Current Score - Cook 1 - 1 Mixon
Round 3 - 2019 Season
As we dive into the 2019 season, this was the year we finally got the breakout from Dalvin Cook we had all hoped for. Some key stats from his 2019 season:
RB5 in standard leagues (RB6 in PPR leagues) despite missing 2 games
250 carries for 1135 yards (9th*) and 13 TDs (7th*)
Averaged 4.5 yards per carry with those 250 carries
53 receptions for 519 yards (6th*)
Finished as a weekly Top 5 RB 7 weeks out of a possible 14
Averaged 20.9 fantasy points per game
50 Red Zone touches resulting in 12 TDs
*League leaders rank
Barring the injury at the end of the season, 2019 was a very successful year for Dalvin Cook
As mentioned earlier, Mixon made a slow start to 2019 but once the Bengals started to get the ball in his hands from Week 7 onwards he started to get his season back on track. Here are the key stats from Mixon's season:
RB11 in standard leagues (RB13 in PPR leagues)
278 carries for 1137 yards (8th*) and 8 TDs (T11th*)
Averaged 4.1 yards per carry
35 receptions for 287 yards (24th*)
Averaged 14.1 fantasy points per game
His snap % increased from 54% to 65% following the Bengals Week 9 bye week
48 Red Zone touches resulted in 8 TDs
103 evaded tackles (1st*)
*League leaders rank
Despite an improvement to the second half of the season, overall 2019 was a disappointment for Mixon and his owners.
Nearly all the stats point towards Cook having the more successful 2019 season, resulting in him finishing 8 spots above Mixon in fantasy. This round has to go to Dalvin Cook!
Current Score - Cook 2 - 1 Mixon
Round 4 - Offense/Situation/Outlook
Cook is currently with the Minnesota Vikings, although at the time of writing this article, he is threatening a holdout as he enters his 4th season in the NFL. The Vikings are a run-heavy offense that ran at the 4th highest rate in the NFL and averaged the 5th most rushing attempts per game in 2019. If that can carry on through into 2020, and I see no reason why it won't, then Cook should be in for a heavy workload like he was in 2019. Behind him in the depth chart is 2019 3rd round pick, Alexander Mattison who flashed his potential when given the opportunity in 2019. Although both he and Cook possess similar traits, so he may be more of a high-end back-up for Cook rather than someone he will share the backfield with.
Apart from the possible holdout, the one big concern for me with Dalvin Cook is his injury history and the fact he has yet to complete a full season since entering the NFL. As well as the ACL tear in his rookie season he has also had 2 hamstring injuries in 2018 and a shoulder sprain last season (something he struggled with during his college career as well). According to Sports Injury Predictor, he has a 56.8% chance of reinjury in 2020!
Joe Mixon is currently the lead RB for the Cincinnati Bengals, but like Dalvin Cook, is currently seeking a new contract with the Bengals and threatening a holdout at the time of writing this article.
Taking a look at the offense, the Bengals were a far more pass-heavy team in 2019, ranking 6th in the league in passing attempts compared to 25th in the league in rushing attempts. We could expect that to slightly change with them now having a rookie QB in Joe Burrow and the defense hopefully improving in 2020, but this is still a concern for Joe Mixon's outlook. Having Joe Burrow at QB could also be a positive for Mixon though. One thing Burrow did during his final year in college at LSU is utilize his then RB, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, in the passing game. So far in his NFL career, Mixon has yet to be fully involved in the passing game despite a career average of 8.1 yards-per-reception and a solid 81% catch rate. If Burrow can help unlock that side of his game then Mixon has a great chance of becoming a Top 6 RB playing in a much-improved offense in 2020.
This was a real close one to decide on a winner. Cook has had the luxury of being on a solid offense since joining the NFL, whereas I feel only now is Mixon starting to find himself in that situation. Also, with the runningback position been such a grueling and physical position, the injury concerns with Dalvin Cook are very real in comparison to Joe Mixon. That is something as a dynasty owner that you don't want with your star RB.
(Yes, I know that's Mortal Kombat... roll with it)
Overall, I feel we have still yet to see Joe Mixon's full potential in comparison to Dalvin Cook, and this new-look Bengals offense could be just what Mixon needs to join the fantasy football elite.
Final Score - Cook 2 - 3 Mixon
Thank you for reading this article, hopefully you enjoyed this fun project for me to put together! If it is well received I am hoping to keep it running as a series. Be sure to follow me on twitter @MattFFDynasty to give me your feedback on this article but also for other fantasy football content. Also, let me know who you would like to see go head to head in future Dynasty ADP Duels!