I was doing some research the other day. Specifically, on quarterback Joe Burrow and how his arrival can impact Joe Mixon and other Bengals weapons. And honestly, what I found probably slid Mixon up about 10 spots in my overall rankings. When I looked into it, when a rookie quarterback has a great rookie year, their running backs tend to succeed in fantasy football. I looked at data and trends from 2015 on, and you will be surprised on what I found. First, the obvious players.
Kyler Murray (2019)
Just last season, we saw Kyler light up the season in his rookie year, winning offensive rookie of the year (although some believe Jacobs or AJ Brown should have won). I don't think people realize just how well Arizona Cardinals running backs did. Through the first 6 weeks of the season, David Johnson was the overall RB5, with 121.3 fantasy points scored for 20.2 ppg.
After that, we saw David Johnson rapidly decline. Despite that, the running back position in Arizona still thrived. Chase Edmonds scored 35 points in week 7. Weeks 8-16, Kenyan Drake scored 142.1 points and averaged 20.3 ppg, which was the RB3 in ppg in that time period. These running backs overall stats combined to 298.4 fantasy points, which would have been .1 points behind Aaron Jones as the overall RB2. The RB position in Arizona was gold last season.
Baker Mayfield (2018)
Obviously had a great rookie season as well, and Nick Chubb benefitted from this. When he became the starter in week 7, Chubb scored 137.7 fantasy points, for an average of 19.7 ppg. Weeks 1-16 he would have been the RB6 if he played the full season.
Dak Prescott (2016)
Ignoring all potential hate for Dak, there is no denying he had a fabulous rookie year. He was an absolute rookie phenomenon. Ezekiel Elliot did great too, finishing as the RB2 overall with 325.4 points, an average of 21.7 per game.
Deshaun Watson (2017)
Watson had a great rookie year as well. While he did not have a top tier RB, he made do with Duke Johnson and Lamar Miller. Duke Johnson finished as the RB12 (weeks 1-16) and Lamar Miller finished as the RB13 (weeks 1-16). They scored 13.1 and 12.7 ppg respectively. If one was the workhorse and had both of their stats combined, they would have had the most PPG and been THE RB1. The RB position as a whole clearly did well for the Texans that season.
Jameis Winston (2015)
Yes, he did not have as great of a rookie year as other quarterbacks on this list. But his running back, Doug Martin, had a great season. He was the RB6 in PPR (weeks 1-16) so Jameis clearly had a positive impact on him.
Mitch Trubisky (2017)
Again, did not have a great rookie year at all. But Jordan Howard, his running back that season, succeeded, finishing as the RB11 in weeks 1-16.
Looking at this trend, it is clear that rookie QBs often result in their running backs succeeding. The rookies who succeeded the most (Dak Prescott, Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray) all had top-6 running backs in ppg. I completely expect Joe Mixon to continue this trend and potentially be a top-4 running back. As we can see, the potential floor is a Mitch Trubisky esque rookie season and Mixon finishes as a low-end RB1. I will be targeting Mixon in the early second and potentially late first round of all of my drafts this year.