A player’s injury status can significantly impact fantasy football, and it can lead to other players getting more opportunities than previously expected. We will potentially see that situation once again in Week 8, as Gio Bernard is all set to be the starting running back in place of the Bengals lead RB Joe Mixon. Can fantasy managers expect another trust-worthy performance from Gio Bernard in Week 8, or was last week a flash in the pan? Will he be able to perform as the team faces off against a tougher matchup in the Tennessee Titans?
Joe Mixon will miss his second straight game in Week 8
Having not played since suffering a foot injury in the second half of their Week 6 game against the Indianapolis Colts, the team was hopeful Mixon would be avaliable after a week off. Unfortunately, he was not able to practice this week and on Friday afternoon he was confirmed as being out of the Week 8 clash with the Titans.
Even if Mixon had been able to get as far as a game-time decision, it is unlikely he would have suited up. After this week, the Bengals have their bye in Week 9. Knowing Mixon’s importance to the offense, there would be no reason to rush him onto the field when they could use Gio Bernard and give their star RB three straight weeks of rest.
While Mixon hasn’t had the start we all were hoping for, he has been much better than people realize. Even now, after missing a game and a half, he is still RB13 on the season in PPR scoring. His 16.6 PPG ranks 10th-highest amongst running backs; however, we need to put that into context because stats can be manipulated.
Yes, Mixon has scored 99.6 PPR points on the season, 42.1 of them came in a single game in Week 4. That’s 43% of his season in a single game. We know that he has the potential, but rostering Mixon has been frustrating more often than not. This frustration is reflected in his 2020 Consistency Score, which at 4.73 places him 21st among running backs this season, behind the likes of David Montgomery and Melvin Gordon.
Gio Bernard’s fantasy outlook after a big Week 7
The Bengals will have to lean on Gio Bernard heavily for a second straight week at running back. However, after watching his game last week, that might not be a bad thing at all because Bernard seems more than capable of taking on the responsibilities.
In Week 7 against the Browns, Bernard showed his abilities as a rusher and a pass-catcher. Bernard totaled 96 yards from scrimmage on his first start of the season. He rushed 13 times for 37 yards and caught five passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Bernard finished the week as RB7 in PPR with 20.6 points, something that fantasy managers were thrilled with as he was picked up off the waivers in most leagues.
What gives Bernard his value in fantasy is his ability in the passing game because it helps hide the deficiencies of the Bengals’ offensive line, likely the worst part of their team. According to Football Outsiders, the Bengals have the 31st-ranked offensive line. They also rank 30th in stuffed rate, a measure of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage. They are also below the league average in every statistical category.
Even with this in mind, I still think Bernard could be a solid play in fantasy this week as the Titans haven’t been a difficult team to find success against as a running back.
Can you trust Gio Bernard in fantasy against the Titans?
I believe that you can trust Bernard in Week 8, and I have him ranked as a solid RB2. While the Bengals have not been great at rushing the ball, the Titans have been a middle of the road team at stopping it.
Tennessee ranks 10th in Defense Points Against Consistency (DPAC), meaning they are consistently giving up fantasy points to opposing running backs. So far in 2020, the Titans have given up an average of 23.63 points to the position, which is 17th in the NFL. This may not be quite as favorable of a matchup as Bernard saw in Week 7 but things could be much worse for his outlook.
While I am not going to say that Gio Bernard’s fantasy outlook is high enough to win your week, he is going to be a very stable option. If he is someone still on your waivers, he should be added and placed into starting lineups. Bernard is still available in 38.9% of leagues.
Bernard filled in well, taking over the workhorse role and accounting for 18 of the 20 running back touches available. The Titans have allowed a healthy 4.83 yards per carry to running backs this year, which is the seventh-highest number in the league. That is good news, especially when we know Bernard gets his value from his receiving upside, meaning he could be a dual-threat in Week 8.
Bernard is a volume play because other than RB Samaje Perine, no one else will see touches in this backfield as they look ahead to their Week 9 bye. I don’t think we will see the upside that we saw last week but as far as a plug and play RB2, Bernard should bring in double-digit fantasy points relatively easily.
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