Well, that didn’t last long. It took Joe Mixon only a handful of snaps to blow by the 12-point threshold and send our Main Event squad to defeat. Mixon’s well-rounded effort produced easily his best game of the season.
He managed the EP double-double, generated 5.7 total FPOE, and impressed with four evaded tackles on his six receptions. Mixon led the position group in both yards after the catch (58) and yards after contact (40) in the receiving game. By punching in two short-yardage touchdowns, he almost hit 30 points on the week.
Even with this performance, Mixon is still in the negative for full-season FPOE and still below a 10% evasion rate, but it was a huge moment to break out for his fantasy and reality teams. Current backup and potential 2024 starter Chase Brown was also electric. He gained 54 yards after contact and generated two evaded tackles on just nine carries.
In the end, I’ll take 3-1 in the Main Event semifinals and hope for multiple championships this weekend. Trey McBride is on the bye, but perhaps not surprisingly, all three of these squads have Sam LaPorta. All three advancing teams also have Jaxon Smith-Njigba, so I take it he’s also been a league-winner . . .
Chuba Hubbard Was the NFL’s Most Impressive Back in Week 13
Hubbard was the most impressive back I watched this weekend. As Blair described in the Wrong Read, this matchup was skewed in the direction of a possible Bryce Young breakout. The Bucs were missing some key defensive starters, but they’d been among the most dominant rush defenses.
Hubbard consistently left them grasping at air with four broken tackles and an additional FMT on his way to 58 yards after contact. He was able to get out of bad lanes and knife through secondary options (just 44% designed gap), while keeping the stuff rate low (16%).
The former backup’s first two 20-point games have come in the last two weeks, and his first 20 EP game occurred this weekend. He made good on that workload with two goal-line TDs, including one where he backed up what appeared to be a 9-yard scoring jaunt on the play before.
Hubbard was one of my highest-rostered players this season, and while the production came a bit too late in many circumstances, it’s cool to see the original thesis from the Zero RB Countdown come through in the end.
Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, and Travis Etienne all posted video game numbers as college juniors in 2019. Each of them rushed for over 1,000 yards after contact, but none of them led the nation. That would be a sophomore named Hubbard, who finished with over 2,000 rushing yards, more than 1,200 of which came after contact.
This isn’t to say that Hubbard was a bruising back, but his borderline elite speed allowed him to average 6.4 yards per carry and almost reach 2,300 yards from scrimmage.
His final campaign was a disappointment, and was aborted with only seven games played. He fell in the draft, eventually generating a solid but uninspiring list of comps like Jamaal Williams, Wayne Gallman, and Tank Bigsby.
Despite all of this, Hubbard had an immediate rookie opportunity after injuries befell Christian McCaffrey. Unfortunately, he struggled, averaging 3.6 yards per carry with poor splits before and after contact. His sub-10% evasion rate was one of the worst in the NFL.
On many rosters, Hubbard might have been buried, but he got another chance to shine when McCaffrey was dealt to San Francisco. The 2022 campaign brought back echoes of that 2019 season with the Cowboys. He was good both before (2.2) and after contact (2.7) and regained that big-play ability. His three runs of 30-plus in Week 16 helped the Panthers defeat Detroit 37-23 and end the Lions’ playoff hopes.
Miles Sanders had a strong season last year and was signed to a healthy deal by the Panthers. He’s one of the NFL’s better pre-contact runners, but Hubbard’s splits (before/after/broken tackle%) were almost identical in 2022, and he did it behind an inferior run-blocking line.
Hubbard willed the Panthers to the brink of victory on Sunday, but Young sealed another defeat with a fourth-down interception on their final drive.