Fantasy owners are scrambling to find running back help after the recent report that Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon will miss time with a knee injury. Mixon had a great start to his season, running for 179 yards and a touchdown while adding 57 yards on six receptions out of the backfield. Replacing that production on your fantasy squad won’t be easy, but you don’t need to look too far for an adequate replacement. Fellow Bengals running back Giovani Bernard is set to take the majority of Mixon’s snaps and is a must-add on the waiver wire.

Owned in just 57.4% of fantasy leagues, Bernard offers starting running back production with Mixon out of the lineup. Bernard first entered the league in 2013, recording 3,446 yards from scrimmage over his first three seasons in the league, or 76.6 yards per game. Injuries limited his 2016 season to just ten games, but he still averaged 67.3 yards per game when he was active.

His production dipped last year as a direct result of the Bengals adding Mixon. However, Mixon missed three games last season, and Bernard managed to step up admirably. In three games without Mixon, Bernard recorded a combined 208 rushing yards, 133 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. That’s an average of 113.7 yards per game, which shows that the six-year veteran still has plenty left in his tank.

The PPR Upside

Bernard offers even more upside if you play in a PPR league. While Bernard is more than capable of carrying the ball, his best work comes in the receiving game. In his first three years in the league (when Bernard was healthy and starting), Bernard averaged 49.3 receptions for 445 yards per season. This is strong production for a running back, especially considering Bernard also averaged 164 carries and 701.7 rushing yards per season over that same stretch.

As previously mentioned, Bernard recorded 133 receiving yards when Mixon didn’t play in 2017. He produced that yardage on 16 receptions, showing that his receiving yardage wasn’t inflated by one huge gain.

When Bernard’s on the field, quarterback Andy Dalton will look for him. And with Joe Mixon injured, Bernard will see a lot of time on the field.

If you happen to play in a league where Giovani Bernard is a free agent, claiming him is a no-brainer. As long as Mixon’s sidelined, Bernard offers starting-caliber upside as a dual-threat option out of the backfield.

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