Early 2014 Fantasy Football 4-Round Mock Draft: Round 4
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Last night, I started a four-round mock with all 12 teams being drafted by myself. At some point after Super Bowl XLVIII, we will begin longer mock drafts with our contributors participating as well.
For now, here is the final round of this one-man mock:
4.01 - Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Despite the relatively poor quarterback play, Johnson once again put up monster reception and yardage numbers. With 109 receptions and 1,407 yards, Johnson had the fifth 100-catch season of his career and his fourth 1,400-yard season in the past six years.
Unfortunately, Johnson only had five touchdowns and if you remember, he scored all five of his touchdowns in a two-game span this season, which means he had zero in the other 14 games played. Over the past three seasons combined, he has a total of only 11 touchdowns in 39 games.
4.02 - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Waiting on quarterbacks certainly pays off, but Brees has three consecutive 5,000-yard seasons and half of all eight 5,000-yard seasons in the history of the NFL. In other words, he's a virtual lock to throw for 5,000 yards, which is something no other player has yet to do twice. With a stud receiver and a pair of running backs already on this roster, I'd be comfortable taking Brees here.
4.03 - Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In his second season with the Bucs, Jackson set a career high with 78 receptions and once again exceeded 1,200 receiving yards with seven touchdowns. While he has more than his fair of inconsistency from week to week, a 70/1,200/7 season (or better) should be a lock for Jackson.
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4.04 - Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
One season after rushing for 1,263 yards, seventh-most last year, and 12 touchdowns, Ridley fumbled his way to a reduced role within the Patriots backfield rotation in 2013. Even though LeGarrette Blount, who has eight TDs in his past three games, is scheduled to become a free agent, it's hard to have a ton of confidence in predicting Ridley's workload next season.
Provided he doesn't, um, drop the ball, however, he at least has the talent as a runner to put up numbers like he had in 2012. Whether he gets that opportunity remains to be seen.
4.05 - Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Scheduled to earn (and I use that term loosely) $8 million in 2014, Johnson has stated that he won't take a paycut, which means he's likely to get the pink slip. Johnson is not worth that much money, but then again, how many running backs are?
Still one of the league's fastest players at any position, Johnson rushed for 1,000 yards for the sixth straight season to start his career. That said, the days of him approaching 2,000 yards (like in 2009) seem to be so long ago and CJ2K averaged a career-low 3.9 yards per carry this past season.
4.06 - Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
With Rashard Mendenhall due to become a free agent, there is no guarantee that Ellington will become the team's featured back, but he will be a prominent part of the team's offense either way. In his rookie season, Ellington carried the ball 118 times for 652 yards (5.53 YPC) and three touchdowns and added 39 receptions for 371 yards and a touchdown.
4.07 - Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
With a strong running game led by Eddie Lacy to complement the team's high-powered passing attack, the Packers have one of the league's most explosive offenses — when Rodgers is under center, that is.
Over the past three seasons, Rodgers has thrown more than five times as many touchdowns (101) as interceptions (20). Considering he's missed eight games during that span, those numbers equate to an average of a 40:8 TD-to-INT ratio in a 16-game span. In addition, he has ranked in the top five in passer rating in each of the past five seasons.
4.08 - DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
Like with VJax, there is some weekly inconsistency with DJax, but he had a career year in new head coach Chip Kelly's offense. Jackson finished with 82 receptions for 1,332 yards, both of which are career highs, and nine touchdowns, which ties his previous career high.
4.09 - Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
Before tearing his Achilles in the offseason, Crabtree had a breakout season with the Niners in 2012. In his breakout campaign, Crabtree had 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. There is no reason to believe that he won't post comparable numbers in 2014 as he had in 2012. After all, he is the "greatest catcher of all-time."
* For a look ahead to the real 2014 NFL Draft, here is my updated 2014 NFL Mock Draft. As we get closer to draft, I will add rounds and eventually include all seven rounds.
4.10 - Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
About to turn 29 years old a couple of weeks after the start to the NFL free-agency period in March, MJD is coming off a relatively disappointing season with a career-low 3.4 yards-per-carry average.
Part of me would like to see Pocket Hercules stay in Jacksonville as few players finish their whole careers playing for just one team. On the other hand, I'd like to see him get an opportunity to go somewhere to play for a contender.
Not surprisingly, MJD works out to the 26th running back off the board in this mock, which coincides with my early 2014 running back rankings (which will be released at the end of this week). If he returns to the Jags, I think there is a solid chance he produces as one of the top 25 fantasy backs in 2014.
4.11 - Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
After spending his career with a perennial loser, Jackson bolted in free agency for a chance to win in Atlanta. Not only did things not go as expected on that front, Jackson had a disappointing season as an injury kept him on the sidelines for much of the first half of the season.
In 12 games, Jackson rushed for 543 yards and averaged 3.5 yards per carry, both of which are career lows. Assuming better health in 2014, his numbers should improve, but he turns 31 years old in July and has 2,552 career carries on the tires.
4.12 - Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
For this squad, I would likely go with a receiver such as Larry Fitzgerald at pick 5.01 if I were continuing this mock. With McCoy and Bernard already on this roster as the RB1/RB2, TRich is a flex with upside ... and downside.
What a disappointing 2013 season for Richardson! While 2012 was a disappointment as well, there were some built-in excuses like his injuries (knee, ribs, etc.) and Cleveland's lack of weapons at the time. In 2013, those excuses were removed and his production was actually (much) worse. In his 14 games with the Colts, Richardson averaged just 2.92 yards per carry and was eventually benched for Donald Brown.
Considering the team gave up its 2014 first-round pick to acquire Richardson and that Brown is about to become a free agent, Richardson should open up as the team's starter at running back and get every opportunity to succeed. (Or fail.)
My initial 2014 fantasy football rankings will be released later this week ... and then frequently revised for the next nine months.