Continuing my one-man 2014 fantasy football mock draft, here is how Round 4 of a fantasy football draft would unfold if I were drafting for each team:
Released by the Titans earlier this month, Johnson signed a two-year deal with the Jets this week worth up to $9 million. Even though he rushed for a career-low 3.9 yards per carry last season, he still managed to go over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for his sixth consecutive season. Not only is he one of the league's fastest players, he has been extremely durable playing 16 games in each of the past five seasons.
With depth at the position, waiting later in drafts to select a quarterback is my preferred strategy. If you're in a really deep league or a two-QB league, that changes the dynamic, but there are plenty of starter-worthy quarterbacks to be had late in drafts.
That said, Rodgers has a combined passer rating of 112.7 over the past three seasons with a 101:20 TD-to-INT ratio during that span. In addition, he has averaged 4,589.6 passing yards per 16 games in the past three years.
Orange Julius had a breakout season in 2013 as he finished with 65 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns in 14 games. A mismatch waiting to happen, Thomas should be even better in 2014 in his second season as a starter in Peyton Manning's offense.
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There have been two primary knocks on Johnson: durability and lack of touchdowns. While he has played in 16 games in back-to-back seasons, it is shocking that he has never caught double-digit touchdowns in his 11-year career.
When he has played 16 games in a season, however, he has been extremely productive. He has played 16 games in four of the past six years. In those four seasons, Johnson has a minimum of 101 receptions (2009) and 1,407 yards (2013).
It is unclear at this point who will be the Texans starting quarterback in Week 1, but it's more than likely that quarterback is not yet on their roster.
Related: Check out my 2014 NFL Mock Draft
One season after rushing for 1,263 yards, seventh-most in 2012, 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, signed with the Steelers, it's hard to have a ton of confidence in predicting Ridley's workload in 2014.
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.
It's perhaps an understatement to say that the past eight months have not gone well for Rice. Not only was he a disappointment on the field, but he was arrested for allegedly hitting his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City club. In fact, they got married last month the day after Rice was indicted on charges for aggravated assault.
After four straight seasons of rushing for more than 1,100 yards, Rice gained only 660 yards on his 214 carries, which averaged out to a career-low 3.1 yards per carry. He added 58 receptions for 321 yards, but both of those are lows during his time as a starter.
Having never missed a game in his NFL career, White did not allow a high-ankle sprain suffered last preseason to keep him out of the lineup in Week 1. That said, he wasn't himself and was more of a decoy for the first half of the season. Eventually White sustained a knee injury as well and missed a few games.
While the injuries kept White from having a typical Roddy White type of season, he was hitting full stride as the season ended. In five games in December, White finished with 43 receptions for 502 yards and two touchdowns. (That's comparable to a pace of 137.6 receptions and 1,606.4 yards.) In the last five games of the season, there were only three receivers with at least 500 yards: Josh Gordon (658), Alshon Jeffery (561) and White (502).
Even though Julio Jones is the team's No. 1 receiver now, White is only 32 years old and should have a couple more outstanding seasons in him assuming good health. Before last year, White had 1,153-plus yards in six consecutive seasons and I think 1,100-1,200 yards is a reasonable expectation in 2014.
Being second on the depth chart behind Adrian Peterson, it was no surprise that Gerhart did not get as many opportunities to carry the ball as you would expect a running back drafted in the second round to get. Over four seasons, Gerhart has 276 carries for 1,305 yards (4.7 YPC) and five touchdowns. In addition, he has 77 receptions for 600 yards and three touchdowns.
Allen became just the second rookie receiver to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark over the past seven seasons as he finished with 71 receptions for a team-high 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. As good as Allen was in 2013, he had only three catches for 30 yards in the first three games of his career. In other words, I would expect better full-season numbers from Allen in 2014 than we saw in 2013.
An Achilles injury in May kept Crabtree from building upon his 2012 breakout season. Assuming good health, I would expect numbers comparable to his 2012 season or better in 2014. In 2012, Crabtree finished with 85 receptions for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns.
Fitzgerald failed to reach 1,000 yards for the second season in a row, but he ended a streak of seasons with single-digit touchdowns. Last year, Fitz had 82 receptions for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns. While he didn't miss any games (for his sixth consecutive season), Fitzgerald dealt with some nagging injuries in the middle of the season.
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.
[Note: Round 5 will be posted later today.]
Our early 2014 Fantasy Football rankings:
- 2014 Fantasy Football QB rankings
- 2014 Fantasy Football RB rankings
- 2014 Fantasy Football WR rankings
- 2014 Fantasy Football TE rankings