Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down Round 4 in a 12-Team PPR League

John Miller@SportsSomethingCorrespondent IIIJuly 5, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down Round 4 in a 12-Team PPR League

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    With a ton of RBs and WRs coming off of the board in the last two rounds, you could see a mini-run on QBs and TEs in Round 4.

    At this point, most of the WRs with WR1 upside are off of the board and all of the RBs left have question marks. What you do in Round 4 will somewhat be dictated by what you did in the first three rounds. This might be you last chance to get one of the high-end QB1s or TE1s.

    If you've drafted a QB or TE before this, you're going to find yourself scrambling to fill either your RB or WR slots. That's okay. When that happens you're going to go for a "quantity over quality" strategy where you grab a bunch of RB/WR with some upside and hope that you hit on one or two of them.


    For reference, I will be listing each player's Expert Consensus Ranking - PPR as determined by Fantasy Pros.

    Check out the slideshows for Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3.

Results from the Previous Rounds

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    ROUND 1

    1. LeSean McCoy (RB - PHI)
    2. Arian Foster (RB - HOU)
    3. Calvin Johnson (WR - DET)
    4. Ray Rice (RB - BAL)
    5. Ryan Matthews (RB - SD)
    6. Larry Fitzgerald (WR - ARI)
    7. Aaron Rodgers (QB - GB)
    8. Tom Brady (QB - NE)
    9. Rob Gronkowski (TE - NE)
    10. Jimmy Graham (TE - NO)
    11. Drew Brees (QB - NO)
    12. A.J. Green (WR - CIN)

    ROUND 2

    1. Chris Johnson (RB - TEN)
    2. Wes Welker (WR - NE)
    3. Roddy White (WR - ATL)
    4. Greg Jennings (WR - GB)
    5. Andre Johnson (WR - HOU)
    6. Maurice Jones-Drew (RB - JAC)
    7. Marshawn Lynch (RB - SEA)
    8. Victor Cruz (WR - NYG)
    9. Brandon Marshall (WR - CHI)
    10. DeMarco Murray (RB - DAL)
    11. Trent Richardson (RB - CLE)
    12. Darren Sproles (RB - NO)

    ROUND 3

    1. Hakeem Nicks (WR - NYG)
    2. Julio Jones (WR - ATL)
    3. Matt Forte (RB - CHI)
    4. Jordy Nelson (WR - GB)
    5. Darren McFadden (RB - OAK)
    6. Mike Wallace (WR - PIT)
    7. Percy Harvin (WR - MIN)
    8. Ahmad Bradshaw (RB - NYG)
    9. Jamaal Charles (RB - KC)
    10. Dez Bryant (WR - DAL)
    11. Steve Smith (WR - CAR)
    12. Cam Newton (QB - CAR)

Round 4, Pick 1: Fred Jackson (RB: BUF)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 44 (PPR)


    If not for the presence of C.J. Spiller, Jackson could go even earlier in fantasy drafts. He's an especially valuable asset in PPR leagues as he has excellent hands out of the backfield. He's been banged up before in his career, but his knees are solid and his career odometer is much lower than his age would have you think.

    His upside is probably capped as a nice RB2, but he's also much safer than many of the remaining RB options.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - A.J. Green (WR - CIN)

    Round 2 - Chris Johnson (RB - TEN)

    Round 3 - Cam Newton (QB - CAR)

Round 4, Pick 2: Steven Jackson (RB: STL)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 36 (PPR)


    When it comes to un-sexy, drafting Steven Jackson is the equivalent of a bride wearing a sleeping bag over her chastity belt. But consider this: everything went wrong for Jackson last year. He got hurt early, Sam Bradford got hurt and even Danny Amendola got hurt. The offensive line was bad. The coaching staff was on the way out.

    And Steven Jackson finished as the No. 9 RB in PPR leagues. All of 20 points behind Marshawn Lynch. Given that Jackson was a first or second round pick for years, getting him in Round 4 is a bargain, even if he is aging and he misses a game or two.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Drew Brees (QB - NO)

    Round 2 - Wes Welker (WR - NE)

    Round 3 - Steve Smith (WR - CAR)

Round 4, Pick 3: Reggie Bush (RB: MIA)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 53 (PPR)


    There's not really a fair comparison for Reggie Bush. A "Poor Man's" Darren Sproles maybe? In standard (non-PPR) leagues, I'm not wild about Bush. But he catches the ball and should literally be the focal point of the Dolphins offense. Unless Chad Ochocinco got some type of "Kobe Surgery."

    There's always injury risk with Bush. But Daniel Thomas garnering no love from the new coaching staff, Bush should have all of the work that he can handle. I wouldn't draft him any earlier than this, but Bush is a solid RB2 in PPR formats. The smart bet would be to handcuff him with rookie Lamar Miller.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Jimmy Graham (TE - NO)

    Round 2 - Roddy White (WR - ATL)

    Round 3 - Dez Bryant (WR - DAL)

Round 4, Pick 4: Doug Martin (RB: TB)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 24 (PPR)


    I'm not enamored with taking rookies early by any means. But the Bucs brought in former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano to run the show. And he brought in Martin to be his "Ray Rice" type of RB. LeGarrette Blount is still in town and he will be a factor in the running game as well.

    That actually could make the Ray Rice comparisons fairly accurate. Just think more along the lines or Rice during his first few years in the league. When he split time with Willis McGahee. Martin's ability to catch the ball (and Blount's complete inability to do so) will make him a PPR asset. But he still projects as a RB2 option at this point in his career.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Rob Gronkowski (TE - NE)

    Round 2 - Greg Jennings (WR - GB)

    Round 3 - Jamaal Charles (RB - KC)

Round 4, Pick 5: Dwayne Bowe (WR: KC)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 43 (PPR)


    The Chiefs were a mess last season. They started off with very high expectations. But they never could overcome losing their star RB (Jamaal Charles), their young star safety (Eric Berry) and then their QB (Matt Cassel). And Bowe is maddeningly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. He's a superstar one week and then he totals five fantasy points over the next two weeks.

    But the proof (so to speak) is in the pudding. Bowe finished as the No. 13 WR in PPR leagues last year. He will get a large number of targets, especially while in the red zone. Bowe just has to catch the ball and stay in the game mentally. If he puts it all together, he has true WR1 upside. If not, the WR13 isn't that bad as a fourth round pick.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Tom Brady (QB - NE)

    Round 2 - Andre Johnson (WR - HOU)

    Round 3 - Ahmad Bradshaw (RB - NYG)

Round 4, Pick 6: Miles Austin (WR: DAL)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 41 (PPR)


    What you want to figure is that if Miles Austin was healthy last season, he would've done what Laurent Robinson did. But he wasn't healthy. For fantasy purposes, he was basically useless after the first month of the season. Maybe even actually a drain on your roster if you carried him injured on your bench all season.

    But that's why he's available in Round 4. If Austin stays healthy, he will be at least a WR2, even if Dez Bryant takes the next step. The Cowboys have an explosive offense with an improving offensive line. I doubt that Austin has what it takes to crack the top-five fantasy WRs, but a top-12 season is possible.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Aaron Rodgers (QB - GB)

    Round 2 - Maurice Jones-Drew (RB - JAC)

    Round 3 - Percy Harvin (WR - MIN)

Round 4, Pick 7: Matthew Stafford (QB: DET)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 26 (PPR)


    This could prove to be the best value pick among QBs in this draft. Stafford has the potential to be the No. 1 fantasy QB. He did have a questionable injury history before last season, but we've seen other QBs do the same. If the Lions can actually find a couple of real NFL RBs (Kevin Smith qualifies), Stafford will probably see a drop in his pass attempts.

    That doesn't really matter much in the grand scheme of things. The Lions play indoors. Stafford gets to throw to Calvin Johnson. And Titus Young, Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson and more. He could sleepwalk his way to a top-five fantasy season.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Larry Fitzgerald (WR - ARI)

    Round 2 - Marshawn Lynch (RB - SEA)

    Round 3 - Mike Wallace (WR - PIT)

Round 4, Pick 8: Vincent Jackson (WR: TB)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 42 (PPR)


    I'm not a huge Vincent Jackson guy anymore. When he went later in drafts, he was a much better value, at least in PPR leagues. He doesn't catch nearly as many passes as you think. His last three seasons as a full-time starter he had 59, 68 and 60 catches. He does a ton of damage on big plays, but he is also a red zone target. He's like an improved (and bigger) version of DeSean Jackson.

    We don't know how Jackson fits in with the Bucs. He could see an increase in targets and receptions. He certainly will be a target for them in the red zone. I don't know that he will exceed his career averages by much this season, but he certainly could meet them. He's a solid WR2.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Ryan Matthews (RB - SD)

    Round 2 - Victor Cruz (WR - NYG)

    Round 3 - Darren McFadden (RB - OAK)

Round 4, Pick 9: Antonio Gates (TE: SD)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 50 (PPR)


    You're rolling the dice with this pick. Every year we talk about how Antonio Gates will (finally) come back at 100 percent health. Then he looks great for a few weeks. Then we all remember how Gates himself has said that he will probably have to deal with his foot injury for the rest of his career, at least on some level.

    But I also remember (that for a hot minute) Gates was Gronkowski before we knew what a Gronk was. There was the glorious 2010 season when Vincent Jackson held out for two months. Gates was an absolute fantasy monster. Now Vincent Jackson is gone for good. Malcom Floyd, Robert Meachem and Vincent Brown are nice players. But Gates will be the No. 1 target in the passing game for the Chargers, especially in the red zone.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Ray Rice (RB - BAL)

    Round 2 - Brandon Marshall (WR - CHI)

    Round 3 - Jordy Nelson (WR - GB)

Round 4, Pick 10: Aaron Hernandez (TE: NE)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 47 (PPR)


    Because of health concerns, you certainly could take Hernandez before Gates. And that's because we all saw what Hernandez could do last season. But he's going to have some poor fantasy games. That's the nature of the Patriots offense. Tom Brady spreads the ball out so well that only Tom Brady is guaranteed a great fantasy day.

    We don't know what the addition of Brandon Lloyd will ultimately do for the Patriots offense. The same goes is the Patriots can manage a halfway-decent running game. But it's hard to see Hernandez doing less than he did last season. The flip side of that is that I'm not sure that he can do much more. Considering that he was the No. 4 TE in PPR leagues last season, that's a good deal here.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Calvin Johnson (WR - DET)

    Round 2 - DeMarco Murray (RB - DAL)

    Round 3 - Matt Forte (RB - CHI)

Round 4, Pick 11: Michael Vick (QB: PHI)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 54 (PPR)


    Michael Vick isn't just a lottery ticket, he's a Power Ball (or Mega Millions) ticket. I hated him as a first (or second or third) round draft pick last season. But the end of Round 4 seems appropriate for the risk/reward ratio that Vick offers.

    When you draft Vick, you're going to need to draft a halfway decent backup QB. That's not the end of the world. In Round 10 or Round 11 remember to grab another QB, preferably with a different bye week and some upside. If he hits and Vick (somehow) stays healthy, you've got yourself a nice trade chip.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - Arian Foster (RB - HOU)

    Round 2 - Trent Richardson (RB - CLE)

    Round 3 - Julio Jones (WR - ATL)

Round 4, Pick 12: Marques Colston (WR: NO)

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    Expert Consensus Ranking: 38 (PPR)


    Marques Colston is another player with a well-document injury history. Plan on him missing at least two games. That's not the end of the world though. Last season Colston basically missed three games and still finished as the No. 10 WR in PPR leagues. There's always going to be more injury risk with Colston than some other WRs. But as long as Drew Brees is throwing him the football, you just have to deal with it.

    The No. 10 fantasy WR seems about right with Colston. But there is still some upside past that. The Saints haven't brought in anybody to fill the vacancy created when Robert Meachem left. It's possible that they fill that role in-house. But it's also possible that the existing Saints WRs pick up a few more targets. A healthy Colston could have a shot at a career season in 2012.


    Previous Selections By This Team:

    Round 1 - LeSean McCoy (RB - PHI)

    Round 2 - Darren Sproles (RB - NO)

    Round 3 - Hakeem Nicks (WR - NYG)

On to Round 5

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    Remember, this is a draft. So I'm not just listing players in the order I would rank them. Who a team has previously selected will absolutely impact who they draft next, especially this early in the draft. Late in the draft you might want to go with more of a "best player available" philosophy.

    Round 4 will be a transitional round in most drafts. In the first three rounds, just a few QBs and TEs are drafted. That means a ton of RBs and WRs will be off of the board in Round 4. That's why you will see owners begin to dip into that second tier of QBs and TEs here.

    You will find that you're not comfortable drafting any of the available RBs this early. Get used to that feeling, you will have it quite often this draft season. Meanwhile, I'm not sure that there is a ton of difference in the quality of WRs available here as there will be in a round or two.

    That means I'm probably likely to try to grab at least one "elite" QB or TE before the big run on them begins sometime in Round 4.


    Thanks for reading and good luck to you this season. Again, please use the comments feature if you have anything to add or care to ask any relevant fantasy football questions.


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    Check out John at SportsSomething