Fantasy Football Mock Draft, Round 4

Throughout the week, the Yahoo! fantasy staff will be conducting our annual post-NFL Draft fantasy mock. This thing will look EXACTLY like your league's draft in August, with zero exceptions. Book it. End of story. That's how deadly accurate we are around here. Follow the links for earlier picks: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3.

Round 4, Pick 1 - QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

In his fifth NFL season, Rivers led the league in quarterback rating by a mile (105.5), he tied for the lead in touchdown passes (34), threw just 11 interceptions, passed for over 4000 yards and finished among the top five overall fantasy scorers. He also emerged as the centerpiece of the AFC's highest scoring offense. Rivers will obviously be surrounded by elite talent again, too.

It's a relatively close call between Rivers, Rodgers, Romo and McNabb here, and none of those guys are likely to be on the board when this team picks in Round 5. The hope is that an acceptable WR2 will still be available. This squad now has players who ranked among the elite at running back, receiver and quarterback last season. (Andy Behrens)

RB Brandon Jacobs, R1; WR Andre Johnson, R2; RB Ryan Grant, R3, QB Philip Rivers, R4.

Round 4, Pick 2 - WR Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos

And this is why you shouldn't have your fantasy football draft in April. Marshall had offseason hip surgery and there's still a possibility that he'll be suspended (again) early in the season. But at a certain point -- like, say, Round 4 -- the fantasy potential of a player like Marshall is too great to ignore. He's delivered back-to-back seasons with 100-plus receptions and at least 1200 yards, and he'll play in a Josh McDaniels offense that should again be receiver-friendly. You can live with the possibility that Marshall might miss a game or two early in the season; he really just needs to be healthy and active in the closing weeks, during the fantasy playoffs. (Behrens)

RB Frank Gore, R1; RB Steve Slaton, R2; WR Wes Welker, R3; WR Brandon Marshall, R4.

Round 4, Pick 3 - RB Derrick Ward, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Some gamers might be thrown by the presumed committee here, but Ward is making twice as much as Earnest Graham and he's ticketed to get the third-down work as well. This doesn't look like a 1 and 1A arrangement to me; Ward probably will get a chance to become the identity of the offense. Ward needs to improve on last year's touchdown count (just two), but there's a lot to like about the rest of his profile: 1,409 total yards, 5.6 YPC, 41 receptions. At 5-11, 228 pounds, he's thick enough to handle the pounding of a featured role. (Scott Pianowski)

WR Larry Fitzgerald, R1; RB Clinton Portis, R2; WR Terrell Owens, R3; RB Derrick Ward, R4.

Round 4, Pick 4 - RB Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers

There are safer picks left on the board, to be sure; I'm taking a shot on a complementary running back with minimal receiving skills and a 20-touchdown teammate standing in front of him. But keep in mind at this time last year the Panthers felt Stewart was the best fit for their zone-blocking scheme, and the rookie did just fine when called upon (4.5 YPC, 10 scores). I don't need Stewart to overthrow DeAngelo Williams to make a profit in this spot; if he can merely bring this arrangement closer to a 50-50 share on the carries (some additional goal-line work seems likely), I've got an every-week starter ready to go. Gridlock and bad vibes got me away from the AFC East backs (Thomas Jones, Marshawn Lynch); I'd prefer to take someone on the escalator with a simpler path to significant numbers. (Pianow)

RB Chris Johnson, R1; WR Randy Moss, R2; WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, R3; RB Jonathan Stewart, R4.

Round 4, Pick 5 - RB Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints

We've reached the part of the draft where you can't be afraid to roll the dice, and Bush is about as high-risk, high-reward as they come. That said, his prospects for this season are pretty encouraging. He's expected to be at full strength after undergoing knee surgery last year, so he should enter 2009 extremely fresh. With Deuce McAllister out of the picture, the backfield duties will be split between just Bush and Pierre Thomas, and it's likely that both will be on the field much of the time. Sure, Thomas will do a bulk of the scoring, but Bush should continue to be a yardage machine, and he's obviously a PPR stud. If he can manage to make it through the full season healthy, there's no reason why No. 25 shouldn't have his best fantasy campaign yet. (Michael Blunda, PFW)

RB Steven Jackson, R1; WR Steve Smith, R2; QB Kurt Warner, R3; RB Reggie Bush, R4.

Round 4, Pick 6 - TE Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

Let the tight end run begin! Compared to the RBs and WRs left on the board, Witten was the safest, most enticing option left out there. Now that Terrell Owens has taken his act to Buffalo, Witten will be the unquestioned No. 1 target for Tony Romo, so it's very possible he could build on the monster numbers he's put up over the past two seasons. He's also incredibly durable, having not missed a game the last five campaigns (all which resulted in Pro Bowl appearances). If things go as expected in Dallas, Witten could approach 100 catches, 1,200 yards and double-digit TDs. That's not too bad for a fantasy fourth-rounder. (Blunda)

RB LaDainian Tomlinson, R1; WR Calvin Johnson, R2; QB Peyton Manning, R3; TE Jason Witten, R4.

Round 4, Pick 7 - QB Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

Romo’s favorite target (see above) is back, and he’s already doing some male bonding with presumed No. 1 Roy Williams. The Williams trade looked like a bust in 2008, but the TO circus was still in town and there were injury issues at play. In fantasy points-per-game, Romo has been top 5 at his position over the last two seasons. I see the big-play void, yes, but between Williams and Patrick Crayton, the Cowboys should be able to stretch defenses enough to let Witten work the seams. And let’s not discount the value of locker-room harmony. This is a feel-good pick in the fourth round. (Matt Romig)

RB DeAngelo Williams, R1; RB Marion Barber, R2; WR Dwayne Bowe, R3; QB Tony Romo, R4.

Round 4, Pick 8 - TE Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

After catching 96 passes for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008, it’s hard to tag Gonzalez as a guy in need of a career resurrection, but it’s hard not to think that he’ll be invigorated in his new surroundings. Gone is the uncertainty of his final seasons in Kansas City, replaced by the excitement of lining up with some of the game’s most dynamic young stars – Roddy White, Michael Turner and Matt Ryan. Who are you going to key on? I hate to be guilty of furthering a tight end run, but in this case (and in Witten’s), you’re essentially turning your TE slot into a WR/TE position. That’s the level of production you’re getting there. (Mig)

RB Brian Westbrook, R1; QB Drew Brees, R2; RB Kevin Smith, R3; TE Tony Gonzalez, R4.

Round 4, Pick 9 - QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

At this point, six quarterbacks have been selected, but only one of them (Brees) scored more fantasy points last season than Rodgers. In his first season at the helm of the Packers, Rodgers posted numbers that even a much younger Brett Favre would have been elated with – 28 passing TDs, 4 rushing TDs, 4,038 passing yards. Rodgers represents the last of the upper tier of quarterbacks remaining. The next group comes with much bigger question marks. (Brandon Funston)

RB Michael Turner, R1; RB Ronnie Brown, R2; WR Reggie Wayne, R3; Aaron Rodgers, R4

Round 4, Pick 10 - TE Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

Injuries (toe, ankle, hip) messed with Gates’ production in ’08, but he still managed 704 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He’s still the best receiver Philip Rivers has to work with and, assuming the health issues won’t bite nearly as hard as they did last season, Gates should push his numbers once again towards 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. With Witten and Gonzo off the board this round, you could argue (depending on where you stand on Dallas Clark) that Gates empties out the top-tier at the tight end spot. With a lot of similar values to choose from at the RB and WR spots at this point, going for an elite tight end made the most sense. (BFun)

RB Maurice Jones-Drew, R1; WR Greg Jennings, R2; WR Anquan Boldin, R3; Antonio Gates, R4

Round 4, Pick 11 -- WR Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys

After understandably whining his way out of Detroit, the former Texas standout offered little reward in his return to the Lone Star State. In 10 contests with the ‘Boys he averaged a paltry three receptions and 19.8 receiving yards per game. But with T.O. in Buffalo ready to drive Trent Edwards over Niagara Falls, Big Roy should establish an immediate rapport with Tony Romo. Jerry Jones has boasted about Williams' conditioning and dedication this offseason, earning the wideout "triple A-pluses." Because he's expected to attract at least 120 looks this season, a campaign similar to '06 (82-1310-7) is a near certainty. (Brad Evans)

RB Matt Forte, R1; RB Pierre Thomas, R2; WR Roddy White, R3: WR Roy Williams, R4

Round 4, Pick 12 -- RB Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo Bills

"Beast Mode" would have a hard time attracting sizable bids at a "date" auction for charity (Seriously, Mickey Rourke could be his albino twin), but he's undoubtedly one of the sexiest No. 2 backs in fantasy. Unless his suspension is reduced by Warden Goodell, the powerful rusher is expected to miss the first three weeks of the season. Still, with Peterson, Brady and Colston already on roster, this team has enough firepower to endure any length of absence. Sandwiched between Frank Gore and Marion Barber in fantasy points per game among RBs, Lynch topped 90 total yards eight times and splashed pay-dirt on nine occasions. T.O.'s presence should limit stacked boxes and with a decent offensive line to run behind, totals near 1,200 total yards and 7-9 TDs are reachable. (BE)

RB Adrian Peterson, R1; QB Tom Brady, R2; WR Marques Colston, R3; RB Marshawn Lynch, R2


Photos via Getty Images

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