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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

NFL Draft Fantasy Recap: Round 4

NFL Draft 20164.12 - TE Tyler Higbee, Rams

There are a lot of underrated tight end prospects in this draft, and Higbee is one of them. A former receiver who hurt his knee around midseason and has some off-field, Higbee is a soft-handed tight end that compares favorably to less athletic (but quite not as injury-prone) Jordan Cameron. The Western Kentucky standout is primarily a receiving tight end, but it is not because he lacks lower-body strength. The Rams have a huge hole at tight end after letting Jared Cook leave in free agency and desperately need to give Jared Goff some playmakers, so this selection addresses both of those areas. Higbee has some low-end TE2 potential in redraft leagues and should be targeted as early as the late second round in rookie drafts.

4.14 - WR Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots

New England's search for a receiver to threaten defenses downfield continues, but there is a decent chance the Patriots have found the guy with this selection. As most fans know, Tom Brady ultimately decides which receivers he trusts (and it is a small circle) and most of them - especially young ones - don't make the cut. Mitchell is an interesting case, however, as a prospect that is an explosive athlete who is one of the better route-runners in this class. His downside: a 2013 torn ACL that has led to some further complications with his knee. Even as a player that is well-regarded for his intelligence (after a rough start in that area), New England's offense is nearly impossible to digest over an offseason and/or training camp, so don't count on much in 2016. His dynasty prospects are much better, however, and he is easily worth a late-second round selection in rookie drafts.

4.19 - WR Pharoh Cooper, Rams

Cracking the receiver depth chart in Los Angeles isn't a daunting task, so Cooper has a better shot of contributing right away than most rookie receivers taken in Day 3. The South Carolina product is a sure-handed wideout that is an underrated playmaker and one that was hurt by the quality of quarterbacking he received as a Gamecock. There isn't a ton of upside with Cooper, but the combination of the Rams' current wideout situation and his high floor gives him a shot at immediate relevancy in fantasy, even if it's limited. The one thing working against him the most in LA is the fact he profiles more as a slot receiver, which is the spot Tavon Austin usually occupies. Cooper can be ignored in all but the deepest redraft leagues, but he's well worth a shot in the late-second or early-third round area in rookie drafts.

4.21 - RB Tyler Ervin, Texans

After years of dealing with the injury-prone Arian Foster and a less-than-exciting Alfred Blue, Houston added breakaway threat Lamar Miller in free agency and comes back with Ervin, who falls in line with the Texans' renewed emphasis on adding speed and explosiveness on offense. Ervin starred as a feature back and set school records as a returner at San Jose State, but his immediate future in the pros will be as a change-of-pace back and likely as a punt returner. He shouldn't have much problem climbing right behind Miller on the depth chart and, although he doesn't figure to carry the load at any point in the near future at 5-10 and 192 pounds, he's got a realistic shot to be considered as Miller's fantasy handcuff. That will likely be the extent of his fantasy value in Year 1, and his dynasty stock should be based on that expectation as well, meaning he's probably a relatively high-upside option in the third round of rookie drafts.

4.36 - RB Kenneth Dixon, Ravens

There's a major shakeup about to happen in the Baltimore backfield, as Justin Forsett is nearing the end of the line and Buck Allen may be best as a long-term backup, The Ravens took a flyer on Trent Richardson this offseason and add Dixon, who finished his college career in second place on the NCAA's all-time touchdown list. The case could be made that Dixon was the second-best running back in this draft and I'd make the argument he has more upside than any other player at his position on the roster. The Louisiana Tech product accumulated nearly 900 touches during his college career, although they were very well spaced out over four years, and is very accomplished in the passing game. He faces too much competition to be considered this year's David Johnson, but I like his chances to be more productive than any other Day 3 running back in 2016. Unless he struggles mightily in training camp, Dixon is definitely worth at least a late-round draft choice in redraft leagues, and should be considered in the late-first or early-second round range in rookie drafts.

4.37 - QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys

The long national crisis might be over: Dallas may finally have a viable quarterback to back up Tony Romo. Prescott made a huge jump in his final year at Mississippi State, continuing the evolution from a running quarterback with an arm to a dual-threat option that showed he can function from the pocket. In an ideal world, Romo is able to put together a couple of 16-game seasons in order to give Prescott some much-needed time to develop further as a passer, although Romo's injury history suggests the rookie will make some starts this year. The difference between Prescott and other former Dallas backups is that he offers enough of a running threat to scare defenses on designed runs as they focus on Ezekiel Elliott should Romo miss any game action this year. Prescott is a rare fantasy case in that his redraft value far exceeds his dynasty value, since the Cowboys really want Romo to play 3-4 more years. That's not to say he should get drafted in redraft leagues, but the odds are relatively high he'll see a start or two this season.

4.41 - QB Cardale Jones, Bills

After finding the player they hope is their quarterback for the next few years in free agency last year (Tyrod Taylor), Buffalo takes perhaps the strongest-armed signal-caller in this draft and a player it would like to develop over the next 2-3 years. The man nicknamed "12 Gauge" offers no redraft value, and it would be a mistake if he was asked to make starts in 2016, but there's no doubt he possesses enough talent to be a top-end fantasy quarterback one day if OC Greg Roman is ultimately successful in molding this incredibly gifted lump of clay into a work of art. For those dynasty owners thinking long-term, Jones is worth stashing the next two to three years and worthy of a third-round pick in rookie drafts.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”. Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.