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2018 fantasy football mock draft: 12-team, PPR scoring

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Vince Lombardi is my all-time favorite coach. While his on-field accomplishments are legendary, to me the most impressive aspect of his coaching wasn't his knowledge of Xs and Os. Rather, it was his ability as a psychological analyst and motivator of men that truly separated him from his peers, past and present. No coach ever got more out of their players than Lombardi, and this led to him become one of the most quoted coaches in all of sports. Here's one of my favorites that applies to this article in particular:

"Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect."

The reason I bring this up, is because we recently completed our first staff fantasy football mock draft of the season. And mock drafts are the best practice when it comes to preparing for your eventual fantasy draft. To me, this Lombardi quote speaks to how we should approach mocks, but not in the sense that you have to nail every pick the way you want to on draft day. Rather, "perfect practice" in the fantasy sense means preparing yourself for every possible outcome you could face on draft day so you have a plan and approach when the clock is ticking. For instance, how will your draft flow if you target running backs early? Or wide receivers? What happens if you reach for your favorite sleeper? What happens if you don't? Are you happy with your squad if you grab a quarterback early? And so on and so forth.

Personally, I'm really glad we did this mock so early in the offseason. It's the first one I've done this year and it gave me a good baseline to test some theories and get a sense of how several super smart colleagues and a few more casual players are approaching the game in 2018. Strategies will shift, as they should, as we get closer to the start of the season. Remember, mocks aren't a set-in-stone strategy gospel. They're practice. Mock often, learn as much as you can and apply it to your eventual draft strategy. Mock drafts open up on NFL.com next week (May 15), so stay tuned. As Vince said, "Perfect practice makes perfect."

The PPR scoring, 12-team, 16-round mock draft consisted of our best analysts and writers from NFL Fantasy LIVE/NFL.com and a few special guests, who you can see in the rundown below. Teams did not need to draft a full roster, so several went without a kicker or defense. I provide some brief takeaways and offer up my thinking about each of my picks for the first 10 rounds. The draft was completed over several days via email, so a few players were drafted in spots they're unlikely to go in the future, as news broke that dramatically shifted their value after the selections were already made.

All right, enough blathering on, let's get to it.

Draft order

(randomized 30 minutes before start)

1. JJ Zachariason (@lateroundQB) - Editor-in-Chief, NumberFire.com
2. Marcas Grant (@MarcasG)- NFL Fantasy Editor
3. Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) - NFL writer, Rotoworld/NBC Sports
4. Alex Wilk (@AlexCWilk) - NFL Fantasy LIVE producer
5. Scott Fish (@ScottFish24 - Senior analyst, Fanball.com
6. Alex Gelhar (@AlexGelhar) - NFL Fantasy Writer/Editor
7. Cynthia Frelund (@cfrelund) - NFL Fantasy LIVE analytics expert
8. Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) - Next Gen Stats, NFL Fantasy associate writer
9. James Koh (@JamesDKoh) - NFL Fantasy LIVE host
10. Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) - NFL Senior Fantasy Analyst
11. Adam Rank (@adamrank) - NFL Fantasy LIVE analyst
12. Dylan Milner (@DMilner13) - Senior producer, NFL Network

ROUND 1


1. Le'Veon Bell, Steelers (RB1) - Zachariason
2. Todd Gurley, Rams (RB2) - Grant
3. David Johnson, Cardinals (RB3) - Daugherty
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (RB4) - Wilk
5. Antonio Brown, Steelers (WR1) - Fish
6. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (WR2) - Gelhar
7. Alvin Kamara, Saints (RB5) - Frelund
8. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants (WR3) - Harmon
9. Kareem Hunt, Chiefs (RB6) - Koh
10. Saquon Barkley, Giants (RB7) - Fabiano
11. Michael Thomas, Saints (WR4) - Rank
12. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars (RB8) - Milner

Not too much to analyze here, as the first round went according to the script. Leonard Fournette might be a bit of a surprise since this is a PPR mock, but he posted a 36-302-1 receiving line last year and saw just shy of 10 percent of the team targets in only 13 games. He finished 2017 as the RB9 in PPR, so don't overlook him in this format simply because he's more renowned as a power back than a pass-catching back.

My pick: DeAndre Hopkins, 6th overall - I trusted my board and went with Hopkins over Alvin Kamara or Saquon Barkley. Nuk's target share remains among the highest in the league, and the Texans offense has a monstrous scoring ceiling if Deshaun Watson comes back healthy and plays a full 16 games. Felt like a safer bet than a back in his first year as a "featured" guy in Kamara or a rookie in Barkley who is on a team with a quarterback who's been fighting a losing battle with Father Time for three years.

ROUND 2


13. Julio Jones, Falcons (WR5) - Milner
14. Keenan Allen, Chargers (WR6) - Rank
15. Mike Evans, Buccaneers (WR7) - Fabiano
16. Davante Adams, Packers (WR8) - Koh
17. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers (RB9) - Harmon
18. Allen Robinson, Bears (WR9) - Frelund
19. A.J. Green, Bengals (WR10) - Gelhar
20. Dalvin Cook, Vikings (RB10) - Fish
21. Melvin Gordon, Chargers (RB11) - Wilk
22. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers (WR11) - Daugherty
23. Stefon Diggs, Vikings (WR12) - Grant
24. Adam Thielen, Vikings (WR13) - Zachariason

Only four receivers going in Round 1 did surprise me a bit, but then six of the next seven picks were pass-catchers so it all evened out. For the most part, I'm all about this group in 2018. The only wide receivers I'd have reservations about taking in this round that actually went are Mike Evans, Allen Robinson, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. I don't have an issue with Evans in the second, but I'd rather have a few other receivers or backs over him. I'm really excited about Robinson in Chicago, but the second round feels a bit rich. Same goes for JuJu. His target share rose down the stretch and he was fantastic as a rookie, but how will he handle more full-time duties? A case can be made for all three of these picks though, and I'm sure their drafters had their reasons.

My pick: A.J. Green, 19th overall - I thought long and hard about taking Dalvin Cook or Melvin Gordon here, but in a PPR league A.J. Green was too hard to pass up. Over his seven-year career, he averages 87 catches, 1,288 yards and nine touchdowns per 16 game season. That's elite production. I expect the Bengals to be better this year after finally addressing their offensive line, and that should allow Green to approach that average again after a "down" year in 2017 where he still posted a respectable line of 75-1,078-8.

ROUND 3


25. Devonta Freeman, Falcons (RB12) - Zachariason
26. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (WR14) - Grant
27. LeSean McCoy, Bills (RB13) - Daugherty
28. Brandin Cooks, Rams (WR15) - Wilk
29. Joe Mixon, Bengals (RB14) - Fish
30. Mark Ingram, Saints (RB15) - Gelhar
31. Jarvis Landry, Browns (WR16) - Frelund
32. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (TE1) - Harmon
33. Travis Kelce, Chiefs (TE2) - Koh
34. Jerick McKinnon, 49ers (RB16) - Fabiano
35. Deshaun Watson, Texans (QB1) - Rank
36. Josh Gordon, Browns (WR17) - Milner

Rank, true to his word, made Deshaun Watson the first quarterback off the board. Rank is a true believer in Watson's stratospheric fantasy ceiling, as we discussed on the latest episode of the NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast (which you should subscribe to, by the way). The most shocking picks to me were Brandin Cooks and Jarvis Landry. I love both of the players, but question the volume they'll receive in their new homes. The Rams have a diverse, crowded receiving corps that Cooks is trying to fit into, while Landry could be hard-pressed to see the 153 targets he's averaged over the last three years now that he's in Cleveland potentially catching passes from a rookie quarterback.

My pick: Mark Ingram, 30th overall - I was burned by the slow nature of our draft here, as I selected Ingram a few days before the news of his suspension broke. Had I known he was going to be out for the first four weeks of the season, I'd probably have taken someone from the trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Rob Gronkowski, or Doug Baldwin. Oh well, it's only a mock. Plus as you'll see further down, the fantasy gods may have cursed me here, but they smiled upon my draft later.

ROUND 4


37. Ronald Jones, Buccaneers (RB17) - Milner
38. Jordan Howard, Bears (RB18) - Rank
39. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (WR18) - Fabiano
40. Jay Ajayi, Eagles (RB19) - Koh
41. Kenyan Drake, Dolphins (RB20) - Harmon
42. Zach Ertz, Eagles (TE3) - Frelund
43. Derrius Guice, Redskins (RB21) - Gelhar
44. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (WR19) - Fish
45. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (QB2) - Wilk
46. Evan Engram, Giants (TE4) - Daugherty
47. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles (WR20) - Grant
48. Amari Cooper, Raiders (WR21) - Zachariason

One interesting trend from this mock was the early drafting of tight ends, a position typically reserved for the later rounds aside from Gronk. However, with Travis Kelce threatening for the fantasy tight end crown every year and Zach Ertz finally shucking off his "Mr. December" mantle, it makes sense. Perhaps this new crop of elite tight ends merits a more investigative deep dive this offseason.

My pick: Derrius Guice, 43rd overall - Given the recent news that Washington head coach Jay Gruden views Guice as more of a "first-, second-down banger," Guice in the fourth might be a bit of a reach. However, I love Guice's talent and he's attached to an offense that should be able to put up plenty of points. As an RB2 with solid touchdown upside, I feel justified in taking him here, though I very nearly took Baldwin instead since he lasted an entire additional round and should see loads of volume in Seattle.

ROUND 5


49. T.Y. Hilton, Colts (WR22) - Zachariason
50. Sony Michel, Patriots (RB22) - Grant
51. Cooper Kupp, Rams (WR23) - Daugherty
52. Golden Tate, Lions (WR24) - Wilk
53. Hunter Henry, Chargers (TE5) - Fish
54. Devin Funchess, Panthers (WR25) - Gelhar
55. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (QB3) - Frelund
56. Dion Lewis, Titans (RB23) - Harmon
57. Corey Davis, Titans (WR26) - Koh
58. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks (RB24) - Fabiano
59. Royce Freeman, Broncos (RB25) - Rank
60. Derrick Henry, Titans (RB26) - Milner

The fifth round feels like a good spot for the trio of rookie running backs who went here in this mock. All three of them carry some question marks but have massive potential. Speaking of potential, I'm loving Jimmy Garoppolo as a later-round quarterback option this year, but Cynthia grabbing him in the fifth surprised me. Perhaps there's something she's discovered in her analytics and number crunching she hasn't told us yet ... or she's doing this just to throw all of us off. Hmmm.

My pick: Devin Funchess, 54th overall - In hindsight, I wish I'd taken Corey Davis here instead of Funchess. I'm fine on Funchess this year, but with the Panthers adding both D.J. Moore and Torrey Smith to their passing attack, plus Greg Olsen returning to full health, Funchess' ceiling feels pretty capped. He's a fine WR3 for me as the WR25 off the board, but if Davis realizes his full potential in a more exciting Titans offense this year, he'd make a fantastic pick in the fifth round.

ROUND 6


61. Carson Wentz, Eagles (QB4) - Milner
62. Sterling Shepard, Giants (WR27) - Rank
63. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos (WR28) - Fabiano
64. Lamar Miller, Texans (RB27) - Koh
65. Michael Crabtree, Ravens (WR29) - Harmon
66. Marvin Jones, Lions (WR30) - Frelund
67. Alex Collins, Ravens (RB28) - Gelhar
68. Robert Woods, Rams (WR31) - Fish
69. D.J. Moore, Panthers (WR32) - Wilk
70. Kerryon Johnson, Lions (RB29) - Daugherty
71. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (QB5) - Grant
72. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos (WR33) - Zachariason

So much value in this round. Both Broncos wideouts going in Round 6 feels like highway robbery. Same goes for Michael Crabtree and Marvin Jones. Lamar Miller might be one of the best picks you can make in fantasy this year that literally no one will care about/get mad about on draft day. Overall, he's disappointed while in Houston based on the lofty expectations many had for him when he signed with the team a few years back. However, rumors are D'Onta Foreman could start the season on the PUP list, which basically anoints Miller as the featured back in what should be a high-scoring offense. Believe it or not, Miller averaged roughly 15 PPR points per game with Deshaun Watson under center last year, and under 10 per game without the dual-threat passer.

My pick: Alex Collins, 67th overall - Collins is one of my favorite middle-round sleepers this year in fantasy. He Irish-jigged his way into fantasy hearts last season, taking over the leading back role in Baltimore en route to a top-20 finish in standard scoring (he was the RB21 in PPR). The Ravens didn't address the running back position this offseason, but greatly improved their wide receiving corps and drafted Lamar Jackson. Collins should be able to hold off Javorius Allen and Kenneth Dixon and be the engine in a much better offense with increased scoring potential. I'm all-in on him as of right now.

ROUND 7


73. Greg Olsen, Panthers (TE6) - Zachariason
74. Nick Chubb, Browns (RB30) - Grant
75. Sammy Watkins, Chiefs (WR34) - Daugherty
76. Carlos Hyde, Browns (RB31) - Wilk
77. Tarik Cohen, Bears (RB32) - Fish
78. Pierre Garcon, 49ers (WR35) - Gelhar
79. Will Fuller, Texans (WR36) - Frelund
80. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders (RB33) - Harmon
81. Paul Richardson, Redskins (WR37) - Koh
82. Jimmy Graham, Packers (TE7) - Fabiano
83. Tevin Coleman, Falcons (RB34) - Rank
84. DeVante Parker, Dolphins (WR38) - Milner

Several drafters took a chance at serious upside this round. Harmon, Koh, Milner, and Frelund all made slight gambles on players with league-winning potential. Workload, health and age concerns are in the mix for these picks, but man, the upside is tantalizing. My Packer fandom aside, I'm really excited to see Jimmy Graham in the Packers offense. Fabiano could have fallen into a steal here after that earlier run on tight ends.

My pick: Pierre Garcon, 78th overall - The presumptive No. 1 wide receiver in an ascending offense with a wunderkind head coach in the seventh round? Yes please.

ROUND 8


85. Delanie Walker, Titans (TE8) - Milner
86. Jamison Crowder, Redskins (WR39) - Rank
87. Tom Brady, Patriots (QB6) - Fabiano
88. Aaron Jones, Packers (RB35) - Koh
89. Julian Edelman, Patriots (WR40) - Harmon
90. Chris Thompson, Redskins (WR41) - Frelund
91. Cam Newton, Panthers (QB7) - Gelhar
92. Josh Doctson, Redskins (WR42) - Fish
93. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings, (TE9) - Wilk
94. Dez Bryant, free agent (WR43) - Daugherty
95. David Njoku, Browns (TE10) - Grant
96. Marlon Mack, Colts (RB36) - Zachariason

I love, love, love Koh taking Aaron Jones here. I'd be fine taking him even earlier, honestly. I know the Packers backfield is a bit of a mystery right now, with Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams also in the mix, but based on what we saw last year I feel this is going to be Jones' job to lose. Montgomery was an OK back in fantasy on volume but left plenty to be desired on the field. Williams was really only successful once he was a total workhorse with 25-30 touches a game and barely sniffed the field until Montgomery and Jones went down with injuries. Jones, on the other hand, was the only back who came in and provided an instantly visible impact on the offense. Rewatch how explosive the Packers offense was with Jones in the backfield against Dallas last year via the highlights I've included in this section.

My pick: Cam Newton, 91st overall - I have to be completely honest here, this was an auto-pick as I hadn't realized I'd gone on the clock late at night while I was out at a friend's party. Whoops. Nevertheless, I'm not upset about getting one of my top-five quarterbacks this year in the eighth round. The Panthers offense received a wonderful influx of talent this offseason and as long as Superman stays healthy he'll rack up plenty of fantasy points.

ROUND 9


97. Duke Johnson, Browns (RB37) - Zachariason
98. Nelson Agholor, Eagles (WR44) - Grant
99. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (QB8) - Daugherty
100. Isaiah Crowell, Jets (RB38) - Wilk
101. George Kittle, 49ers (TE11) - Fish
102. Rex Burkhead, Patriots (RB39) - Gelhar
103. Kelvin Benjamin, Bills (WR45) - Frelund
104. Jamaal Williams, Packers (RB40) - Harmon
105. Jordy Nelson, Raiders (WR46) - Koh
106. Chris Hogan, Patriots (WR47) - Fabiano
107. Martavis Bryant, Raiders (WR48) - Rank
108. Devontae Booker, Broncos (RB41) - Milner

For the most part, everyone was adding depth in Round 9, though Kelvin Benjamin is playing for a new contract in Buffalo and should be the No. 1 wideout. Whether his quarterbacks can adequately feed him is another question. Two Raiders receivers get their names called as well, both with nice upside but big question marks. I like Devontae Booker here too, as I imagine he'll be fighting tooth and nail to keep rookie Royce Freeman at bay for the featured back duties in Denver. The odds might be against him, but if he wins that camp battle Milner found a nice gem in this round.

My pick: Rex Burkhead, 102nd overall - I know the Patriots invested a first-round pick in Sony Michel, but Burkhead was excellent as a versatile chess piece for them in 2017. I'd expect some of the same in 2018, so I'm fine grabbing him as a bench add/potential flex play.

ROUND 10


109. Donte Moncrief, Jaguars (WR49) - Milner
110. Marquise Goodwin, 49ers (WR50) - Rank
111. D'Onta Foreman, Texans (RB42) - Fabiano
112. Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST (DEF1) - Koh
113. Cameron Meredith, Saints (WR51) - Harmon
114. Equanimeous St. Brown, Packers (WR52) - Frelund
115. C.J. Anderson, Panthers (RB43) - Gelhar
116. Kenny Golladay, Lions (WR53) - Fish
117. Michael Gallup, Cowboys (WR54) - Wilk
118. Jordan Reed, Redskins (TE12) - Daugherty
119. Christian Kirk, Cardinals (WR55) - Grant
120. Randall Cobb, Packers (WR56) - Zachariason

I'm still not sure how Equanimeous St. Brown went before Randall Cobb, but that's something I'll have to ask Cynthia about another day. JJ, meanwhile, got a steal in my eyes. For the most part, I really like the rest of the wide receivers who went in this round. Moncrief has potential and a fresh start in Jacksonville. Goodwin was underrated last year (and that appears to be the case in 2018 as well). And Harmon gets a sneaky pickup with Meredith, who could benefit from Mark Ingram's suspension if the Saints turn to the pass a bit more early in the season. Christian Kirk worries me a bit, as he's going to have to play outside for the Cardinals after running 95 percent of his routes from the slot while in college.

My pick: C.J. Anderson, 115th overall - While the mock draft gods let me down with Mark Ingram getting suspended after I'd selected him, they blessed me in return by allowing C.J. Anderson to fall to me in Round 10 right before he signed with the Panthers. Anderson is a younger, better version of what Jonathan Stewart was last year, and ranked as the 10th-most elusive back in the league per our Next Gen Stats metrics. Furthermore, Stewart was fourth in the NFL in carries inside the 5-yard line last year and saw 40 percent of the Panthers carries overall. Anderson is going to be a fantasy factor in Carolina.

ROUND 11


121. Corey Clement, Eagles (RB44) - Zachariason
122. Chris Godwin, Buccaneers (WR57) - Grant
123. Corey Coleman, Browns (WR58) - Daugherty
124. Theo Riddick, Lions (RB45) - Wilk
125. Nyheim Hines, Colts (RB46) - Fish
126. Giovani Bernard, Bengals (RB47) - Gelhar
127. Ty Montgomery, Packers (RB48) - Frelund
128. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (WR59) - Harmon
129. Mike Williams, Chargers (WR60) - Koh
130. Calvin Ridley, Falcons (WR61) - Fabiano
131. Marqise Lee, Jaguars (WR62) - Rank
132. Terrelle Pryor, Jets (WR63) - Milner

ROUND 12


133. Ameer Abdullah, Lions (RB49) - Milner
134. Jack Doyle, Colts (TE13) - Rank
135. James White, Patriots (RB50) - Fabiano
136. Philip Rivers, Chargers (QB9) - Koh
137. Kirk Cousins, Vikings (QB10) - Harmon
138. Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (TE14) - Frelund
139. Kenny Stills, Dolphins (WR64) - Gelhar
140. Rishard Matthews, Titans (WR65) - Fish
141. Quincy Enunwa, Jets (WR66) - Wilk
142. LeGarrette Blount, Lions (RB51) - Daugherty
143. Chris Carson, Seahawks (RB52) - Grant
144. Anthony Miller, Bears (WR67) - Zachariason

ROUND 13


145. Peyton Barber, Buccaneers (RB53) - Zachariason
146. Kalen Ballage, Dolphins (RB54) - Grant
147. Robby Anderson, Jets (WR68) - Daugherty
148. DaeSean Hamilton, Broncos (WR69) - Wilk
149. Latavius Murray, Vikings (RB55) - Fish
150. Trey Burton, Bears (TE15) - Gelhar
151. Los Angeles Rams D/ST (DEF2) - Frelund
152. DeSean Jackson, Buccaneers (WR70) - Harmon
153. Jared Goff, Rams (QB11) - Koh
154. Tyler Eifert, Bengals (TE16) - Fabiano
155. Dede Westbrook, Jaguars (WR71) - Rank
156. Matthew Stafford, Lions (QB12) - Milner

ROUND 14


157. O.J. Howard, Buccaneers (TE17) - Milner
158. Matt Breida, 49ers (RB56) - Rank
159. Minnesota Vikings D/ST (DEF3) - Fabiano
160. Austin Ekeler, Chargers (RB57) - Koh
161. Geronimo Allison, Packers (WR72) - Harmon
162. D.J. Chark, Jaguars (WR73) - Frelund
163. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars (RB58) - Gelhar
164. Courtland Sutton, Broncos (WR74) - Fish
165. Mohamed Sanu, Falcons (WR75) - Wilk
166. Dante Pettis, 49ers (WR76) - Daugherty
167. Jordan Wilkins, Colts (RB59) - Grant
168. Allen Hurns, Cowboys (WR77) - Zachariason

ROUND 15


169. Drew Brees, Saints (QB13) - Zachariason
170. Los Angeles Chargers D/ST (DEF4) - Grant
171. Zay Jones, Bills (WR78) - Daugherty
172. John Kelly, Rams (RB60) - Wilk
173. Marcus Mariota, Titans (QB14) - Fish
174. Tyrell Williams, Chargers (WR79) - Gelhar
175. Bilal Powell, Jets (RB61) - Frelund
176. John Brown, Ravens (WR80) - Harmon
177. Doug Martin, Raiders (RB62) - Koh
178. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (K1) - Fabiano
179. Jordan Matthews, Patriots (WR81) - Rank
180. Philadelphia Eagles D/ST (DEF5) - Milner

ROUND 16


181. Samaje Perine, Redskins (RB63) - Milner
182. Baker Mayfield, Browns (QB15) - Rank
183. Andrew Luck, Colts (QB16) - Fabiano
184. Bo Scarbrough, Cowboys (RB64) - Koh
185. Ricky Seals-Jones, Cardinals (TE18) - Harmon
186. Frank Gore, Dolphins (RB65) - Frelund
187. J'Mon Moore, Packers (WR82) - Gelhar
188. Mitchell Trubisky, Bears (QB17) - Fish
189. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (QB18) - Wilk
190. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (QB19) - Daugherty
191. Boston Scott, Saints (RB66) - Grant
192. Tre'Quan Smith, Saints (WR83) - Zachariason

Hope you all enjoyed reading about our first staff mock draft. Tell us how wrong we all are in the comments below or on Twitter. Until next time.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar or "Like" his page on Facebook.

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