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Defensive Position Rankings

“The Wizard of Goz” TOP 100 Linebackers 2018 – The Bottom Rung (100-71)

As IDP presence grows in Fantasy Football so will the depth of analysis. I was tasked with composing a list of the top 100 linebackers. For a large percentage of those reading this article Part 1 will be overkill, but I implore you to plow through it and you may find a player, or even a handful, that you can file away as the season develops and players get hurt.

My rankings are based on a blend of PPT (projected playing time), previous track record, ability to rack up  tackles (point per SOLO tackle is the norm), ability to sack the QB (4 points) and wreak havoc (forced fumbles=3 points). Ability to cover RB’s/TE’s is reflected in passes defensed and an occasional pick. TFL (tackles for loss) also are taken into account. There is one other important avenue worth exploring: defensive scheme of each NFL team (it will be either a 3-4, a 4-3 or a mixed front). THE IDP GURU is one of many reputable sources that can further expound on the X’s and O’s, as well as the statistical implications of Inside Linebackers, Outside Linebackers and Mike (Middle Linebacker).

 

CODES: ILB= inside LB      OLB=outside LB      MLB= Mike (aka middle LB)   TW= tweeners (players that are listed as DL or LB depending on the service)

NOTE: when referencing tackles I’m talking about SOLO TACKLES. If Assists also count in your league, bear in mind that, in general, MIKE’s and ILB’s outperform OLB’s

100) OLB Devon Kennard, Lions– career never took off in New York. But packs a punch and could surprise in the rare league that fields a full defensive squadImage result for barkevious mingo pic

99) OLB Barkevious Mingo, Seahawks– mostly a special teams/ spot player in GB. Call it a hunch but I bet this is the case of a professional athlete getting a once in a lifetime shot. Late round gamble material

98) OLB Alex Anzalone, Saints– looks like Clay Mathews and supposedly has a burst. Rookie year was wiped out by injury, Desperation only

97) ILB Tyler Matekevich, Steelers– Outland Trophy winner in 2017 (Temple) who was given a shot as a crash test dummy special teams guy. Not only was he effective, but actually played some after Shazier and others got injured. Someone has to tackle someone for the Steelers….

96) ILB/MLB Mant’i Teo, Saints– over-hyped coming out of college. Has the speed to cover lots of ground but can be manhandled. Even if he doesn’t start, he will rack up tackles for a highly improved New Orleans defense. Late round reserve type

95) MLB Blair Brown, Jaguars– sandwiched between Telvin and Miles on the best defense in the league. Worthy of a pick ONLY as a backup

94) ILB Jon Bostic, Steelers– steady player that lacks wow factor. To be considered only on humongous IDP  rostersImage result for lorenzo alexander pic

93) OLB Lorenzo Alexander, Bills– how can you not love a guy whose nickname is ONE MAN GANG?  Archaic (34) by NFL defensive player standards he’s listed only because the last two years were good (and his best). Buyer beware but as a last pick YES

92) OLB Preston Smith, Redskins (TW)– doesn’t get many tackles but if your league overvalues sacks this is a solid choice as a fill-my-lineup type

91) OLB Josh Martin, Jets– auditions are open for the J-E-T-S. Playing at home now (went to COLUMBIA, the school not the country!) and with opportunity on a team that could surprise. Watch list material only

90) ILB Josh Bynes, Cardinals– played in college with Cam Newton at Auburn. This is his third stop in the league and first as a starter. Longshot pick only

89) MLB Vincent Rey, Bengals– solid veteran that can be a tackling machine. IF he beats Preston Brown out for the job a valid choice in middle to deep leagues

88) OLB Ramon Humber, Bills– seasoned vet who could play a role on an underrated Bills defense

87) ILB B.J Goodson, Giants– can play either inside or outside. Played well for half a season before getting hurt. Racked up some big tackle games but that may have been due to the Giants ineptitude. Worthy of a look only in deep leagues

86) OLB Kendall Beckwith, Bucs– surprised as a rookie with 60 tackles .While the Kwonster and Lavonte, for good reason, get all the fantasy community buzz Beckwith slips way below the radar. Solid late rounder in deeper leagues

85) OLB Todd Davis, Denver– a couple of respectable 50 tackle seasonsImage result for todd davis broncos will get you mentioned in the top 100. To be considered only in the deepest of water

84) OLB Jordan Jenkins, Jets– big and young. Will get plenty of opportunity but due to the glut of good OLB’s would have to be considered only Watch List worthy right now

83) OLB Nick Perry, Packers– USC product. Can rush the passer well but is injury prone and hasn’t proven to be anything other than “just a guy” in larger roster IDP formats

82) ILB Jake Ryan, Packers– can play inside or outside, none of them that noteworthy. Watch List fodder only

81) OLB Matt Longacre, Rams (TW)– broke out as a pass rushing specialist (5.5 sacks) after two years of riding the pine. Call it the low risk/ better reward late round  gambit 

80) OLB Craig  Robertson, Saints– made a smooth transition from LB. Currently listed as a backup but will play plenty and would make a solid #3 LB

79) OLB Stephone Anthony, Dolphins– only three years removed from the All- Rookie team is supposedly healthy and poised to bang some heads. Deep sleeper status nonetheless

78) ILB John Simon, Colts– (TW) opportunity is there , motive is there but does he have the three down ability that is a drafters dream? playing on the Colts makes him a possible, maybe in deep leagues

77) SUPER SLEEPER ALERT – OLB Samson Ebukam, Rams– barely played last year but this is a good example of a project draft pick that could surprise. Monitor progress for now but if the hype train accelerates put him on the watch list immediately

76) ILB Mason Foster, Redskins– strong run stopper that could be a factor in multi linebacker setups and a staple in  Gigantor leagues/roster

75) OLB A.J Klein, Saints– nothing special but showed signs back in the Carolina days filling in for Kuechly. Last year, in New Orleans, he logged more minutes but stats were unimpressive. Slated to start on a defense that no longer sucks breeds optimism. Late round pick only

tie 75) MLB Raekwon Mcmillan, Dolphins– this year’s 2nd round draft pick from Ohio State looks the part. Expected to man the middle between Alonso and Anthony. COULD SURPRISE

74) ILB Don’ta Hightower, Patriots– coming off back-to-back dismal seasons will keep owners away. Keep a close eye on him, if healthy could be a dynamic value

73) OLB Nick Vigil, Bengals– more mediocre than good but could retain a starting spot even after Vontaze Burfict returns from his annual suspension

72) OLB Dee Ford, Chiefs (TW)– hopes to shake off a rough year badly derailed by injury. Supposedly given a starting job, along with Justin Houston could wreak havoc in backfields across America

71) MLB Derrick Johnson, Raiders– coin flip situation . Is 35 too old for a LB? Surely, the last three years have shown a decline from very good to mediocre. Perhaps Gruden and playing with the Raiders can rejuvenate him? As a spare LB, jump on it. As a prime player, look elsewhere

That concludes the first part of a five part series. Over the next three weeks I’ll disclose the remainder of the Top 100.

SO LONG FOR NOW,

GOZ


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