There is no real defined source as to how many MILLION people play fantasy football or, germane to this five part series, what percentage of leagues actually use IDP’s. The paradigm is ever-changing in the industry, auction drafts are in vogue, BEST BALL LEAGUES are skyrocketing, and IDP involvement is steadily gaining ground. Last week was for the diehards, the nuts that are in IDP only leagues or Mixed Model (full offense/ full defense) such as the rigorous MLFS Champions Leagues. Even in those leagues the chances of caring about the 86th rated LB would be slim. Hopefully, I unearthed some players that will make a mark. In part two of the series you’ll see names more recognizable with at least some measure of statistical success, And they’ll be some hunches. Either way I unveil to you valid LB IDP’s that in a typical 12 team league with two starting LB’s will serve as excellent depth choices with the potential to crack your lineup or fill the ever important FLEX spot. Notice how I only numbered the “top” and “bottom”guy. The rational being that I lay out the “cards” and you shuffle them based on your league settings. Example: if a MIKE (MLB) is required you can adjust the list accordingly if for instance you were set at ILB and/or OLB.
In doing the research for the top 100 I happened upon an interesting article that “defined” the peak zone based on position. In essence, linebackers in general peak around 26 years old. For the purposes of this article * WILL DENOTE A PLAYER CLOSE ENOUGH (25-27years old as of opening day this season). For more in depth reasoning follow this link
70) ILB/OLB Darius Leonard, Colts– lots of mixed reaction over the Dolts “wasting” a pick on this guy. Not that he sucks but the experts said Indy had more pressing needs. But they think that he’s a key part in getting a woeful defense back on track. Make him your last defensive pick based on the Big Fish in Small Pond Theory and pray that the Colts know what the hell they were doing
69) *OLB Mychal Kendricks, Browns– a wonderful talent that can rack up stats when healthy. The problem is that he may be the 3rd or 4rd best LB on a team that went 0-17. Don’t altogether dismiss but BUYER BEWARE
68) ILB Rashaad Evans, Titans– rookie who has the advantage of some serious mentorship in Tennessee. Could be a beast or join the legion that struggles in year 1. Downgrade to a late round flyer
67) *MLB Anthony Hitchens, Chiefs– ex-Cowboy. Patrolled the middle decently the last two years. Could surprise in KC
66) *OLB Denzel Perryman, Chargers– youngster that played at the U(niversity of Miami). Maybe that explains the mean streak. Former ILB that could still gather 50-60 tackles and a handful of sacks
65) OLB Carl Lawson, Bengals (TW)– all rookie selection last year who, even in situational use, will be useful at minimum as a designated SACKER
64) *ILB Patrick Onwuasor, Ravens– young and bound to improve even after racking up a solid 65 tackle season playing alongside ILB stud C.J Moseley. Doesn’t have the name recognition right now but does have possibly the best nickname in the game ONWUASOROUS REX
63) ILB Zack Cunningham, Texans– solid rookie year for this 2nd rounder from Vandy. Checked all the boxes: tackles, pass defended and even got in the sack column. Growth stock and solid choice if you’re filling out a MEGA DEFENSE (example: 4/3/4 required alignment)
62) ILB/OLB Lorenzo Carter, Giants– rookie from Georgia who could provide the Giants with some edge rusher type speed that they’ve sorely lacked. Will be sack dependent, if N.Y let’s him loose COULD SURPRISE
61) OLB Derrick Morgan, Titans (TW) – never reached the elite sack level as an end but as an OLB definitely worthy of a late round pick if you can tolerate the fact that the Titans potentially have the best LB crew in the league
60) OLB Brian Orakpo, Titans– one trick stallion. If you want a sackmaster he’s easily a top 25 OLB but if you want a more complete package – reserve selection or FIND ANOTHER TITANS LB not named Morgan
59) *OLB Whitney Mercilus, Texans– forget about last year’s 5 game debacle, the two years previous he piled up 19.5 sacks. IF J.J Watt returns strong – definitely worthy of an OLB spot in deeper leagues
58) OLB Shaq Thompson, Panthers– just turned 24 years old and entering his fourth season. This is an under the radar player on a solid defense playing next to possibly the best LB in the game. This is the double edged sword- surely he’s learning a lot from Kuechly, but conversely becomes a sloppy seconds guy in the tackle department. Could take the next step especially when taking into account the aging of his fellow starting LB’s…
57) OLB/ILB Hasaan Reddick, Cardinals– no pun intended but was pretty much Red Shirted last year. Even though he was a #1 pick this guy is a project but possesses rare physical abilities. If he grabs the starting job hope that you can snag him on the sly and watch the points pile up
56) MLB Antonio Morrison, Colts– young and relatively unknown this ex- Gator is solid. Could easily ramp up to the 75 tackle range. Good spare part or starter in bigger lineups
55) OLB Shane Ray, Broncos– give him a mulligan for last year’s absolute mess of a season culminating in a broken wrist. Has serious pass rushing ability and will learn from the sage presence of Von Miller. With the addition of Bradley Chubb the Broncos could possess the most savage pass rush in the league and Ray will be a factor. This is a solid #2 LB with upside
54) MLB Reuben Foster, SF- knucklehead alert but a tremendous talent. After the two game suspension expect a bundle of tackles and overall disruption. If your league requires a MIKE (parlance for middle linebacker) he should be in strong consideration based on last years production (59 tackles in 10 games!). If the stars align one of the few that could come close to the rarefied air of the 100 SOLO’s CLUB
53) OLB Leonard Floyd, Bears– lanky and talented. Will be sack reliant but is bound to register more tackles as he matures. Add to that the “new” Bears and you may have a steal here. Buy but (for you old timers out there) don’t expect to see a Wilbur Marshall impression just yet
52) OLB Jatavis Brown, Chargers– young, and although shorter than most, very athletic. If the Chargers let him loose he can be special. In the meantime expect plenty of tackles and mayhem
51) OLB Vontaze Burfict, Bengals– Bad Boy Extraordinaire that won’t play until week 6. Hasn’t played a full season due to injuries and other mashups since 2013. Even if you’re a Ron the RiverBoat type don’t pick him as you’re #1 LB. If you can grab him as a #2, do it but only if you select a valid reserve in case of another blowup
50) OLB De’Vondre Campbell, Falcons (TW)– another piece in the puzzle for the rebuilt Atlanta defense. Showed outstanding growth in 2017 (2nd year) while racking up 61 tackles. Could get some work at DE this season. Decent speculative choice late in the draft
49) OLB Matt Milano, Bills– 5th round pick from Boston College. Played well enough as a rookie to be deemed this year’s starter. Potential breakout player on a good defense= late round steal
48) OLB (TW) Bud Dupree, Steelers – no threat to ever join the Kevin Greene’s, or James Harrison’s in Steeler lore but has a lot of potential. Simply put, this guy tries to hurt people and has been fined accordingly. As far as fantasy IDP status- expect a run at the 10 sack mark, an increase in tackles and maybe a suspension….
47) OLB Bruce Irvin, Raiders (TW)– provides a nice combo of sacks and tackles. Another of Gruden’s oldies but goodies this is a great SLEEPER TARGET
46) ILB Christian Jones, Lions– another guy slated to switch from OLB. Posted a respectable 57 tackles and two sacks last year for the Bears. Detroit shelled out close to $8 million for two years. I say he plays. I say he’s a solid pick in mega leagues and a good reserve selection in others
45) MLB Jordan Hicks, Eagles– had to watch from sidelines (hurt) as Eagles made history. Will be undervalued and if 100%, will rack up tackles like a pinball game. Latter round heist material
44) MLB Jaylon Smith, Cowboys– this beast from Notre Dame is poised for a breakout. As a rookie posted 50 tackles. Will kick ass and take names. Definite top twelve MLB and overall could crack the top 50 by end of season
43) OLB Anthony Barr, Vikings- just sayin’ but why is this guy not as good as he should be? Talented in every respect, Barr has yet to break out. Will this be the year? If you vote YES, he’s a solid #2 LB if you vote NO pick him as a reserve and lock the safe
42) ILB Darron Lee, Jets– very good sophomore year at OLB (67 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles). Being moved to ILB to fill the gaping hole left behind by Demario Davis’ departure. Position changes can be tricky but I’m betting that this #1 pick (Ohio State) stud can get it done. BUY BUY BUY
41) OLB Matt Judon, Ravens (TW) – lightly regarded coming out of college (Grand Valley State) but made a statement last year with 50 tackles and 8 sacks. At 263 lbs. packs a wallop. Excellent value pick as your #2 LB
Holy Crap that was fun. Truthfully you could be patient and select a good chunk of the rest of your roster and come up with a respectable LB crew just from this list. But don’t do that before reading the next two chapters of TOP 100 LB’s.
So Long For Now
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday July 15th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #129 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts, James Wilk, and Coach Jeff Nelson live July 19th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #85 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything NFC East!
Jeff has been a member of majorleaguefantasyports.com for 10 years, he is also a 3 time Major League Fantasy Football Champion, and was the defensive coach at White Hall H.S. in PA where Saquan Barkley went to H.S. Jeff clued us in on Barkley nearly 4 years ago on one of our football shows.