My own personal drafting philosophy is heavily predicated on finding as much value as I can with each and every pick. Typically the later in drafts you delve, the more value there is to be found and finding this value is what separates the winners from the losers in fantasy football.
In this article, I will be comparing the ADP of linebackers (provided by My Fantasy League) to my redraft rankings for linebackers.
Keep in mind that some leagues have more of a big-play slant and therefore pass-rushing linebackers such as DeMarcus Ware, James Harrison, Clay Matthews, etc. may have a higher than expected ADP than if they were selected in tackle-heavy or balanced leagues.
The break off point in determining whether a player was "undervalued" or "overvalued" was +/-15 points respectively. When taking a general overview of the results, this specific number seemed to signal the start of the outlying players. Although this number was chosen arbitrarily, it will suffice for our purposes in this article and should allow for some accurate estimates of true value. For each player that was over this threshold, I wrote a short analysis to sum up why they are either under or overvalued.
I hope this helps my readers get a better grasp on where linebackers should be taken in most leagues and that it will ultimately take you one step closer to your league championship.
|Player||Overall ADP||Positional ADP||IDP Guru's Redraft Ranking||Difference|
|Willis, Patrick SFO LB||64.23||1||1||0|
|Mayo, Jerod NEP LB||72.14||2||3||-1|
|Timmons, Lawrence PIT LB||84.44||3||4||-1|
|Beason, Jon CAR LB||95.28||4||2||2|
|Posluszny, Paul JAC LB||96.98||5||7||-2|
|Laurinaitis, James STL LB||103.01||6||5||1|
|Matthews, Clay GBP LB||103.58||7||33||-26|
|Tulloch, Stephen DET LB||112.86||8||28||-20|
|Lofton, Curtis ATL LB||122.32||9||11||-2|
|Harrison, James PIT LB||126.63||10||22||-12|
|Greenway, Chad MIN LB||126.84||11||20||-9|
|Lewis, Ray BAL LB||127.76||12||8||4|
|Williams, DJ DEN LB||131.42||13||9||4|
|Johnson, Derrick KCC LB||131.81||14||13||1|
|Ware, Demarcus DAL LB||136.74||15||23||-8|
|Bishop, Desmond GBP LB||139.11||16||6||10|
|Urlacher, Brian CHI LB||142.92||17||18||-1|
|Ryans, DeMeco HOU LB||144.54||18||14||4|
|Cushing, Brian HOU LB||156.3||19||31||-12|
|Anderson, James CAR LB||167.23||20||49||-29|
|Ruud, Barrett TEN LB||167.49||21||12||9|
|Fletcher, London WAS LB||169.16||22||17||5|
|Vilma, Jonathan NOS LB||170.58||23||26||-3|
|McClain, Rolando OAK LB||171.38||24||24||0|
|Williams, Mario HOU LB||182.76||25||61||-36|
|Harris, David NYJ LB||191.15||26||29||-3|
|Washington, Daryl ARI LB||196.9||27||21||6|
|Dansby, Karlos MIA LB||199.84||28||25||3|
|Hawthorne, David SEA LB||203.14||29||10||19|
|Woodley, LaMarr PIT LB||212.15||30||36||-6|
|Jackson, D'Qwell CLE LB||212.27||31||16||15|
|Levy, DeAndre DET LB||216.42||32||41||-9|
|Briggs, Lance CHI LB||218.98||33||27||6|
|Miller, Von DEN LB||227.78||34||62||-28|
|Maualuga, Rey CIN LB||229.57||35||19||16|
|Chaney, Jamar PHI LB||229.58||36||47||-11|
|Wake, Cameron MIA LB||231.12||37||38||-1|
|Hawk, A.J. GBP LB||233.68||38||54||-16|
|Hali, Tamba KCC LB||240.88||39||37||2|
|Foster, Mason TBB LB||241.33||40||52||-12|
|Farrior, James PIT LB||289.12||41||45||-4|
1. MLB David Hawthorne (+19) - After a monster 2009 campaign, many owners used a high draft pick to grab Hawthorne and from a purely statistical standpoint, he severely let them down. But, it wasn't a result of poor play on his part. Rather, it was about circumstand and opportunity. Hawthorne was moved to the weak side and slotted into a two-down role in most games which drastically affected his tackle opportunity. Now with Lofa Tatupu being released, Hawthorne is back in the every-down MLB role that made him a top 5 linebacker in 2009. You should be targeted Hawthorne in all your drafts.
2. MLB D'Qwell Jackson (+16) - Jackson seems to have fallen off the radar this year after missing all of last year with a torn pectoral muscle. People forget that he put up 154 total tackles in his last full season. Granted, he is a bit injury prone, but it's worth the risk. The Browns are switching to a 4-3 this year and Jackson seems to be adjusting very well. He was even voted the MVP of training camp. He has the potential for LB1 numbers.
3. MLB Rey Maualuga (+16) - IDP owners have been waiting for Maualuga to breakout since he was drafted by the Bengals in 2009. However, until this season his value was thwarted as he was stuck at SLB with veteran Dhani Jones in the middle. Well, it looks like Rey is finally ready to take the reigns and middle linebacker. He's been playing there at an every-down capacity in preseason and playing well. LB1 numbers are in sight if he continues his strong play.
***Nick Barnett is ranked #15 in my rankings. However, he is not even listed in the top 30 linebackers in this list. Him represents a great value as well.
1. MLB Stephen Tulloch (-20) - Tulloch is the perfect example of a player who will be drafted several rounds too early based solely upon his performance in the previous year. Yes, Tulloch was an absolute stud in 2010 as evidenced by his 111 solo tackles and 48 assists. However, that was a different team and a different year. The Titans had an absurb amount of tackle opportunity and Tulloch faced little competition for tackles from his fellow linebacker. Tulloch is now in Detroit where he will receive far less tackle opportunity. Not only is there much more competition for tackles amongst the linebacking crew, but more importantly, Tulloch is in serious jeopardy in coming out in subpackages making him a two-down linebacker. You should NOT rely on Tulloch as your LB1 this season; he's more of a LB4 value as of right now.
2. SLB James Anderson (-29) - Anderson was one of the biggest IDP surprise breakouts of 2010. Due to multiple injuries among Panther linebackers, MLB Jon Beason was forced to slide to the weakside with Dan Connor taking his place in the middle. This allowed Anderson to take on an every-down role and put up very nice numbers. The return of Thomas Davis this year means that Anderson will fall back into a two-down linebacker role thereby greatly diminishing his value. He shouldn't be counted on for anything more than a LB4 matchup play.
3. SLB Von Miller (-28) - Miller is most likely being overdrafted based off of his big name coming out of college. Pass rushing linebackers tend to be recognized by the general public. Even Von Miller will be an every-down linebacker and has played well in preseason, he's not worthy of being the 34th linebacker taken off the board. He's playing on the strong side which greatly limits his value.
4. SILB A.J. Hawk (-16) - This isn't as big of a reach as it may appear. Hawk did finish in the top 30 for points scored as his position last year. I'm just not comfortable taking any linebacker in the top 50 that only plays in 60-65% of his teams snaps. Hawk's good year was likely an aberration.
5. LOLB Clay Matthews (-26) - This is a classic case of people drafting off of big name. Only in leagues that reward very heavily for big plays would you select Matthews in the top 10. Even then there are a few other big play linebackers that should be taken off the board before him (e.g. James Harrison, DeMarcus Ware). Matthews is a LB3 in balanced leagues and a LB2+ in big play leagues.
6. ROLB Mario WIlliams (-36) - People are drafting Williams based off of his performance as a defensive end and not realizing that his value will be greatly diminished now that he is a 3-4 OLB. Stay away from Williams this year (unless your league for some reason still classifies him as a DL).
Last Updated: August 26, 2011
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