2013 Every Down Linebackers

Reading this type of article thoroughly and fully understanding it's importance is going to separate you from other IDP owners and ultimately help you win your championship. This article will be updated every Tuesday during the regular season.

In today's pass-heavy NFL, it's more important than ever to realize which fantasy linebackers play in the nickel package. What is a nickel package and why is relevant to our discussion of fantasy football?

The nickel defense is a defensive alignment that uses five defensive backs. The fifth defensive back is referred to as the "nickelback." The defense has five defensive backs, and usually has four down linemen and only two linebackers meaning that one starting linebacker has to sit on the sidelines when this package is being used.

(A lineup of three down linemen and three linebackers is sometimes used, but this is often called a 3-3-5 defense instead of a Nickel defense. The four-linemen/two linebacker version of the Nickel is generally more popular because it affords the defense greater ability to stop an opponent's running game.)

The key part to that above paragraph is that "one starting linebacker has to sit on the sidelines when this package is being used." Nickel packages are used on a majority of third downs due to the proclivity of NFL teams to throw on third down. So just how often do teams throw on third down? Let's take a quick look at some statistics provided by Advanced NFL Stats.

3rd Down and...
Pass %
13, 12, 11
9, 8, 7
6, 5, 4
3, 2

As you can witness by looking at this chart, teams throw on third down an overwhelming majority of the time (even on 3rd and 2!). To counteract this, NFL defenses have been using their nickel packages basically on every third down. This means that linebackers who don't play in nickel packages only usually play about 65-80% of the defensive snaps. Thus severely reducing their amount of tackle opportunities and overall fantasy production.

Below is a list of the current three-down (every-down) linebackers in the league taken from Footballguys - IDP Forums. This list will change as training camp and preseason games progress. I will do my best to keep it as updated as possible.

A special thanks to Jene Bramel as he is the true originator and maintainer of this list and I am just reproducing and updating it here for easier access to my readers. For anyone interested in IDP, head on over the IDP Forum over at Footballguys where there is constantly good IDP chat going on.

Without further ado, here is the list:

***Additions from the previous update are in BOLD.*


Terrell Suggs, Daryl Smith
Buffalo: Kiko Alonso
Cincinnati: Vontaze Burfict
Cleveland: D'Qwell Jackson
Denver: Danny Trevathan
Houston: Daryl Sharpton*, Brooks Reed, Whitney Mercilus
Indianapolis: Jerrell Freeman, Robert Mathis
Jacksonville: Paul Posluszny, Geno Hayes
Kansas City: Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, (Justin Houston - Injured)
Miami: Dannell Ellerbe, Phillip Wheeler
New England: Dont'a Hightower*
New York Jets:
David Harris, Demario Davis

Oakland: Nick Roach, Kevin Burnett
Pittsburgh: Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones
San Diego: Donald Butler
Tennessee: Moise Fokou


Karlos Dansby, Daryl Washington, John Abraham*

Atlanta:  Sean Weatherspoon, Paul Worrilow
Carolina: Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis
Chicago: James Anderson, Lance Briggs
Dallas: Bruce Carter, DeVonte Holloman (While Sean Lee is Injured)
Detroit: Stephen Tulloch, DeAndre Levy
Green Bay: A.J. Hawk
Minnesota: Chad Greenway, Audie Cole
New Orleans: Curtis Lofton, Junior Galette*
New York Giants: Jon Beason
Philadelphia: DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Connor Barwin, Trent Cole*
St. Louis: James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree
San Francisco: Patrick Willis, Navorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks
Seattle: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright
Tampa Bay: Lavonte David, Mason Foster*
Washington: London Fletcher*, Perry Riley, Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan

*May rotate out in some of the nickel and dime packages

Last Updated:
January 3, 2013
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George said...

Trying to stay ahead of the curve. Who is the better hold? Bradham or Alonso? Recent reports indicate the Bills are really high on Bradham at ILB and they ran Alonso out at SLB during rookie drills. They plan to blitz Bradham more as well. Thoughts?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I think Bradham is the better play currently. He most likely slides into the WILB position as plays every down.

cohendpt said...

I have a DL question, but wasnt sure where to post. I currently play in a IDP league where we start 1 LB, 1 DL, 1DB, and one def captain of any position. currently i have kuechly...burnett...JPP on my roster...in our draft i plan on drafting wagner as my def captain so i would have kuechly and wagner as my main def players. however my only DL at the moment is JPP. his injury is a concern of mine and i need a backup DL and i am not sure who to go after. my league is tackle heavy as 1 pnt per solo tackle and 0 points for assists. sacks are 3, FF are 2, no point for recovery. calais cambell is available and i considered him as a useful player to fill in for JPP. I almost drafted JJWAT last yr but didn't and regret it now. i play in an auction league where most def players are around $1-3 in a 100 salary league. any suggestions at players to pickup for a fill in for JPP? i thought about dropping him in our resigns and rebidding hopinfg to pay less than his 2.25 salary next yr. (taken so far are atkins, mario williams, gregg hardy, watt, chandler jones, jared allen, peppers, ngata, abraham, chris long, tuck, wake)

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Campbell would be my first choice of the remaining players.

cohendpt said...

Any thoughts on Demarcus Ware over campbell as a DE? he is also a free agent. dropped him lasty yr after poor production and having kuechly and aldon smith as a flex.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I'd still prefer Campbell, but Ware is a very nice consolation prize.

cohendpt said...

After resigns in our the following are free agents to go after during draft day...could you possibly give an order of where you would draft these guys...calais campbell, mario williams, charles johnson, cameron wake, chandler jones, chris long, babin, cole, avril, hardy, dion jordan, geno atkins. thanks again!

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Wake, Johnson, Williams, Campbell, Hardy, Atkins, Avril, Jones, Long, Babin, Jordan, Cole

Jared Lawson said...

Good info here to help with IDP drafts. Paul Poz is a name to highlight again for 2013. He will finish as a Top 5, and possibly Top 3 Lb. Fantasy Football IDP

Josh said...

Well, I've completed my draft. One of my linebackers is Chad Greenway, but he is holding out for more money (yes, we have contract holdouts in our league.) I want to know if you think I can get away with ignoring his demands and letting him sit for the first 7 weeks. Without him, these are the LBs I have to choose from (I can start 4 a week, and that's the plan.) So, which 4? Or should I just pay Greenway?

Lavonte David
Bobby Wagner
Derrick Johnson
Donta Hightower
Daryl Smith
Alec Ogletree


Ryan Sitzmann said...

I'd rather own Johnson or Wagner than Greenway in most leagues.

T-Mo said...

The Ravens really burned me by only playing Arthur Brown in 6 snaps on Thursday. What are the chances he becomes an every down linebacker sooner than later?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I'm looking at mid-season at the earliest.

Dhani lark said...

whats your take on Mason foster...will he sustain his point totals in PPr leagues..or do i go w the safer start of derrick johnson..cliff lee is available so is patrick willis and jerod mayo and justin houston any advice..i had willis but so far its been rather poor production..picked of mason foster hoping he contineusnputting up decent points..also have cushing as my other starter?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Dhani lark
I'd pick up Mayo in leagues that reward for assists.

Leon Vining said...

Where did Zach Brown go? Both in your list and week 3? Thanks.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Leon Vining
Come out during dime packages last week with Fokou only linebacker on the field last week. Still a good LB3+/LB2- option but the subpackage situation concerns me a bit.

Smokey said...

Yahoo Sports reports Patriots WLB Jerod Mayo underwent surgery for a torn pectoral Tuesday, and could miss the rest of the season.

Would Spikes get a bump here or?

Smokey said...


Fletcher perhaps?

Ray Martin said...

Is it time to drop Aldon Smith or continue stashing him in hopes that he will return?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Spikes likely gets the largest bump, but he's not guaranteed to play every down.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Ray Martin
I think Smith is likely done for the season. Dump him if you need to the bench space.

NYC Father said...

Malcolm Smith *beast*

vaiano777 said...

Akeem Dent or Bartu in Atlanta? Who in Houston now that Cushing is done? Who in GB with Jones and Matthews injured? Will Jones be back week 8? How many plays did Angerer play against the Broncos?

Brett Carroll said...

Who do you trust more going forward? Fokou or McCarthy in Tennessee?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Brett Carroll
Fokou. I don't think McCarthy played well enough to convince the coaching staff to start him over Fokou moving forward.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Dent. I wouldn't place a ton of value on any of the LBs in Houston moving forward. Jones looks like he will be coming back this week, so go with him. Angerer played 95% of the snaps.

Zobmie said...

Who do you think is the better play going forward Luke Kuechly or Kiko Alonso?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I'm sticking with Kuechly. Matchups start to get better ROS.

talha mufti said...

Hey in my league, My safetys are Reshad Jones and Morgan Burnett but i need another one to go on my bench, so in free agency there is Da'Norris Searcy Buf - S, James Ihedigbo Bal - S, Ryan Clark Pit - S, Antonio Allen NYJ - S, Johnathan Cyprien Jax - S,and Rodney McLeod StL - S which player should i pick up for Alterraun Verner Ten - CB, Brandon Spikes NE - LB, Josh Robinson Min - CB,Thomas Davis Car - LB ( i have six linebackers J. Freeman, P. Willis, D. Ryans, C. Lofton, B. Spikes, and Thomas Davis

Pmac c said...

did zach brown have a great game today because of foukou injury so he played every down. I love zach brown but he has not produce for me this year in my dynasty league. Im wondering if he is a must start LB with the injury to foukou?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Pmac c
I think it was more of a fluke than a trend.

Brian McInerney said...

How was your trip? Nice to have you back!

Rob said...

Playoff time! 14 team standard scoring, no defensive position requirements. I currently have Derrick Johnson @ WAS, Chad Greenway @ BAL, and Lawrence Timmons vs MIA

Do you think I should make a move for any of these FA's?
http://i.imgur.com/pnjArz6.jpg (sorted by season total)
http://i.imgur.com/rLiTUI4.jpg (sorted by week 14 projections)

I'm thinking Timmons might not be the best play this week. Thanks!

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Brian McInerney
Trip was pretty damn cool. Went to Peru.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I'd replace Timmons with Roach.

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