2014 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 and as needed during the off-season.

In today's pass-heavy NFL, it's more important than ever to realize which linebackers play in their team's subpackages, primarily the Nickel package. So 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." This defense has traditionally had four down linemen and only two linebackers on the field at the same time. However in recent years, teams have been phasing out the traditional "4-2-5" subpackage look in favor of the 3-3-5 alignment as well as a variety of one and two down linemen packages.
This means that some teams will often have more than one or two linebackers on the field in subpackages. These new looks are being utilized to get the best combination of speed, versatility, and coverage ability on the field at the same time to defend against multiple wide receiver sets.

According to Pro Football Focus, 45% of all defensive snaps last year were played in a nickel formation, with an additional 12% in a dime look.
This means that linebackers who don't play in subpackages are in danger of missing 50%+ of their team's defensive snaps. Since this dramatic decrease in playing time is a huge blow to a player's value, it becomes critical that we continually track which players are staying on the field on a near every down basis.

That said, 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 mainly reproducing/updating/slightly altering 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. Strikethroughs signify a player's removal from the list compared to the last update.*


Terrell Suggs, Daryl Smith, C.J. Mosley
Buffalo: Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown
Cincinnati: Vincent Rey, Emmanuel Lamur
Cleveland: Karlos Dansby
Denver: Von Miller, Todd Davis (While Brandon Marshall Is Injured)
Houston: Brian Cushing, Whitney Mercilus
Indianapolis: Jerrell Freeman, D'Qwell Jackson
Jacksonville: J.T. Thomas, Telvin Smith 
Kansas City: Josh Mauga, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston
Miami: Jelani Jenkins, Koa Misi*
New England: Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower, Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones
New York Jets:
David Harris, Demario Davis

Oakland: Miles Burris, Kahlil Mack, Ray-Ray Armstrong
Pittsburgh: Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, James Harrison*
San Diego: Manti Te'o, Melvin Ingram
Tennessee: Avery Williamson, Derrick Morgan*


Larry Foote, Alex Okafor*

Atlanta:  Paul Worrilow, Kroy Biermann*
Carolina: Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis

Chicago: Jon Bostic, Christian Jones
Dallas: Rolando McClain**,  Anthony Hitchens*
Detroit: DeAndre Levy
Green Bay: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers*
Minnesota: Chad Greenway (Injured), Gerald Hodges (While Anthony Barr Is Injured)
New Orleans: Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne, Junior Galette*
New York Giants: Jameel McClain
Philadelphia: Mychal Kendricks**, Connor Barwin
St. Louis: James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree
San Francisco: Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody, Aldon Smith
Seattle: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin
Tampa Bay: Lavonte David, Danny Lansanah
Washington: Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson

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

**May not be play full-time until near 100% healthy

Last Updated:
January 1, 2015
Related Posts:


The Gardencat said...

I think I understand what you are saying here but, wouldn't this be reflected in their numbers from last year, unless they have changed from a non-everydown back to now an everydown back, or vice versa. Is there someway that we can tell who has had a change in their role since last year?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@The Gardencat
This article is continually changing and updated as players move in and out of every down roles. It's basically a way to account for those changes. All the players in BOLD are basically new every down or potential every down players coming into the year.

idp4life said...

so you say we want to target LB's who play in the nickel since typically only 2 of them remain on the field for the majority of 3rd downs.......then you list 3 every-down LB's for several teams and even 4 for a couple of teams!. what gives? i love the site and the concept of identifying 3-down guys, which could help immensely, but i cant discern and sense in listing 4 guys who are going to fill what you asserted to be only 2 spots

idp4life said...

*discern any sense

im not being critical. in fact, im a fan of the articles here, especially this one. perhaps there is a perfectly good reason that im not seeing ...

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Thanks for the note. Although a standard nickel package has two linebackers on the field there are several alignment variations. For example, a 3-3-5 is often used with three linebackers on the field. The Steelers tend to play a lot of "Big Nickel" which has four linebackers on the field and only two defensive linemen (2-4-5). That's the reason why more than two every down linebackers are listed in some instances. Additionally, since training camp has just begun, we really don't have a lot of insight into who will be staying on the field in subpackages for some teams (e.g. Dallas). This list will become more firm once we see a couple preseason games. Hopefully that explanation makes sense.

Yer said...

Love the outlook on Patrick Willis, with Bowman out for the majority of the year and even if he returns - not expected to be the same this year, Willis' will take over his role and should see a major boost in numbers from the past 2 seasons. An IDP name that has shifted places but will still see big numbers is Karlos Danbsy in CLE. http://www.fantasyfballchamps.com/

mondaymorningowner said...

You guys are one of the only sites I find that really has a handle on IDP.

Kellen said...

What happened to Nate Irving?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

No longer playing in the nickel. Brandon Marshall (who is taking over for the injured Trevathan) is getting the nickel snaps on the weak side. He probably has more value than Irving at this point, at least in the short-term.

Jason Sternberg said...

Hey Ryan, would you trade Spikes for Burfict even with his concussion this past weekend?

Brett Carroll said...

How long is Danny Trevathan out for? Can't find any type of time table on his return.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Brett Carroll
Probably around 5 or 6 weeks.

Kevin Headen said...

Durant is out for the next 3-4 weeks with a groin injury. McClain and Carter are expected to the the nickel LBs at this time.

darryle Moody said...

Ryan, I have Spikes but I see you have crossed him off as a 3 down LB - had 1 tackle Sunday. I see where you have Bradham as a 3 down backer now but what about P. Brown? There's a lot of hype about him and both are out in my league. Which one is the best to own?

Thien Nguyen said...

Is Kroy Biermann an every down LB for ATL? thought he was a DE in an 4-3 scheme?

Also what does the crossed out name mean? Off the team? Injured?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Thien Nguyen
ATL switched to a 3-4 this season with Biermann at OLB. Crossed off name means they were an every down linebacker the week before but not anymore.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@darryle Moody
Brown is definitely capable of holding his own in coverage. He wasn't expected to be a starter however. He got his opportunity since Bradham was suspended Week 1 and Rivers was injured in Week 2. It's unknown what Brown's role will be moving forward though.

Shayne Donohue said...

Trevathan just returned to practice this week. Pick him up now! He has a chance to start in week 5 after Denver's bye.

Shayne Donohue said...

Is Joplo Bartu still and every down LB? Someone please enlighten me!

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Shayne Donohue
Bartu is not an every down linebacker. He's been rotating series with Prince Shembo.

joel monod said...

Guru...have a solid core 4 at LB(kuechly dansby Shazier damario Davis) but looking to add future depth this season and next.
Who do you like going forward Anthony Barr,Shembo, Justin Houston or someone else
Thank s for the time and help every week

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@joel monod
I like Barr the most followed by Houston then Shembo.

Maurice Menassa said...

I have Jelani Jenkins, Danny Trevathan, Demario Davis and Emmanuel Lamur but I need to drop one. Which one should I drop? Which three have more value ROS?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Maurice Menassa
I'd drop Lamur. Burfict's return will put him back in the LB3- role.

dirty6613 said...

I would add Avery Williamson on TEN...making his move to be above Woodyard.

dirty6613 said...

Also, Jamari Lattimore in GB has taken over for Brad Jones and has been getting more reps than Clay Matthews.

dirty6613 said...

@Maurice Menassa

Do NOT drop LAMUR. He IS a 3 down LB NEXT to Burfict. Both of them will be solid all year. Rey was taking Burfict's snaps while gone. LAMUR would have been Burfict if not for getting hurt when Burfict stepped in. I would drop Jenkins as he received less snaps before the bye...and don't see him as a long-term 3 down LB...or close to the talent that Lamur has.

D said...

Why is Tahir Whiteheads name crossed out? Is he not on the field for passing downs?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

He left the field in the nickel last week and was replaced by Josh Bynes. Not sure if that sticks long term, but it has me worried enough to call it out. He plays NO this week who usually force teams into a lot of subpackage looks, so it should be a good litmus test on how the Lions plan on using Whitehead moving forward.

Sara Sica said...

Not sure if this posted, I don't see it, sorry for the duplicate post if so.

Where did that awesome page where it showed the weekly matchups and the strength of a player go? I can't seem to find it. Said whether a player would be considered LB2-/LB3+ etc.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Sara Sica
I removed it as it was very time-consuming to create for me and it really wasn't showing anything that the rankings don't show as I'm going 50 deep on those. Running the whole site is a lot of work and I needed to prioritize some things to keep everything on track.

Brent Deangelis said...

what happened to woodyard? hes not everydown lb anymore?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Brent Deangelis
He really hasn't been every down since week 4. He missed 30 snaps last week.

Ben Strauss said...

Hey Ryan,

Looking for some Start'em- Site'em Advice. 1.5pts Solo 1pts asst 5pts sacks 2 PD

need 4 of J. Collins, A. Olgetree, A. Willimason, N. Bradham, P. Riley, P. Brown

Thanks. Great work with the site this season.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Ben Strauss
Collins, Ogletree, Williamson, Bradham

Luxuryqueen said...

CJ mosley is on a BYE , should i trade for Keenan robinson ? 1 point per solo tackle..

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I see slightly a slight tick below Mosley in terms of value. But they are about even ROS since Robinson is already byed out.

Ryan said...

so no Texan LB's are playing 3 downs? Cusing is a walking china doll and Mohammad is a 3 toed sloth....LET JUSTIN TUGGLE PLAY!!! The one week he played significant snaps he was all over the field. Obviously I'm in a super deep league for him to even be on my roster, but am I missing something?

Perch said...

Pick 2 LB + 1 Safety
Greenway ; Lansanah ; McClain ; Telvin Smith ; Todd Davis ; S. Barrington
Reshad Jones
Rashad Johnson
Patrick Chung (waivers)

Perch said...


espn standard scoring except for 2 points for solo tackle and 1 for assist tackles (doubled)

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Greenway and Lansanah and Reshad Jones

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