2015 Every Down Linebackers (Through Week 17)

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 of this list and I am just mainly 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:

CHANGES FROM LAST WEEK:
Added:
Anthony Barr, Denzel Perryman (75-90% of Snaps), Anthony Hitchens (Injury Replacement), Neville Hewitt (Injury Replacement), David Hawthorne (Injury Replacement)


Removed:
None

Moved to Injury/Suspension Designation:
Sean Lee, Jelani Jenkins, Stephone Anthony, Dont'a Hightower

Related Posts:


72 comments :

Matt Andrew said...

First off, thank you for putting this together. It a very valuable resource in preparing for my dynasty FA auction.

For the Colts I highly doubt Robert Mathis is an every-down back due to age and coming off his injury. I think he, Werner, and Trent Cole are all in the 75-90% range with Werner likely the odd man out.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Matt Andrew
Agreed. I was doing this late at night and obviously missed a few things. Plus, there's still a lot up in the air this early in the year. I've updated to reflect Mathis and Cole as 75%-90% and removed Werner.

Matt Andrew said...

@Ryan
Can you update this with the incoming rookie class?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Matt Andrew
Updated to included rookies. Obviously still a lot up in the air. I will continue to update once we get more information.

darryle Moody said...

Ryan, I am in a 14 team keeper league. I have the option to keep 1 of these LB's for this season - which would you recommend? Kiko Alonzo, Bobby Wagner, Or Navarr Bowman

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@darryle Moody
It's definitely between Bowman or Wagner. Wagner is the safer selection but lacks the upside of Bowman. Bowman would be the clear cut choice for me if not for the injury. That said, I'd still go Bowman. If he stays healthy, he has a solid chance to finish as the #1 fantasy linebacker.

Mike Middleton said...

thoughts on Kwon Alexander possibly taking the MLB role in TB?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Mike Middleton
May develop into nice long term option, not sure he snags an every down role this year though. If he doesn't, severely dampens his redraft value. But definitely a guy I have keeping my eye on in deeper/keeper leagues.

Ben Strauss said...

Keeper Question. Full offense and 11 IDP starters 3 DL 4LB 4DB $280 cap


Can keep 5.

A. Donald $1
E. Griffen $2
J. Collins $5
A. Ogletree $7
N. Bradham $1
J. Durant $1
R. Jones $1
TJ Mcdonald $6
J. Cyprien $8

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Ben Strauss
Donald, Griffen, Collins, Bradham, Jones; Cyprien or McDonald over Bradham if you don't mind spending 6-8 times as much.

Chris said...

I see you have Christian Jones as an every down player for Bears. Do you see him as a big time breakout? He's versatile and supposedly Fangio likes that. Saw a post on twitter about him coming off in nickel packages but could just be camp stuff? Would you look to grab him off waivers over guys like D. Harris, C. Greenway, P. Brown, S. Barrington, Z. Brown, T. Smith, or S. Weatherspoon?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Chris
I think a lot depends on what happens with the other inside linebacker spot. If McClellin sticks, I could see Jones putting up big numbers as there would be virtually no tackle competition along the front seven. If Foster slides in, that could change the conversation to a degree. But I think Jones has a good chance to stay as the every down ILB regardless. I'd wait until we get a little more info before dropping any of the players listed, but Greenway/Z. Brown/Weatherspoon would be my candidates for release.

Chris said...

Thanks for the reply! I agree best bet is to wait things out and see how it unfolds. I just was curious if he was a huge breakout guy because I remember he was quite and impact player in college. Thanks again. Love the site!

jyager said...

Waiver wire canidates tackle heavy: Christian Jones, Stephone Anthony, Avery Williamson, Mychal Kendricks. I have Jalani Jenkins and Telvin Smith. Could you rank the above and should i swap out jenkins or smith for any of those? Thanks again love this site

jyager said...

@jyageralso Chad Greenway and Kwon Alexander are available too.

jyager said...

Kwon Alexander and Chad Greenway are also available.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@jyager
Keep Jenkins and Smith. But if I had to rank, it would go as follows: Anthony, Jones, Kendricks, Greenway, Alexander, Williamson

Dustin Catlett said...

In a tackle heavy redraft league and I'm starting to worry about drafting Lofton. So far in preseason he is not looking like the every down guy. Looks like it could be Malcolm Smith and Ray Ray Armstrong... How would you rank the following Trevathan, Timmons, Demario Davis, Anthony, Alexander?

Dustin Catlett said...

Oh yea, forgot to put Lofton in that group

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Dustin Catlett
Yeah, Lofton will be moving down quite substantially in my next rankings update. And will be removed from the Every Down player list as well.

I'd rank Timmons, Davis, Trevathan, Anthony, Alexander, Lofton. First four are all in same tier essentially with Alexander and Lofton a couple tiers below.

Michael Suna said...

Can you rank the following Linebackers,

Malcom Smith, Zach Brown, Telvin Smith and Jerrell Freeman? Scoring is 1 pt for full tackle, half for assist, 3.5 for sack or interception and 2 for defended pass plus 5 pts for forced fumble.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Michael Suna
Sure. According to my projections, it's Telvin, Freeman, Malcolm Smith, and then Zach Brown right behind him.

bryan said...

What makes you think Hightower isn't a 3 down player this year? I'm not saying you are necessarily wrong, but as a Pats fan I was thinking Mayo would be coming off in the nickel, and I'm curious what lead you to that conclusion.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@bryan
Everything I've seen/read has Hightower coming off and Mayo staying on in subpackages. Have you seen something different in preseason games?

Devin said...

Is it definite that Curtis Lofton won't be an every down LB? Should I pick up Lansanah, Cushing, Te'o, or McKinney over him in a deep league?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Devin
Nothing's definite. But my guess is there's a 70% chance he doesn't play in subpackages. I'd rather own Cushing at this point. But it may not hurt to hold him on the bench to see how they approach it Week 1 if you can afford to do that.

R M said...

I know Misi is coming off an injury so I was concerned that as the season went on, Misi may be a threat to Sheppard's 3 down role. Should I be concerned? Can we expect close to the same production from Marshall with Trevathan back from injury?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@R M
Yes, Misi is the three down linebacker next to Jenkins. I just updated. Marshall and Trevathan both have made strong recoveries from injury. I think we should similar production to year ago (perhaps a bit of a decline but fairly consistent to 2014).

Michael Suna said...

Do you like Rey more than Freeman or Telvin Smith now that Burfict is out? Do you like Rey more than Demarcus Ware, Griffin or Ninkovich?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Michael Suna
I see Rey and Freeman in a similar tier with Freeman having the slight edge. But that could flip depending on matchup. That said, I like Telvin Smith the most. It's hard to compare DLs to LBs as it depends on roster size, scoring system, etc.

Matthew Hursh said...

What's your projection for the Texans' ILB position battle? It looks like you have Mike Mohamed starting next to Cushing inside. What about Bernardrick McKinney? I know he's been hurt for the latter part of camp but I haven't heard many updates.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Matthew Hursh
I think McKinney eventually becomes the starter this year as Mohamed is nothing special, but I'm not as high on McKinney as others. The opportunity is there, just don't know if he's good enough in coverage to stay in subpackages. Time will tell.

Jason Cummings said...

Is chad greenway not a 3 down linebacker this season?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Jason Cummings
Doesn't look like he will be.

Agent 54 said...

I dunno if my last post went through? BUT LETS CROWDSOURCE THE GREEN DOTS. Unga, Sean Lee, Worrilow, and Kiko Alonso are wearing Em. Definitely feel it would be an asset to denote the dot on this page!

FRU said...

Why is there an asterisk by Danny Trevathan's name? Thanks.

JD said...

Wilhoite also isn't everydown. Tartt is coming in for nickel

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@JD
You are correct. Missed that update as that game was late last night. Now updated!

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@FRU
Explanation added above.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Agent 54
Good idea!

Unknown said...

khalil mack switched from LB to DE

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Unknown
But he's still listed as a LB in a lot of league management systems, so that's why he's still on the list.

Jared Politi said...

I currently have Jelani Jenkins and Mychal Kendricks... Jamie Collins and Alex Ogletree are both available LB's in my league and both are ranked higher even though last week they both performed lower than my guys in our league. League scoring is: Solo - 1, Assist - .5, Sack - 2, Interception - 3, Fumble Force - 3, Fumble Recovery - 2, TD - 6, Safety - 3, Pass Defended - 2, Block Kick 3, TFL - 1.5, Extra Point Returned - 2.

FYI Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters from Den and KC have been killing it in our league due to they pass blocking qualities.

Thoughts?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Jared Politi
Collins and Ogletree both have better matchups this week and hence why they are ranked higher.

quint408 said...

Please rank the following LB's moving forward: Justin Durant, Kevin Minter, Jordan Hicks, Demario Davis, Jerrell Freeman and Aldon Smith.

KP said...

Bobby Wagner is available on the waiver wire. Should I drop Jenkins or Worrilow for him? Thanks.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@quint408
http://www.idpguru.com/2015/09/2015-rest-of-season-idp-rankings.html

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@KP
I would drop Worrilow for him.

Cassady Kissam said...

Thanks, Great Resource!
A couple of questions:
Is Jordan Hicks usage contingent on Alonso being OUT or Kendricks? If Kendricks comes back is that gonna cut into Hicks snaps?
Is Jelani Jenkins missing snaps due to injury? Looked like he was active in London and didn't miss any time…
Looking to replace Deandre Levy, any thoughts on these 4?
Anthony Barr
Jelani Jenkins
Kikaha
Rolando McClain
Vincent Rey

mrmigu said...

You have Jelani Jenkins listed as injured. Do you have a source on that, I can't seem to find it anywhere

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@mrmigu
He injured himself in the London game. But wasn't on the injury report this week. He's been removed from that section on this list.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Cassady Kissam
Jenkins is fine now. Hicks may lose some snaps to Ryans upon Kendricks' return, but should be fairly close to full time. I like Jenkins of that group moving forward.

wayslofitness said...

I've got Griffen, Dunlap and Worrilow... need to start 2. DE matchups are so juicy, but it's hard for me to convince myself to start both DE's over LB... Any thoughts?
1pt tkl, .25pt asst, 3pt sack. thx

Steven Hill said...

How is Cinn's Rey an "every down" back being in on only 59% of defensive snaps and no injury?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Steven Hill
He was injured and that's why he only played 59% of the snaps.

Rob said...

Stephen Tulloch is listed as the first team starter for the Detroit Lions. What is the snap count for him?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Rob
He's been averaging about 70% of the defensive snaps.

Brendan N said...

I've read Kiko is supposed to be back this week. Do you think he will jump back in or be eased back into an every down backer?

Cassady Kissam said...

Any guesses or clarity on The Eagles LB position? With Kendricks back from his hamstring injury and Hicks playing amazingly you'd think that those two would be full time starters (w/ Mustafa injured)…but now we get word that Alonso wants to play Sunday vs. DALL. Officially Chip K has said he has no idea who will play and will wait to see how each practices. In a perfect world it would be Kendricks and Hicks but it seems clear that if Kiko is healthy he will at least to some degree cut into one of those players time…and common sense is that will be Hicks. But the question is who projects to be more valuable (Kendricks who I have) or Hicks (who is one waivers after being dropped during the BYE). We start 3 IDP's (1 DB, 1 LB, 1 "any" or FLEX) 1pt Solo, .5 Assist, 3 sack, 4 INT, 2 FF, 3FR, 1 PD….

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Brendan N
Considering he wasn't playing every down before his injury, I think it's quite likely he splits time with Hicks and/or Ryans moving forward.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Cassady Kissam
My money is on Kendricks. He was playing full-time before his injury whereas Alonso was not. I think it's Kendricks in an every down/near every down role and Hicks and Alonso rotating and Ryans the odd man out.

Rated R Superstar said...

Woodward from the Titans is killing it, but is not listed

Brendan N said...

Do you glean anything from Jasper Brinkley's past two performances? He's only getting 50%-60% of snaps, but hes putting up better stats than Cassilas.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Rated R Superstar
Woodyard is killing it, but he's not an every down player.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Brendan N
He's benefiting from lots of opportunity. We've seen pretty much all the Giants MLBs produce when given a chance this year/been healthy (Beason/Unga). It's the position.

Rushia said...

I can get Clowney as a DL position. Is he better than C.jones ne, C Campbell ari, K.Short car.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Rushia
I'd play him over Short.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicholas Perez said...

Anthony Barr or Jasper Brinkley this week? Also, does anyone believe Barr is worth a keeper spot?

Unknown said...

Hi, I grabbed Karl Joseph and TJ ward as my 2 DBs...not sure if I should be looking to upgrade or stay put? I know Joseph will not be starting the season as the starter (Allen will) at SS which could bring his value down this season.

Francis Williams said...

@Unknown

Not sure why my name didn't come up but its Francis Williams.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Unknown
Would need to know what is available on the wire. I wouldn't expect much production out of Joseph for at least one week. I think Ward could have a nice year.

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