2015 IDP Draft Rankings - Linebackers (Redraft)

Listed below are my 2015 Linebacker Rankings for IDP Redraft Leagues. I will continually update these throughout the off-season to reflect changes in free agency, defensive schemes, playing time, draft selections, etc. However, keep in mind that the information listed here is just a small sample of a much larger set of rankings and descriptions that are accessible through purchasing my 2015 Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

Drafting Philosophy:
Linebackers are undoubtedly the staples of a fantasy defense. However, I believe many fantasy owners tend to overvalue this position on draft day. There always seems to be a huge run on linebackers early in drafts as many owners feel that securing a "top tier" linebacker is essential to having a competitive fantasy defense. Although this is a fair strategy, I think more times than not, better value is to be found within other positions at the early junctures in drafts.

The fact is that there are a plethora of potential LB1 linebackers (e.g. Worrilow, Jenkins, Burfict) that can be had rounds after the Tier 1 and even Tier 2 linebackers are off the board.
Additionally, IDP studs always emerge at the linebacker position throughout the season (e.g. Telvin Smith). So often times the best strategy is to wait until the upper echelon linebackers have been taken and then come in and start plucking up the potential LB1 upside value plays a few rounds later. This will allow you to use those early round draft picks to shore up other positions such as defensive line where more relative value is to be found, while at the same time, not suffering significant losses of quality at the linebacker position.

Bottom line - The talent pool at this position is as deep as ever this season. Grab a couple of top-notch defensive ends before drafting any linebackers.

Scoring System:
Solo Tackle = 1 point
Assist = 0.5 point
Sack = 3 points
Interception = 4 points
Forced Fumble = 2 points
Fumble Recovery = 2 points
Pass Deflection = 1 point
Defensive TD = 6 points

S = Sleeper/Undervalued Player
B = Bust/Overvalued Player
R = Injury Risk

Tier 1
1. WLB Lavonte David (TB) - Despite missing two games last year, David was a top 5 linebacker in the majority of scoring systems and eclipsed 130 total tackles for the third straight season. The lack of talent along the front seven should ensure David continues to compile fantasy points at a torrid pace. Ultimately, his big play production gives him the edge over Luke Kuechly for the top fantasy linebacker spot.

2. MLB Luke Kuechly (CAR) - With over 150 total tackles in each of his first three seasons, Kuechly has become one of fantasy football's safest high-tackle linebacker options. Although he's not on a same level as Lavonte David in terms of big play production, he's posted respectable numbers in that regard averaging 2+ sacks, 2 interceptions, and nearly 9 pass deflections a year. If David is 1A, consider Kuechly 1B.

Tier 2
3. SILB Navorro Bowman (SF) - Entering into the off-season, San Francisco had one of the most formidable linebacking units in the NFL. However, the unexpected retirings of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland have left the team scrambling to find an adequate replacement at ILB next to Bowman. The decrease in quality inside should lead to a significant bump in Bowman's opportunity. Although the injury is still a concern, he had an entire year off to rehab and he's looked good in preseason, so I'm banking on him being healthy and continuing to be an elite LB1 for us. R

4. MLB Bobby Wagner (SEA) - It's hard to believe Wagner has only been in the league for three years. He plays with great discipline and has made himself an integral part of the league's top defense. At age 24, he's only going to continue to get better and has a strong supporting cast to keep him free of blockers and allow him to blitz. He doesn't have the same elite tackle upside as Kuechly or David, but his big play ability makes up for that in a large way.

5. WILB C.J. Mosley (BAL) - Although still a solid performer, Daryl Smith is not the player he use to be. C.J. Mosley was drafted to be the leader of the defense and he took big strides towards doing so in his rookie year. For those in leagues that don't reward for assists, drop Mosley down a couple tiers as the Ravens stat crew is the stingiest in the league in terms of awarding solo tackles per opportunity.

6. WLB DeAndre Levy (DET) - After spending his first few years in the league producing at a LB4+ rate, Levy finally turned it on last year. The talent had been there, he just hadn't connected all the dots. With Stephen Tulloch coming off ACL surgery, Levy should be primed for another LB1 season.

7. MLB Paul Posluszny (JAX) - Posluszny is a straight up tackling machine. Add in the fact he's on a team with one of the league's worst offenses and you have the makings of a top 10 fantasy linebacker. There's some concern that Telvin Smith and Jonathan Cyprien will continue to take away tackles, but there's enough opportunity in Jacksonville to go around.

8. WLB Sean Lee (DAL) - If not for a myriad of recent injuries so far in his relatively short career, there's a strong case to be made that Lee would be in consideration as one of the league's elite linebackers along with Kuechly, David, etc. The Cowboys are moving him to the weak side this year in an attempt to maintain his health throughout the season. He's an LB1 when playing, but he still carries fairly significant injury risk. R

9. SILB Jamie Collins (NE) - Collins was a top 10 linebacker during the second half of the season. Although the NE front seven is crowded/rich with talent, Collins will see a full complement of snaps. He's got some really nice upside given the fact that he is able to get after the quarterback and plays well against the run. The return of Jerod Mayo will dampen us production a bit, but I think he's talented enough and will play a pivotal role in the scheme to warrant LB1- consideration.

Tier 3
10. MLB Paul Worrilow (ATL) - Worrilow is a classic example of a marginal player in a great situation with ample opportunity. Outside of bringing in Justin Durant, the Falcons didn't do much to challenge Worrilow so it's looking like Worrilow's job is safe at least for 2015. Continue to ride Worrilow until the wheels fall off.

11. WLB Alec Ogletree (STL) - Ogletree is one of the safer selections in this tier. Owners should be fairly confident that he hits 85-90 solo tackles with 20+ assists. Although he's athletic enough to put up elite numbers, I just think he has too much tackle competition in St. Louis to do so right now. Consider him a solid and safe LB2+.

12. WLB Jelani Jenkins (MIA) - Jenkins was a top seven linebacker in terms of solo tackles per snap last season. Owners should be fairly confident that he will put up LB2+/LB1- numbers in an every-down role over the course of a full season. He needs to improve his week-to-week consistency, but there's a good chance he finishes as a top 10-15 linebacker as he has virtually no competition for tackles outside of Reshad Jones. He’s looking like a great value right now as he’s being taken off the board as an LB3 in most drafts. S

13. WILB Derrick Johnson (KC) - Johnson falls in the rankings this year due to age and durability concerns. Coming off a torn Achilles can be tough, especially for a 32 year old player. However, Johnson has been extremely productive throughout his career and still has relatively little tackle competition, so he should still remain a nice LB1-LB2+ high floor option. He does get dinged because of the stingy KC stat crew though. R

14. ILB Keenan Robinson (WAS) - Robinson was a solid breakout candidate heading into last season and although he didn't quite reach expectations, he came close. Despite missing three games due to injury, he managed 100+ total tackles and will look to build upon that number this year. He gets the benefit of a generous home stat crew and general lack of competition for tackles which makes him a solid LB2-LB2+. S

15. WILB Kiko Alonso (PHI) - Alonso's departure from Buffalo will likely put a dent in his overall fantasy value. Not only will he now be without one of the league's most generous stat crews, but he also faces increased tackle competition via Mychal Kendricks. This said, expect some regression in Alonso’s numbers this year. He’s not a player to avoid necessarily, but you should be targeting him as a mid-to-high LB2 versus an elite LB1. B

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Questions, comments, or concerns with any of these rankings? If so, please let me know by posting a comment below or emailing me at theidpguru@idpguru.com. You can also hit me up on Twitter

Last Updated: August 26, 2015
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Brendan N said...

I would think Khalil Mack would be in one of your top tiers? Also, do you think D Ware is worth rostering after his change to LB?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Brendan N
He's actually in the LB40 range right now as I base my rankings off of balanced scoring. It leagues that reward more heavily towards sacks, he definitely gets bumped up a couple tiers. Even in balanced leagues, I think he has the potential to score in the top 20-30, but given the risk I feel more comfortable taking him as a LB4.

George said...

Surprised to see Telvin Smith isn't on this list. He will be a tier 1 player by season end. You're welcome. Even with a healthy Poz the man is going to ball.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

He's on my undervalued list and in my LB2 tiers. Only reason why he isn't higher is that you have to account for Posluzny's 120+ total tackles and Cyprien's 110+ total tackles, so not sure I see clear LB1 upside without an injury.

Brent Deangelis said...

what kind of season do you see bradham having?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Brent Deangelis
Everyone is focusing on Preston Brown, but I think Bradham ends up having more value when all is said in done as he's most likely to land at WILB. He carries some risk, but I think solid LB2/LB2- value is where I would project him.

Max ax said...

Is Paul worrilow worth a 13 th rd pick as a keeper in a 12 man ppr league? This not a idp only league. Depending on where I pick first 4 to 6 idp will be off the board that rd.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Max ax
I don't think so. I would have to imagine the Falcons realize Worrilow isn't the long-term answer for them. I don't envision him being a viable starter for several seasons. He could be on the outs as early as 2016.

Michael Robbins said...

What's your thoughts on Sio Moore this year?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Michael Robbins
I'm not as high on him as others as the hip injury still scares me. He put up big numbers last year no doubt, but he has Curtis Lofton and Smith there now along with Mack. I think he will be drafted too high for my liking in most leagues, so I don't anticipate him being on a ton of my rosters.

Jacob Wiemelt said...

I'm overthinking myself I'm sure, thus, I need help -- I'm in a Keeper League (keep 8) -- it is tackle heavy (that's key) -- I have three quality linebackers and one potential --

I can keep as many as I'd like at the sacrifice of other positions -- but I really only want to keep two so I can hold onto either Quinn, Ch Jones, Harrison Smith --

Here are my Linebackers: Posluszney, Jamie Collins, Bobby Wagner, CJ Mosely, Telvin Smith --

Who do I keep? In trying to justify dropping Posluszney (age, jnjury history) but will regret it if he plays full season -- so which two would you keep?

I'll assume CJ Mosely is one.


Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Jacob Wiemelt
I'd keep Mosley and Wagner. Although Seattle tends to limit their opportunity, Wagner is a stud. I have him as a top 5 linebacker even in tackle-heavy leagues.

Thomas said...

Telvin Smith or Keenan Robinson

Ryan Sitzmann said...


Adam1234 said...

currently got DeAndre Levy, Jamie Collins, Keenan Robinson as my starting LB's with Chad Greenway and Clay Matthews on the bench, Vontaze Burfict is available but still injured I know, worth picking up and holding on the bench until he's fit? or Derrick Johnson as he's still there? there's also Danny Trevathan and Stephen Tulloch. considering dropping Matthews for one of the four mentioned?

Adam1234 said...

Derrick Johnson, Stephen Tulloch, Danny Trevathan or Vontaze Burfict for Clay Matthews or keep Clay?

William Morales said...

fftoday.com has Demario Davis listed as a top 10 linebacker and he's not on your list?!? What's up with that?!?

William Morales said...

In your opinion would you take Demario Davis or Keenan Robinson and why?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@William Morales
In my full rankings list, I have Davis as my LB18. This is actually higher than most "experts" are ranking him and I like to think I'm pretty high on him relative to other writers. I'd still take Keenan Robinson over him, however. Robinson's trajectory is pointing up with each year. Perry Riley is on the downturn of his career and offers little in the way of tackle competition. Washington's scorekeepers will keep Robinson's numbers healthy even in bad home matchups.

Granted, pretty much all this can be said about Davis as well. They are very close in value. So much, I would say go with whomever you prefer. Don't think you can go wrong with either.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Burfict is on the reserve PUP list and won't play until Week 8 at the earliest. I wouldn't go out of your way to rsoter him. I think Derrick Johnson is the better roster over Greenway. The latter has been declining over the last couple years and I don't think he's going to play in subpackages in 2015. I like Matthews this year as he will play inside which will help his tackle numbers but also bump outside in passing situations, so 70/10 stat line isn't out of the question.

Josh said...

I have to pick four of these guys to start. Any suggestions? I know 2 for sure, then it gets dicey:

Lavonte David
Bobby Wagner
Ryan Shazier
Alec Ogletree
Daryl Smith
Anthony Barr
Nigel Bradham

We have to start 2 LBs, and I also always start 2 FLEX players from my LB corps, because I can't stop collecting LBs. But picking four might be hard each week.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

David,Wagner, Ogletree, Shazier

Shane Stanton said...

Guru, Tackle heavy league. Have Z. Brown, Worrilow, P. Brown. Barrington is available. Start two, can only carry three on your roster. Stay pat? Or add/drop one for Barrington?

edward o'donnell said...

Shazier mychal Kendricks or kiko Alonzo pick 2

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Shane Stanton
I'd drop Brown for Barrington. Start Worrilow and Brown.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@edward o'donnell
Shazier and Alonso

edward o'donnell said...

@Ryan Sitzmann

Thanks Ryan! Last question...

Pick 4 for week 1

Jaimie Collins
Ryan Shazier
Kiko Alonzo
Mychal Kendricks

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@edward o'donnell
Hi Ed, you can refer to my weekly rankings to answer this question: http://www.idpguru.com/2015/09/2015-weekly-idp-rankings.html

Shane Stanton said...

Guru, thanks for getting back to me. However, was confused. Drop which Brown for Barrington? Zack or Preston. Worrilow is my other LB.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Shane Stanton
Zach Brown

Noel Maiden said...

Where will aldon smith be on depth chart de or lb

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Noel Maiden
He'll be a LB.

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