2016 Every Down Linebackers (Through Week 12)

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, for the 2013 season 45% of all defensive snaps were played in a nickel formation, with an additional 12% in a dime look. And those percentages have likely gone up even further over the last two seasons.
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. 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 pioneer of tracking every down linebackers in this format. Along with my own observations and independent research, I also take into account his thoughts when compiling and updating this list. 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:

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97 comments :

Ash Moser said...

Los Angeles Rams

Shwallywally said...

Whose the linebacker to own in Atlanta? I see you have Vic Beasley and Deion Jones under every down. Are the Falcons phasing out Paul Worrilow?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Shwallywally
A lot is up in the air with the Falcons LB crew. Need to see more preseason games to make a better determination. But my gut is telling me Jones starts in the middle and at best Worrilow becomes the weak side linebacker. But they also like the rookie Campbell there who could overtake Worrilow on the weak side as well. I wouldn't be placing much emphasis on drafting Worrilow this year.

Unknown said...

Hey Ryan. I'm in a league that has been playing idp for 20 years. We are a dynasty league and we have quite a large protection scheme, so much so that I'm looking to keep 6 LBers. My 6th LB would be either Ben Heeney or Jake Ryan. Thoughts? Thanks

Shwallywally said...

I am in a 12 team, IDP, dynasty league. Someone just dropped Worrilow. I am thinking of dropping Keenan Robinson (NYG Linebacker) and picking up both Worrilow and Jones till the end of preseason.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Unknown
Heeney for sure. He's going to be playing and starting all three downs. Think he could have a very nice year. I'm not sure if Ryan is even going to start and even if he does, doubt he plays all three downs.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Shwallywally
Not a bad move. I think Worrilow is on his way out but Atlanta may decide to start the season with him at MLB/WLB because of his experience in the scheme. If you have Jones, that's good insurance. Robinson is currently running with the 2nd stringers and doesn't seem to be working his way to a starting role.

Shwallywally said...

@Ryan Sitzmann
Yea, I took a early leap of faith on Robinson and its not looking good. Thanks Ryan

Chris said...

Is there an LB to target on the NYG if Robinson isn't going to be the man?

Chris said...

What 2nd year players do you think might take the biggest leap? Kendricks? Anthony? or someone else

Chris said...

Whose the LB to own in Mia? I'm not seeing positive reports on Alonso.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Chris
It's a situation I would avoid in all honesty. The NYG linebackers haven't been productive in several years and right now only guy that is playing every down is Jonathan Casillas. And he won't have any fantasy viability.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Chris
I don't think Anthony is going to improve upon his numbers from year ago. He's been moved to the strong side and hasn't been playing in subpackages.

Kendricks could have a big year in Schwartz' scheme. However, the recent signing of Tulloch is a little worrisome and some are speculating that Kendricks could eventually wind up on the bench. So there's risk there. Given how deep linebacker is this year, I wouldn't take the rest on him unless he falls to LB3 range.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Chris
Alonso is the player to own. I'm kind of over Jenkins at this point as he was way too inconsistent last year. Alonso is overrated but I still think he's good enough to get enough tackles on that defense to put up top 15ish numbers.

Adam1234 said...

had my draft earlier and ended up with Jamie Collins, Telvin Smith, DeAndre Levy, CJ Mosley and Kiko Alonso as my LB's (which is amazing) but I've noticed Alec Ogletree is on the waivers still somehow, should I drop Alonso for him, or is it not that worthwhile?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Adam1234
Yes, I'd drop Alonso for Ogletree for sure.

Adam1234 said...

@Ryan Sitzmann

someone higher on our waiver wire got him, Kiko should still put up good numbers this year anyway shouldn't he?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Adam1234
Yeah, I like him as a top 15-20 LB. Carries some risk with inconsistent play and ACL injury, but opportunity will be there for him.

Unknown said...

Will Jordan Hicks be an every down player with Tulloch on board?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Unknown
Yes, if preseason is any indication, it will be Hicks and Bradham in the subpackages. Kendricks has been sitting on in the nickel.

Unknown said...

Ryan, who do u think will have the better season...Nate Irving or Zach Orr? Ive read where Irving has lost a lotta weight and is in good shape to start next to Deqwell Jackson. Ive also read food things about Orr as a potential starter. This will be my LB 4. Thanks, Jason

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Unknown
I like Orr more. He's been better in preseason (really solid actually) and the stat crew in Baltimore gives him a relatively high floor. I'm not 100% convinced Irving will be a full-time player.

wayslofitness said...

I've got Bowman, Telvin & Burfict as my primary 3 LB (after week 3 obviously)... Hicks is my 4th.
Owner just dropped B Marshall... Would you stick with Hicks, or drop and grab BMarsh? Could also take a chance on Heeney?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@wayslofitness
I'd stick with Hicks.

Adam1234 said...

Do you think Telvin Smith is going to see a drop in production due to Myles Jack? There's been reports lately saying the Jax coaching staff aren't too impressed with Smith's positioning

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Adam1234
He's not a strong coverage linebacker whereas Jack is. However, Smith is still better than Poz in coverage IMO. So I think it's eventually Smith and Jack in subs. I see less value in Jaguar IDPs this year tackle-wise, so I was already fading Smith in most leagues.

Unknown said...

Who to keep between: Preston Smith, Christian Kirksey and Karlos Dansby? I'm starting Dansby and Kirksey and taking a wait and see approach to Smith but I'll need to drop 1 in the next couple weeks....drop Dansby when Burfict returns and keep the other 2?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Unknown
Depends on scoring. In big play leagues, I'd take Smith over Dansby. I don't believe Dansby is currently playing in the nickel and he's on the strong side so his value is probably going to be depressed this year. I'm unfortunately not really sold on Kirksey either but he should have plenty of opportunity.

Adam1234 said...

@Ryan Sitzmann

would you still start him knowing he may not be as productive, I've got Jamie Collins, DeAndre Levy, CJ Mosley and Kiko Alonso aswell so I'm thinking of going Collins/Levy/Mosley incase?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Adam1234
Yeah, I'd say Mosley and Collins for sure. Then I would switch between Levy and Smith depending on matchup. If Levy proves healthy, he will start over Smith most weeks.

Jim Hawkinson said...

Mosely, trevrthan and Martinez. Would you pick up Orr, dropping Martinez?

jlatino said...

Just want to quickly point out that Sam Barrington is now on the Chiefs (you still have him listed on Packers). Also, what % of snaps do you see Stephone Anthony playing? Would you rather have guys like Preston Smith or Blake Martinez over him in pretty standard scoring IDP league? I didn't do my research before drafting but happy to see there are tons of sleeper lbs that are still
FA's.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Jim Hawkinson
No. Keep Martinez.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@jlatino
Yep, that's been updated. Anthony's snaps are going to vary depending on what team they play and how much that offense forces the Saints into subpackages. Teams played in a subpackage 58% of the time last year, so I just don't see him getting enough time to produce. I'd rather own Blake Martinez for sure.

Sebastien Curat said...

What about Mason Foster Who collected 14 tackles (9 solos) ?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Sebastien Curat
He's basically every down except when the Skins go into the dime package.

CeeCee said...

Blogger is cutting off google doc can barely see your notes and can't see teams past Giants

Hogan said...

It's a note to point out that Dansby played 100% of the defensive snaps, whereas Maualuga, who is listed as starting MLB on Bengals.com, played only 8 total defensive snaps. So you have to figure Dansby has taken over the MLB spot until Burfict comes back, so Dansby should be a great source of tackles for now.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Ricicki said...

Question on C. J. Mosley LB Ravens. Showing he has an injury and didn't practice Wed. Haven't heard anything else and can't find what's going on anywhere. Can you lend some insight as to his situation?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Matthew Ricicki
He practiced in full today, so he's in a good position to play.

Matthew Ricicki said...

@Ryan Sitzmann Thanks. I'll roll with him. Appreciate it.

Fanatickle said...

Hey Ryan, any reason to hang on for Dumerville or McPhee to return?

Tyler Treadway said...

Should I start Navorrow Bowman or Eric Kendricks in Week 3? I would have to drop bowman and pick Kendricks up from the waiver wire

Tyler Treadway said...

Should I start Navorrow Bowman or Eric Kendricks in Week 3? I would have to drop bowman and pick Kendricks up from the waiver wire

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Tyler Treadway
Bowman and it's not close.

Unknown said...

I'm pretty thin at LB right now. Should I start Hicks or Darron Lee?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Unknown
Lee if Henderson isn't playing. Otherwise, I would go with Hicks but not excited about either option right now.

Uy said...

I dropped Denzel Perryman after you reported that he's only playing half the snaps. He had a good Week 3 and you have him listed as an every-down LB again. Is he's worth picking back up again?

Darryle Moody said...

Hey Ryan, Thanks for this site! It is really helpful. I currently have 2 safety spots in my lineup with Keanu Neal and Bethea; but out in our players pool is Karl Joseph and Clayton Geathers. Which 2 of these 4 would you play in a 14 team keeper league? I also had Breeland for my lone CB spot - all the top guys are taken - any no-name sleepers out there you can recommend? Thanks Ryan!

Uy said...

@Darryle Moody

I too am in a keeper league (12-team) and started Keanu Neal last night. Obviously I wasn't expecting much in his first NFL game, but I'd be very happy if he came close to what Kemal Ishmael was doing.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Uy
Yes, I like Perryman as a top 20 LB again.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Darryle Moody
I like Neal and Bethea. Joseph is close though.

Shaun McDonell said...

Hi,

Who do you think replaces bowman at MLB for the 49ers - should they be picked up over Zach Brown

Unknown said...

Hey buddy, what's up with Lavonte David? I picked him up on the waiver last week after he laid an egg. Should I drop him and pick up Zach Brown? Brown seems to be going off.

Ryan Staninger said...

Hey buddy, what's up with Lavonte David? I picked him up on the waiver last week after he laid an egg. Should I drop him and pick up Zach Brown? Brown seems to be going off.

DNA Brown said...

What's up!

I've taken a serious hit to my LB core with Bowman going down. I JUST READ your Zach Brown endorsement. I have a follow-up question as it relates to ranking. In my league, Brandon Marshall, Deion Jones & Zach Orr are all ranked ahead of Zach Brown and are available. Are we looking at Zach Brown having a breakout season? Is it a gamble taking going with Brown over these other options or is it just HIS TIME right now?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Shaun McDonell
I talk about that situation in this week's waiver wire article if you haven't read it yet. I'd go with Brown.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Ryan Staninger
Tough one. I tend to ride out my studs. David has a similar start to the season last year IIRC, but finished as an elite LB. Granted, Kwon missed a few games which helped. That said, I think he's going to produce at a rate likely equal to Brown so I'd stay put.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@DNA Brown
I like Jones the most ROS. But would take Brown over Marshall and Orr.

Michael Thomas said...

I have a chance to pick up Wagner or Telvin smith now or take a chance on Posluzny or Bellore off waivers

Unknown said...

You sayin Lorenzo Alexander (Buffalo) didn't play enough snaps to make this list? He had 7 solo tackles and 3 sacks this week....

Michael Thomas said...

What's going on with Mack about ready to drop him

Burr Manchu said...

@Michael Thomas You aint lyin. I grabbed Bosa lol

Ryan Bartman said...

What's your opinion on Brandon Marshall the linebacker? He's been pretty irrelevant this year IDP wise.

Matthew Ricicki said...

C.J. Mosely owner. Haven't heard anything on the MRI from Monday. Any news yet? Should we be looking for a replacement or hold off? Thanks.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Michael Thomas
I personally like Telvin. He's probably the most consistent tackle producer in the league outside of Kuechly. But he hurts you in a bit on the big play side.

Mack has been getting pressure but just hasn't been able to finish. I still think the sacks are coming and his tackle upside is high enough where I feel comfortable rolling him out there every week. Plus, who else are you going to pick up? I'd put money on Mack outproducing Bosa (barring injury) the rest of the season.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Ryan Bartman
He was getting rotated out a couple weeks ago, his snap counts were better last week, but Denver defense isn't getting a lot of opportunity. I've moved him down into the LB3- range and I would actually feel more comfortable streaming other linebackers until he hopefully improves his production.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Matthew Ricicki
I haven't seen the results yet which has me a bit worried. I'd start preparing a plan B for this week at least.

Michael Thomas said...

As stated above I have Mack but guys available in your top ten are Wilkerson, Ansah, Sheard, Jordan, Campbell, Pierre-Paul, Griffen, Quinn and Bosa what are your thoughts? Thanks

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Michael Thomas
I still like Mack but I tend to not worry about slow production with elite DEs as they almost always end of producing my year's end. All it takes is one big game and he'll be in the top 10 in points scored again. And everyone will stop worrying. All the players you listed have been inconsistent and/or injured as well.

Matthew Ricicki said...

IDP DL and DB question for you. Any news on injuries on Fletcher Cox and or Reshad Jones? Saw both DNP yesterday. Thanks.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Matthew Ricicki
Jones is going to be a game time decision. Cox practiced yesterday and should be a go for this week's game.

Unknown said...

What was going on with Deion Jones this week? It appeared that he played limited snap. Is he no longer a must start in leagues that start Flex IDPs? I benched Landon Collins for him and I am kicking myself BIG TIME!

Also, Collins has been a stud so far this year. What's the outlook on him going forward?

Matthew Ricicki said...

I have been looking into Mosley injury. Haven't seen an update on a timetable for his return. Guessing after their bye at earliest. Any idea on when we could see him return and is he worth holding onto at this point? I have the ability to pick up Jatavis Brown of SD?

DNA Brown said...

What are your thoughts on Willie Young? I realized is isn't really an every down LB, but 3 of the 4 games he's played, he's put up elite numbers. Now, I know that this is an extremely small sample size and I also know that he hasn't really played against a bonafide "bad matchup", but he has definitely forced me to raise my eyebrow. Thoughts?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Unknown
He only played limited snaps as he's still working his way back from injury. I don't think he will be full time this week, more likely around 60%. But should be back to 100% in the next couple weeks. Collins is a stud. #1 DB with Jones out. I'd start him over Jones until we are confident Jones will be back full time.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Matthew Ricicki
I really don't think he's going to play this week as he didn't practice yet again today and they have a bye next week. I would expect a Week 9 return.

Brown is the real deal. LB2+ to even perhaps LB1-.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@DNA Brown
I think all of the points you raised below are valid. I very really start an OLB pass rusher in balanced and tackle heavy leagues as they are too unpredictable from week-to-week and it's fairly easy to target tackle guys. I would consider Young a matchup dependent LB4+.

Footballfan12 said...

How do you feel about nick bellore?? Will he continue to play as many snaps? He seems to be san frans chris borland of 2016. Also, we start 2 defensive players and 1 db. I have alonso bellore and jatavis brown, which two would you start? Have bellore and alonso in right now.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Footballfan12
From a real-life perspective, he's not good at all. I think he's going to find himself on the bench quickly. I picked him up in one of my leagues because he's going to rack up tackles if he plays. But I'm honestly concerned he's going to get benched (as soon as this week). I'd start Alonso and Brown.

Joeburg said...

If Bellore does eventually get benched, who will emerge as the main tackle producer in SF. With opposing teams running so much against the Niners, it seems like that player would be very valuable.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Joeburg
I think you will see a three man rotation between Bellore, Hodges, and Wilhoite. Bellore is the guy to own right now but that could very well change. I guy like Shayne Skov could even get in the mix. Messy situation.

Jean-philippe Ouellet said...

Who is the better option for the rest of season? Jatavis Brown or Deion Jones?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Jean-philippe Ouellet
I see them as basically equal. I would go with Deion Jones if I had to choose.

Alan Dalhed said...

What's he outlook on Ryan shazier? He was available so I grabbed him, but can't find much info on his injury recovery and ros expectations.

Warren Amon said...

How do you feel about Jamie Collins fantasy value for week 9 after being traded to the browns (will he even play a full game) and for the rest of the year?

Nick Beckman said...

I drafted Lavonte David higher than I would have liked, and I'm having trouble letting him go. Shazier, Timmons, Bradham, Hicks are all available on the waiver wire - any of them with a better rest-of-season outlook? Maybe even Dont'a Hightower now that Collins is in CLE. Let me know your thoughts, thanks!

Nick Beckman said...

@Nick Beckman

Jamie Collins was just dropped too. Seems like there's better, more consistent options out there.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Alan Dalhed
He's kind of a tease in my book. He flashes big games, gets you excited, and then gets hurt. His injuries seem to linger and make it difficult on owners to make weekly lineup decisions. Given the lack of depth this week with all the byes, he's worth a flier as a LB3+/LB2- as his playing time should be back to near full-time coming out of the bye.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Nick Beckman
Although I've tempered by expectations for David, I still think he's more valuable than the players listed. Hightower may surpass him with the Collins trade, but he's been very inconsistent through his career. I'd stick with David personally and just except he's more of a LB2- with some big play upside.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Warren Amon
I wouldn't trust him this week as I don't see how he comes right in and knows the playbook well enough to play significant snaps in his first week. I think after this week, we can re-evaluate based on his playing time and comfortableness in the scheme. He obviously has great opportunity with the Browns defense being on the field so much, it's just a matter of if he 1) can learn the defense quick enough and 2) plays with any sort of passion given his situation.

Gary B said...

Also losing faith in Lavonte David. I have Hightower on the ww, as well as Preston Brown, Danell Ellerbe, Mason Foster, Deion Buchanan, and Leonard Floyd. Any of those move you or should I stick with David?

-Gary B

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Gary B
I'd probably roll with Hightower over David at this point. Although Hightower's matchup this week may not be great game-script wise.

Jim Hawkinson said...

You like Shaq as the Luke fill in, but I am seeing AJ Klein listed as the likely starter in the news. I need to start avery williamson or one of those guys. Thanks

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Jim Hawkinson
Yeah, I think Klein will only be two down where as Shaq will be three down. And he's the better player.

Jim Hawkinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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