2017 Every Down Linebackers (Through Week 2)

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.

NOTE: The data is being displayed on the site using an embedded Google Document. Some readers may have issues viewing the tables depending on a myriad of different of factors (e.g. browser, device, method of viewing). This said, I've made the data available via a direct link to the Google Sheet which you can find directly below.

Direct Link to View

Without further ado, here is the list:

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CeeCee said...

Need link to see whole doc

Ryan Sitzmann said...

A direct link has now been posted within the page. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Vince Williams is not a everydown 'backer for the Steelers. They already run a base nickel a majority of the time. Williams get some reps, but so will Hargrave. Javon probably get more in a 3-3-5 alignment then VW -- that has Harrison(soon to be Watt) rushing as the 4th QB attacker. And yet, I fully expect Williams to have tremendous T/A as the run soaker on defense.

gridiron said...

any word if Joe Schobert will be a 3 down backer with Clev now?? He's fast with good cover skills.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I'd disagree that he's fast by NFL standards (ran a 4.76/40). He will be a two-down backer with Kirksey and Collins manning the every down roles.

AB said...

Nice cover! I like it! Would love to be able to print, but can't bc its contained in a window. Full-print view?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I just expanded the view so there should be no scroll bar now and you can just print the page.

Matt Penhollow said...

Ryan do you see Nick Vigil's stock going up during Burfict's suspension?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Matt Penhollow
Yes, he was playing three downs prior to the suspension. May move to the weak side, but I think he stays on the strong side which tempers his value a bit. His value should easily exceed his current ADP though.

Ultimate warriorz said...

Kiko and ramik are also a free agents in my league , which of these two and the above to pick ?


Ultimate warriorz said...

myles jack , tj watt, vince Williams , a.Williamson, both eagles & jets LBs are all available

Ultimate warriorz said...

Need 3

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Ultimate warriorz
Kiko, Vince, and Darron Lee.

Ultimate warriorz said...

Thanks ryan

John said...

Best linebacker to pick up from Saints Raiders Colts ?

Nicholas Minnix said...

Just a heads up: The 49ers released Ahmad Brooks a week ago. (He's with the Pack now, but that came after your update.)
I'm mostly curious about your take on the Raiders' situation, because Lee hasn't been running with the ones for a couple of weeks, and Cory James and Jenkins are projected to start from everything I read. I play in a deep league and am leaning toward picking up James (he has the speed and build to stay on the field for all three downs, young and better bet to stay healthy, receiving praise, a little banged up tho) rather than Jenkins. Thoughts, particularly about who puts up better numbers if they're both active and starting?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Nicholas Minnix
Yes, with the Jenkins release, James looks like the player to own as he's slotted into the weak side and should play every down to start the season. I'd keep an eye on Lee as he could eventually develop into a three-down player.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Saints probably Klein, Colts = no one, Raiders = Cory James

Unknown said...

Need a LB. Pick one: Mason Foster, AJ Klein, Cory James, Nick Vigil, Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks

Ryan Sitzmann said...


Eric Hamilton said...

Guru, love the site. I'm in a 2pt Solo, 1pt assist, 5pt sack, 6 pt int league. Current LB's T.Davis (CAR), J.Brown (LAC), D.Lee, J.Davis (DET), V.Burfict (CIN). With the cancellation of Miami/TP game, K.Lonzo & L.Timmons in Miami are available. Would you drop any of my current LB's for either or both of these guys long term?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Eric Hamilton
I'd drop Thomas Davis for Alonso.


Wow. What happened to Telvin Smith? Is Myles Jack the LB to own in JAX? I think they both played full snaps but the stats would have you think Smith was out to lunch. Thanks!

Ryan Sitzmann said...


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