2017 IDP Draft Rankings - Linebackers (Redraft)

Listed below is a sample of my 2017 Linebacker Rankings for IDP Redraft Leagues. I will update these sample rankings periodically during 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 2017 IDP 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, more 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. Zach Brown, Jarrad Davis) 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. Jatavis Brown). 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.

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

Tier 1
1Luke Kuechly LB - CAR (11)
Over the span of five seasons, Kuechly has firmly cemented himself as one of the league's premier defensive players. He's been the first fantasy linebacker taken in most drafts over the last couple years and that isn't likely to change in 2017. Health is the only risk with Kuechly as he's missed nine games over the last two seasons, six of those coming last year after suffering a serious concussion in week 11.
2Kwon Alexander LB - TB (11)
Alexander led all linebackers in fantasy points scored last year offering owners an attractive mix of strong tackle production and a handful of big plays. Kwon tends to have a higher week-to-week variance in box score production than the other linebackers in this tier, relying on three 14+ solo tackle games in 2016; however, his overall production falls in line with the other upper echelon linebackers.
3Bobby Wagner LB - SEA (6)
Wagner led all linebackers in tackles last year with 169; however, that total was inflated by a Seattle stat crew that disproportionately issues out assists - a fact evidenced by Wagner's ridiculous 83 in the category. This represses Wagner's solo tackle production (he's never compiled more than 86 in a season) and ultimately hurts his overall value in standard scoring IDP formats that award solo tackles at a 2:1 rate to assisted tackles. If you are in a league that awards equally for both types of tackles, there is a strong argument for taking Wagner is the #1 overall fantasy linebacker.
Tier 2
4Alec Ogletree LB - LAR (8)
Ogletree doesn't have the same type of big play upside as some of the other linebackers in this draft range, but he's one of fantasy's top tackle producers in a very fruitful role. He has the size to play inside in the Rams' new 3-4 scheme. Fellow linebacker Mark Barron is undersized for a linebacker and may struggle in his new role, leaving even more tackles for Ogletree this year.
5Vontaze Burfict LB - CIN (6)Target
When on the field, Burfict is undoubtedly one of fantasy's top producers. He was top 3 in terms of fantasy points per snap last year, racking up over 100 total tackles despite playing less than 700 snaps. His concussion history and propensity for illegal hits make him a very risky bet to play a full season, but his upside is too hard to ignore.
6C.J. Mosley LB - BAL (10)
Mosley had perhaps his best year in terms of on-the-field play in 2016. Unfortunately, his fantasy production did not follow suit as the third year player out of Alabama set career lows in virtually every relevant fantasy category. Zach Orr was largely responsible (along with a shoulder injury) for siphoning off a good portion of Mosley's opportunity and with him retired, it's a reasonable assumption that Mosley's numbers will rebound to 2014-2015 levels. He carries a certain level uncertainty but should still be viewed as a LB1.
7Jerrell Freeman LB - CHI (9)Target
Freeman was sneakily one of the league's best linebackers last year excelling in both run defense and pass coverage. He missed four games due to a suspension but still finished with 87 solo tackles. With Danny Trevathan a PUP candidate to start the season, Freeman has a good shot at being the Bears lone tackle threat on defense that is going to be on the field at a near league-leading rate. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio rarely blitzes his linebackers so don't expect many big plays from Freeman in that department, but he has a solid chance at fnishing with 100+ solo tackles. 
8Jamie Collins LB - CLE (9)
Collins saw a 20% jump in fantasy production after being traded to the Browns in week 9 of the regular season last year. Cleveland used Collins as a Swiss-Army Man on defense playing him outside in base packages and inside in subpackages. This type of usage will create some swings in week-to-week production but gives Collins serious overall upside. He's one of the few players in the league capable of 95+ solo tackles and 5+ sacks.
9Sean Lee LB - DAL (6)
After years of struggling with injuries, Lee was finally able to stay healthy and rewarded owners with a career-high 144 total tackles across 15 games. With Barry Church now in Jacksonville, Lee has less competition for tackles than ever and should continue to rack up monster tackle numbers as long as he can stay on the field.
10Jatavis Brown LB - LAC (9)
Brown, a fifth round selection last year, impressively took over the starting reigns at inside linebacker as a rookie and posted some monster games early in the year. Injuries hampered his overall production in the back half of the season, but he figures to be the centerpiece of the linebacking crew moving forward. He's an explosive player capable of strong tackle production and 4-5 sacks a season.


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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: June 27, 2017
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11 comments :

Fanatickle said...

Any Updates on the rankings?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Fanatickle
I probably won't update these rankings much as they are meant to serve as a sample for what you receive in the draft guide (which is updated regularly). I will probably update these sample rankings 1-2 more times this year.

mental crawlspace said...

Hey Guru, loving the site for years, who would you keep, I can keep 4: 2DL 3LB 2DB 1IPD FLEX, not a big play league sacks are 3 points, assisted tackles are a 1 point as are tackles

Neal, Bosa, Kwon, Deion Jones, Mosley, Burfict, Bowman, Jatavis Brown...

I know most managers are keeping either a DB or DL with 3 LBs. I'm leaning towards Bosa, Kwon, Mosley, Deion Jones but I'm not confident.

Thanks for what you do!

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@mental crawlspace
I'd keep Bosa, Kwon, Burfict, and Jones. I don't trust Mosley quite as much long-term.

Harry H said...

Who do u like better Klein or Correa and any other underrated 3 down lb out there?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Harry H
I like Correa slightly better. BJ Goodson is probably my top three-down LB that is flying under the radar.

Darryle Moody said...

Ryan, was wondering if you could help me pick the (1) LB who has the most upside this year: Darren Lee, Avory Williams, David Harris, Deon Bucannon, Justin Houston, or Myles Jack? Thanks Ryan!

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Darryle Moody
I think Lee has the most upside. The tackle opportunity will definitely be there if he can just take advantage and improve his on-the-field play.

Riedle11 said...

Sell out.

Darryle Moody said...

Ryan, I need to pick up a LB with miami and tampa bay being reschedule. I have the option between Darren Lee (NYJ) or Hasson Riddeck

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Darryle Moody
Close call there. I'm going with Lee because a) he may be the better long-term pickup for this year and b) he's playing in Buffalo which has been super friendly stat-wise to defenders.

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