2011 Notable IDP Free Agents: Linebackers

Untitled Document This is the 1st installment of a 3 part series in which I will take a look at the most notable IDP free agents of the 2011 season (the other two articles covering defensive linemen and defensive backs). This article will continue to be added to as the off-season progresses. For an example of what it will eventually look like, you can take a look at last season's 2010 Notable IDP Free Agents article.

I personally find it beneficial to be aware of the most important IDP free agents and track were they land in the off-season since it usually makes a big impact on their fantasy value.

If there are any players you would like to see added to the list. Just leave a comment and I will make sure to add them with some analysis when I get the time.


1. WLB James Anderson, Carolina Panthers, 27
*Re-signed by the Panthers (5 years @ $22 million) - 7/28/2011

This will be one of the more interesting off-season situations to watch. Many times with a new coach comes a new defensive scheme. However, it looks as though the Panthers are going to stick with a 4-3 base defense even with Ron Rivera as their new head coach. Anderson played very well in Thomas Davis' absence. With Davis also being a free agent, there's a good chance the Panthers will bring Anderson back. My gut is telling me they will sign both players and have them battle it out for the weak side linebacker spot with the loser going to the strong side.

2. MLB Stewart Bradley, Philadelphia Eagles, 27
*Signed by the Cardinals (5 years @ ?) - 7/30/11

I had high hopes for Bradley in 2010 as I thought he was poised for a breakout year. However, he just didn't seem like his 2008-self after suffering a concussion early in the year. It seemed as though the tackle opportunities were decent and he just wasn't capitalizing on them. After an injury sidelined him for the year late in the season, Jamar Chaney took over and seemed to finally produce in the way that many expected Bradley to produce.

My guess is that Bradley is re-signed and is moved to the strong side with Chaney staying in the middle. I would rather own Chaney than Bradley in dynasty leagues at this point. I think Chaney could turn out to be an IDP stud.

3. RILB Kevin Burnett, San Diego Chargers, 28
*Signed by the Dolphins (4 years @ $21 million, $9 million guaranteed) - 7/30/11

Burnett had one of the more under the radar fantasy performances of the 2010 season: 80 solo tackles, 15 assists, 2 INTs, and 6 sacks. He was by far the best fantasy performer on the Chargers defense and finally showed why the Cowboys drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft. He could prove to be a good bargain LB3 next season.

4. LILB Stephen Cooper, San Diego Chargers, 31
*Re-signed by the Chargers (1 year @ $880k) - 8/12/11

Cooper use to be one of my favorite late-round IDP picks in a lot of my fantasy drafts. However, it became apparent this year that he had lost a step or two. With talented linebacker Brandon Siler waiting behind him, I just don't see the Chargers bringing him back for another season. He will likely land with another team as a backup and have that type of fantasy value.

5. WLB Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers, 27
*Re-signed by the Panthers (5 years @ ?) - 7/27/11

Davis is probably the second most talented player on the Panthers defense behind Jon Beason. But it's tough for players to come back from one torn ACL, let alone two. It will be interesting to see how well Davis recovers from his injury. Only time will shed light on this situation. I wouldn't put a ton of stock in Davis' value moving forward though.

6. WLB Justin Durant, Jacksonville Jaguars, 25
*Signed by the Lions (2 years @ ?) - 7/28/2011

JD was one of my top sleepers heading into the 2010 season. However, despite his flashes of above-average play, he was largely mediocre for a majority of the season. Plus, he struggled with injury issues. I'm betting he doesn't return to Jacksonville and that he will likely land as a backup somewhere. His fantasy value isn't looking to promising for the future.

7. SLB Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings, 28

*Re-signed by the Vikings (1 year $10.091 million) - 3/4/2011

My boy from Iowa showed this year why he is the best strong side linebacker in the NFL. He was all over the field every game. He's an old school player with a non-stop motor who has one of the best defensive lines in the league to offer him plenty of protection. The hiring of Leslie Frazier signals to me that the Vikings will place an emphasis on defense and that Greenway will consequently be re-signed. Look for Greenway to be in the 15-20 range for fantasy linebackers next season.

8. ROLB Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs, 27
*Re-signed by the Chiefs (5 years @ $60 million, $35 million guaranteed) - 8/6/2011

Let me give you a math lesson: Hali = the Chiefs pass rush. He's become better with each passing year and is invaluable in leagues such as ESPN that classify him as a DE (I took him in the last round in one of my ESPN leagues and he paid big dividends). I fully expect the Chiefs to bring Hali back and for him to post double digits sacks next season.

9. RILB David Harris, New York Jets, 26
Re-signed by the Jets (4 years @ $36 million, $29.5 million guaranteed) - 8/6/2011

Is David Harris a bit overrated? Perhaps. But he is an integral part of the staunch Jets defense and is therefore almost absolutely going to be retained for the 2011 season. I find Harris to be one of the more inconsistent fantasy linebackers but because of his mixture of tackle and big play ability, he has the potential to have great games. However, after a season in which he only posted 69 solo tackles, he's more in the upper LB3 range for me.

10. RILB D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland Browns, 27
*Re-signed by the Browns (1 year @ $4.5 million) - 3/3/2011

It remains to be seen whether or not Jackson will be a Cleveland Brown when the 2011 season rolls around (if it rolls around). I personally think he's one of the more underrated linebackers in the league both from a fantasy and real life perspective. I think he will be a solid fantasy contributor wherever he ends up even though Cleveland is one of the better situations for him.

11. LILB Rocky McIntosh, Washington Redskins, 28
*Re-signed by the Redskins (1 year @ ?) - 8/4/2011

McIntosh isn't expected to be re-signed by the Redskins. He's actually a pretty decent fit for the 3-4 system, but Washington wasn't happy that he skipped all of the 2010 workouts and he did struggle a bit to adapt to the new system. His value is strictly depended upon where he lands in the off-season.

12. MLB Paul Posluszny, Buffalo Bills, 26
*Signed by the Jaguars (6 years @ $42 million) - 7/27/11

"Poz" is one of the best linebackers in the NFL in my opinion. He plays on a defense which gives him very little protection upfront, however, through his excellent football IQ and ability to shed blocks, he finished 2nd in tackles beyond Jerod Mayo. Posluszny will likely be re-signed and remains a top 5 fantasy linebacker.

13. MLB Barrett Ruud, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27
*Signed by the Titans (1 year @ $4 milion) - 7/31/2011

All things considered, Ruud underperformed for the year. He seemed to have trouble shedding blocks from interior offensive lineman and had trouble in coverage. With the Bucs increasing their Tampa-2 looks, the MLB will be expected to excel in coverage. With this being said, it will be interesting to see if Ruud is brought back. Regardless, I don't consider him a top 5 or 10 linebacker anymore.

14. WLB Clint Session, Indianapolis Colts, 26
*Signed by the Jaguars (5 years @ $30 million) - 7/29/11

Don't get me wrong, Session is a solid NFL linebacker, but the Colts have pretty darn good talent at the outside linebacker position. Pat Angerer, not only has a baller last name, but is a legit NFL talent and could easily fill in for Session on the weak side. Judging by the way the Colts typically handle the WLB position, I'm guessing that Session won't be back next season and that Angerer slides over to fill his position. Thus making Angerer one of the best dynasty stashes.

15. MLB Dhani Jones, Cincinnati Bengals, 32
This 6th round pick out of Michigan has made quite the career for himself. He's had a solid 10 seasons in the league and had perhaps his best season as a pro last year. Marvin Lewis likes his leadership abilities and with Lewis being retained, it looks probable that Jones will return as the Bengals MLB and that Rey Maualuga owners will have to wait another season for him to "inherit the throne."

16. MLB Stephen Tulloch, Tennessee Titans, 26
*Signed by the Lions (1 year @ $3.25 million) - 7/31/11

Can you say beast? Tulloch put up 111 solos and 48 assists this year and became the on-the-field leader of the Titans defense. Tennessee is very likely to bring him back. I don't think his 2010 season was a fluke and I expect top 5-10 numbers again next season from the 6th year player out of North Carolina State.

17. LOLB Lamarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers, 26

*Re-signed by the Steelers (6 years @ $61.5 million) - 8/6/11

Woodley has been a solid performer for the Steelers, but the Steelers do an excellent job of molding their players into great linebackers and they have a very solid talent in Jason Worlids waiting in the wings. I would expect the Steelers to bring "Wood" back, but it also wouldn't surprise me if they let him go and choose to bring Worlids along.

18. WLB Mike Peterson, Atlanta Falcons, 34
*Re-signed by the Falcons (undisclosed contract) - 8/10/11

I would suspect that Mike Peterson's time as an NFL starter is about over. He was clearly outperformed by Curtis Lofton, Stephen Nicholas, and rookie Sean Weatherspoon in 2010. Peterson's expected departure is good news for Sean Weatherspoon owners as he is the likely replacement on the weak side and should put up solid LB2 numbers.

19. MLB Kirk Morrison, Jacksonville Jaguars, 28

*Signed by the Bills (1 year @ ?) - 8/24/11

Morrison's move to Jacksonville revealed what I always kind of expected about him: he was an average NFL talent in a great fantasy situation in Oakland. He played decently well for the Jaguars but played sporadically in nickel packages which hurt his overall fantasy value. I think we've seen Morrison's ceiling as a fantasy linebacker.

Last Updated: August 29, 2011

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