2020 IDP Rankings - Linebackers (Redraft)

Listed below is a sample of my 2020 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 2020 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. Devin Bush, Christian Kirskey) 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. Fred Warner). 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 = 1.5 points
Assist = 0.75 points
Tackles for Loss = 2 points
Sack = 4 points
Interception = 5 points
Forced Fumble = 4 points
Fumble Recovery = 4 points
Pass Deflection = 1.5 point
Defensive TD = 6 points
Safeties = 2 points

Tier 1

1Darius Leonard LB - IND (7), +0 vs. ECR 
Leonard is widely considered to be, not only the #1 overall fantasy LB, but the #1 overall IDP pick in fantasy this year - and for good reason. He's a top-notch contributor in every defensive category with no real threat on the team to siphon away production. You can lock in 85-90 solos, 50 assists, 4-6 sacks, and several other big plays for Leonard.

Tier 2

2Bobby Wagner LB - SEA (6), +0 vs. ECR 
Wagner has consistently dominated the box scores since entering the league in 2012 and he showed little signs of slowing down last year as he compiled a ridiculous 159 total tackles (73 assists). The only thing holding him out of contention from the top tier at his position is his less than ideal home stat crew who ranked towards the bottom in terms of "generosity" in standard scoring leagues due to their assist-heavy scoring lean.

3Blake Martinez LB - NYG (11), +2 vs. ECR 
Martinez took full advantage of the extreme lack of tackle competition in Green Bay and strung together three straight 90+ solo tackle seasons. He finds himself in a similar situation competition-wise with his new team (the Giants) and should be able to continue his tackle streak in the Big Apple.

4Cory Littleton LB - LV (6), -1 vs. ECR 
Despite going undrafted, Littleton emerged as one of the Rams' most important defensive playmakers over the last two seasons and parlayed that into a significant payday with the Raiders in the offseason. He'll play on the weak side in Las Vegas' 4-3 scheme and should have no problem racking up tackles in healthy amounts given his main tackle competition is career reserve player Nick Kwiatkoski.

5Joe Schobert LB - JAC (7), -1 vs. ECR 
Target
Schobert had a career year in 2019 compiling an impressive 92/43 tackle line to go along with four interceptions. Jacksonville was an ideal landing spot for the 26-year old former Jack Lambert award winner. Despite Myles Jack severely underperforming in the role, the Jaguars MLB spot has huge fantasy potential as witnessed by the fantasy production of Paul Posluszny, Telvin Smith, and even Donald Payne recently. Payne, a virtual unknown in NFL circles, posted ridiculous tackle lines of 6-7, 7-8, 11-2, and 9-7 in Weeks 13-16 last year. This said, I've very excited to see what a tackling-machine like Schobert can do in this role.

6Jaylon Smith LB - DAL (10), +0 vs. ECR 
Although there was some on-the-field regression from Smith last year, it was arguably his best fantasy season to date. With Leighton Vander Esch underperforming and battling through a serious neck injury, Jaylon was able to post LB1 numbers. Smith's ability to ascend to the next tier of fantasy linebackers will be dependent on how well LVE return's from injury. That aside, he should still be a fairly safe pick within the top 8 at his position.

Tier 3

7Jordan Hicks LB - ARI (8), +2 vs. ECR 
Hicks was a player I targeted in all my leagues last year and he paid dividends with 148 total tackles (93 solo). Additionally, he was one of the league's most consistent week-to-week producers, only having two weeks all year that I would consider below average. Although he played a full season in 2019 (first time in his career), he still poses some injury risk and with the Cardinals upgrading both of their other linebacker spots, Hicks gets bumped down a few slots in the rankings. However, he's still worth a look as a low-end LB1.

8Zach Cunningham LB - HOU (8), +5 vs. ECR 
Cunningham has continued to improve with each passing year and he took a big leap forward last year registering 100 solo tackles and 42 assists to go along with two sacks. Teammate Bernardrick McKinney's skillset and utilization doesn't really pose a threat to Cunningham's production, so we should expect similar production to last year.

9Devin Bush LB - PIT (8), +7 vs. ECR 
Target
Despite posting 110 total tackles, 4 FFs, and 2 INTs, Bush's rookie season was largely considered to be a disappointment from a fantasy perspective. To be fair, the Steelers took a conservative approach with the 21-year old and restricted his playing in certain subpackages which limited his opportunity. With a year under his belt in the defense, I expect the team to give Bush an every-down role and his numbers should surely rise as a result. If he can better capitalize on his pass-rushing opportunities, Bush has a shot at top 5 LB production in most fantasy formats.

10Roquan Smith LB - CHI (11), -2 vs. ECR 
A holdout and preseason injury caused Smith to come out of the gates fairly slow last season. He started to pickup steam in the second half but was ultimately derailed by a season-ending torn pectoral injury in December. All signs put to him being ready for the start of the regular season. The 23-year old will have a good shot at a bounceback LB1 season in 2020.

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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 1, 2020
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