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2017 IDP Draft Tiers -- LB

By Matt Schauf 6:08am EDT 8/29/17



They’re the staples of most IDP leagues.

Whether your scoring goes tackle heavy, balanced or even sack leaning, LBs are likely to supply the most consistent scoring. But that doesn’t mean you need to chase them early

Check these LB tiers and your MVP Board to start shaping your plan for where to target some key IDPs.


Luke Kuechly, Panthers

It’s OK if the concussions or the draft price scare you away from Kuechly. But when he’s on the field, no other fantasy LB touches him. Kuechly finished his 3 healthy seasons among the position’s top 8, including #1 and #2 rankings. The past 2 years, he led all LBs in fantasy points per game. (Philly’s Jordan Hicks topped him in some formats there in 2015.)


Kwon Alexander, Buccaneers

Burfict joined Alexander here until the league handed down the 5-game suspension. We’ll see if Burfict’s appeal can vault him back up. Alexander, meanwhile, led all LBs in total points last year after finishing 2015 among the top 12 in points per game as a rookie.


Bobby Wagner, Seahawks
Alec Ogletree, Rams
Lavonte David, Buccaneers

David has been showing out in preseason after a 2016 campaign that stands as a career outlier. It marked the 1st time that he tallied fewer than 139 tackles as a pro. Alexander’s emergence might lower David’s ceiling from its early-career heights, but he can make up for the tackles across the big-play categories amid an ascending defense.


Christian Kirksey, Browns
Telvin Smith, Jaguars

Kirksey and Smith should continue to collect plenty of tackles from their 4-3 weak-side slots while watching changes to the LB corps around them.


Ryan Shazier, Steelers
C.J. Mosley, Ravens
Sean Lee, Cowboys
Vontaze Burfict, Bengals
Jamie Collins, Browns
Lawrence Timmons, Dolphins
Benardrick McKinney, Texans
NaVorro Bowman, 49ers
Mark Barron, Rams
Deion Jones, Falcons
Jatavis Brown, Chargers
Reuben Foster, 49ers
Jerrell Freeman, Bears
Jordan Hicks, Eagles
Preston Brown, Bills

We nudged Bowman down the rankings because he's coming off the field in some passing sub packages, but he played in the nickel defense against the Vikings in the 3rd preseason game. So we're not too worried about his outlook. The veteran has contributed little in coverage even when healthy in recent seasons, and a bit more rest is probably good for him. But it does obviously lower his tackle ceiling. Burfict rebounds to this range after the appeal cut his suspension from 5 games to 3.

Otherwise, this tier presents a fun mix of still-solid vets and rising youngsters. Grabbing 2 LBs from this range for a team that starts 3+ would be a good idea. Preston Brown climbed to the bottom of this range with what HC Sean McDermott called a strong camp and preseason (which helped motivate the team to trade LB Reggie Ragland).


Khalil Mack, Raiders
Von Miller, Broncos

Mack’s and Miller’s values will depend heavily on how your scoring system treats sacks – and whether it includes any other pressure numbers. But both players are capable of delivering some big numbers even in more balanced-scoring setups that don’t favor sacks over tackles. Don’t overrate the names in tackle-heavy formats, but also don’t ignore them just because the scoring isn’t sack-heavy.

Brandon Marshall, Broncos
Eric Kendricks, Vikings
Kiko Alonso, Dolphins
Jarrad Davis, Lions
K.J. Wright, Seahawks
Ramik Wilson, Chiefs

Consider these LB3s with some upside. Brown’s role solidified with Reggie Ragland’s disappointing offseason and then trade to the Chiefs. I’m not worried about Ragland’s impact on Wilson’s outlook, though. Kansas City acquired him for just a 2019 fourth-round pick.

Foster’s range of potential outcomes includes outscoring teammate NaVorro Bowman. Foster has reportedly been the 3-down guy while Bowman has left in passing sub packages.


Sleepers

Justin Houston, Chiefs

Houston’s too accomplished to fit a traditional “sleeper” category, but he sits just 47th in Fantasy Pros’ expert consensus – with no ranker putting him higher than 28th as of this writing. Last time he was on the field for a full season, Houston racked up 22 sacks and finished 3rd among fantasy LBs even in balanced scoring formats. At the least, he’s a high-ceiling matchup play in all but the tackle-heaviest leagues.


Cory James, Raiders

Who’s going to make the tackles in Oakland? Someone will. James is by far the best bet to be a 3-down, non-edge LB for the Raiders. Malcolm Smith finished top 10 and then top 30 in the same role the past 2 years. You can wait until the end of your draft to stash James and see how high he can climb.


Nick Vigil, Bengals

Vigil gains some tackle upside if Burfict’s 5-game suspension holds up. More importantly, though, the 2nd-year strong-side LB looks like a 3-down player the whole way. He gobbled up tackles at Utah State, tallying 282 over just his final 2 seasons, including 31.5 for loss.


B.J. Goodson, Giants

Goodson has reportedly impressed DC Steve Spagnuolo with his coverage play, which should make the new starter a 3-down LB for a Giants D that hasn’t had 100% playing-time LBs the past 2 years. We don’t yet know how high his tackle ceiling rises behind a good D-line and in front of a good secondary. But you shouldn’t be afraid to snag him late and see.


Upside Rush LBs for Sack Leagues

Bud Dupree, Steelers
Chandler Jones, Cardinals
Robert Quinn, Rams
Bruce Irvin, Raiders
Whitney Mercilus, Texans
Vic Beasley, Falcons

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