Here’s the latest in our series on 2016 IDP tiers and this time we’re going great guns…linebacker tiers! If you missed it, here are the links to our Defensive Tackle tiers and our Safety tiers. And of course don’t forget to check out our IDP top 100 rankings. So, with no further adieu, let’s jump in and talk about dynasty rankings for linebackers. Here we consider not only production but age, so that whether you’re looking for trades or doing an IDP startup you can consider long term solutions as well as short-term fixes.
Tier 1 – Elite
Luke Kuechly, CAR – A 10 point per game producer in standard scoring and he’s only 25. He’s an easy first LB off the board, a great MLB on a great defense. His instincts are second to none.
Lavonte David, TB – Only 26 and playing at a very high level for several years, David should be around for a while and continue to produce at a high level.
Telvin Smith, JAX – Small but ferocious, Smith surprised many people who didn’t believe he could succeed at this size (223 lbs.). Only the Jack factor (as in Myles) here can slow him down.
Alec Ogletree, LAR – Injured last year for most of the season but elite when he was on the field, only 24 and should be elite for many years to come with a great D-line in front of him.
Tier 2 – Solid Starters
Navorro Bowman, SF – Back from injury he played to a top 10 IDP finish, going on 28 but that’s prime years for LBs.
Jordan Hicks, PHI – Showed flashes of brilliance his rookie year before getting injured. A bit of a risk with little performance to go on, but could be elite status soon if 2016 goes well.
Bobby Wagner, SEA – The rock in the middle of Seattle’s defense. Only 25 and has shown quality starter, yet not elite production to date. Solid LB1 pick though.
Jamie Collins, NE – Came into his own last year and would have finished higher in the rankings if not for injury. At 26 if he stays healthy, could be an elite target too.
CJ Mosley, BAL – Solid but unspectacular, though the solid is a very high solid! only 23 and already the leader of this defense.
Mychal Kendricks, PHI – Will compete for tackles with Hicks but still holds his own with great athleticism and movement. Only 25 but missed some games last year too.
Tier 3 – Second Level Starters and High Potential Rookies
Paul Posloszny, JAX – So sad, Myles Jack will take over soon but you probably have one more year of elite production from the Poz in 2016.
DeAndre Levy, DET – 29 this year and coming back from injury though when he’s on the field he’s produced.
Myles Jack, JAX – Will take over in the middle in 2017 but will find the field somewhere in 2016 as long as he’s healthy.
Sean Lee, DAL – Oft injured and 29 but when he’s on the field he’s hard to stop.
Erik Kendricks, MIN – Young and in the middle and still developing, will be interested to see if he can stay healthy and put it all together this season.
Kwon Alexander, TB – Suspended to begin 2016 so there is risk here, but showed vengeance on the field as a rookie.
Deone Buchanon, ARI – Yes, he’s a former safety. Yes, he’s an elite producer even as an LB. This defense puts him in position to succeed and he does on a regular basis, don’t shy away.
Reggie Ragland, BUF – Will start for Buffalo right off the bat and is more athletic than CJ Mosley coming out of college, what’s not to love?
Jaylon Smith, DAL – Injury risk of course, but if you can get him in the 3rd or 4th in a rookie draft it’s worth it at that point. His upside is unlimited if he comes back to full health.
Darron Lee, NYJ – Underrated LB with great athleticism. The Jets plan to stick him in the middle of their defense and let him chase down tackles. May not end up being elite, but solid LB1 soon.
Justin Houston, KC – Great NFL LB, just a quality starter in IDP though.
Ryan Shazier, PIT – Only 23 but lots of injuries so hard to say if he’ll develop.
Khalil Mack, Oak – Great athlete and a terror around the corner but has yet to put enough tackles together to move up the board.
Thomas Davis, CAR – Age is gaining on him but quality tier 3 veteran here.
Mark Barron, LAR – Another former safety will clean up when Ogletree can’t.
Stephone Anthony, NOS – Hurt by the move to SLB this year but long term much better than short term with him.
Preston Brown, BUF – Has had flashes of brilliance but still finished as 27th LB in standard IDP scoring, young with upside potential though.
KJ Wright, SEA – Solid veteran and at 26 in his prime, but is overshadowed by Wagner.
Deion Jones, ATL – Will most likely start as a rookie or will overtake Paul Worrilow soon.
Tier 4 – LB3 Veterans
D’Qwell Jackson, IND – At 32 age is catching up, but still finished in the top 10 last year so…
Malcolm Smith, OAK – Just don’t see him being the long term answer but finished just outside of top 10 last year in standard scoring.
Derrick Johnson, KC – Another very good NFL LB name but nothing special in IDP world.
Jerrell Freeman, IND – Turned 30 but finished in top 15 last year, so could definitely do it again.
Jelani Jenkins, MIA – Injured last year and stats suffered but should bounce back in 2016.
Lawrence Timmons, PIT – Is what he is at this point, turned 30 in May.
Danny Trevathan, CHI -Move to the Bears could help or could hurt, just don’t know.
Vontaze Burfict, CIN – This man is just crazy, I don’t think he’s long for the NFL to be honest!
Brandon Marshall, Den – Man in the middle in this awesome D, but never a big tackle guys so gets overshadowed by the others.
James Laurinaitis, NO – On his last leg but is getting inserted into the middle for another year or two.
Tier 5 – Rookies to buy and hold
Josh Perry, SD – May not start right away but most likely better than Teo.
Antonio Morrison, IND – A vicious animal who will get on the field with this milquetoast defense.
Blake Martinez, GB – Starts at ILB in sub packages but good enough to be full time in the future.
Scooby Wright, CLE – Not athletic at all but college production is hard to deny.
Joe Schobert, CLE – If he plays inside, he can be a steal.
Kentrell Brothers, MIN – Just not sure where he fits yet but quality.
De’Vontre Campbell, ATL – Most likely to start at WLB as a rookie and is a great sleeper pick.
Nick Kwiatkowski, CHI – Will start on special teams but could develop in two/three years.