For IDP leagues, finding high tackle linebackers for your team is a critical part of managing your defense. Inside linebackers in 3-4 defense and middle linebackers in 4-3 defense are your most lucrative positions traditionally. Weakside linebacker in a 4-3 can also be a great position. Typically outside linebackers in a 3-4 aren’t as good in fantasy football because of they’re coverage and rushing responsibilities on passing downs. Also, strongside linebackers in a 4-3 often come off the field on passing downs. There are always players that break these molds but for rookie linebackers that have yet to see the field, choosing ones that fit the most lucrative fantasy positions is the first step to keeping a constant flow of high tackling talent coming through your roster. Here is my list of 2017 IDP Rookie Linebacker Rankings given where people will play and the talent that they possess.
Potential Elite IDP Tier
- Reuben Foster, ILB, SF – This is certainly a high risk, high reward play. Foster has everything you want to see for a 3-down ILB in the Niners scheme. He’ll be the consensus first off the board in most drafts, the only concern here is injury and how that shoulder holds up.
- Jarred Davis, MLB, DET – Davis has been named MLB for the Lions, moving Tahir Whitehead to the weakside. That lowers Whiteheads value and increases Davis’ both in the short and long term.
- Haason Reddick, ILB, ARI – The Cards are playing him at ILB in current rookie practices which bodes very well for his fantasy IDP value.
- Zach Cunningham, ILB, HOU – Cunningham is a 3-down player and will thrive in this 304 scheme.
- Raekwon McMillan, MLB, MIA – While his placement hasn’t been confirmed yet, He was drafted to eventually be the starting MLB in Miami’s 4-3 scheme. It’s possible that Lawrence Timmons or Kiko Alonso start there this season but by 2018 look for McMillan to take the reins.
- Alex Anzalone, MLB, NO – Anzalone is an unknown to most because he was oft-injured at Florida and did not become a household name. That said, he was a 5-star recruit and when he was on the field he showed excellent instincts. He’s not being drafted in most 5 round rookie IDP drafts, so you can get him very cheap and if he earns the MLB position he was drafted for, be an excellent steal.
High Upside, Poor Position IDP Tier
All of these players went as OLBs in 3-4 defenses. All of them are talented defenders but went to positions that don’t historically produce elite IDP scoring:
- TJ Watt – OLB, PIT
- Tim Williams – OLB, BAL
- Ryan Anderson – OLB, WAS
Mid-Range Upside in 4-3 Schemes
- Kendell Beckwith, SLB, TB – The strong side in the 4-3 scheme isn’t a high tackle position and is typically taken off the field for passing downs, which occurs more and more these days. With Kwon Alexander manning the middle, Beckwith’s fantasy value is small.
- Duke Riley, SLB, ATL – Riley is in the same situation as Beckwith. With Deion Jones gobbling up tackles, Riley will have little impact.
- Elijah Lee, OLB, MIN – More of a depth piece for the Vikings.