IDP – 52 is the Mike!
Welcome back to our IDP series looking at specific positions and players that should be on your radar. This week is the engine room, the home of the LB’s. A position that requires vision, pace, leadership and physicality. These guys have to do it all, they rush the passer, block the gaps and pick up receivers, whilst some call the defensive plays. They are multi-talented and the best will score big in IDP Fantasy football.
The NFL is currently blessed with some amazing players at the LB position but a few elite talents stand out. T.J. Watt of the Steelers is a one-man wrecking ball and a big scoring player in IDP. His Pass rush skills allow him to get to QB’s time and again. Last year, he sacked the QB a league-leading 22.5 times – 4 more than his nearest rival. Watt is tipped by many to have a better career than his brother JJ. That is some high praise indeed!
One thing to watch is where he is listed as a position. Some leagues may have him a DE but I would still want him on my roster. Since writing this article TJ Watt was having another great performance against the Bengals but is now out with a torn Pec but could return this season. With Dynasty I would still be keen to pick TJ up as the long-term advantages outweigh the loss of x games this season
Another great talent is Devin White, entering his 4th year in the league he has posted strong Fantasy scores despite the star-studded roster around him and looks to get better. He is a tackling machine and is a name I would look to take as many shares as possible.
Roquan Smith of the Bears is now the de facto leader of the Bears Defence and despite his contract issues, he is still a player I would want on my roster. He has recently been moved to the weak side to exploit his explosive and athletic style by the Bears in the hope of even more big plays. In his first 4 seasons, he racked up 347 tackles, 176 assists, 5 int’s and 14 sacks.
Micah Parsons, last year’s Defensive rookie of the year took the NFL by storm and burst into the elite of the IDP world. He was a formidable force in year 1, with 13 sacks, and has pass rush ability from all parts of the line. Yes, year 2 might be different but he showed in week 1 sacking Tom Brady twice that he intended to keep pounding.
Getting older should mean slowing down. Not to Bobby Wagner, entering his 11th season after signing for the Rams. The former member of the Legion of Boom shows no signs of regression so far. His consistency speaks for itself and in this star-studded Rams D he could pick up a second ring.
Jordyn Brooks of Seattle has emerged as a Solid LB over the last 12 months and takes on a greater role with Wagner now at the Rams and had a solid first week against the Broncos so definitely a younger player I would want to have on my IDP Roster.
Shaquille Lenard is a player that is so close to being in the Elite section but has been held back by various injuries since he entered the league in 2018, the Maniac is a tackling machine and the heartbeat of the Colt’s defence. If he is available then I would definitely look to add him to my roster.
Other LB’s that will give you week-in-and-week-out performances are Eric Kendricks, Fred Warner, Foyesade Oluokun and De’Vondre Campbell.
Like the DE’s consistency is key when looking at starters at LB. Guys who will rack up tackles and sacks and still have the occasional incredible week. Von Miller moved to Buffalo in search of his 3rd Ring, and should maybe have a spot in the Top Performers section. but we need to see how his roles develop in the new system but with week 1 in the book he managed to get to his old QB in Stafford twice so if your win now he maybe the guy who takes you to glory.
Nick Bolten is an example of a guy I would start most weeks, he is a talented tackler against the run and pass plays and his rookie year saw him make 70 tackles and 42 assists whilst deflecting 3 passes. He has established himself as a 3 down back and is likely to continue to improve with experience.
Shaquil Barrett, since moving to the Bucs has been a starter, with more focus on rushing the QB in a star-studded Bucs Defense. With 37.5 sacks over the first 3 years in Tampa, his weekly scores can win you games.
Khalil Mack, recently traded to the Chargers, looks fit and healthy after last year’s issues. With the focus now on Bosa and others this will allow the fifty duce to get back to what he is good at – sacking QB’s
Others players to look for as dependable players would be Cole Holcomb, Logan Wilson and Denzel Perryman. Myles Jack might see an extended role with Watts’ Injury. And don’t forget Kazir White, Rashan Evans, Anthony Walker, Al-Shaair, and Bradley Chubb. The secret here is to look at tackles and sacks. Some Defences will get more playing time if the Offense is struggling to keep them off the field.
It was an exciting NFL draft for defensive talent. But not all will be as dominant in the NFL as they had been at college. Many rookies struggle with the transition due to speed and pure talent against them. However, there are some highly tipped LB’s on show this year trying to emulate the likes of Parsons last season. Devin Lloyd, taken by the Jags at 27 was a 3-down back at college and coming to replace Myles Jack. He has an opportunity to see plenty of snaps. He is mobile and physical and one to watch.
Christian Harris of the Texans, once fit after a soft tissue injury could be one to watch closely on development. He is quick and likes to tackle. So the Crimson Tide Blitzer could be one to stash away as he develops. You should also keep an eye on the development of players such as Quay Walker and Nakaboe Dean. They will both have high ceilings once they find their feet.
Another one to consider as a long term investment is Malcolm Rodriguez. He has entertained many this training camp and looks to be growing in his role in the Lions this season.
As ever there are streaming options out there that can fill gaps in the short term. There’s the likes of Kyle Van Noy, now at the Chargers. Or Za’Darius Smith, who missed most of last season but started well against the Packers, his old team. There’s also Leighton Vander Esch and Chandler Jones. Keep an eye on the waiver wire as there will be some bargains out there.
Next up we look at the Corners and Safeties
Mike – @bigrando99