2019 Buy Low Linebackers
Being in an Individual Defensive Players (IDP) Dynasty League it’s very important to have as much talent at the linebacker position as possible. Linebackers routinely score the most points of any defensive players you own. However, it’s very important that we choose the correct Linebackers and there field positioning and snap counts have a direct effect on their weekly & seasonally fantasy value.
Before we jump into the top LBs you should be targeting this off-season let’s first figure out which LBs you should be avoiding and how defensive scheme can impact a player’s productions. Now I’m not gonna tell there are no exceptions to the rule but for the most part, in fantasy try to stay away from the “strong side” or “Sam” Linebackers. The “Sam” terminology comes from the “Mike, Will & Sam” which are used to describe the LBs that are in a 4-3 defensive system. The Sam LB not only usually comes off the field when the defense is in a Nickel formation but the Sam LB usually doesn’t see the same amount of snaps per game as the other two LBs do. Also, the Strong Side Linebacker is up against the extra blocking action of the Offensive Line. This is where the offense will put extra Tight Ends or other blockers to run plays, hence the strong side. The Mike or Middle Linebackers and Weak or Will Linebackers see a lot more action on a one on one basis, this has a direct effect on their fantasy value. These LBs are usually racking up fantasy points because of there need to be the last stance against stopping an advancing offense, whether it be run or pass.
When operating in a 3-4, in general, I’m looking to invest in the two Inside Linebackers over the two Outside Linebackers that form the 3-4 defense. The Outside Linebackers usually line up at the line of scrimmage and basically become edge rushers which is great in the Defensive Line (DL) department but not so good when you are looking to invest in a player that gives you back LB level production. Now that we have gotten those two outside LBs out of the way let’s touch on the two inside linebackers. Your Inside Linebackers tend to stay on the field all game long and really cover half the field so both are great in racking up tackles which means fantasy points! The same thing applies to the safeties and Corners beyond the Linebackers. So be careful when scouting rookies and making trades, be sure you know what position your acquiring.
So now that we have a better understanding of how a team’s defensive scheme can place a cap on a players tackle and playmaking potential, let’s dive into which LBs you should be trying to buy low this off-season!
Kenny Young (PPF Rank 67)
The Baltimore Raven fourth round, 2018 draft pick, had an outstanding rookie year and really shined while on the field. The Middle Linebacker still grasping the system and rookie woes probably cost him some snaps while backing up the veteran Patrick Onswuasor (PPF Rank 40). I look for that snap share to start changing in Young’s favor this season. The rookie seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time and made the most of his time on the field.
Josey Jewell (PPF Rank 54)
The Denver Broncos landed them a Stud Linebacker with this Iowa native. The 6’2” 234lb Linebacker, has all the goods to take his game to the next level. Patiently waiting for his turn Jewell has been a cool character while quietly taking over at the helm. With the exception of a high ankle sprain, Jewell has been a force when called upon. Denver has simply been patient with there prospect while allowing Brandon Marshall (PPF Rank 48) to show him the ropes. The Broncos have decided they are ready to trust Josey to handle the workload and have opted to not renew Marshall’s contract, giving the Iowa Hawkeye the key.
Raekwon McMillan (PPF Rank 55)
After missing his entire Rookie year due to an ACL tear, Raekwon really broke out last season. McMillian had 69 sacks to go along with a couple of forced fumbles. The Miami Dolphins moved Kiko Alonso (PPF Rank 82) over to the Weakside and put the 23-year-old in the Middle he put up respectable fantasy points, for his breakout year and I look for him to build off of that campaign moving forward.
Reuben Foster (PPF Rank 89)
Now Reuben has had some off-field issues and is facing a suspension but if you are in need of some Linebacker help he’s been a force when in the field for the 49ers. San Francisco decided to move on from Foster but that didn’t stop the Washington Redskins from quickly picking him up. The Middle Linebacker is a Monster when on the field in 2017 he only played in nine games and had 59 tackles and last year six games and had 25 tackles. If the 24 year old can keep his composure off the field and stay in the game he’ll be a steal for a team that doesn’t mind making a roster spot for the young Stud
I expect these guys to really put up respectable fantasy points in 2019, and shouldn’t be that hard to acquire depending on the league. Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how the LBer position is valued among fantasy owners get on the waiver wire and make some trades to help push your team to a championship in 2019.