I’m the type of fantasy owner that holds off as long as I can before drafting linebackers. I stay away from gambling on repeat production at an unstable position. The safer route is to stack your offense and build quality depth. Because linebacker is such a physically demanding position, I tend to target youth. I take the Hugh Hefner approach to drafting linebackers, I’m always looking for newer-younger models. Khalil Mack will be on the minds of most IDP players so I didn’t put him in this list. I’m looking for young 3-down linebackers with the opportunity to make an impact.
The Steelers are known for having a rich tradition of linebackers. Spending a first-round pick on Ryan Shazier caught my attention. Some analysts believe Shazier lacks leg drive and will struggle with the physicality of playing in the NFL. The Steelers track record paired with Shazier’s athleticism makes me a believer. Dick Lebeau is still a tremendous football mind and will find ways to fit Shazier in his defense. Lawrence Timmons is still a solid player, but Shazier’s physical gifts should help elevate the Steelers front-7.
Cardinals MLB Kevin Minter is a 2nd year player that has the opportunity to take a job and run with it. Darryl Washington is gone for the season with a drug suspension and Karlos Dansby has joined the Browns. There’s an opportunity for MInter to step into a 3-down role in the middle of the Cardinals defense. A lack of surrounding playmakers gives Minter the opportunity to rack up a high number of tackles.
Zach Brown should be a monster in the Titans revamped defense led by Coordinator Ray Horton. Brown is a 3rd year player that is best known for having 2 pick-six in the season finale in 2012. The previous regime didn’t view Brown in high regard. I expect Horton to make Brown the centerpiece of his defense. Horton is a tremendous defensive mind that will get the most out of Brown.
Bears MLB Jon Bostic is another player to keep track of this summer. D.J. Williams has played well in spurts throughout his career, the problem has been injuries. Betting on Williams being able to stay healthy isn’t a wise choice. Bostic looked lost at times during his rookie season, but with a year under his belt could possibly take over the middle in the Windy City.
Rookie 5th rd pick Lamin Barrow out of LSU is another IDP player to track this summer. Will Barrow get reps in training camp with the opportunity to take over the MLB spot in Denver? Nate Irving is in a contract year and doesn’t play all 3 downs as Von Miller and Danny Trevathan stay on the field in sub packages. Irving is listed as the starter right now, but Barrow may have the skill set to force the issue for more playing time.
These are young linebackers that IDP owners should keep track of this summer. FIguring out players you can take later allows you to load up offensive depth. Knowing who’s next is a better strategy than settling for old name brand.