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Defensive Position Rankings

“The Amateur Ward” Top 100 Linebackers (Part 1 of 4)

Phew! Made it through all the free agency posts and divisional breakdowns. Now time for my favorite part of the offseason, positional rankings. We will be analyzing 100, yes, you heard me right, 100 linebackers over the next four weeks. When reading these, keep in mind Major league fantasy Football leagues are scored differently than standard and other leagues, as we place more emphasis on the intangible categories, passes defensed, stuffs, tackles for loss and even the hurried passes (hard to quantify these). So, while you may think I’m too high on a certain player, or too low on others, these rankings factor in the player as a whole and how they play in our leagues as well as standard and other leagues. If you have any questions, by all means, feel free to ask, and enjoy fantasy domination this season.

100.) Robert Mathis (IND)- Likely entering the season in a time share with Trent Cole, but Mathis is an oldie but goodie, especially for leagues counting sacks. He may come out a bit more than Cole on passing downs, but he will net you a healthy source of sacks and hopefully a few forced fumbles. In deeper leagues, utilize him in favorable match ups and bye weeks.

99.) James Harrison (PIT)- No list would be complete without at least mentioning this timeless LB who quarterbacks and linebackers are sick of seeing on the other end. Father Time may add another tick to his age, but do not let that fool you, Harrison is a nasty, smash-mouth linebacker who wants to drive you back and take the ball. His ability to consistently get in the backfield and hurry plays and throws up proves that team game plan for him. He is going to be a force in the rush game and pressure game, so have him in the back of your heads come Draft Day.

98.) Josh Perry (SD)- Calling my shot now on this kid, he will overtake Manti Te’o early in the season and not look back. Perry is a tackling machine who can get outside with ease and reads screens very well. His play in coverage needs some work, but he is going to be a force once he steps on the field and will form a nice trio with Ingram and Attaochu.

97.) Tahir Whitehead (DET)- With the departure of Stephen Tulloch, Whitehead is the heavy favorite to start at middle linebacker and could reward owners with a triple digit tackle campaign with around five sacks. The Lions linebackers might be weak, but Whitehead is a bright spot on the line to invest in come Draft Day.

96.) Shea McLellin (NE)- McClellin is a bit of a tweener, in the sense that he is best suited for a pass rush position, but too undersized to handle a full-time gig, which may relegate him to subpackages and some looks at outside linebacker for the Patriots. After spending his early seasons with Chicago, he comes to the patriots in hopes of finding an identity on defense. He is a good tackler, but needs a bit of work on his rushing ability. With the retirement of Jerod Mayo, McLellin will be counted on to strep up and deliver.

95.) Michael Wilhoite (SF)- Wilhoite struggled in his first season as a starter opposite Bowman, finishing on the IR, but he does rack up tackles and is capable of stopping the run, but needs to pick up the pace in 2016 to hold off Gerald Hodges for snaps opposite Bowman. If he can play well under Chip Kelly, he could eek out 100 tackles, if he gets gased early, he falls off this list.

94.) Koa Misi (MIA)- The Miami Dolphins are very mediocre at linebacker, and Misi is no exception. You know what you get with him, and it is nothing flashy. He will net you around 80 tackles and a sack, but will not assist in the extra defensive categories. Outside of a presumably Kiko Alonso, this defensive unit needs help badly on the front seven, leaving Misi opportunities to rack up the tackles.

93.) Paul Kruger (CLE)- Kruger saw his sack production dip last season under Pettine because he was asked to drop into coverage more, where he is lacking, and could not play to his forte. He is not an elite pass rusher, but he makes the Browns defense better when he is free to rush the passer and should be utilized in fantasy as a matchup play and bye week filler. If he can post another double-digit sack campaign, he could emerge as an every week starter in fantasy who is capable of producing a few forced fumbles.

92.) Jake Ryan (GB)- Once anointed an every down starter, Ryan left much to  be desired last season, and if he does not pick up the play in 2016, Blake Martinez will spell him more often than not. Ryan is pretty decent in coverage, but without a lot of thump in getting to the passer, his game will rely on efficient tackling and getting the edge on the outside. It is do or die time for Ryan in year two, so we will all see if he can make the necessary adjustments to be an every down backer.

91.) Trent Cole (IND)- The other half of the timeshare with Robert Mathis, Cole is a bit better in coverage, and always forcing errant throws. He penetrates and anticipates plays well, enabling him to be in position to make the play. While Mathis is the bigger sack threat, Cole could be the better backer in Indy and worth a stash in almost all leagues over 14 teams.

90.) De’Vondre Campbell (ATL)- De’Vondre Campbell is seeing snaps with the first team over Sean Weatherspoon, and the good could get going good for the rookie early. He is a big time playmaker can fly all over the field and make things happen. At Minnesota he had 92 tackles six and a half tackles for loss and four sacks, and was a constant threat on the field. He is a bit raw, but definitely worth a look late in drafts and as a sneaky source of tackles for loss, sacks and a few stuffs.

89.) Julius Peppers (GB)- Peppers’ entire game revolves around making life hard on quarterbacks, and after finishing last season with 10.5 sacks, he is not slowing down and should once more produce double-digit sacks on a pretty good defensive unit as a whole playing opposite Clay Matthews

88.) Vincent Rey (CIN)- Rey will start the first four games while Vontaze Burfict serves his four game suspension, spawning from last season’s playoff loss to the Steelers, but is a one trick pony, who profiles better as a special team player or subpackage player when a team needs extra men in the box. He will lead the Bengals in tackles once more this season as he has the last two seasons, but offers little else.

87.) Kevin Minter (ARZ)- Minter has not panned out as hoped for the Cardinals since being drafted in 2013 out of LSU, and he is very limited in coverage, meaning he makes his pay with solid tackling and clogging the run lanes. He will once more be a key cog in the Cardinals linebacking core, but should only be utilized versus run heavy teams and weaker offensive teams.

86.) Jerry Attaochu (SD)- Put this guy on your “breakout” list because it is coming. Locked in opposite Melvin Ingram, Attaochu is a young talent that is overlooked in the world of the Khalil Macks and Von Millers. He finished tied for second last season in tackles for loss, with 15 and is improving as a pass rusher. It is not out of the question he could finish inside the top 70 this season as he is going to impress this season. Leagues giving extra points for tackles for loss and stuffs should bump him up a bit on this list.

85.) Chad Greenway (MIN)- Greenway will face competition from Emmanuel Lamur and see decreased snaps this season, but he should have one last hurrah in him before retirement. Playing weak side for the Vikings will offer him chances to get to the quarterback and eye runningbacks out of the backfield. He is not the same tackle machine he once was, but he is still a pretty solid backer.

84.) Daryl Smith (TB)- Smith was brought into Tampa Bay to be a mentor to the young defensive players and will be a leader in the clubhouse. He is a lock for triple digit tackles and is more than capable of tossing in a few sacks. Being reunited with former defensive coordinator Mike Smith from his Jaguars days should help ease the transition to this aggressive Tampa defense. He should come at a discount on Draft Day, especially since he’ll be overlooked while owners focus on Lavonte David and the other big names on Tampa’s defense.

83.) Jelani Jenkins (MIA)- Jenkins needs to prove to the Phins he can stay healthy because he is an anchor for the defense and one linebacker capable of rushing the passer occasionally and providing a presence in the run game on the weakside. The Dolphins will look to add more talent next season, but for 2016 Jenkins’ job is secure, despite his limitations and leaving more to be desired. A return to 100+ tackles would be nice to see.

82.) Bruce Irvin (SEA)- I said this earlier when evaluating free agent moves, but Bruce Irvin should develop into a beast in Oakland opposite Khalil Mack and is still very raw in his game. Maybe he was under-utilized in Seattle, maybe the Seahawks defense did not play to his strengths, but one thing is for sure, the kid can rush the passer and make big plays. Buy low and see what happens.

81.) Reggie Ragland (BUF)- Buffalo did not trade up to nab Ragland in the draft to have him play behind Zach Brown, and Ragland should have no trouble beating him out for the starting gig. He is an aggressive tackler, always harassing the passer and runner and does not miss tackles. Playing on the same line as Jerry Hughes and Marcel Dareus should form a nasty trio for opponents to constantly think about and fear because Ragland can do it all from inside. His ability to improve in coverage will ultimately determine his ceiling, but the Tide product has a vast upside and is in the right scheme to reach it.

 

Thanks for tuning in for Part I. If I left any names off the list you thought were deserving, let’s discuss. If I’m too high on someone or too low, same. If you just wanna chat football, hit me up. You know where to find me. Yes, this rookie class is very strong and deep, so be prepared for more to come.

Thanks!

 

 

 

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(Click the RED link to listen)

Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej GarrCorey D Roberts, and Coach Jeff Nelson live Saturday July 30th from 1-3pm EST for episode #65 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. This is a live broadcast and we take callers at 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the hosts. This week we will break down the NFC South from an NFL and fantasy perspective.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Click the RED link to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D Roberts, Calvin Martin, and Coach Andy Macuga live on Sunday July 31st, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for episode #74 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week is ALL about the trade deadline deals and how they effect us in fantasy.

Andy is the Head Baseball Coach for Borrego Springs H.S. in So Cal, and Calvin is a veteran owner in MLFB leagues as well as the commish of MLFB3.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I am a recent college graduate from a small liberal arts school in Atlanta, GA. I'm a sports junkie and a diehard Atlanta sports fan.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Darrell Winstead

    July 29, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Loving the situation Ragland fell into. He is going to be a tackling machine in Rex Ryan’s defense. I’m going to say it now, he wins Defensive ROY!

  2. Ben W

    July 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    The problem is, playmakers like Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey, and Karl Joseph were also in this year’s Draft. It really is wide open, but I think Jack takes it. Was a deep defensive class all around.

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