Notes On Our Preseason Rankings 2018: Linebackers Part 1

Jon Somerset (@Orangeman3142) dives into his top 10 linebackers from his rankings hosted on, and gives his reasoning for where he placed LB1-LB10.

Everybody has rankings, and most rankings are just the same list of players in slightly different positions based on the bias of the author. In an effort to help you, the reader, get an idea where we were coming from and our thought process on why these players are listed and in what order they are listed in I figured let’s go over some of the more “hot” takes on our preseason rankings. We’ll move through each position and by the end hopefully you’ll have a better idea why some players are where they are and some players are missing entirely.

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C.J. Mosley:

He finished as the #1 overall IDP linebacker in most leagues last season (depending on scoring) and was 8th in total tackles with 132, only 12 off the leader(s). His “frosting” plays (sacks, int, TDs etc) gave him enough points to be the #1 LB in most IDP leagues. The Baltimore offense hasn’t gotten any better in the offseason and barring Lamar Jackson taking over and doing his best DeShaun Watson impression it won’t improve much this season. All that considered he should see the same or more snaps defensively and with few other talented defensive players around him poaching tackles his production should remain the same or even increase due to another offseason improving technique and increasing his overall defensive knowledge.

Deion Jones:

Jones would’ve been my overall #1 LB except that Atlanta drafted Calvin Ridley and will have another offseason to learn their new offensive scheme. Matt Ryan took a step back offensively last year and that increased the defensive snaps overall. I see Ryan and company improving on last seasons offensive output and, as a result, the defense losing total time on the field overall this season. Deion Jones is extremely talented and has few other playmakers around him (K. Neal and G. Jarrett, that’s it really) allowing him to continue to enjoy the majority of IDP production on the Atlanta defense.

Bobby Wagner:

The Seattle defense has been leaking star power for a couple years now, with the loss of Richard Sherman, Micheal Bennett and Sheldon Richardson and the possible holdout or trade of Earl Thomas and the injury issues that plagued this defense last year this defense now looks like anything but the “Legion of Boom”. The benefactor of all this is Wagner, someone has to soak up the production of these players and Wagner is in the perfect position to take advantage.

Kwon Alexander:

Alexander had a quiet year in 2017 due to injury but is only one season removed from his 2016 campaign where he finished overall #1 LB in most IDP formats. While the Tampa Bay defensive line has dramatically improved in the offseason the rest of the defense remains similar. Alexander may drop off slightly from his 2016 numbers but should still finish top 10 in tackles easily.

Zach Brown:

Brown has been a reliable monster both on the Bills and Redskins who only missed a top 5 finish in combined tackles due to a nagging injury that held him out of the last two games of the season. He still finshed 9th overall in combined tackles with 127. The Redskins parted ways with Kirk Cousins in the offseason and brought in Alex Smith at QB. This is a downgrade in my opinion and I believe it will certainly impact the Redskins IDP production this season. The defense will be on the field more than last year and if Brown can stay healthy for all 16 games he will be a ridiculous tackle monster who finishes in the top 5 easily.

Luke Kuechly:

Kuechly is usually spotted in the top 5 of most IDP LB rankings, not here. Hell he would be lower if Thomas Davis hadn’t of screwed the pooch and gotten suspended for the first four games of this upcoming season for PED use. Kuechly will be a large part of soaking up that missing production those four games and this will help boost his numbers this year. My concern with him is the concussions, they seem to happen damn near every season and this injury more than any other gets worse each time it happens. Concussions end careers. Kuechly is just one more bad hit away from being done as an NFL player. Too big a risk for me. If he does somehow play all 16 games this season he will have ungodly numbers, I’m not willing to take that risk though.

Telvin Smith:

Smith has had great numbers at WLB for the Jaguars and has been reliable. What has me concerned is Myles Jacks move to MLB. Jack will be in a better position to poach tackles from Smith now. This Jags defense is also incredibly talented and the production is pretty evenly spread around. Telvin Smith finished high in IDP leagues due to his “frosting” plays last year and you can’t rely on those for IDP points. He finished with 102 combined tackles, that was 21st in the league, and when you factor in Myles Jacks move to MLB I see that number dipping slightly this year. What is working in his favor is I believe the Jaguars 2017 offensive output was a flash in the pan and they’ll get back to more of running the ball and playing defense in lower scoring games this year, in effect giving the defense more time on the field.

Alec Ogletree:

Despite the addition of Saquon Barkley in the draft I am still not entirely sold on the idea that the Giants will massively improve on offense this year. I had done some research for a different article where I was looking at team offensive rankings the last 5 years and I saw the Giants at the bottom of the league many times throughout the course of that research. Barkley is a once in a lifetime talent but the Giants have offensive line issues and not alot of depth at the skill positions.

Their defense has produced many IDP studs over the last few year but no linebackers worth noting. Until now. Ogletree was an extremely talented veteran presence in the Rams defense for years and now brings that talent to New York. While he may have some competition for tackles from “Snacks” Harrison and Landon Collins I believe there will still be plenty of production to go around. Ogletree is a sneaky pick to finish top 10 in tackles this season.

Sean Lee:

Missed five games last season and still finished with 101 combined tackles. He averaged nine tackles a game when he did play, assuming he had stayed healthy and played the entire season with that average he would’ve finished with around 146 combined tackles, two more than the league leader(s). This is Sean Lee in a nutshell, incredible talent and production with some annoying injury issues. It’s a roll of the dice but if you can get a full season out of him you’ll enjoy a shit-load of IDP points.

Avery Williamson:

A talented player who had to compete for tackles with Wesley Woodyard, Jurrell Casey and a talented secondary on the Titans yet still managed to average 94 combined tackles a season. With the arrival of Marcus Mariota and several talented running backs these Titans teams also had offenses that were many times better than the current offense of the New York Jets, Williamsons new home. Avery had to compete for tackles on a talented defense that wasn’t on the field all that often due to a decent offense and he still brought in 94 combined tackles a season. This year he will only have to deal with Daron Lee and Jamal Adams for serious tackle competition and will have many many more defensive snaps to work with due to the amazingly bad offense the Jets will be fielding. This is a terrific situation and he will thrive in it. He should definitely finish top 10 in combined tackles this season and the skies the limit.

***Offseason depth charts were taken from and may not be up to date or accurate as of this date of reading. Until close to the end of preseason some of these positions on their teams depth charts are up in the air. These rankings will be re-visited and revised for the beginning of the regular season.

*Preston Brown not listed in these rankings, not a mistake, completely on purpose. No player on the Bengals last season had more than 85 combined tackles, and the guy who had the most was a cornerback (D. Dennard). Between Burfict, Vigil and Rey there is a ton of competition at the linebacker slot. The offense will almost surely improve from their poor showing last season so defensive snaps will be fewer overall. Preston Brown had 144 combined tackles last year because he was a living breathing person standing in the MLB slot on the Bills. His talent level is mediocre at best and after Burficts 4 game suspension is up there simply won’t be enough production for him to be worthy of making this rankings list. His stock will drop like a ton of bricks.

Follow Jon Somerset on twitter @orangeman3142 and make sure to listen to him on the IDP Guys Podcast!

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