2024 Linebacker Winners and Losers

Embed from Getty Images

Now that Free Agency and the NFL Rookie Draft are done, let's talk about the Linebacker Winners and Losers from a fantasy perspective!

Free Agency is pretty much done. The 2024 NFL Rookie Draft is done. When we look at the Linebacker position for 2024, who comes out shining like a star? With all things factored in, who will have a tough road ahead of them?

First, let us take a look at the winners in the LB position. They could be winners because of multiple factors. The player moved to a team with a very large need. Their team did not use any rookie picks in their position. The main competition for snaps has moved on to a new home.

Winners in the LB position-

1) Jordan Hicks-Cleveland Browns

Embed from Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns have been looking for a producing leader for many seasons now. The top tackling LB for the Browns over the past couple of years has been 23'-Sione Takitaki with 65 tackles and 22'-Takitaki with 71 tackles. Anthony Walker had 113 tackles in 2021. Hicks has been a captain wherever he has played.

His first four years were spent with the Philadelphia Eagles. Hick's next three years were with the Arizona Cardinals. The Minnesota Vikings have been his team for the last two years. The soon-to-be 32-year-old man among boys is ready to lead again in Cleveland. He has posted anywhere from 107-150 tackles in each of his last five years. Hicks is joining a star-filled defense and should help them take the final step to a divisional championship.

2) Azeez Al-Shaair-Houston Texans

Embed from Getty Images

Al-Shaair played his first four seasons in the league with the San Francisco 49ers and coach DeMeco Ryans. He was behind Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, so snaps were hard to come by. 2021 was his chance with Greenlaw missing 13 games. Al-Shaair filled in very nicely with 102 tackles in 13 games.

That one year was good enough to get him a one-year prove-it deal with the Tennessee Titans. Al-Shaair delivered a career-best 163 tackles while playing all 17 games. Ryans needed a LB that would run his defense and deliver results. This matchup is from the heavens. Thus, a three-year, $34 million contract.

3) Micah McFadden-New York Giants

Embed from Getty Images

Sometimes, you are just good enough that your team spends its dollars and draft picks in other areas of the team. McFadden would fall into this category. He was drafted out of Indiana in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Giants weren't really sure of what they had.

As a rookie, he played in 17 games and produced 59 tackles. McFadden followed that up in his second year with 101 tackles in 16 games. He is a good fit with Bobby Okereke and the Giants agreed with that also. McFadden should increase his numbers by another 25% or more. The Giants showed their faith in him and McFadden will reward them for their faith in him.

4) Devin White-Philadelphia Eagles

Embed from Getty Images

White was the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft and has never really lived up to the standard expected from that high of a pick. Maybe it was because of the system or maybe it was because Lavonte David was better. After five years with the Buccaneers, they let him walk for pennies on the dollar. White signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Eagles for $7.5 million.

The Eagles are probably the best-case scenario for a player to receive a prove-it deal. His competition includes 2022 third-round pick Nakobe Dean, who has done nothing in his first two years. Dean did play just five games last year due to an injured foot. The other player to compete with is fifth-round rookie, Jeremiah Trotter Jr. Zach Cunningham also returns after an 85-tackle performance in 13 games.

5) Tyrel Dodson-Seattle Seahawks

Embed from Getty Images

Dodson played his first four years with the Buffalo Bills after signing as an undrafted free agent. He paid his dues lining up behind multiple players including Matt Milano, Terrel Bernard, and Tremaine Edmunds. With Edmunds signing with the Chicago Bears and Milano suffering a broken leg with a torn ACL last year in Week 5, Dodson would get an opportunity for increased snaps.

Dodson had 10 starts in 2023, but only five games with more than 68% of the defensive snaps. He produced 30 tackles in those five games and that was enough to get him the one-year prove-it deal with the Seahawks. The Seahawks are a great landing team with their reputation of defense, both Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks are gone, and head coach Mike McDonald.

Losers in the LB Position

1) Quay Walker-Green Bay Packers

Embed from Getty Images

Walker was a first-round pick in 2022 to fill the middle of the Packers' defense. By the Packers' actions in the 2024 NFL rookie draft, it doesn't seem that he won over the hearts of the Packers coaches. The Packers have a new Defensive Coordinator in Jeff Hafley who came over from Boston College where he was the Head Coach since 2020.

The Packers selected not one, but two new LBs to compete on the new 4-3 defense. Edgerrin Cooper was selected in the second round and Ty'Ron Hopper was selected in the third round of this past rookie draft. The writing is on the wall for a new direction.

2) Demario Davis-New Orleans Saints

Embed from Getty Images

Davis is a warrior who has produced triple-digit tackle seasons for 11 straight seasons now. At 35 years old, father time has taken a step from him. The Saints saw this and went and signed a younger LB with good production to a one-year prove-it deal. Willie Gay will earn snaps and start the transition to a younger lineup.

3) Cole Holcomb-Pittsburgh Steelers

Embed from Getty Images

The soon-to-be 28-year-old LB tore his ACL in Week 9 last year and is still recovering. The Steelers were not happy with their LB play before and after that incident. They went and signed Patrick Queen to a 3-year, $41 million contract which guarantees one spot filled. They still have Elandon Roberts on the roster and then selected Payton Wilson in the third round of this past rookie draft. Holcomb might have a hard time just making the roster.

4) Jamin Davis-Washington Commanders

Embed from Getty Images

Davis is another former first-round LB who is heading to the bench in Washington. Davis has failed to live up to his billing with the 19th overall selection in the 2021 NFL draft. 269 total tackles in three years does not instill confidence in a coaching staff.

The commanders have a brand new staff and immediately went and signed the best overall LB of all time in Bobby Wagner. At 33 years of age, Wagner just had a career-best 183 tackles this past season. He will play every snap for the Commanders' defense next to Frankie Luvu who just had his career-best year with 125 tackles. Davis has not come close to either of those numbers.

Thank you for checking out my Linebacker Winners and Losers article! You can read all of my articles on my IDP Guys author page. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @OldMan_FF and @IDPGuys (we have offense, too), and please consider becoming a subscriber!

Back to top