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  • AFC Sleeper LBs for 2022

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    Linebackers are the glue to IDP rosters. Who are some redraft sleeper LBs for 2022 and absolute must-haves in dynasty?


    While I’ve been writing for a few months for IDPGuys.org, this is my first foray into IDP. I’ll start off looking at sleeper LBs for 2022, starting with the AFC. These guys are currently not necessarily viewed as IDP starters — the top LB I’ll discuss is 28th in IDPGuys combined rankings.

    Let’s start with the deepest name first.

    Cameron McGrone, New England Patriots

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    Cameron McGrone was a 2021 fifth-round pick of the New England Patriots, who essentially took last year off recovering from a knee injury suffered late in college. The Patriots no longer have Donta Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, or Jamie Collins on their roster.

    That leaves them with the second most available snaps at LB (shoutout to Kyle Bellefeuil for the research, available in the IDPGuys draft kit).

    McGrone returns to a linebacker room of Ja’Whaun Bentley, Raekwon McMillan, and Mack Wilson. Bentley is likely to reprise his role, but the other roles are up for grabs. Bill Belichick and staff are looking for additional speed.

    Any of the non-Bentley LBs are possible sleepers to keep an eye on, but for now, I’ll take a shot on a former five-star LB recruit drafted by the team and being hyped up all offseason.

    Jacob Phillips, Cleveland Browns

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    Jacob Phillips has popped in limited action with the Browns early in his career. His biggest issue to date: health. Phillips has played in 13 games in his two seasons to date. If he can stay healthy, he has a shot to displace Anthony Walker next to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at the second level.

    Walker has been a tackling machine, but replacing him with an athlete like Phillips could take the Browns to a new level.

    Phillips has played more than 50 percent of snaps in just two career games, tallying 1 sack, 19 tackles (15 solos), 3 tackles for a loss, and 2 passes defended in those games. Players who are that productive are hard to keep off the field when healthy, and he’ll push for playing time in camp.

    Neither the knee injury in 2020 nor the bicep in 2021 are lingering concerns and seem flukey, so buy Phillips now before the 2022 breakout.

    Channing Tindall, Miami Dolphins

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    Channing Tindall was a third-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft and landed in a fairly open Dolphins LB corps. Elandon Roberts played over 600 snaps as the LB2 in Miami but isn’t close to the athlete Tindall is.

    Roberts re-signed with Miami for just one year, so he’s not currently in their long-term plans. Tindall, while inexperienced in a loaded Georgia defense, should push him in camp and make an early impact.

    Tindall can do it all at LB, he is just a little undersized but in the mold of the modern LB. He’s a similar size player to current top Miami MLB Jerome Baker and is a similar size and athlete to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

    I expect Tindall to see the field early and show out in whatever role he’s put into. He also has elite upside should Baker go down. Tindall is also a sneaky dynasty pickup, with a great future ahead.

    David Long Jr., Tennessee Titans

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    David Long Jr broke out in 2021 after Jayon Brown struggled to stay healthy. In just 10 games, Long racked up 75 tackles. He was utilized as a full-time guy, playing the most LB snaps in every game except his first back from injury.

    Brown and Rashaan Evans, second and third on the team in snaps, are gone now. Long is locked into a full-time role in 2022 and is my favorite of the sleeper LBs for 2022.

    While racking up tackles was nice, Long is still improving. He actually had 9 total pressures on just 50 pass-rush snaps per PFF, but never got a sack. That’s the rate of getting to the QB that made him top 20 at the LB position, and one of just two players in the top 20 to not record a sack.

    Sacks are fluky but pressures aren’t, so if he adds just a few more, and maybe forces another couple of turnovers, watch out!

    Conclusion

    These players are all late-round dart throws in fantasy drafts. When throwing darts, I look for standout traits and strong team fits. Some have easy paths to playing time early while others will have to earn their way onto the field. Either way, I expect all to have more value once camps roll around and buzz comes in from seeing them on the field in full pads.


    Thank you for reading my article! Please remember to follow me for more content via Twitter @FFFBallers  and @IDPGuys as well as check out my IDP Guys author page and the IDP Guys website.

    Discussion

    1. […] David Long put FFIDP managers on notice last season. He racked up 75 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, 6 passes defended, and 2 interceptions last season. Long missed some time due to injury last season. Although, when he was healthy, the Titans trusted him to carry a heavy workload for their defense. Long played about 94% of the defense’s snaps in 2021. […]

    2. […] little while ago, I covered AFC sleeper LBs for 2022. My colleague, Zach Magley, also wrote about his breakout LBs here and here if you’re […]

    3. […] a player I highlighted as an AFC Sleeper, it was super exciting to see Jacob Phillips rocking the green dot with the first team defense. […]

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