Betting on Ja’Whaun Bentley 2.0

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The offseason is here and fantasy owners who want that competitive advantage are already looking for those bargain basement deals. In dynasty leagues, Ja’Whaun Bentley just might be the deal you are looking for in 2019


Betting on Bentley 2.0 – What to make of the Patriots linebacker depth chart

Can you think of a better hashtag than #SquadGoals for the picture above?

It’s been a few months since my first article highlighting Ja’Whaun Bentley so I thought this would be an appropriate time to revisit this situation with the addition of Jamie Collins. As it stands now, the Patriots linebacker squad should consist of Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts and Jamie Collins.

Ja’Whaun Bentley

Apparently a lot of people think Bentley’s stock takes a hit with the addition of Collins. I’d argue the exact opposite. Bentley and Collins are completely different linebackers in regards to their abilities and roles. Bentley is not a three down linebacker, his role however as a much-needed plug against the run is not going to be ignored. Collins in this defense should not be considered a three down linebacker either.

Going back to the beginning of last season before Bentley was hurt, in week 3 he had already climbed up to a 78% snap count and was wearing the green dot. This doesn’t just disappear. Bentley is certainly in the fold for a good chunk of playing time this season and I’d use this opportunity to buy him even lower if his value could possibly get any lower than it already was.

Dont’a Hightower

Let’s take a look at how Bentley being on the field could impact some of the linebackers in 2019 starting with Hightower. Hightower is a great NFL linebacker but usually too inconsistent for IDP. The Patriots over the last few seasons have tried to deploy Hightower as much as possible on the outside but through injuries of his own and on the team he’s been forced back to the middle. Remember that strip sack on Matt Ryan during Super Bowl LI? This came at a time when Hightower was taking over 50% of his snaps from the outside, this is how his role was envisioned.

We didn’t have the opportunity to see what Hightower could do on the edge in 2017 because of injuries which ultimately landed him on IR early in the season. Fast forward to 2018  where Bentley is inserted to man the middle and plug the gaps. Hightower started the season on the edge yet again until he had to move back to the middle week 4 after Bentley’s season ending injury. Enough of Hightower, I think you’re getting the point. They want to use him on the edge and won’t stop until it works.

Kyle Van Noy

Van Noy has been useful in IDP because he’s been asked to do pretty much everything next to Hightower but with more freedom to roam the field. He’s had a chip on his should since his departure from Detroit. Having become a staple of the front seven in New England I’d expect his role to be more of the same. What’s that saying, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. Bentley shouldn’t have an impact on Van Noy.

Elandon Roberts vs Jamie Collins

In my opinion, the three roster locks at linebacker right now are Van Noy, Hightower, and Bentley. Over the last decade the Patriots have rarely rostered more than five linebackers. This should produce a nice training camp battle of Elandon Roberts vs Jamie Collins. I project the special teams dude Brandon King will have one of the five linebacker spots locked down. With 2 years left on his contract I think he’s safe. This gives us one more linebacker spot on the 53 man roster assuming they stick to the way it’s been and keep five active.

Collins should make for a good rotation with Hightower to keep him healthy and fresh. He should also serve as his direct backup if he makes it through camp. Collins and Hightower share similar traits and athletic abilities. We could also see him help Van Noy from time to time as well. Roberts is best suited as a rotational and backup piece to Bentley. He’s shown to be more of a two down thumper who isn’t great in coverage and has trouble keeping up with running backs. Collins is on a dirt cheap contract for someone of his caliber and Roberts is still on his rookie deal.

The Verdict

Don’t be afraid to get your shares of Bentley, especially if he starts to fall even further in drafts. I think he could be a serviceable LB3 with upside, especially in tackle heavy leagues. Don’t expect too much from Jamie Collins as a rotational piece. Could be a LB4 with bye week fill in duties. Kyle Van Noy will give you the most consistency as a LB2/3. Hightower will continue to be a great NFL linebacker who is beyond frustrating for IDP purposes.

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