• Breakout Linebackers for 2022 – Part 1

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    It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for — linebacker time, my friends! Here are a few possible breakout linebackers.

    Let me begin by explaining what I believe a breakout candidate is. To me, a breakout candidate is someone I expect to take a larger leap in their production than we saw last season. It could be a one-year wonder or someone who can fill a roster spot for a decade.

    I fully understand that some of the players listed in this article may have already “broken out,” but that doesn’t mean they can’t outperform any previous season. Use this information as you wish!

    Zaven Collins, Arizona Cardinals

    IDPGuys Positional Rank: 41

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    Zaven Collins — what a tease this guy was last season. The Arizona Cardinals led us all to believe we were about to see “two big trees in the middle of their defense,” then they rick rolled us by rolling out Jordan Hicks instead. FFIDP managers everywhere were left broken-hearted. Collins never really received ample opportunities to show us what he was capable of. This season is going to be different!

    Collins finished the 2021 NFL season with 25 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 3 passes defended. We were promised playing time that we didn’t get. I can understand the anger that some FFIDP managers felt. It’s not time to give up though. In fact, I think it’s time to buy. I think there’s a really good chance Zaven Collins could lead the Cardinals in tackles this season. He should see a large increase in snap volume.

    With an increase in snap volume, we should see an increase in production. Collins should be the staple in the middle of that Cardinals defense that we’ve been wanting for a few seasons now. That’s right, not Isaiah Simmons, it’s Zaven Collins time! I won’t be surprised when Collins finishes the season as an LB1. He’s falling in drafts and it’s time to strike now and find one of those breakout linebackers for 2022!

    Nicholas Morrow, Chicago Bears

    IDPGuys Positional Rank: 133

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    Matt Nagy is gone from Chicago and good riddance! As a long tortured Bears fan, it’s nice to see some fresh faces around Halas Hall. Morrow signed with Chicago during free agency and has been cleared of the ankle injury that kept him out the entire 2021 season. With a new head coach, Matt Eberflus, the Bears are looking to establish a new identity for themselves!

    Matt Eberflus typically likes to give two linebackers a decent amount of snaps every game. Roquan Smith is an obvious first guess. Nicholas Morrow is the next guy up. Do you all remember last season when Bobby Okereke was one of my breakout candidates playing next to Darius Leonard? I think we’re basically looking at the same situation, just different players on different teams.

    I’m not saying Morrow is going to outplay Roquan Smith, but he can certainly give him a run for his money for FFIDP managers. I believe we can expect an easy LB2 season with LB1 upside in games. He could reach the triple-digit tackle mark as well. Morrow is one of my favorites when it comes to breakout linebackers this season!

    Mykal Walker, Atlanta Falcons

    IDPGuys Positional Ranking: 122

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    Mykal Walker could be that one-hit-wonder type of player, and it looks like Deion Jones may be done for the Atlanta Falcons. They did sign LB Rashaan Evans during free-agency, and drafted ultra-athletic linebacker prospect Troy Andersen 58th overall in the 2022 NFL draft. Walker tallied up 35 tackles, 1 QB hit, 4 passes defended,  1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, and 1 touchdown last season

    Technically, Walker spent more time on special teams last season than he did his rookie season. I know that sounds bad. Here’s the thing people are forgetting — Andersen is an incredibly raw linebacker prospect. He will have to pick up the game very quickly to make an immediate impact this season. Deion Jones is likely going to be cut or traded after a tumultuous offseason with the front office in Atlanta.

    We know what type of player Rashaan Evans is. There’s a reason Tennessee didn’t bring him. He’s a role player and has a place in Atlanta because they wanted someone familiar with the system for depth. Walker is young and has potential. If all things go his way up to the start of the season, we’re looking at possible LB2 production with that LB1 upside that Falcons linebackers are notorious for.

    Myles Jack, Pittsburgh Steelers

    IDPGuys Positional Rank: 46

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    Myles Jack is a player I expect to take a leap this season to possibly become one of our breakout linebackers as well. Jack finished 2021 with 108 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 QB hits. He didn’t do much with impact plays last season and I think that’s all about to change.

    Jack is out of the craziness in Jacksonville and now in a much better franchise and coaching situation in Pittsburgh, signing a two-year, $16 million deal during free agency. I believe he instantly steps in as a starter for Pittsburgh because it certainly doesn’t look like Devin Bush is the guy. Follow the money.

    Former Dolphins head coach, Brian Flores, is now a linebacker coach for the Steelers. This should give Jack a nice boost in his trait development and decision making. Jack is a guy us FFIDP players know about and probably have him on our squads as a LB2-3. This could be the season Jack takes his final form and we finally see some LB1 production consistently out of him!


    Each season we have our different opinions on which linebackers will be in the right situation to breakout. It’s never easy to accurately predict who will do what. Projections are basically staring into a crystal ball with no guarantee.

    My process is different than others, and not everyone likes it. I don’t always use data to prove my point, but it works for me and I haven’t let myself down yet! I definitely try to improve every season though. Thank you for taking the time to read the first breakout linebackers article! Stay tuned for part-two in the coming days!

    Thank you for reading! You can read all my work on my IDP Guys Author Page. Follow me on Twitter at @ZMagsIDP — I always enjoy chatting about all types of fantasy football with the Twitterverse. Please subscribe to IDPGuys.org for all your fantasy football needs, and check out our customizable IDP scoring tool! Also, don’t forget to order the IDP Guys Rookie Magazines — both offense and IDP — for your league drafts. As always, Live Long and Prosper!





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