• IDP Linebacker Stock Watch: Post 2023 NFL Draft

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    Which linebackers saw their fantasy stock rise after the 2023 NFL draft? Which players saw their stock drop? It's linebacker stock watch time!

    The 2023 NFL draft has come and gone, and as always there were some big winners and losers in terms of players' fantasy stock. I am going position by position to give you my biggest takeaways for every position starting with everyone's favorite IDP position: Linebackers! Welcome to my linebacker stock watch article!

    Before getting in the players themselves, it's important to contextualize what is meant by stock up and stock down. To put it simply, a player whose stock is up is someone who I think saw their IDP standing improved by the results of the draft. Conversely, a player whose stock is down is someone whose fantasy situation gets worse due to their team's actions in the draft. These views are redraft focussed.

    Enough of the preamble, let's get to the fantasy analysis, shall we?

    Linebacker Stock Watch: Pointing Up!

    Note: These are the linebackers I think benefited the most from the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Ernest Jones, LB, Los Angeles Rams 

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    Last year Ernest Jones had himself a nice breakout sophomore campaign. Playing 66% of defensive snaps, Jones racked up 114 combined tackles along with a forced fumble and an interception. Going into his third year, there are a lot of signs pointing to an even bigger year for Jones. First of all, Bobby Wagner is out of the picture. Secondly, the Rams did not add anyone worrisome in the draft to take away snaps.

    I'm seeing Jones going off the board around linebacker 29, which absolutely screams value. What you'll get in Jones is a linebacker who projects to receive close to 75% of defensive snaps played on a team that appears set to be playing a lot of defense in the upcoming year. I will be drafting Jones as an LB3 with LB2 upside and you should, too!

    Ja'Whaun Bentley, LB, New England Patriots

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    Everyone likes shiny new toys when it comes to fantasy assets, and this time of year those are the rookies. I'm here to tell you that shiny new toys don't always pan out and certainly don't regularly win you championships. Ja'Whaun Bentley is a player that wins championships. Playing 80% of defensive snaps last year, Bentley racked up 125 combined tackles with three sacks and an interception.

    I know people don't trust Patriots linebackers, but hear me out. The Patriots didn't draft anyone with enough draft capital to seriously contend for taking away Bentley's steady snap count, and even if they did Bill Belichick doesn't trust rookies quickly. Bentley is a sure lock for 100+ combined tackles and throws in some splash plays. Going off the board at LB47, Bentley is a great value and a league winner.

    Dorian Williams, LB, Buffalo Bills

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    It's our first rookie! Dorian Williams found himself in a dream landing spot with the Buffalo Bills as he has a real chance to win a starting spot alongside Matt Milano. With Tremaine Edmunds now in Chicago and no heir apparent already on the roster, Williams will have every opportunity to be productive in his rookie year and beyond.

    This is more of a dynasty format stock-up since there are no guarantees, but this landing spot brings Williams up to my rookie LB3 behind only Jack Campbell and Trenton Simpson. The nice thing about him, too, is that the public hasn't caught on to just how valuable he could be, as he's coming off the board as LB101 in some places. I'm targeting him rather highly in rookie drafts and you should, too!

    An exclusive look at the IDP rookie rankings you can have access to as a subscriber! Click here!

    Linebacker Stock Watch: Pointing Down!

    Note: These are the linebackers I think saw their fantasy value hurt the most from the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Detroit Lions

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    I know I know...everyone loves last year's Hard Knocks darling Malcolm Rodriguez! And I do, too! Just not nearly as much as I did from a fantasy perspective before the draft. In drafting Jack Campbell in the middle of the first round and with the productive Alex Anzalone still on the roster, Rodriguez is going to be hard-pressed to improve on his modest production from last year.

    In deeper leagues, Rodriguez still has some value, as he'll be one injury away from enough snaps to be relevant, but I can't see a scenario where you'll feel good throwing him out there regularly. He's coming off the board around players like Kaden Elliss and Germaine Pratt, both players who have more upside. This is all to say I'll let someone else draft him on his name recognition while I find a better option.

    Drew Sanders, LB, Denver Broncos        

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    Drew Sanders has found himself in quite the fantasy predicament landing on the Denver Broncos. My caveat with him being in the "stock down" category is that this is for re-draft only and without knowing how he'll be used in this defense, it's difficult to truly project his fantasy value this year. For 2023, however, things are not looking good. 

    Sanders finds himself on a roster loaded with solid linebackers. With Alex Singleton, Josey Jewell, and Baron Browning already filling out the presumed starting roster, Sanders has no clear path to enough snaps in his rookie year to be immediately fantasy relevant. He's still a solid grab for dynasty purposes, but limit your expectations for this upcoming year until we see how he's used.

    Trenton Simpson, LB, Baltimore Ravens

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    Trenton Simpson is in the same position as Drew Sanders. From a real-life football perspective, I love this landing spot for Simpson on the Baltimore Ravens. From an IDP perspective though, I don't love that in his rookie year, Simpson has to fight Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen for snaps! In order to score points in IDP you have to be on the field, and I just don't see that happening a lot this year.

    I will emphasize that this is truly from a re-draft perspective. Queen had his fifth-year option declined by the Ravens, so Simpson will have every opportunity to seize a starting role in 2024. Unfortunately, I don't foresee us getting a lot of film on Simpson this year so he'll be more of a risky stash, but any linebacker on a Ravens defense is worth rostering. Grab him in dynasty leagues and hope for the best!

    Thank you for reading my linebacker stock watch article! You can find my IDP Guys author page here if you want to read my other content. You can find me on Twitter at @mrecord21. Be sure to follow @IDPGuys to keep up with all the latest fantasy news.

    Matt Record

    I got started in Fantasy Football over 15 years ago and have never looked back! I'm just a regular guy who loves to analyze data and watch and talk about sports. Outside of all things fantasy, I enjoy playing disc golf, playing board games, and enjoying a nice hazy IPA. I can't wait to share with you all my thoughts on Fantasy Football!
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