Did you draft this year with a couple of linebacker prospects in mind that you figured you could count on. Here we will talk about those “studs” who have been duds and others you need to keep your eye on, as well as the future of the position.
Who Are The Duds?
Eric Kendricks– Minnestota
Throughout Kendricks’ three year career prior to this season, he has averaged about 105 total tackles per year. Of those 105 about 70 on average are solo tackles. He also has 7.5 sacks, 17 pass deflections and 2 interceptions (both for touchdowns) in those three seasons.
Looking closely at those numbers each year his sack total has decreased as well as his solo tackles in every season. While playing on 99.4% of snaps in his fourth season, Kendricks is averaging just under 7 tackles a game although only about 4 of those tackles are solo.
If he kept it up at this pace he would clear 100 tackles again at 104. Unfortunately only 61 of those would be solo and he has yet to force a turnover or pickup a sack this season. For those who drafted Kendricks to be a main stay in their lineup this season, I’m sorry. It is looking more like he is a bye week filler or back end Linebacker.
Kyle Van Noy– New England
Van Noy was an unexpected surprise for most last year. He was also a linebacker on the waiver wire in which people found gold in. In the 13 games that Van Noy played, he racked up 73 tackles with 58 solo. On top of that he added 5.5 sacks.
This year is a different story for Van Noy, as it is for most of New England’s defense, but that’s a whole separate article. Through the first 6 games he has 31 tackles (18 solo), 1 pass deflection and 1 interception. If he keeps up at this rate he will finish the season with 83 tackles and only 48 of those being solo.
For those of you who drafted Kyle Van Noy as a possible LB2 this season, you are kicking yourself. Van Noy needs to be on your bench for a bye week or possibly even on the wire.
Preston Brown– Cincinnati
Remember a year ago when Preston Brown led the league in tackles? Last year Brown finished with 144 tackles (84 solo) and 3 pass deflections with the Buffalo Bills. During free agency Brown signed with the Bengals to be there Middle Linebacker.
We all knew Vontaze Burfict was suspended four games and that Brown should shine while he was out. Unfortunately for Brown he was out played by fellow Linebacker Nick Vigil. During Burfict’s absence Vigil racked up 40 tackles (34 solo) to Brown’s 10 (8 solo). To Brown’s defense he missed two games to injury. When Burfict came back Brown only played 43% of defensive snaps.
Luckily for Brown, Nick Vigil sprained his MCL and should be out a month. Problem being is that Burfict is back and Brown did not seem to show up even when Burfict was on the shelf. Brown is best to be used as a wait and see with Vigil out unless you are in desperation mode.
Who To Watch Closely
Darron Lee– New York Jets
Darron Lee is one of those players that has all the potential in the world, just cant seem to always put it together. Last season you could say he was on the verge of a breakout year but Demario Davis was there to soak up a lot of the tackles. Davis signed with New Orleans in free agency so here we go again, time for a Lee breakout.
Lee started the season great with 7 tackles (6 solo), 3 pass deflections, and 2 interceptions. Unfortunately the next 4 games he totaled 22 tackles(13 solo) without any pass deflections or forced turnovers. Then week 6 happened, 8 tackles (6 solo), with a pass deflection and also an interception. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde.
Lee’s big game potential is always there but it is very sporadic. Lee is also competing this year with fellow Linebacker Avery Williamson who has played great. Williamson has amassed 44 tackles (32 solo), 3 pass deflections, 2 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. Having to compete with those numbers is tough, Lee has the talent but can he put it together? Keep an eye on him.
Andrew Luck throws yet another INT, his 3rd of the game.
This one by Darron Lee. This is Lee's 3rd INT of thea year. pic.twitter.com/eJ7b64Sptx
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 14, 2018
Fred Warner– San Francisco
Rookie Fred Warner has been great this season for the 49ers. Warner was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft. Although Warner was thought to begin his career a backup, he thoroughly impressed the coaching staff in preseason and won the starting job.
With Reuben Foster out the first two games of the season Warner racked up an eye opening 22 tackles (19 solo). The first two games Foster was back Warner remained in the starting lineup and still produced 21 tackles (13 solo). Since then he has slowed a bit. Only 7 tackles in his last two games while Foster has started to take the reigns back as the lead Linebacker on the team. Until Warner can consistently put up numbers with Foster back, we hold off on calling him a stud. The future is bright in San Francisco at the linebacker position.
Tremaine Edmunds– Buffalo
Edmunds was the 16th overall pick in this years draft. There was question if he was too raw for some scouts though the size and athleticism was definitely there. He has shown out well in every facet of the game from run stopping to pass coverage.
As a rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds has played an amazing 100 % of defensive snaps this season for Buffalo. In his six professional games he has a total of 47 tackles (32 solo), 5 pass deflections, 1 sack, and 2 forced fumbles. The scoring consistency and reliability of Edmunds is part of what makes him a stud.
There is never a week where you consider taking Edmunds out of your lineup. This year he should continue putting up great numbers in every level of the game. Just think of next year with this mans size (6’5″ 250lbs) and athleticism with a year of being a high level contributor under his belt. Next season he could be very scary.
Leighton Vander Esch– Dallas
Another rookie 1st round linebacker, Vander Esch was supposed to play in Sean Lee‘s shadow and learn from the master. The start of the season was like that until Lee was injured Week 3.
In week 3 Vander Esch only played 48% of snaps but still was able to come up with 10 tackles (8 solo) with 1 going for a loss. During his time as a starter he has also outproduced fellow linebacker and incumbent starter Jaylon Smith with 41 tackles to Smith’s 36. The two make for a dynamic duo for the future and one where Lee may not be a part of.
Darius Leonard- Indianapolis
Nobody thought at the beginning of this year that Darius Leonard would be on the list of studs. Through the first 6 games of the season he is the front runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year and also IDP Fantasy MVP. He was a second round pick out of South Carolina St. that most thought the Colts jumped for, boy were they wrong.
In 6 games he has totaled 63 tackles (43 solo), 7 for a loss, 4 sacks, 2 pass deflections, and 2 two forced fumbles. Watch a Colts game and you will see him jump out on almost every defensive play. Maybe the most amazing part of this is that he leads the league in tackles while still missing a game.
Leonard looks to be a mainstay in IDP and possibly the 1st linebacker drafted next year. Leonard is the only player since 2000 with 50+tackles and 4+sacks in his teams first four games.
Hopefully This article was able to provide you with information on guys who just are not hacking it this season as well as who to target for the future. Remember, if it’s not IDP than it’s not Fantasy Football.
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