Lorenzo Alexander The Great: A Low Key Beast

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You may have never known that Lorenzo Alexander was in the NFL before he came to the Bills. Really he has had a long NFL career but did not seem to take off until Buffalo. Read here to learn a little more about his career and how key he has been for Buffalo.


Lorenzo Alexander has been in the NFL since 2006 believe it or not. He went undrafted in the 2005 draft but was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Carolina Panthers. Alexander never once played a snap for Carolina but signed on with the Redskins in 2006. He never appeared for the Skins in 2006 but was able to play 13 for them in 2007. It took Alexander about five seasons to make any sort of impact but 11 seasons to actually show his worth.

Tale of Two Stories

Before Buffalo

From 2006-2015 Lorenzo Alexander was a bit player for three different teams. He made his calling as a special teams ace. In 2010 Alexander was finally able to be a part of the teams defense with the Redskins with who he played with from 2006-2012. He was able to total 57 tackles in 2010 with 1.5 sacks. Then again made an impact in 2012 with 46 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Outside of those two seasons his impact was only noticed on special teams. During his ten years in the NFL prior to the Bills he played in a total of 127 games starting only 16 of them. In those games he combined for 185 tackles (126 solo), 14 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, six passes defensed, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 30 QB hits. In his last three seasons before he made it to the Bills Alexander averaged only 5.17% of snaps played. Needless to say his legs were fresh when he got to Buffalo.

In Buffalo

Lorenzo Alexander has played three seasons with the Bills now and signed an extension for the 2019 season for $3 million. After not making much impact at all Alexander was finally able to break the rotation with the bills starting all 16 games in 2016. From the beginning from 2016 to current there has been no turning back for Alexander. In his three seasons with the Bills he has averaged playing 65.3% of snaps.

During his three seasons with the Bills he played in 48 games starting 35 of them. In those games he tallied 203 tackles (158 solo), 28 tackles for a loss, 22 sacks, 16 passes defensed, three interceptions, eight forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and 47 QB hits. The Bills finally gave him opportunity and he was able to rake advantage of it. In one third of the games played he doubled his tackles for a loss and more than doubled his sack totals.

In this past season with the Bills Alexander graded out as the best LB for the team per Pro Football Focus. If you look, PFF has Alexander graded at 85.7, up and comer Matt Milano at 76.2, and the most coveted of the three rookie Tremaine Edmunds at 57.4.

What Does He Do?

Lorenzo Alexander has the size and strength to play a 4-3 defensive end, a 4-3 strong  side linebacker, or a 3-4 outside linebacker. When he gets into the backfield there are not many RB’s who have the ability to block him. Not many, if any, are able to overpower him or break tackles. Here he catches Leonard Fournette mid air to prevent the TD:

He has a wide variety of pass rush moves. Here you see him work the spin move beautifully in two separate instances:

Even at his age Alexander has great athleticism. He has a strong bull rush and his bend is of an obscene nature:

He has played all throughout the line in his career but has really found his niche at linebacker for the Bills. His pass coverage was never anything to be talking about but has gotten better every year with the Bills. In 2016 he finished with six passes defensed and an interception. Had a down year in 2017 coverage wise but bounced back in 2018 with nine passes defensed and two more interceptions as he dropped back a little more. He has shown a keen ability to keep his eyes on the QB to make big plays in the passing game both at the line and dropping back:

PAPS Score

Here at IDPGuys our very own @Hbogart27 or The IDP Tipster has created a database to help see who in the NFL are the best playmakers. While looking at the scores it shows on a per game basis who makes the most plays, lower scores being better. If you take a look at this link it shows the top 700 players in the NFL based off their IDP PAPS scores.

Alexander has an overall PAPS score of 5.96 which puts him in the elite tier group where he joins the likes of guys like Luke Kuechly whose score is 5.73, and top dog Darius Leonard who is at 4.82. To put into other perspective, Blake Martinez an LB1, has a PAPS score of 6.47. This does not mean that Alexander is a better linebacker than Martinez but does show that he makes more plays than him in the amount of time he plays.

Martinez may have almost doubled the amount of tackles Alexander had, but Alexander almost doubled Martinez in the play making categories (tackles for a loss, sacks, passes defensed, interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries). He also did this by starting half the amount of games as Martinez. Alexander is the primary pass rusher for the Bills which puts him in a good spot to make plays as he also plays the run at an extremely high level.

With Opportunity Comes Production

During the last three games of the season Alexander played 99% of all of the Bills defensive snaps. During those games he racked up some very respectable numbers from the linebacker position. He ended with 27 tackles (18 solo), two tackles for a loss, two passes defensed, an interception, and a fumble recovery. That is an average of nine total tackles a game as his run stuff ability was on showcase.

He also showed his ability in space during the Fantasy Football Championship week. During that week he played the New England Patriots who are the kings of short area passing.  In a game where Sony Michel had 18 carries, James White had eight carries and four targets and Julian Edelman had 10 targets, Alexander was huge. He finished with 15 tackles (8 solo), a pass defensed as well as an interception. Watch as you see him play Brady’s eyese in coverage as opposed to the receiver:

Summary

In closing Lorenzo Alexander is a top 50 linebacker in the league. Now given that he has a new contract with the Bills and his abilities that were showcased as a full time player, he has the opportunity with the Bills to play around 70% of snaps. His pass rushing ability along with his play against the run should continue to allow him to make plays and be a valued IDP asset.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @josephhaggan, @IDPGuys, and @NoBSidp. Also tune into the weekly IDPGuys podcast for the most up to date info in Fantasy Football. Remember to also check out our new podcast coming in March purely for IDP, The No BS IDP Podcast with @FFstompy, @Hbogart27 and myself. For even deeper IDP analysis check out The IDP Tipster and his revolutionary PAPS database for easy IDP player grading.


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I have played IDP 6 YRS, fantasy for 10. Writing for the greater good of IDP, if it's not IDP it's not fantasy football.