The 2020, Covid-19 filled season, has officially come to an end. It is time to look at potential buy-low candidates for IDP while the iron is still hot.
The end of the season is the perfect time to buy-low in fantasy football. Tommy terrific won his 7th Super Bowl and proved to everybody that he is in fact the greatest quarterback of all time. I say this and I am a 49ers fan and a huge Joe Montana advocate. With that now reluctantly said, lets get back to IDP and talk some buy-low linebackers. There were some players that had incredibly poor 2020 seasons. There were also some who did not perform up to expectations. Injuries also were a big let-down factor, in 2020 especially. I will cover who the best buy-low IDP candidates at the linebacker position going into the 2021 season.
Benardrick McKinney – Houston Texans
2020 Stats: 4 games, 37 tackles (19 solo), 1 tackle for a loss and 1 pass defended.
Why You Should Buy Low
Benardrick McKinney was off to a hot start for the 2020 season. Through four games he was averaging 9.25 tackles per game. Though he did not tally many statistics in other categories, McKinney was all over the field making tackles. McKinney is undervalued on a yearly basis being overshadowed by his running mate Zach Cunningham. Cunningham had a monster year in 2020 putting up a career high in tackles, with 164, and sacks, with 3. This is good news if you are trying to acquire McKinney or even draft him in a start up. He will once again go under the radar in Cunningham’s shadow.
McKinney’s season was over after just four games due to a shoulder injury which required surgery and put him on IR. Over four seasons, in which he only missed two, games McKinney recorded 430 tackles. Watch here the great play he makes in space:
Phenomenal Benardrick McKinney play. Blitz left him, off of a WR pick, one-on-one versus Ryan Ramczyk trying to tackle one of the most elusive backs in the NFL. If he doesn't do the job, there's 20 yards of space ahead of him. pic.twitter.com/65Y327gPTP
— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) September 11, 2019
He is under contract with the Texans until 2023 though he does not have a huge dead cap hit if he is cut. Either way, if McKinney suits up for the Texans, or if he is cut and signs elsewhere, he should be in line to start and still be very productive. This makes him a good buy low IDP candidate.
Justin Strnad – Denver Broncos
2020 Stats: N/A
Why You Should Buy Low
Justin Strnad was a 2020 5th round pick by the Broncos and one of my favorite sleeper rookie targets last year. The Broncos employed Josey Jewell and A.J. Johnson who were both great at tackling and run defense, though neither were proficient in pass coverage. That is an area where Strnad thrived as he is an incredibly athletic linebacker. He was selected to play in Broncos sub-packages and play in their Nickel defense, though a wrist dislocation ended his season before it started. Strnad as a rookie was already receiving second team reps and sub-package reps.
Between both Josey Jewell and A.J. Johnson, the linebackers accrued only 6 passes defended and zero interceptions while playing virtually every linebacker snap throughout the season. It is a glaring weakness for the group and Strnad is a vast improvement in that area and is no slouch in run defense either. Watch how quickly he breaks on Lamar Jackson here:
Justin Strnad vs Lamar Jackson 👀 pic.twitter.com/IiysoHlbmf
— Chargers Country (@ChargersCountry) April 11, 2020
Strnad will likely play in sub-packages and special teams to start the year though he has the opportunity to push for snaps. He is a nice taxi stash and one that should cost next to nothing to acquire making him a great buy low IDP candidate.
Cole Holcomb – Washington Football Team
2020 Stats: 11 games, 72 tackles (45 solo), 6 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 interception and 4 QB hits.
Why You Should Buy Low
Cole Holcomb was an incredibly productive rookie putting up 105 tackles in 16 games with 15 starts. Holcomb succumbed to a knee injury, that kept him out of four games, which he sustained during the first game of the season. When he came back though, he came back with fire. Down the stretch Holcomb was downright a monster. Over the final six games of the season Holcomb totaled 52 tackles, 3 for a loss, 1.5 sacks and 2 QB hits playing on 91.3% of the team’s defensive snaps. Watch him here light up Ezekiel Elliott, who tried pass protecting, on his way to the sack:
Zeke gets ROCKED by Cole Holcomb 😱
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 25, 2020
Jon Bostic led the Washington Football Team in tackles and snaps in 2020. Bostic is going into his year 30 season. He has been solid, yet uninspiring in the playmaking department. Bostic is also owed $2,965,000 in 2021 though only carries a $875,000 dead cap hit. If the Football Team decides they would rather spend $2 million elsewhere, Bostic is expendable. Holcomb should see the lion’s share of snaps in 2021. People are still sleeping on Holcomb and there is not much buzz surrounding his name, this makes him a solid buy-low IDP candidate.
Cory Littleton – Las Vegas Raiders
2020 Stats: 82 tackles (56 solo) and 4 tackles for a loss.
Why You Should Buy Low
Not a single linebacker in the NFL saw his IDP stock plummet the way Cory Littleton’s did in 2020 season. In his past two seasons with the Rams, he averaged 129.5 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, 3.75 sacks, 11 passes defended and 2.5 interceptions. In his first season with the Raiders, Littleton did not produce one play-making stat outside of his four tackles for a loss despite suiting up for 14 games. During weeks 12,13 and 14 Littleton did not play more than 58 % of snaps in a single game. The last three games, he saw his every down role replenished.
I still have faith, mainly because of how he finished 2020. Over the final three games, Littleton produced 25 tackles, or 8.33 tackles per game. He has also shown over the years to have an innate ability to play in coverage. Watch here his pick in zone coverage:
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
— NFL (@NFL) September 8, 2019
He even stated himself that he knows how poorly he played which leads me to believe he is highly motivated to produce to his contract standards. Littleton is so cheap right now and his managers are likely looking to ship off Littleton for pennies on the dime and I still have faith. Scoop him up with caution but the reward could be excellent. Littleton is the ultimate buy-low IDP candidate.
Now that the season has come to an end, it is the perfect time to buy-low. Fantasy managers still have a sour taste in their mouths after losing out on guys they expected to be mainstays in their starting lineup. These are some of the top linebacker buy low IDP candidates. Be sure to check back as I cover the other positions.
Make sure that you subscribe and order our draft magazines for the 2021 draft prospects. It will be full of analysis to help you in your rookie drafts. Get ready for our new rankings tool where I myself have contributed season long projections to create rankings catered to any scoring. Remember…the Tooth has the taste for IDP. Check out my last episode of the IDP Update here.