2016 Fantasy Football: Undervalued IDP Linebackers
I’m an avid IDP player and I know there’s not nearly enough out there covering the Fantasy players on the defensive side of the ball. Linebackers are the centerpiece to a Fantasy IDP defense. The following linebackers are all outstanding, but for one reason or the other they have fallen out of the top 30 this season.
LB Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos
When Danny Trevathan went down in 2014, Brandon Marshall stepped in and emerged as a star. Not only is he elite in coverage, he is also a big time tackler. In 2014 he racked up 113 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and nine passes defended in just 14 games. Trevathan was back in 2015 and there was some concern how both would fair in IDP leagues. Marshall was still a very strong option. He once again topped 100 tackles, added 1.5 sacks, forced two fumbles, picked off a pass and defended four passes. Now Trevathan has left Denver and has joined the Chicago Bears. Marshall could be in line to be a premier IDP option in 2016.
LB Derrick Johnson, Kanas City Chiefs
After tearing his Achilles Week 1 in 2014, many were concerned if the now 33-year-old linebacker would be able to bounce back and be the star he once was. Well, in 2015 he piled up 116 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and eight defended passes. Needless to say, there wasn’t exactly a decline and IDP owners that rolled the dice on him were thrilled. Excluding the injury season in 2014, since 2010 he has not failed to top 100 tackles and only missed the 115 mark in a year were he missed a game with injury. During this five year span he has also totaled 13.5 sacks, been involved in 14 fumbles, picked off seven passes and defended over 40 passes. He’s an absolute bargain right now because he’s aging.
LB DeAndre Levy, Detroit Lions
Levy missed all of last season due to injuries and Fantasy owners are having an out of sight, out of mind mentality with him. Let’s not forget the monster numbers he put up in 2014. He managed a whopping 151 tackles, 2.5 sacks and an interception. It’s also important to note he showed off his pass defense prowess the previous season when he intercepted six passes and defended 15 on top of 119 tackles. The hip that sidelined him for all of 2015 is now back to full strength and he reportedly looks good so far this offseason. Do not forget about him when draft time rolls around.
LB Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati Bengals
When people think of Burfict right now they think of that collapse in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. He seems to have a negative stigma surrounding him because of that. Smart Fantasy Football owners know otherwise. What’s forgotten about that game is that Burfict had all but won the game for the Steelers and may have been the best player on the field. He has a tackling game that will occasionally get you a big play. While only playing 10 games in 2015, he still made 74 tackles. 2014 was lost to injury during his fifth game, nevertheless, during his sophomore campaign in 2013 he tallied a remarkable 171 tackles. That came on the heels of a 127 tackle rookie season as an undrafted rookie in 2012.
LB Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings
Barr is a 24-year-old linebacker on the doorstep of greatness. The former ninth-overall pick has shown flashes of greatness at times. He also has proven to be raw at times and durability has been a bit of an issue. After missing four games his rookie season, he missed two more again last year. As a rookie, in just 12 games he recorded 70 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and three recoveries. Last season he dragged down another 68, sacked QBs 3.5 times, forced three fumbles, picked off a pass and defended seven passes. If he can put it all together for a full 16-game season, this kid could be a Fantasy monster. The biggest hole in his game is the occasional missed tackle. Still, he could easily take that next step in 2016 and combine his big-play ability with 90 tackles and push double-digit sacks.