Thursday, April 25, 2013

IDP Off-Season Sleepers: Linebackers

***I am very excited to get this article published over at Dynasty League Football.  I have been feeling blessed lately in the world of Fantasy Football.***
Editor’s Note: This particular article is submitted by a new Member Corner author, James Brimacombe.  We welcome James to the Member Corner and look forward to seeing more of his work in the future! 
What is the best part of playing IDP Dynasty leagues, you ask?  Well, to me it’s the off-season where you have put in the time and study up on players – this means following all the coaching changes, new defensive schemes, free agency movement, anticipating the NFL draft and possibly just believing in a player and his opportunity.  As fantasy football is hitting an all-time high, it is becoming harder to separate yourself from the rest of your league mates.  You need to try to exploit whatever can give you an advantage in your leagues in order to start building your own dynasty.
This is the first article I’m posting as I’m hoping to break down each of the defensive positions (LB, DE, DT, CB and S) and give my top ten off-season sleepers at that position.  Everyone can go out and find rankings for the top 20 players, but if you have to trade for them, you may just overpay or the owner may not want to move on those players as the have a higher value.  When it comes to players who have the skill, opportunity, scheme, age and health, but still haven’t broke out in the NFL just yet, you can often get these players for a lot less in and sometimes even as throw-ins on trades or on the waiver wire.
Vontaze Burfict, MLB CIN
Burfict is an interesting choice to start off this article – views on him are still up and down and some may see him as a top 20 LB, while others still remember his pre-draft days and can’t fully get on board.  If you can find an owner who isn’t fully committed to Burfict, jump on him as his value is in the LB2 range and could even come close to the bottom of the LB1’s.
Wesley Woodyard, OLB DEN
Woodyard was just thrown in there last year to compete and he locked up a starting job rather easily.  He was one of the highlights and better players on that Broncos defense and with Denver loading up on offensive players, look for the defense to have plenty of opportunity playing ahead in games where they can have potential to have many more big plays.
Mychal Kendricks, ILB PHI
If you ever play in a league with me, you will see I will overpay for Kendricks every single time.  I am an Eagles fan and watch every game and although I was excited for what DeMeco Ryanswould bring at the start of last year, it was Kendricks who got me excited for the future.  Don’t get me wrong, Ryans is good, but he just doesn’t have the flash and quickness and most of all the potential of Kendricks.  With the Eagles switching to a 3-4 defense, he is almost certain to be an every down player, and a second year breakout is almost expected.
Zach Brown, OLB TEN
Brown was a huge surprise last year in that he started 14 out of 16 games and in those games was the best LB on the field for the Titans.  He was consistent each week and has big play ability as well.  He picked up 69 solo tackles, six sacks, and three interceptions.  Some owners may overlook Brown a little with Colin McCarthy pegged in as the ILB, but when it comes to LB value, Brown is the better play of the two.
Perry Riley, ILB WAS
Riley may be the most obvious pick out of all the off-season LB sleepers.  We all know London Fletcher’s age is creeping up on him and with that, Riley is going to have to cover some additional ground in that Skins 3-4 defense.  In 2012, Riley put up 72 solos and 55 assisted tackles – those numbers are very solid and could be only the base for what is to come.  The only downfall to Riley is the Redskins home score crew who seem to be in favor of giving out assists over solos, and that accounts for eight games.
Dannell Ellerbe, MLB MIA
Ellerbe got his Super Bowl and money about as fast as anyone.  With the Dolphins releasingKarlos Dansby, it is well known that Ellerbe is now the guy.  Will he put up comparable numbers to Dansby in Miami?  I tend to think not, but another part of me can also see him surpassing Dansby’s production.  Ellerbe is one who might cost you a pretty penny as well, as whoever has him will likely be trying to milk his Super Bowl run and big money contract.
D.J. Williams, MLB CHI
Williams has somewhat fallen out of favor in the IDP community, but now he gets a do-over with the Bears.  It is a perfect fit and situation for him and he is a player who might be worth taking a chance on as a risk reward type LB3.  In dynasty formats, his life span is probably this year and next year, then you will want to move on from him.
Demorio Davis, ILB NYJ
Lots of people had high hopes for Davis last year and were hoping Rex Ryan would see the talent and get him on the field.  Well, it turns out Rex was still in love with Bart Scott and didn’t give the kid a fair shot.  With the current shape of the Jets team heading into the year, you have to think all the young players are going to get more than their shot at competing in training camp and for Davis to win one of those staring jobs is a strong bet.  He also might just be a spot start type of guy in 2013, but when 2014 starts u,p he could be a very hot commodity.
Nick Roach, MLB OAK
Roach has been up and down over the course of his career, but he has also been stuck behindBrian Urlacher, which doesn’t help his cause much.  When Urlacher was hurt at the end of last year, Roach’s numbers went way up.  Over the last six games of the season, he had 36 solo tackles and 7 assists – those are solid LB3 numbers.  Now he finds a home with the Raiders who are a BAD team and will likely be starting and on the field a lot.  Potential is there for LB2/LB3 numbers, and he is a player who you can probably trade for as a throw in or claim off the waiver wire.
David Hawthorne, ILB NO
This is purely a hunch play.  I am not the biggest Curtis Lofton fan and I actually think Hawthorne is the better of the two.  You can basically pick him up on every waiver wire, or any owner would be happy to trade him for bare minimum.  He was in the LB2 range in 2009-2011 and might be worth a shot to roster as your LB5/LB6.
You can follow James on twitter at  @365FantasyFBall

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