Our next installment in the Rookie Production series focuses on the linebackers. The position is very similar to running backs, in that you need a horse or two to anchor your fantasy team. Unlike defensive backs and lineman where you can expose match-ups on a weekly basis, consistency is key for linebackers. Plugging in a linebacker into your week one starting lineup and letting him ride all season long gives you a distinct advantage. Save the waiver wire research for the other positions and build your defense around some linebacking beef.
Click the link below to view the Excel report:
>>> Rookie LB Production <<<
Percentages for a 16-team league, starting 3 LBs
“Starters” were players ranked in the Top 48 at the end of the season.
“Backups” were players worthy of contributing to your fantasy team in a limited capacity.
“Rosterable” were players worthy of belonging on a fantasy roster.
“Minimal Contribution” were players on waivers who could be useful in case of emergencies (ex: injuries, byes, poor match-up).
“No Contribution” were players who could be found on waivers.
Rookie Production, 2010: 37 Linebackers
0% chance at drafting a starter (0 players)
8% chance of drafting a backup (3 players)
5% chance of minimal contribution in rookie season (2 players)
87% chance of no contribution in rookie season (32 players)
Rookie Production, 2006 – 2010: 167 Linebackers
7% chance at drafting a starter (12 players)
- 4% chance of drafting a LB#1 (6 players)
- 1% chance of drafting a LB#2 (2 players)
- 2% chance of drafting a LB#3 (4 players)
6% chance of drafting a backup (10 players)
4% chance of minimal contribution in rookie season (6 players)
84% chance of no contribution in rookie season (139 players)
Linebackers drafted in the first round, 2006 – 2010: 19
42% chance at drafting a starter (8 players)
- 16% chance of drafting a LB#1 (3 players)
- 11% chance of drafting a LB#2 (2 players)
- 16% chance of drafting a LB#3 (3 players)
21% chance of drafting a backup (4 players)
0% chance of minimal contribution in rookie season (0 players)
37% chance of no contribution in rookie season (7 players)
Linebackers drafted in the second round, 2006 – 2010: 23
17% chance at drafting a starter (4 players)
- 13% chance of drafting a LB#1 (3 players)
- 0% chance of drafting a LB#2 (0 players)
- 4% chance of drafting a LB#3 (1 player)
17% chance of drafting a backup (4 players)
17% chance of minimal contribution in rookie season (4 players)
48% chance of no contribution in rookie season (11 players)
Linebackers drafted after the second round, 2006 – 2010: 125
0% chance at drafting a starter (0 players)
2% chance of drafting a backup (2 players)
2% chance of minimal contribution in rookie season (2 players)
97% chance of no contribution in rookie season (121 players)
The class of 2010 represented the worst group of linebackers over the past five seasons. Not one rookie was deemed starting material.
I can’t pound it into your head enough that linebackers selected after the second round do not make an impact in their rookie year. Last year’s prime example was Giants’ fourth round pick Phillip Dillard. The fantasy forums were lit up with how he was a prime sleeper. Well, he slept alright. Fantasy owners often weigh opportunity heavier than talent. The Giants had a gaping hole at linebacker, so fantasy owners assumed Dillard was the perfect fit. If Dillard was that talented, he would have been drafted higher, so it should have come as no surprise that he did nothing in his rookie season.
There were some big name rookies who were outside of the Top 100 LBs at the end of the season. Sergio Kindle had injury concerns heading into the draft, and then he fell down two flights of stairs. Ankle and knee injuries put a damper on Sean Weatherspoon’s rookie season. Sean Lee was unable to bounce a rejuvenated Keith Brooking from the Cowboys’ starting lineup. Larry English and Clint Sintim were poised to get significant stats in 2009, but both disappointed. Keith Rivers had his face broken by a Hines Ward block in 2008. Paul Posluszny suffered a broken left forearm in 2007’s week 3, ending his season. Lawrence Timmons was drafted high in 2007, but most astute fantasy owners knew it was going to take time to crack the Steelers’ starting lineup. Chad Greenway tore his ACL in a 2006 preseason game, wiping out his entire rookie season. The greatest source of rookie futility over the past five seasons was 2006 18th overall pick Bobby Carpenter.
Rookie Production, 2010, ProFootballFocus Premium Stats Highlights:
“The goal of our detailed grading process is to gauge how players execute their roles over the course of a game by looking at the performance of each individual on each play.” Click here for more on the grading process.
Brandon Spikes NEP: 12 GP, 355 snaps (ranked #112), 5 “plus” games, 7 “even” games, 0 “minus” games, 19th rated LB by PFF.
The inside linebacking duo of Jerod Mayo and Spikes could become the best 3-4 combo in the entire league. His four-game suspension for performance enhancing substances shouldn’t deter you from acquiring his services. In fact, his lesser cumulative stats should help you get him at a better bargain. Don’t be scared by Mayo’s presence; there are plenty of tackles to go around throughout the course of a game.
Koa Misi MIA: 16 GP, 624 snaps (ranked #78), 7 “plus” games, 6 “even” games, 3 “minus” games, 21st rated LB by PFF.
Statistically, he was a mild disappointment considering the amount of playing time he received as a rookie. However, his PFF rating was high, indicating he has a chance to be a solid contributor in his sophomore season.
Rolando McClain OAK: 15 GP, 953 snaps (ranked #34), 8 “plus” games, 4 “even” games, 3 “minus” games, 23rd rated LB by PFF.
First, he takes Oakland-born Kirk Morrison’s job, jettisoning him to Jacksonville. Then the 8th overall pick infuriates fantasy owners by having a below-average rookie season. To put it in perspective, McClain was the 13th LB drafted in my 2010 IDP-only Re-Draft league. He was not only expected to produce, he was expected to be a LB#1. His PFF rating was much better than his stats, so you’ll have an opportunity to buy low this season.
Daryl Washington ARI: 16 GP, 480 snaps (ranked #102), 8 “plus” games, 7 “even” games, 1 “minus” game, 31st rated LB by PFF.
Washington has a great chance at receiving tons of snaps in 2011. The Cardinals’ linebackers are old (Paris Lenon 33, Clark Haggans 33, Gerald Hayes 30, Joey Porter 33) so Washington could become an every-down player. Only 1 “minus” PFF-rated game in 2010 is a positive sign that he can be trusted by the coaches.
Patrick Angerer IND: 12 GP, 272 snaps (ranked #131), 1 “plus” game, 7 “even” games, 4 “minus” games, 261st rated LB by PFF.
Injuries to Gary Brackett and Clint Session accelerated Angerer’s role with the Colts. He appears to be penciled in as a starter on the outside in 2011, but he has a lot to learn. Only 1 “plus” game tells me he has a lot of work to do to get the coaches to trust him.
Jamar Chaney PHI: 5 GP, 178 snaps (ranked #158), 0 “plus” games, 3 “even” games, 2 “minus” games, 285th rated LB by PFF.
Sure he put up some good stats when he played, but he was terribly rated according to PFF. I anticipate he’ll be one of the most over-drafted linebackers this season.
Linebackers drafted in 2011: 34 (player, team, round drafted)
Von Miller DEN (1), Aldon Smith SFO (1), Ryan Kerrigan WAS (1), Akeem Ayers TEN (2), Brooks Reed HOU (2), Bruce Carter DAL (2), Jonas Mouton SDC (2), Justin Houston KCC (3), Dontay Moch CIN (3), Martez Wilson NOS (3), Akeem Dent ATL (3), Mason Foster TBB (3), Nate Irving DEN (3), Kelvin Sheppard BUF (3), K.J. Wright SEA (4), Casey Matthews PHI (4), Colin McCarthy TEN (4), Gabe Miller KCC (5), Douglas Hogue DET (5), Christopher Carter PIT (5), Lawrence Wilson CAR (6), D.J. Smith GBP (6), Brian Rolle PHI (6), J.T. Thomas CHI (6), Ross Homan MIN (6), Greg Jones NYG (6), Mike Mohamed DEN (6), Quan Sturdivant ARI (6), Chris White BUF (6), Jabara Williams STL (7), Andrew Gachkar SDC (7), Malcolm Smith SEA (7), Nathan Bussey NOS (7), Greg Lloyd PHI (7)
The Dynasty Experts League draft is underway, and Von Miller was the fourth LB off the board. Yes, it’s a Dynasty league so the experts have to keep an eye on the future. However, the NFL’s second overall pick should put up good stats immediately and great stats in the future. Every team that passed on him will be kicking themselves. Aldon Smith and Ryan Kerrigan played end in college, but both will be standing up and rushing as outside linebackers as professionals. If I’ve put Miller as Rosterable, then the percentages say Smith OR Kerrigan will be Rosterable, not both.
One or two of the second round linebackers will be Rosterable in their rookie season. College end Brooks Reed will stand up and only has Connor Barwin to beat for the job. Inside linebackers Kevin Burnett and Stephen Cooper are free agents, opening the door for Jonas Mouton. However, Mouton lacks ideal strength and size for the middle. Bruce Carter tore his ACL in November, so it may take some time to regain his explosion. Akeem Ayers is best suited as a strongside linebacker, as he lacks speed to handle the middle or weakside. He’ll have to beat out Gerald McGrath for a starting job. For Dynasty purposes, Bruce Carter is my favorite of the four second rounders. But for Re-Draft value, I’d lean towards Reed, then Mouton.
Remember the hype surrounding Phillip Dillard… well there are four linebackers who are going to get the same preseason love. Martez Wilson, Mason Foster, Justin Houston, and Nate Irving all fall into the same category; players drafted after the second round who have a perceived opportunity to shine. Like Dillard, if they were that talented they would have been drafted higher! The odds are against any of them being a fantasy factor in 2011. You’ll be better off drafting a useful veteran than the 2% chance you have at one of these guys being a serviceable backup.
Other articles in the Rookie Production series: