I know you’ve been on the edge of your seats waiting for the second half of my linebacker rankings to drop. Well probably not but since you probably have to draft more than 2 in 12 team leagues, this should be useful.  We see the debut of three rookies for those who asked “Where are the rookies?” in response to my top 25. We have three tiers here in the second 25 because, well, the differences between these players start to get smaller.  

Remember in leagues where you are starting two linebackers, these are all bench guys/bye week fillers if you were smart enough to take two of my top 25. Here you want to look for upside if you took players towards the end of the top 25 or you just don’t agree with my rankings. If you took Darius Leonard, look for a guy who has a great matchup in week 7 because, well, you’re not benching him. Ever. Or you can just go with the boring guy like Matt Milano who will give you tackles week in and week out.

 

In case you missed it, here is the top 25 linebackers for 2020 IDP.

 

Tier

Rank

Player

Team

7

26

Khalil Mack

CHI

7

27

Devin Bush

PIT

7

28

Jamie Collins

DET

7

29

Christian Kirksey

GB

7

30

Matt Judon

BAL

7

31

Danny Trevathan

CHI

7

32

Za’Darius Smith

GB

7

33

Jerome Baker

MIA

7

36

Patrick Queen

BAL

7

35

Kwon Alexander

SF

8

36

Isaiah Simmons

ARZ

8

37

Jarrad Davis

DET

8

38

Matt Milano

BUF

8

39

Benardrick McKinney

HOU

8

40

Anthony Walker

IND

8

41

Nick Vigil

LAC

9

42

Bradley Chubb

DEN

9

43

Rashaan Evans

TEN

9

44

Myles Jack

JAX

9

45

Kenneth Murray

LAC

9

46

De’Vondre Campbell

ARZ

9

47

Donte Fowler Jr.

ATL

9

48

Tahir Whitehead

CAR

9

49

Von Miller

DEN

9

50

Anthony Hitchens

KC

 

Tier 7

 

This tier starts off with Khalil Mack, who produced a comment on Reddit as to why he wasn’t in my top 25 overall. Mack is an elite player who cost the Bears a bundle to acquire from the Raiders, but for fantasy purposes, Mack doesn’t produce enough to be elite.  Since joining the Bears he has averaged 47 tackles and 10 sacks (only 8.5 last year) which is down from the 76 and 12 during his last three years with Oakland.  He continues to get some QB hits, but even these are down to an average of 16 from 24.  He still has the talent, but he just hasn’t produced at the same level since the trade.  

Patrick Queen is my highest ranking rookie as he joins the Ravens as their first round pick. Queen was ranked the best inside linebacker in this draft class by PFF. He has speed and is great at recognizing the play.  He is a bit on the smaller side and may have a little trouble shedding blocks by the bigger offensive linemen in the NFL, but this seems to be a minor issue.Queen is a plug and play interior linebacker for the Ravens.  With all rookies in this unusual Covid-19 environment, the lack of OTAs may hinder their early development and could slow their performances out of the gate which is one of the reasons he’s not in the top 25. I expect him to be for many years to come starting in 2021. A great dynasty pick for those inclined.

The rest of the tier has solid players that are all worthy of your LB3 pick. Jamie Collins moves to Detroit and should be used in a similar manner to the way he has in the past. Christian Kirksey joins the Pack and should step in and replace Blake Martinez and scoop up his vacant tackles. Za’Darius Smith made an impression in his first year with Green Bay in 2019 and should continue to rack up the sacks. In a big play league you may move him up a bit.

 

Tier 8

 

Isaiah Simmons may be the most gifted athlete in this draft class. He is listed as a linebacker but has coverage skills that the Cardinals could move him to safety. This is the reason he falls to tier 8.  Without the benefit of coverage from OTAs, we don’t know what Kingsbury has in mind for Simmons.He may fall short of what you expect from the tackle perspective from a linebacker, but with his speed he may garner a lot of big plays for that type of scoring system. As an LB3, you can take the risk and draft him and see what happens.

The rest of this tier are all tackle heavy LBs.  They are your safe bye week fill ins or consistent scorers if one of your top two get hurt and are out for an extended period of time.

 

Tier 9

 

Bradley Chubb was drafted with high expectations and didn’t disappoint in 2018.  Last year he suffered a torn ACL and will be returning from that injury which is why I have him ranked here.  He’s an upside pick that can easily outperform his draft position if healthy.  De’Vondre Campbell moves to the Cardinals and joins a very crowded linebacker crew.  Without knowing his role, my expectations are lowered from his performance last year with the Falcons as he joins Chandler Jones, Simmons, Jordan Hicks, Devon Kennard and Hasson Reddick.  Von Miller enters his 10th season as we saw a drop off in his sack total last year to the single digits for the first time in his career that he played a full season.  The big play points are the only thing keeping him in the top 50.

Our last rookie in the top 50 is Kenneth Murray of the Chargers. Murray is another plug and play linebacker drafted in the first round. The Chargers traded up to pick him ahead of Patrick Queen and will immediately play him in the middle. He was a tackle machine for Oklahoma and can rush the passer as well.  He has terrific upside and is another rookie who could be a top 25 LB in 2021.

 

Well that’s all folks. 50 linebackers for your choosing. I will update them as necessary but these usually don’t change much unless something unexpected happens. One thing I will keep an eye out for is the changing of position designations on websites for players like TJ Watt. Some have moved him and Shaq Barrett to DL/DE/Edge.  If the majority of sites make the change I will update the lists closer to draft season in late July. Comments welcome on Twitter @gasdoc_spit, on Reddit, or wherever else you want to leave them. Next up: Top 25 Defensive Linemen and a strategy piece on drafting DBs.

 

  1. WondrousPillow says:
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    What’s going on with Donald Payne? Was a big performer down the stretch and now I can’t even tell if he’s on a team

    • GasDoc

      GasDoc says:
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      looks like he’s a restricted free agent and hasn’t signed yet….I forgot to hit reply so not sure if you saw my reply below

  2. GasDoc

    GasDoc says:
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    Looks like he’s a restricted free agent and hasn’t signed yet.

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