Before the season, I ranked Lavonte David as my #1 LB (over Luke Kuechly) with the logic that he had no internal competition from other LBs on Tampa Bay. While David has had an up-and-down season, he’s still a weekly LB1 on the season. But the big surprise out of Tampa has been rookie Kwon Alexander, who is currently neck-and-neck with David for the season. As a fourth round pick, Alexander was supposed to split snaps with free agent Bruce Carter, but after a stellar preseason he straight up beat him out for the job. I’ve mentioned Alexander in this space before, but after Sunday’s game with 11 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble that he recovered, he’s a household name in the IDP world. I would imagine he’s owned in most, if not all, leagues, but I would still target him if possible, especially in dynasty leagues.
Here’s a look around the rest of the IDP world after Week 8:
Khalil Mack – Since preseason, there has been a lot of eyes on Mack’s position eligibility. As a rookie, he was almost exclusively a Strong-Side LB, but this year he’s had his hand on the ground the majority of the time. Some sites were slow to adapt, but now both ESPN and Yahoo list Mack as a DL and LB. His performance hasn’t been very consistent thus far, and he only has 4 sacks, but given the relative lack of talent at the DL position this year, Mack is a must-own. He’s already had his bye, and Oakland is about to start a five week stretch where they should be competitive, including three against top 10 matchups for DEs.
Derrick Shelby – After finally getting healthy and starting to play like the DL1 he was drafted as, Cameron Wake tore his achilles and is out for the year. Given the nature of the injury, and his somewhat advanced age, I would try to get rid of Wake for anything I could get in dynasty formats. His replacement is likely going to be Shelby, as Dion Jordan is suspended, and Miami has nothing resembling depth on defense. I’m not recommending adding Shelby at this point, but he’s a name to watch moving forward, as he’s had some success as a pass rusher in limited opportunities.
Vontaze Burfict – The much anticipated return of 2013’s LB1 overall is finally here, as Burfict made his season debut on Sunday. After missing almost an entire season with a variety of injuries, some rust was to be expected, and honestly Burfict played better than expected, putting up 5 tackles. This situation will definitely be one to monitor over the coming weeks, because Cincy’s LB position always puts up stats. My guess at this point is that Vincent Rey will continue to get nearly 100% of the snaps, and Burfict will emerge alongside him as a three-down LB. But with the pupu platter of Emmanuel Lamur, A.J. Hawk and Rey Maualuga still around, it could be that none of them are worth starting.
Morgan Burnett – Staying with the same theme, Burnett returned to the lineup on Sunday as well, after missing 5 of the first 6 games. His stat line wasn’t anything special, but he also appeared to be healthy, which is more than he’s shown in almost two years. After a subpar matchup this week against Carolina, Burnett gets to face two top 10 teams for Safeties in Weeks 10 and 11, so if he’s available, I would absolutely pick him up for at least the next three weeks to see if he can return to his DB1 form.
Reggie Nelson – With bye weeks and injuries wreaking havoc on the entire league, it’s not a bad idea to play matchups in the short term, especially if your team is sitting around .500. Nelson got off to a rough start this year, but has put up solid numbers in three of his last four games. He faces Cleveland on Thursday this week, and should be good bet for DB1-2 numbers, especially with Johnny under center.
You can follow Kevin on Twitter.