Sunday - Jan 20, 2019

Home / Draft / LINEBACKER BARGAIN BIN: Sleeper Picks at IDPs Most Important Position

LINEBACKER BARGAIN BIN: Sleeper Picks at IDPs Most Important Position

In the overwhelming majority of IDP leagues, the linebacker position rules the roost. While the positional value of defensive linemen has as much to do with scarcity as production, with linebackers it’s all about ‘dem stats. Linebackers are both the highest-scoring IDPs in most formats and the most consistent.

Loading up early and often at the position isn’t the worst idea ever—not by a long shot.

However, sometimes that isn’t an option—or at least not the wisest one. Maybe you like to load up on offense early on draft day. Or you decide that scarcity along the defensive line means you should attack the DL position aggressively. Or you play in a deep league with 16-plus teams. Or maybe you fell asleep during the draft and didn’t wake up until Round 22.

Dude. No tequila until after the draft. Get your head in the game Paul!

Whatever the reason, don’t lose hope, intrepid drafter. Whether you are just looking to add depth at linebacker or you’re searching for a surprise starter, there are some linebackers available late in IDP drafts this summer who have some “diamond in the rough” fantasy potential.

Granted, they also may just be lumps of coal. But hey – nothing ventured nothing gained.

And besides – what do you expect after a tequila “nap?”

 

Jon Bostic – ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bostic spent most of OTAs and minicamps running with Pittsburgh’s second-team defense, and the sixth-year veteran told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette that he’s willing to do whatever’s needed to help his team win. “My objective is to be out here, whatever coach [Mike Tomlin] asks me to do,” Bostic said. “That’s what I’m going to do. I told him when I came in, ‘hey, I’m coming here to compete.’ I would like to not come off the field, and, going forward, I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure that happens.”

It appears the worm is turning in the Steel City. Bostic’s been steadily eating into Tyler Matakevich‘s reps of late – so much so that Dulac reported it was Bostic who took the field first late in camp. That makes sense – for all Bostic’s faults he can considerably more range than Matakevich, in that a concrete birdbath has more range than Matakevich. It’s been my belief from the get-go that once Bostic learned the scheme he’d surpass Matakevich and wind up starting next to Vince Williams. We’re headed in that direction now.

 

Christian Jones – OLB, Detroit Lions

As George Stoia reported for the Detroit Free Press, Jones thinks both his acclimation in Detroit and his teammates’ acclimation to Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme have gone well in camp. “It’s a good defense for us all,” Jones said. “We’ve got guys here that can do a lot of different things. We put a lot of time in the meeting room, and when we come back here, it’s expected to be right. We just take what we learn in the classroom and put it on the field. It’s good in this setting to get out on the field and get everybody out here and working together. That’s been going well. We just have to keep building on it.”

To be fair, Jones is no world-beater as a player—four years into his career he’s yet to post a 100-tackle season, and the Chicago Bears made no real effort to re-up Jones in the offseason. However, Jones has eclipsed 85 tackles twice—including a career-high 90 stops in 2017. From Week 5 to Week 13 last year – a period that encapsulated over half of the IDP season, Jones was seventh among fantasy linebackers in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring. He’s also expected to open the season as a starter opposite Jarrad Davis in Motown.

 

Matt Milano – OLB, Buffalo Bills

Per Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News, Milano indicated that he’s well aware that the expectations for him have ratcheted up entering his second NFL season. “They always say Year Two is kind of the hardest coming off Year One, whether you did good or you did bad,” he said. “I’m attacking it every day, controlling what I can control and taking advantage of these opportunities every practice. I know what I can do. I don’t worry about what other people’s expectations are. I just go out there and make plays, which is what I’m told to do.”

Milano’s been running ahead of Humber as Buffalo’s first-team WILL linebacker, and if the exhibition opener is any indication that isn’t going to change – Milano displayed much better speed and range than Humber in that game, and he showed some flashes in five starts as a rookie. A three-down starter for the Bills available late in drafts? That should appeal to every IDP owner.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.