Tuesday - Jan 15, 2019

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LINEBACKER LOTTERY TICKETS: Late-Round Values at IDP’s Most Important Position

A strong cadre of linebackers is essential to being successful in IDP leagues. Not only are linebackers usually the highest-scoring position in most IDP formats, but they are also easily the most consistent scorers.

Simply put, A solid stable of linebackers is the foundation of a great fantasy defense.

Of course, the high-end options at the position also carry high-end price tags. In an industry league I’m currently “slow” drafting in, one team owner burned a pair of picks on acquiring arguably the top two guys at the position in Kwon Alexander of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers.

Those picks came in the fourth and sixth round.

Now, those elite linebackers are going to produce bigly, provided they stay healthy. But sometimes you want production at the linebacker spot at a discount. Maybe you want to bomb away on offense early. Maybe you want to be aggressive on the defensive line (as some have suggested in 2017). Or maybe you’re just looking for some late-round values at linebacker to round out your IDP lineup.

Whatever the case, here’s a look at a handful of linebackers with that sort of potential in 2017 who are either being drafted late in deeper fantasy football leagues or (much more often) aren’t being drafted at all.

 

Jon Bostic, Indianapolis Colts

Inside linebacker Jon Bostic has been a relative disappointment since the Chicago Bears took him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. As Bostic prepares to begin his fifth NFL season the 26-year-old will do so for his fourth team.

However, Bostic has done something very few expected of him this summer – inserted himself at the forefront of the wide-open competition for the starting spots at ILB for the Colts. Backup QB Scott Tolzien told Kevin Bowen of the team’s website that he thinks Bostic is the real deal.

“He’s a high-football IQ, smart player,” Tolzien said. “He’s been impressive so far.”

Caveat time. This isn’t the first time superlatives have been tossed around regarding Bostic in camp. Or the third.

The camp superlatives just haven’t carried over to the regular season before though. Bostic’s athletic and fiery. He’s also (to this point) been out of position as much as he’s been in it.

But for all Bostic’s flaws, he’s still just 26. Maybe the light came on. And while there’s no guarantee he’ll hang on to his starting gig, he’s been consistently running with the ones dating back to the first set of OTAs.

 

Preston Brown, Buffalo Bills

Of all the players listed here, Brown’s the one whose status as an IDP afterthought in 2017 (at least so far) is both most puzzling and the most temporary.

But there was a reason for it – despite three straight seasons of 100+ tackles (including 139 a year ago) a combination of the arrival of Gerald Hodges, the presence of second-year pro Reggie Ragland and a perceived poor fit in Sean McDermott’s new 4-3 scheme meant Brown’s days as a starter were supposed to be done.

Yeah – about that.

As it turns out, Ragland’s an even worse fit for what McDermott wants from his MIKE linebacker than Brown allegedly is. Hodges hasn’t made it any closer to the starting lineup that running with the twos behind Brown. And Brown now appears firmly entrenched as a three-down starter in the middle for a Bills defense that’s been a fantasy goldmine for years.

Brown was a top 25 fantasy linebacker last year in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring, even with Zach Brown siphoning up almost 140 total stops. One Brown’s gone. One remains. And if you can buy low on the latter before your league-mates get wise it could well be jackpot time.

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.