|Defensive Linemen | Linebackers | Defensive Backs
These linebackers were at or near the cream of the crop in this draft class and were drafted into solid situations. They will be the first LBs off the board in rookie dynasty drafts and will likely be solid picks in redraft leagues to boot.
Rolando McClain (OAK): Talk about a perfect storm: probably the best LB in this class (or at least the most complete) goes to a team that, on the second day of the draft, kicked its stud MLB to the curb after getting too far into the doghouse with management. Kirk Morrison has been one of the better fantasy LBs over the past few years and McClain steps right in and should produce.
Brandon Spikes (NEP): Spikes was one of the best LBs in college over the past few seasons, although his overall impact declined over the last year or so. Bill Bellichick has never been one to rely on rookies right out of the gate, but did so with fellow LB Jerod Mayo, and that worked out pretty well. Spikes projects to play in the middle of the LBs, but could see playing time from the outset with Adelius Thomas sent off and the Pat defense in need of some youthful exuberance and playmaking.
Perhaps this Year
These linebackers were likely ranked pretty high pre-draft and were drafted into decent situations and could emerge at some point this season, especially if a key starter goes down with injury. Redrafters may snag them very, very late in large leagues, but it’s really only the dynasty owner that needs to know these names right now.
Daryl Washington (ARI): The former Horned Frog fits the Cardinal 3-4 pretty well, and will see time on the edge behind veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans. Porter has had some off-field issues in the off-season and Washington may get playing time right away if Porter faces any kind of suspension.
Sean Weatherspoon (ATL): Weatherspoon would have likely been in the first category had he been drafted by anyone other than the Falcons, who have a bevy of talent at LB. He can play the weak side (currently manned by veteran Mike Peterson) or the strong side. If he plays the strong side, his fantasy value will have a hard cap on it. If he can slide in and play solid minutes at WLB (or if Peterson gets hurt), then he’ll have some value this season. He should be looked at hard and long in dynasty leagues since he’ll likely take the WLB spot very soon, since Peterson is no spring chicken.
Sean Lee (DAL): Lee is just another in the long line of solid ex-Nittany Lion LBs. He’ll be brooded by Keith Brooking in the middle of the Cowboy line and could see solid playing time this season. If there’s an injury in the middle of the LB corps (Brooking or Bradie James), Wade Phillips could turn to the rookie. Like with Weatherspoon, you should target Lee in dynasty leagues, as he’ll likely be a starter within a couple/few years.
Donald Butler (SDC): It seems like there’s always a bit of turnover when it comes to the who-does-what for the Bolts linebackers. Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnett both have some value in the middle of the line, and Butler could see significant time there should one of those guys go down with injury or prove ineffective.
Best of the Rest
These LBs are solid talents, but were drafted into not-so-great
situations. They’re certainly worth drafting in dynasty leagues.
Navarro Bowman (SFO): Bowman performed better than fellow ex-Nittany Lion Sean Lee in the past couple of seasons, but was drafted into a crowded LB situation with the Niners. Plus, in the 3-4, Bowman will likely play the edge, which could limit his fantasy potential somewhat.
Pat Angerer (IND): Currently a primary MLB backup to the aging Gary Brackett for the Colts. He could have value to Brackett owners, or any redraft league owners should Brackett go down.
Roddrick Muckelroy (CIN): Muckelroy, who had a productive couple of seasons with the Longhorns, joins a very crowded linebacking corps in Cincinnati. Still, he’s worth a shot in dynasty formats.
Darryl Sharpton (HOU): Like Angerer, Sharpton is currently slated as a primary backup to the very productive MLB manned by a straight-up stud. DeMeco Ryans owners need to grab Sharpton at some point in their rookie drafts.
Perry Riley (WAS): With the Skins employing the 3-4, there could be a couple of productive LB spots for this LB corps. London Fletcher is obviously the best of the group, but he’s getting up there in age (and then some) and Riley could have every opportunity to compete for time right away.
Travis Goethel (OAK): With Kirk Morrison gone and Rolando McClain manning the middle, there will be opportunities for young LBs to get playing time. Goethel has some talent – playing well as a Sun Devil against both the run and pass – and could back up McClain in the middle.
Josh Hull (STL): Hull is slated to back up James Laurinaitis in the middle for the Rams. We saw Laurinaitis break out in a big way last season and Hull could be given a shot should the stud go down.
Dekoda Wilson (FSU): Tampa has a great track record of employing former Seminoles in their Cover-2 scheme. It will take a small miracle for Wilson to have immediate impact, but savvy dynasty owners should grab Wilson and stash him in hopes that he someday gets a shot.
These guys should only be looked at in deep dynasty formats.
Eric Norwood (CAR),
Rennie Curran (TEN),
Jamar Chanay (PHI),
A.J. Edds (MIA),
Keenan Clayton (PHI),
Nathan Tripplett (MIN),
Kavell Conner (IND),
Cody Grimm (TBB),
Stevenson Sylvester (PIT),
Ryan D’Imperio (MIN),
Austin Spitler (MIA).