Three-Down Linebackers for 2021 IDP Leagues
Keeping tabs on the three-down linebackers is key in IDP. Much like RBs, you want the linebackers who are playing at least 80% of the snaps or more. COVID is still a thing in 2021, in addition to injuries and poor play. Knowing who's on the field will provide a leg up on your league mates. You'll know who are the LBs to own and whose performances won't stand up because of inconsistent playing time.
This will be updated throughout the rest of the season as information is presented. Here is how the snaps are playing out among the linebackers and who were calling the plays.
*-I do point out if a non-LB is calling the plays in my notes
|Team||Player||2021 snaps||2021 snap rate||Green Dot|
In a complete 180 from what the preseason showed us, Zaven Collins was on the field for just 22 snaps. He started and appeared in the first two snaps, but Jordan Hicks came in on the third. Jordan Hicks and Isaiah Simmons were the three-down LBs for Arizona. I'm not ready to crown Hicks just yet as I want to see what happens in Week 2. I didn't see anything on a Collins injury. He seemed to have the nuances of calling the plays down during the preseason - at least to me. Simmons should be owned in all IDP formats.
Green Dot: Zaven Collins
The Falcons were pretty straightforward this week. Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun were on the field for 100% of the snaps. Both are weekly starters and they combined for 19 of Atlanta's 68 tackles. Jones led the way with 11 and a defended pass.
Green Dot: Deion Jones
While Patrick Queen wasn't a true three-down player, he played over 80% of the snaps. Queen continues to be a solid pass-rusher, pressuring the QB on 50% of his pass-rush snaps. Queen recorded a sack to go along with his nine tackles. Queen recorded a 0.26 point/snap rate and is looking like a solid LB2 with weekly LB1 upside.
Green Dot: Chuck Clark
The Buffalo Bills were pretty vanilla throughout Week 1. Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano were on the field for 100% of the snaps.
Green Dot: Tremaine Edmunds
Shaq Thompson is the play-caller for Carolina and turned out a fantastic game. Thompson was all over the field with 10 tackles, a sack and an INT. He also added three defended passes. Thompson produced a 15.3% tackle rate and is a weekly starter. Jermaine Carter was his running mate and was in on all but three snaps. Carter is an LB3/4 in leagues starting three or more LBs.
Green Dot: Shaq Thompson
Roquan Smith wore the dot for Chicago. Alec Ogletree is replacing Danny Trevathan during his IR-stint. Ogletree appeared in nearly 80% of the snaps and is worth a look if you're weak at LB. You don't need me to tell you to start Smith weekly.
Green Dot: Roquan Smith
Logan Wilson was the play-caller for the Bengals in Week 1. He's the only Bengal LB to roster at this point. Germaine Pratt was on the field for just 45% of the snaps.
Green Dot: Logan Wilson
There was a heavy rotation at LB against Kansas City. Anthony Walker wore the dot and was on the field for practically every snap. Without Grant Delpit, and then losing Ronnie Harrison to an ejection, the Browns deployed their base defense more frequently. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was on the field for just 38% of the snaps. He was actually second in usage among the group. Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson each played 34% of the snaps. As of now, Walker is the only Cleveland LB to roster.
Green Dot: Anthony Walker
Week 1 was a bit odd. On the first two drives, Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal started but appeared to have come off on running downs for Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. When all was said and done, Parsons and Neal out-snapped Jaylon and LVE significantly. Jaylon appeared in 16 snaps while LVE was in on 14. I thought Parsons would be in the 85% range with Neal in the 80% range. I think you can drop Smith and LVE in most redraft formats.
Week 1 Green Dot: Micah Parsons
Josey Jewell was the lone three-down linebacker for Denver this week. He appeared in all 61 defensive snaps. AJ Johnson saw more than 80% of the snaps - receiving 51 snaps (84% of the total). Not much to take away from this game, other than Von Miller is back and looks like he hasn't missed a beat.
Green Dot: Josey Jewell
Alex Anzalone played 100% of the snaps - but I really don't want him near my roster. Anzalone had just three tackles over his 55 snaps. Jamie Collins, who's typically been a three-down guy, saw 37 snaps (67% of the total).
Green Dot: Alex Anzalone
Green Bay Packers
De'Vondre Campbell appeared to be the play-caller for Green Bay as I noticed him with the dot. Campbell was in on all but a handful of snaps. Krys Barnes was in on 76% of the snaps and is efficient enough to be considered a weekly LB3/4.
Green Dot: De'Vondre Campbell
Zach Cunningham and Christian Kirksey were the three-down guys for Houston in Week 1. Kirksey recorded six tackles and pitched in an INT and two defended passes. Two of Kirksey's tackles were for a loss. I'd start throwing out Kirksey in trade offers while he's healthy.
Green Dot: Christian Kirksey
Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke were the three-down guys for Indy and each played in 100% of the snaps. Okereke is shaping up to be a solid LB3 if his role continues.
Green Dot: Darius Leonard
The Jaguars were pretty straightforward in Week 1. Myles Jack was in on 91% of the snaps and Damien Wilson received 77% of the snaps. Wilson gets to plays a bit late, as just one of his tackles were solo. If you have the roster space, I might keep Wilson. With shorter benches, I think you can stream and drop him for another option this week.
Green Dot: Myles Jack
Kansas City Chiefs
With Willie Gay on IR, Nick Bolton got the chance to see significant snaps. Anthony Hitchens ended up appearing 80% of the snaps with Bolton playing in 76% of the snaps. Bolton had a solid game - finishing with seven tackles. He was quick and wrapped up well on his tackles. Until Gay returns, I prefer Bolton over Hitchens.
Green Dot: Anthony Hitchens
Las Vegas Raiders
Will the Raiders have a true three-down player? Maybe not. Cory Littleton appeared in 84% of the snaps, so I think he's the guy I'd want out of the group. My concern with Littleton is his regression in coverage. He allowed all four targets to be caught - which resulted in 50 yards and 33 yards after the catch. His poor coverage could lead to decrease in snaps. Denzel Perryman recieved the start alongside Littleton and called the plays. Perryman was on for 76% of the snaps, so his IDP production could be inconsistent with that usage - that's my only concern about adding to my roster. I think if you need an LB4/5, he could be fine. I'd rather have Perry,an over someone like Germaine Pratt. Nick Kwiatkoski and KJ Wright were on the field togther, as well. When Perryman wasn't on the field, Kwiatkoski called the plays.
Green Dot: Denzel Perryman
Los Angeles Chargers
Kenneth Murray showed up for the Chargers in Week 1. He was on the field for 100% of the snaps and finished with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. As of now, there really isn't an LB2 I'd target. I'd have Kyzir White on my watch list as he was on the field for nearly 70% of the snaps. I don't think Drue Tranquill is going to happen as he was on for just three snaps.
Green Dot: Derwin James
Los Angeles Rams
Throughout the preseason, Kenny Young and Troy Reeder were expected to be the 2-LBs in their nickel and 2-LB sets. Kenny Young was the three-down guy and played 100% of the snaps. He actually had a solid game and looks like a different player. He was around the ball and the ball carrier. Young finished with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Reeder is droppable as he appeared in just 19 snaps.
Green Dot: Jordan Fuller
Jerome Baker is the Miami LB to own here. Baker produced a 2:1 solo-to-assist ratio and recorded 12 tackles - resulting in a 16.2% tackle rate. Baker is a weekly starter.
Green Dot: Jerome Baker
Anthony Barr was out for Week 1 and Nick Vigil stepped in as his replacement. Vigil called the plays and he's more of a tackler than Barr is, so if Barr continues to miss time, Vigil will be worth a look in most IDP formats. Eric Kendricks did Eric Kendricks things - recording 15 tackles.
Green Dot: Nick Vigil
New England Patriots
I'm not sure I want part of this rotation. Dont'a Hightower was in on 78% of the snaps, while Ju'Whaun Bentley was in on 72% of the snaps. At the LB spot, there isn't IDP-upside. If you try and depend on an NE LB, as Yoda said to Obi-Wan, "Only pain, you will find."
Green Dot: Devin McCourty
New Orleans Saints
Demario Davis wore the dot for the time he was on the field and played in just 74% of the snaps. The starters were taken off near the end as the game was out of hand. Kwon Alexander, amazingly enough, appeared in 60% of the snaps. His first action since his Achilles' injury last season. Davis is the only LB I want from New Orleans as of now.
Green Dot: Demario Davis
New York Giants
Blake Martinez just seems to be everywhere the ball is and is one of the most efficient tacklers in IDP. Martinez has produced a 15.3% tackle rate over 137 defensive snaps. When it comes to Giants' linebackers, it's Blake Martinez and to quote Metallica, "and nothing else matters."
Week 2 Green Dot: Blake Martinez
New York Jets
Jamien Sherwood got knocked out of the game just a few snaps in. He tried to gut it out, but it looked like he was favoring a hamstring. CJ Mosley and Del'Shawn Phillips were on the field for the majority of the snaps.
Eric Wilson might be the only LB to own here. It might've just been the score. Eric Wilson was on for 85% of the snaps and called the plays, while Alex Singleton and TJ Edwards were in a rotation and Philadelphia rolled out three linebackers.
Green Dot: Eric Wilson
Although Joe Schobert was the play-caller, he still saw right around 80% of the snaps. Devin Bush notched 10 tackles and appeared in 73 snaps - resulting in a 13.7% tackle rate. As of now, both Steeler LBs are startable, but we'll have to see if Bush continues to eat into the tackle opportunities.
Green Dot: Joe Schobert
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers steamrolled the Lions in Week 1 and eased up toward the end of the game. Keep an eye on Dre Greenlaw's groin injury as it limited him to 37 snaps. He made the most of his time on the field, however, as he notched six tackles and added a pick-six. Greenlaw produced 0.57 pts/snap which is an unsustainable rate. Fred Warner continues to be the play-caller and weekly LB1.
Update 9/16/2021: Dre Greenlaw is undergoing a groin procedure which will knock him out the next 6-8 weeks. Use of your IR spots and stash him. If no IR spots, you're going to have drop for a healthy body. As far as a replacement goes, Marcel Harris should see more snaps out of necessity. Azeez Al-Shair played in 72 snaps (78% of the total defensive snaps). Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles also saw some limited snaps in Week 1, as well. As of now, I expect Al-Shair to play the majority of the snaps alongside Fred Warner - so, he should get the nickel and subpackage snaps. If the 49ers run 1-LB sets, Warner will be the lone linebacker.
Green Dot: Fred Warner
Bobby Wagner called the plays and appeared in 100% of the snaps. It was good to see Brooks on the field and get the usage. Brooks was on for 86% of the snaps. Wagner is a weekly LB1 and Brooks is a weekly LB3 - borderline LB2.
Green Dot: Bobby Wagner
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs were straightforward in that they deployed Devin White and Lavonte David on 100% of the defensive snaps against Dallas. White and David were responsible for 21 of the 70 total tackles. Both are weekly LB starters.
Week 1 Green Dot: Devin White
The Titans continue to deploy Jayon Brown as the play-caller. Rashaan Evans appeared in 80% of the snaps.
Green Dot: Jayon Brown
Washington Football Team
Cole Holcomb was the true three-down player for Washington in Week 2. It doesn't appear that Jon Bostic is going to be a full-time player, as Bostic saw a decrease in usage rate from Week 1 - down to 57%. Rookie, Jamin Davis, flashes his ability and made a solid play on Sterling Shepard in coverage - preeventing a first down. He was stride for stride with him. However, Davis appeared in just 39% of the snaps (27 total). If you're in a deep redraft, he's still worth holding on to. If you have a shallow bench, you might want to drop him for a full-time player.
Week 2 Green Dot: Cole Holcomb