Projected Three-Down Linebackers For 2022 IDP Leagues

Aug 04, 2022
Projected Three-Down Linebackers For 2022 IDP Leagues

As defensive schemes remain fluid and complex, the roles of the linebacker are changing as well. More teams are deploying just two linebackers at a time, with some teams deploying single-LB sets. It's vital to know which linebackers won't be leaving the field, or at least less often. Much like the running back position, it's becoming a challenge to identify those three-down guys or bell-cow linebackers who are going to see at least 80% of the snaps.


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As we head into the preseason and draft season, I project who I think is going to wear the green dot as their team's defensive play-caller and who'll be on the field in a full-time role. This will update throughout the preseason as roles change and new information is discovered.

2022 Projected Three-Down Linebackers
Team Player Games Played 2021 2021 Snaps 2021 Snap Rate 2022 Projected Green Dot
ARI Isaiah Simmons 17 1,005 92%
ARI Zaven Collins 17 220 20%
ATL Mykal Walker 17 193 17% x
BAL Patrick Queen 17 826 76%
BUF Tremaine Edmunds 15 873 81% x
BUF Matt Milano 16 916 92%
CAR Shaq Thompson 14 798 73% x
CHI Roquan Smith 17 1,009 95%
CHI Nicholas Morrow 0 (Missed Season) 0 0% x
CIN Logan Wilson 13 707 63% x
CLE Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah 14 598 53%
CLE Jacob Phillips 4 123 11%
DAL Micah Parsons 16 904 79%
DAL Leighton Vander Esch 17 663 58% x
DEN Josey Jewell 2 82 8% x
DET Alex Anzalone 14 828 73% x
GB De'Vondre Campbell 16 988 92% x
GB Quay Walker 0 (Rookie) 0 0%
HOU Christian Kirksey 13 789 69% x
IND Darius Leonard 16 1,001 92% x
IND Bobby Okereke 17 1,073 98%
JAX Foyesade Oluokun 17 1,149 98% x
KC Nick Bolton 16 624 56% x
KC Willie Gay 12 437 39%
LV Divine Deablo 17 296 26%
LAC Drue Tranquill 14 561 48%
LAR Bobby Wagner 16 1,128 89% x
MIA Jerome Baker 16 972 86% x
MIN Eric Kendricks 15 1,032 85%
MIN Jordan Hicks 17 1,054 97% x
NE Ju'Whaun Bentley 16 691 70% x
NO Demario Davis 16 1,037 93% x
NO Pete Werner 15 394 35%
NYG Tae Crowder 17 1,098 94%
NYJ CJ Mosley 16 1,096 92% x
NYJ Quincy Williams 16 879 74%
PHI TJ Edwards 16 685 61% x
PIT Myles Jack 15 919 83% x
SF Fred Warner 16 978 90% x
SF Dre Greenlaw 3 113 10%
SEA Cody Barton 16 189 15%
SEA Jordyn Brooks 17 1,107 87% x
TB Devin White 17 1,079 95% x
TB Lavonte David 12 787 69%
TEN David Long 10 634 58% x
WAS Cole Holcomb 16 1,021 92% x
WAS Jamin Davis 16 581 52%

Arizona Cardinals

Okay, I don’t really know what Arizona is doing with their off-ball LBs. They drafted Isaiah Simmons in the first round in 2020 and, essentially, red-shirted him. Zaven Collins was drafted in the first round, and well, you know the drill; red-shirted. Simmons ended up playing in just over 1,000 snaps.

During training camp, Simmons has been playing all over the field and with the DBs. Vance Joseph has decided to call it the “Star” position. We’ll see how this plays out, but it could lower Simmons’s efficiency if he plays more DB. He played 587 snaps at LB and 183 snaps at CB. If that changes, it will decrease his tackle floor.

Zaven Collins may not be a three-down LB, however, he’ll see an increase in snaps. If he does get a full-time role, he’ll be able to focus on making plays. Nick Vigil is playing as if he’s going to take the job, and not just be a camp body.

If Simmons plays more with the DBs, Collins, and Vigil could be the full-time ILBs.

Week 1 Preseason: I never like to overanalyze preseason playing time, but most of the first team defense didn't play, but Zaven Collins did and saw 18 snaps. Collins had just a tackle on the day. Jalen Thompson is still projected to wear the dot.

Week 2 Preseason: So Isaiah Simmons and Jalen Thompson didn't play, so we'll have to see if Zaven Collins's role as play-caller continues into the regular season. He wore the dot against the Ravens.

Week 3 Preseason: No Isaiah Simmons or Jalen Thompson in this game, as well as most of the starters. Zaven Collins was out on the field and played 12 snaps. I'm still trying to figure out if it's a good or bad thing that he was playing. I think he needs the snaps, so I think he has a full-time role come Week 1.

Green Dot: Jalen Thompson

Atlanta Falcons

The narrative around Atlanta was that the Falcons weren’t happy with Deion Jones and were looking to trade him and his contract. Fast forward to training camp, they still haven’t found a trade partner and it’s unlikely they cut him. Jones is still on the Falcons and looks like he’s progressing from shoulder surgery.

There’s plenty of competition at linebacker with Mykal Walker, Rashaan Evans, and Troy Andersen. Until his role changes, I think they continue to roll out Jones as their three-down linebacker when he’s healthy and ready to return.

Rashaan Evans has familiarity with Dean Pees’ defense from his time in Tennessee. This will be a position battle to monitor throughout camp and the preseason, as I have no real clear indication of who’s in front.

Update 8/24/2022: In a tweet from William McFadden, he notes from Arthur Smith that there's competition at ILB and Deion Jones is working with all but the first unit so far. Mykal Walker and Rashaan Evans have a leg up on Jones, but I do think he'll have a chance to play his way into first-team reps. Orlando Ledbetter notes he's looked decent in coverage. He needs to get into playing shape. As of now, I'm dropping Jones in my ranks to LB24 and I'd target him as an LB2/3 with this news, and if you do draft him, continue to build your LB depth. It's something to take note of. I'd also target Mykal Walker as an LB3 since he's been the one wearing the dot. I'm trying not to over-react too much, but Jones carries a significant cap number, so they just play him because they are paying him a ridiculous amount of money. He is probably their best ILB, just ahead of Walker and Evans.

Week 1 Preseason: Deion Jones is still recovering from shoulder surgery, so Rashaan Evans and Mykal Walker got the first team reps. Evans and Walker each saw 10 snaps and Walker wore the dot.

Week 2 Preseason: Deion Jones is close to coming off the PUP, but he didn't play against the Jets. Mykal Walker and Rashaan Evans were on the field with the first team. It did look like Evans came off the field in single-LB packages. Mykal Walker once again wore the dot for the Falcons. We'll see if this continues when Jones is activated.

Week 3 Preseason: Deion Jones made his first appearance of the preseason against Jacksonville and played 13 snaps. It was good to see him on the field. and he looked healthy. He has a big contract, so I think out of necessity, they play him this season if he ends up sticking around. Atlanta might have wanted to get some tape on him and show the league he's in fact healthy, so I don't see the trade rumors ending. Either way, I think there are still more questions than answers surrounding Jones. I think Mykal Walker ends up wearing the dot come Week 1 and Jones getting the majority of the snaps alongside him with Rashaan Evans having a role, as well.

9/2/2022: Deion Jones was placed on IR on 9/1. He'll be able to return but will miss the first four weeks of the season. At this point, if you're a Jones owner, stash him on your IR. Mykal Walker will be the Falcons' LB to own here since he'll have the three-down role as the play caller of the defense. Rashaan Evans will have some value in deeper leagues where you need to start four LBs. I do think Jones will see the field once he returns, especially if Evans is showing limited ability in coverage. If drafts are coming up, I don't have a problem with Jones as a draft and stash in the last few rounds.

Green Dot: Mykal Walker

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are another team who have placed the playcalling responsibilities in the hands of a DB. Chuck Clark has been the play-caller over the last few seasons.

Patrick Queen has had a rough go as an off-ball LB. Queen has missed 43 tackles over his first two seasons and has struggled in coverage and against the run. Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln? Queen has appeared in an average of 78% of the snaps in his first two seasons and the Ravens haven’t had a real option to replace him at this point.

Josh Bynes has been that veteran presence in the locker room. As far as his play? He saw 61% of the snaps but played well over his 500+ snaps in 2021.

Baltimore deployed two linebackers 78% of the time and scaled back their one and zero LB packages. I’m hoping the addition of Zachary Orr as LB coach will help in Queen’s development, and Queen is the one I’m targeting in most formats. He’s not a weekly LB1, but I’m targeting him as an LB3/4.

Week 1 Preseason: Most of the first team defense didn't play - so, no Chuck Clark, Patrick Queen, or Josh Bynes. Malik Harrison got the nod here and played 28 snaps wearing the dot.

Week 2 Preseason: There was no Chuck Clark or Patrick Queen in this one. It's worth noting that an LB is wearing the dot, as opposed to a DB as in seasons past. Malik Harrison wore the dot against the Cardinals. If Harrison is going to wear the dot in the regular season, there will be some late-round sleeper appeal here.

Week 3 Preseason: Baltimore held out their defensive starters. We'll see who calls the plays come Week 1. I think they continue to put the dot on Chuck Clark.

Green Dot: Chuck Clark

Buffalo Bills

Tremaine Edmunds has been the defensive play-caller since his rookie year and has amassed nearly 3,700 snaps over his four-year career. Edmunds has been a consistent IDP producer, recording 108 or more tackles in each of his four seasons - resulting in a 12.5% tackle rate. He’s a solid tackler, but his coverage has tailed off and become a liability. It does look like coverage is the aspect of his game he’s working on, as he’s been making plays in camp and receiving praise. Will that translate to Sundays? We’ll have to see, but as of now, Edmunds is entrenched as Buffalo’s signal caller and three-down linebacker.

Matt Milano is another LB who should see the field for the majority of the snaps. Buffalo typically runs out 2-LB packages and Milano is the guy opposite Edmunds. Although he receives the volume and usage in most packages, it hasn’t translated to production. In a full-time role, Milano recorded a 9.4% tackle rate over 916 snaps. In deeper leagues, starting four or more LBs, he’ll have some use. He’s a solid depth piece.

I like what I've heard from 3rd round pick Terrell Bernard. It might take an injury for him to see snaps, but keep him on your watch list and add him in dynasty.

Week 1 Preseason: No Tremaine Edmunds or Matt Milano this week. Terrell Bernard got the start and wore the dot. Bernard will be a waiver wire addition if Edmunds misses time, as he appears to be in line to replace Edmunds if Buffalo moves on from him.

Week 2 Preseason: Bills went with their starting LBs, so Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano saw the field. Buffalo is a 2-LB defense, so Milano and Edmunds were the three-down guys here with Edmunds wearing the dot.

Week 3 Preseason: The normal starters didn't play in the finale. I'd have Terrell Bernard on your waiver wire watch list though. If Edmunds gets injured, Bernard appears to be his backup and will call the plays in his absence.

Green Dot: Tremaine Edmunds

Carolina Panthers

I don’t think a whole lot changes with Carolina this season. Shaq Thompson has been the play-caller over the last few seasons and produced his third straight 100-tackle season. I think he’s entrenched as their signal caller for 2022 and is a solid LB3 and is one of that LB1 should you decide to fade the top of the LB ranks.

I’m not interested in the LB2 as there will probably be a rotation between Cory Littleton, Frankie Luvu, and Damien Wilson.

Week 1 Preseason: Nothing really to take away here. Shaq Thompson didn't play, so Damien Wilson got the first-team reps and wore the dot. I don't think Wilson or Cory Littleton will be full-time guys. Keep an eye on Frankie Luvu, he got a TFL and was pulled after one snap.

Week 2 Preseason: It's shaping up to be Shaq Thompson and a combination of Frankie Luvu, Damien Wilson, and Cory Littleton at LB. Neither of the four didn't play against the Patriots, so not much else to glean from this one. Thompson is shaping up to the play-caller, and I'd consider Luvu in deeper leagues, as he seems to be getting talked up quite a bit.

Week 3 Preseason: Shaq Thompson still working his way back from offseason knee surgery didn't play in the preseason finale. Frankie Luvu got the start and wore the dot. Thompson should be ready for Week 1, but may not have a three-down role as Carolina could ease him back in. Something to watch heading into the week, and I'd have Luvu dialed up on the wire.

Green Dot: Shaq Thompson

Chicago Bears

So, the latest NFL trend is the “hold in”. Showing up to practice, but complaining of an ailment. You’re at practice, so you can’t be fined for wanting a new contract.

Roquan Smith is one of those players. He’s been Chicago’s signal caller and he might be playing the right outside ILB position (weak-side) and ceding those duties. Smith has been an elite IDP producer and has recorded a 14.5% tackle rate over his 3,600 career snaps - resulting in 524 career tackles. I’m not too concerned with his contract situation.

Nicholas Morrow should be the LB2 opposite Smith and has sleeper appeal as the "MIKE" and is the favorite to wear the dot. DC Alan Wiliams wants his "MIKE" calling the plays. The Bears ran 2-LB packages nearly 80% of the time, however, did run single-LB around 20% of the time. Target Morrow as an LB4/5 near the later part of your draft. He's on track to see a three-down role as the signal caller.

Week 1 Preseason: Nicholas Morrow wore the dot and played 16 snaps. Matt Adams played alongside and played 25 snaps. Adams is a deep dart throw if Roquan Smith's contract issues extend into the regular season.

Week 2 Preseason: Nicholas Morrow had his snaps scaled back in Week 2 - seeing just six snaps over two series. Morrow wore the dot while he was on the field. Matt Adams got hurt after two snaps, so we'll have to check in on the severity. Joe Thomas slid into Adams's spot opposite Morrow. Once Morrow's night was done, Thomas called the plays with DeMarquis Gates playing opposite. The Bears are getting a long look at Jack Sanborn, who led the defense in snaps with 62.

Week 3 Preseason: Nicholas Morrow played all 19 snaps with the first team and wore the dot. Roquan Smith didn't dress for this one, but should be ready for Week 1.

Green Dot: Nicholas Morrow

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ locker room deemed Logan Wilson worthy of the dot in 2021, much like Mjolnir deemed Captain America worthy of wielding him. High praise for the second-year LB. An injury derailed him a few games and Wilson ended up playing 63% of the snaps and he produced a 14.1% tackle rate. He also stepped during the playoffs - recording 39 tackles, four TFL, an INT, and three defended passes. Heading into the 2022 season, Wilson appears locked in as the play-caller and a three-down LB. I’m targeting him as a weekly LB1.

The Bengals deployed 2-LBs 84% of the time and were predictable from that standpoint. They rotated linebackers for specific packages. Germaine Pratt was on the field for nearly 70% of the snaps, and even though he recorded 91 tackles, he was an inconsistent IDP option on a weekly basis. When Wilson was inactive, he was on the field for 100% of the snaps as the backup play-caller. He’ll have some value as bench depth in deeper leagues and is a decent option in IDP best ball leagues. In most league formats, he’ll be a waiver wire add.

Week 1 Preseason: Nothing here. Logan Wilson didn't play. Markus Bailey and Akeem Davis-Gaither saw first-team reps. As of now, there's no threat to Wilson or Germaine Pratt's snaps. ADG and Bailey graded poorly according to PFF.

Week 2 Preseason: Nothing really of note here. Logan Wilson didn't play.

Week 3 Preseason: Nothing of note. Logan Wilson is looking like the LB1 heading into 2022.

Green Dot: Logan Wison

Cleveland Browns

Over the last few weeks of the 2021 season, Anthony Walker and Jacob Phillips each wore the dot when the other wasn’t on the field. Injuries limited Walker to 13 games and 701 defensive snaps. Phillips has been dealing with injuries since being selected in the third round of the 2020 draft.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah looks ready to take on more responsibility and handle more on his plate heading into his second year.

I’m projecting Phillips and JOK as the full-time guys, but Joe Woods loves to use all of his linebackers depending on the situation. Woods also may want to go with John Johnson as the play-caller. This is going to be one of those situations that may not have a resolution until the end of the preseason. Phillips is a sneaky off-the-radar sleeper and he's being given the chance to earn the play-caller role in the middle. The Browns want to see what they have in him.

Week 1 Preseason: This will be one of the situations to watch. Anthony Walker didn't play. Jacob Phillips and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah were the first-team linebackers and each saw 14 snaps. Phillips wore the dot.

Week 2 Preseason: The Browns didn't play any of their potential starters or key defenders. Browns ran a vanilla-ish defense, mostly 2/3-LB looks.

Week 3 Preseason: The Browns' LB rotations were all over the place in the finale. In the first series, Anthony Walker. was on the field with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Sione Takitaki. In the second series, it was Jacob Phillips with JOK and Takitaki. In Cleveland's third series, it was Phillips and Walker with Walker wearing the dot. I think there will be more of a rotation with Phillips and Walker with JOK leading the LB group in snaps.

Green Dot: Jacob Phillips and Anthony Walker

Dallas Cowboys

It appears that Dallas is going with the trend of a DB wearing the dot, as it looks like Jayon Kearse is set to handle the responsibilities.

Micah Parsons came in like a Tazmanian Devil and wreaked havoc on opposing QBs. Although he was drafted as an off-ball LB, he played more edge due to the injuries Dallas suffered on the defensive line. He led the team in pressures and generated a 21.9% pressure rate, but it hindered his tackle efficiency - resulting in a 9.3% tackle rate. I don’t see why Dallas would alter his role, so we could see more of the same deployment for Parsons this season. I’m hoping for a bit more snaps as an off-ball LB, but I’m not drafting him at his current ADP as the 2nd LB off the board.

Dallas ran more four-man fronts with a single-LB because Parsons lined up on the edge so often. Leighton Vander Esch and Jabril Cox are the candidates to play off-ball LB. LVE has impressed so far and could be a team leader in 2022. Cox is definitely getting his chances to earn a spot in the rotation. LVE is shaping up to be the LB2 and can be had in the later part of your draft.

Leighton Vander Esch, according to Jeff Cavanaugh, has been wearing the dot. If this continues, even with Anthony Barr in town, that should increase his snap volume. Jayron Kearse is also wearing the dot when LVE isn't on the field.

Week 1 Preseason: Dallas sat all of their IDP-relevant players against Denver.

Week 2 Preseason: No one of IDP-relevance played against the Chargers.

Week 3: No one of IDP relevance played the preseason finale. Luke Gafford wore the dot, so I'm making the assumption that an LB is going to wear it during the regular season full-time. It could be Leighton Vander Esch, and if that's the case, he'll have some IDP value while he's healthy. Anthony Barr had the responsibility in Minnesota, didn't wear it with Dallas, so he may not be a full-time LB.

Green Dot: Leighton Vander Esch and Jayron Kearse

Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos’ LB room was a MASH unit as they seemed to suffer an injury every week. They were near league average in 2-LB packages but used single-LB 30% of the time. Even with the injuries, they seemed to be trending in that direction.

Their best LB, AJ Johnson, saw just 320 snaps and missed most of the season. Micah Kiser and Josey Jewell also suffered season-ending injuries early on. They spent time piecing the group together with Kenny Young, Justin Strnad, and Jonas Griffith.

Josey Jewell and Jonas Griffith have been the camp standouts so far. I think Jewell gets the dot and the majority of the snaps, but Griffith could have some value in deeper leagues, as he could see 70% of the snaps.

Even though Denver brought in Alex Singleton, I don’t see him factoring too much in the defensive rotation, and could be more of a special team guy to replace Griffith.

Update 8/15/2022: With Joe Schobert signing, it's probably going to take some time for him to get acclimated and eased into a role. Josey Jewell is the guy you want to draft right now, as he's projected to wear the dot. Schobert is a better off-ball LB than Alex Singleton, though he still has his warts. He was a full-time LB in Pittsburgh, but not a true three-down LB. Jonas Griffith is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, putting him on track for Week 2 - best case scenario. I'd add Schobert for depth at this point and see if he carves out more of a role. It's shaping to a rotational nightmare outside Jewell.

Week 1 Preseason: I think Josey Jewell will call the plays, but he was held out. Unfortunately, it looked like Jonas Griffith was on track for a full-time role, but an elbow injury is going cause him to miss 4-6 weeks. Alex Singleton wore the dot when Griffith exited. Baron Browning is converting to edge and saw 36 snaps on the outside and generated a near 28% QB pressure rate along with a sack. Joe Schobert has been signed, so he's going to factor into playing time, as well. I'd add him from the wire if he's available. He's a better player than Alex Singleton.

Week 2 Preseason: No Josey Jewell, so it was Alex Singleton and Justin Strnad in Denver's 2-LB packages. Singleton wore the dot when he was on the field. Denver was primarily a 2-LB defense this week, so whoever is going to play alongside Jewell, could have IDP value in the later rounds. It could be Singleton. Joe Schobert saw 32 snaps and looks to be getting his footing down, as he gets back into football shape. He didn't play well at all. He was slow and couldn't break off contact.

Update 8/23/2022: Joe Schobert was released. At this point, leave him on your waiver wire. If you picked him up, just drop for any warm body. He can't break off contact and just looks like he's stuck in the mud.

Week 3 Preseason: The Broncos avoided some bad news with Jonas Griffith, as it appears he could be ready Week 1. Alex Singleton and Justin Strnad were the ILBs in Week 3. I do think Griffith and Josey Jewell are the full-time ILBs with Jewell wearing the dot.

Green Dot: Josey Jewell

Detroit Lions

Last season’s signal caller, Alex Anzalone, could still wear the dot or could be a cut candidate. Coach Dan Campbell has cited his missed tackles as an issue (21 last season) and could lose his job. Anzalone is lucky there isn’t much depth behind him. He needs to improve his pad level, drops, tackling, and hands. Other than that, he’s aces. He struggled to make tackles and missed on his chances. Not ideal traits for an NFL linebacker.

Coach Campbell has singled out Derrick Barnes as a guy who’s made big strides from last season and is showing development headed into year two. Will that translate to a full-time role? It remains to be seen and could be a situation that needs to play itself out over the preseason. I do like Barnes’ upside for snaps if he can improve his coverage.

Week 1 Preseason: I think Alex Anzalone and Derrick Barnes will have to keep their head on a swivel because I think Malcolm Rodriguez is coming. Rodriguez made plays on special teams and defense, as well. PFF graded him as the 7th best player on defense. Barnes had a solid tackle for loss, where he shot the gap and shed a block. Barnes wore the dot and was the three-down LB in Alex Anzalone's absence.

Week.2 Preseason: With no Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes was the three-down LB for Detroit and wore the dot. There was a three-linebacker rotation between Chris Board, Jarrad Davis, and Malcolm Rodriguez. The staff loves Rodrigo, so maybe they're just keeping him healthy. Jarrad Davis isn't a good player and is a liability in all facets of the game.

Week 3 Preseason: Alex Anzalone started and played every snap with the first team defense. He also wore the dot. In the second series, there was a rotation between Derrick Barnes, Malcolm Rodrigues, and Chris Board. I'm not the biggest Anzalone fan, so I have no interest. I'm hoping that Barnes and Rodriguez can unseat Anzalone at some point.

Green Dot: Alex Anzalone

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay struck gold with De’Vondre Campbell. He landed with the Packers in the offseason and immediately entrenched himself as a leader and was bestowed the green dot. Campbell appeared in 92% of the snaps and finished with a 14.8% tackle rate. He’s a weekly LB1 and with his continued role heading into 2022, he should be one of the top LBs off the board.

The Packers ran single-LB packages nearly 37% of the time, mainly out of necessity. They didn’t have an LB who could play all three downs; until now. Quay Walker is already getting subpackage snaps in camp and is a similar archetype to Campbell. I’d target Walker as an LB3 as I do think he gets a full-time role opposite Campbell. He’s head and shoulders more talented than Krys Barnes.

Week 1 Preseason: De'Vondre Campbell didn't play, so Quay Walker got the first-team snaps. Walker wore the dot for the defense. Notable here that they already trust Walker to call the plays.

Week 2 Preseason: No change from last week. De'Vondre Campbell didn't see the field and Quay Walker wore the dot. Walker saw 12 snaps before sitting out the rest of the game. I liked what I saw from Krys Barnes and he could be in the mix for snaps opposite Campbell. In redraft leagues, I'm only targeting Campbell and Walker's upside. Walker is more of a late-round flier.

Week 3 Preseason: Quay Walker is going to be a factor this season, it's just not clear when. Krys Barnes had himself a solid preseason and will be in the rotation, as well. De'Vondre Campbell is the clear LB1 here and will be wearing the dot.

Green Dot: Devondre Campbell

Houston Texans

Christian Kirksey came in as a free agent and embraced a leadership role and led the defense as the wearer of the dot. While Kirksey has never really been a good linebacker, he’s produced when on the field - the key being “on the field”. After appearing in just 13 games over his previous two seasons, Kirksey played in 13 games and 789 defensive snaps in 2021. Kirksey recorded an 11.8% tackle rate and was a solid LB3 in most weeks.

The Texans had heavy three LB use and base packages. Kirksey has singled out Christian Harris as the fastest linebacker on the field and “super talented”. This is a crowded group of Brooklyn Brawler-type linebackers - jobbers who can step in and do a job that is asked of them. Blake Cashman can’t stay healthy. Kamu Grugier-Hill, Neville Hewitt, Kevin Pierre-Louis, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin are also in the mix. The dark horse here could be Garrett Wallow, who’s played all positions and has worn the dot, so he could complete with Kirksey for the role.

As of now, I’m only targeting Kirksey in IDP leagues and want no part of this potential rotation. I do like Harris in dynasty and could be a standout mid-season if he develops over the course of the season.

Week 1 Preseason: No Christian Kirkse, so Neville Hewitt wore the dot.

Week 2 Preseason: Christian Kirksey and Kamu Grugier-Hill both played and received the first-team snaps. KGH and Kirksey were the three-down guys in Lovie's defense, as they went 2-LB sets. Kirksey wore the dot, but there could be some late-round value if KGH gets the full-time role opposite Kirksey.

Week 3 Preseason: Houston's base looks to be a 3-LB package featuring Christian Kirksey, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Kevin Pierre-Louis. The Texans ran out three LBs on 12 snaps over three defensive series with the first team. On their second series, they were primarily in 2-LB looks with Kirksey and KGH. Kirksey is the top IDP LB here, as he didn't come off the field and wore the dot. KGH was in on the 2-LB packages, so there's LB4 value here in the later rounds of your draft.

Green Dot: Christian Kirksey

Indianapolis Colts

So Darius Leonard wants to be known as Shaquille, so keep that in mind if your platform updates his name. However, it doesn’t matter. He’s still an elite IDP producer. He’s been on the field for at least 97% of the snaps for his career and has a 14.9% tackle rate over four seasons. Leonard is also a good bet for some big plays to go along with his tackles. Feel free to target him as one of the first IDPs off the board.

Bobby Okereke should continue to be Leonard’s running mate. Okereke saw 98% of the snaps and turned in a career-high 132 tackles. Okereke’s ADP is still reasonable in the mid-12th round.

Week 1 Preseason: With Darius Leonard nursing back issues, Zaire Franklin got the first team snaps alongside Bobby Okereke. It was Franklin who wore the dot on the first team. If he's going to call the plays if Leonard misses time, there'll be some late-round value since he'll be getting the snap volume.

Week 2 Preseason: The Colts held out Zaire Franklin in this game, so he's shaping up to be Darius Leonard's replacement if he misses regular season games. Bobby Okereke didn't play either.

Week 3 Preseason: Shaquille Leonard still dealing with neck issues, so his status for Week 1 is up in the air. Zaire Franklin wore the dot for the defense and was in on the first team snaps with Bobby Okereke. Leonard has been preparing as if he's going to play and the Colts don't want to place him on PUP, as he'll miss the first four games and can't practice or participate in anything. We'll find out this week what happens with Leonard. As of now, Franklin will be the man calling the plays.

Green Dot: Darius (Shaquille) Leonard (Zaire Franklin if Leonard is out)

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars decided to dole out a ton of cash this free agency period because as we all know, that strategy doesn’t blow up in your face. The Jags backed up the Brinks truck to Foyesade Oluokun and he looks like he should have a three-down role. I’m projecting him to wear the dot, as he looked to be comfortable with the responsibility last season with Atlanta. He should be on the field for nearly every snap and has the upside to produce a season similar to his 2021 season.

The Jaguars deployed 2-LBs nearly 90% of the time and Devin Lloyd has the draft capital to command a full-time role opposite Oluokun as a rookie. If Oluokun wears the dot, I’d imagine Lloyd comes off the field in single LB packages, which they did run 15% of the time.

Keep an eye on Chad Muma. He could throw a monkey wrench into the whole defense and LB deployments if he shows out during camp and the preseason,

Week 1 Preseason: Foyesade Oluokun wore the dot for the Jags. Once again, no Devin Lloyd, so Chad Muma got a chance to show off a bit more. He finished with 2 solo tackles over his 20 snaps.

Week 2 Preseason: Foyesade Oluokun and Chad Muma were the primary three-down LBs for Jacksonville. They were primarily a 2-LB defense against Pittsburgh. Devin Lloyd missed this game, as he's dealing with a hamstring issue. Muma is getting a chance to play and show off his skills.

Week 3 Preseason: Devin Lloyd made his NFL debut and looked solid. He had a few flubs, as all rookies do. He bit on a route from Anthony Firkser that led to a first down. Lloyd played 25 snaps and looks to be ready for Week 1. He may split up some snaps with Chad Muma at the beginning of the season to get his footing going, but should be a full-time player soon enough.

Green Dot: Foyesade Oluokun

Kansas City Chiefs

Steve Spagnuolo. The name alone causes anxiety and IDP owners to irrationally swear at their computers in fits of rage. I’ve been guilty on several occasions and will continue to be.

Nick Bolton had a really good rookie year and showed leadership traits. Bolton finished with over 100 tackles and 10 TFLs and made an impact on the field as a rookie. Spagnuolo has even admitted he’s earned the green dot. Let’s hope this means Bolton will see the field for more than 70% of the snaps. As KC’s signal caller in the past, Anthony Hitchens saw around 65% of the snaps. I’m probably going to regret it, but Bolton’s upside is too high to not target him as an LB2.

The Chiefs had a heavy dose of 1-LB/3-LB packages, so who’ll play alongside Bolton? Willie Gay and rookie, Leo Chanel, are having solid camps. Chanel is a big hitter who is bringing the truck stick.

I think Bolton sticks in 1-LB sets, while Gay and Chanel could rotate in 2-LB packages based on the situation. There’s no doubt, that this is the fastest and most talented LB group the Chiefs had had in a while.

Week 1 Preseason: Nick Bolton and Willie Gay each played 9 snaps with the first team and were three-down LBs. Bolton wore the dot.

Week 2 Preseason: Bolton was the three-down linebacker for KC and wore the dot. Willie Gay played nine snaps and was the LB who came off the field in KC's single-LB package. If Gay is going to see 80% of the snaps, there's LB3 appeal. Gay looks like he could be a full-time LB.

Week 3 Preseason: Bolton was in all six snaps with the first-team defense. Willie Gay was in on five of the six snaps and came off on their lone single-LB package. Leo Chenal saw a few first-team snaps, but won't see many snaps on a weekly basis. Bolton is the LB to target here and is wearing the dot. I like Gay as a late-round target, especially if he's going to see 80% of the snaps.

Green Dot: Nick Bolton

Las Vegas Raiders

Denzel Perryman was probably on quite a few championship rosters as one of those heralded waiver wire pick-ups. So, what will be Perryman’s role in 2022? Perryman called the plays for the Raiders last season but still ended up appearing in 83% of the snaps. He did miss a few games, however. I question if the Raiders will still allow Perryman to run as many coverage snaps. He allowed a 115 QB rating when targeted.

Divine Deablo is a guy who I think takes the next step in his development and ends up being one of those guys you can’t take off the field. He’s making the transition from safety to linebacker and his talent is helping make that move seamless.

The Raiders brought in a bunch of guys to compete; including Micah Kiser (who’s already out for the year), Kenny Young, and Jayon Brown. Brown brings in experience from Tennessee, but his play has tailed off. Young started off hot with the Rams, but he turned into Kenny Young.

I’m fading Perryman’s career year. He had a lot of tackles just come to him, as opposed to seeking them out, which is fine, but he was more reactive as opposed to instinctive. I’m very high on Deablo’s second season and he’s the one I’m targeting in IDP leagues.

Week 1 Preseason: Divine Deablo and Denzel Perryman didn't play against Minnesota.

Week 2 Preseason: Same as Week 1. No Deablo or Perryman.

Week 3 Preseason: Didn't learn too much from this one. We'll see who calls the plays heading into Week 1.

Green Dot: As of now, Denzel Perryman

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers’ play-caller is staging a hold-in and not practicing, which might be better off for Derwin James. Just keep him healthy and ready for the season.

As far as the linebacker room goes, the Chargers allowed Kyzir White to walk in free agency. Drue Tranquill returns, and I project him to pace the group in snaps with just over 800. He was one of their better all-around defenders performing well in coverage. His run defense was inconsistent, but he missed just four tackles all season. White vacates 980 defensive snaps, and I think the majority of those go to Tranquill. Tranquill produced a 13.5% tackle rate last season and with White gone, I think he’s among the defensive leaders in tackle share.

The Chargers were another team that deployed one or two LBs consistently. However, they ran single-LB packages more than 25% of the time, so the LB2 opposite Tranquill might only see 65% of the snaps. Kenneth Murray might get another last look before the Chargers move on from him, but there’s no real upside here as he’s shown no discernable skills up to this point.

Kyle Van Noy is interesting here, as he’s been getting some run as an off-ball LB during camp and has pass rush upside. KVN has generated a 13% pressure rate over the last three seasons. I think KVN and Troy Reeder rotate out depending on the situation.

Drue Tranquill is the only Charger LB I’m targeting. Kyle Van Noy is an interesting LB option in the last few rounds for depth.

Week 1 Preseason: It's worth noting, that Kenneth Murray didn't play along with guys like Drue Tranquill.

Week 2 Preseason: No one of relevance played this week.

Week 3 Preseason: No Kenneth Murray or Drue Tranquill this week. Murray looks to be a base-down LB while Kyle Van Noy and Tranquill will get the subpackages, so judging by their past, they should be in 2-LB sets for the majority of the season. Nick Niemann wore the dot this week, but it'll be Derwin James's job once the season starts. Tranquill is the LB to target as an LB3/4.

Green Dot: Derwin James

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams made a big free agent splash by signing former NFC West foe, Bobby Wagner. The Rams wasted no time in giving him the dot either. Wagner has been on the field for over 1,000 snaps for three straight seasons. The Rams' defense was on the field for over 1,100 snaps in 2021 and just over 1,000 snaps in 2020. Wagner is locked in, once again, as an LB1.

Last season, the Rams deployed single-LB just over 55% of the time. Now that Wagner is in town, he could help cover some of the deficiencies at LB and allow another LB on the field. I think Ernest Jones will have the opportunity to earn a full-time role opposite Wagner. I do like Jones as a late-round sleeper who can breakout if he gets 80% of the snaps.

Week 1 Preseason: No one of note played for the Rams in the first preseason game.

Week 2 Preseason: Bobby Wagner and Ernest Jones sat out this game.

Week 3 Preseason: Once again, no Bobby Wanger or Ernest Jones. The Rams are deployed 2-LB sets on the majority of their packages this preseason, so Jones could see 75% of the snaps this season. Bobby Wagner looks to be wearing the dot.

Green Dot: Bobby Wagner

Miami Dolphins

As of now, I don’t see anything changing with the play-caller. Jerome Baker should continue to wear the dot. Baker has received more than 85% of the snaps in two of the last three seasons and was on the field for 972 snaps in 2021. In four seasons, he’s produced an 11.3% tackle rate and has been a reliable source for IDP points. He’s been a bit of a liability in run defense, but consistent in coverage. Baker is used in pass rush situations and has been a decent source for sacks, along with tackles. He’s generated a 16.5% pressure rate over the last two seasons.

Who plays alongside Baker? Elandon Roberts is barely a replacement-level LB and is more of a special-teamer. The Dolphins played 1-LB on the field over 25% of the time, so the LB2 here might see 700 snaps. I think it’s eventually Channing Tindall, the rookie out of Georgia. He has a similar makeup to Baker, as both are speedy linebackers who can get to the QB when called upon. Tindall will have a learning curve when it comes to coverage in the NFL. I’ll target Tindall’s upside.

Week 1 Preseason: Not a whole to look into here. Jerome Baker didn't play and most of the first-teamers sat, as well.

Week 2 Preseason: Elandon Roberts got the start for Miami alongside Jerome Baker. Baker wore the dot, so he's shaping up to be their three-down LB this season. Elandon Roberts came off on 3rd down and their single-LB packages.

Week 3 Preseason: Jerome Baker wore the dot in this one and is shaping up to be a three-down LB in 2022. I'm intrigued by Channing Tindall. I don't think he has a full-time role at the beginning of the year, but he could play his way into one at some point this season as he continues to develop and improve.

Green Dot: Jerome Baker

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are changing up their defensive scheme and philosophy. Heading into the season, they will have a new wearer of the dot, as Anthony Barr found a new home in Dallas. I do think both Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks will be full-time linebackers in Minnesota’s new system.

Kendricks has appeared in at least 90% of the snaps for six straight seasons and has been one of the most consistent IDP scorers over that timeframe. Hicks is a durable off-ball LB and has three straight seasons of 1,000+ snaps.

So, the question is who wears the dot? I think it’ll come down to either Kendricks or Harrison Smith.

Week 1 Preseason: Harrison Smith and Eric Kendricks didn't play, but Jordan Hicks did. Hicks wore the dot, but we'll have to see what happens in Week 2. I think Hicks is a nice value, as he should have a full-time role.

Week 2 Preseason: No Harrison Smith, Eric Kendricks, or Jordan Hicks. Troy Dye got the start and wore the dot, so this could tell us an LB is going to call the plays, as opposed to a DB.

Week 3 Preseason: No Eric Kendricks or Jordan Hicks. Hicks wore the dot in Week 1 of the preseason, so I'm going to make the assumption he wears it in Week 1 of the regular season.

Green Dot: Jordan Hicks

New England Patriots

The Patriots are one of the few teams who bestow the dot to one of their DBs. The Patriots have never had a true three-down or full-time linebacker. Ju’Whaun Bentley led the team in tackles, however, only received 63% of the snaps. Matt Judon saw 81% of the snaps as their rush linebacker on the edge. Veteran off-ball LB, Dont’a Hightower, saw 67% of the snaps last season, so he vacates 634 snaps.

The Patriots LB group is typically one I stay away from due to the volatility in their usage and use in Bill Belichick’s system. They used a combination of single and double LBs while running a single LB more consistently than any other team. It’s a very flexible defense. Bentley is a two-down run stopper. Kyle Van Noy is on the Chargers and Jamie Collins is gone, as well. The name that intrigues me in this group is Cameron McGrone.

Week 1 Preseason: Most of the starters didn't play and there was a rotation between Mack Wilson and Raekwon McMillan as the playcaller. I still think Devin McCourty wears the dot come Week 1.

Week 2 Preseason: Ju'Whaun Bentley was out with the first team along with Raekwon McMillian on New England's 2-LB sets. McMillan was the LB who stayed in on their 1-LB packages. Bentley was pulled after a few defensive series but looked solid. He was quick to the ball and made impactful tackles. It looks like Bentley will wear the dot when on the field, and when he comes off, it could be McMillan. Bentley appeared in 16/20 first-team snaps, so if he plays the majority of the snaps (75%-80%), and even with a rotation, should have value as an LB4 with his tackle efficiency.

Week 3 Preseason: Ju'Whaun Bentley saw 13 snaps and wore the dot for the Pats' defense. While it's not safe, Bentley is looking like an LB3/4 heading into 2022.

Green Dot: Ju'Whaun Bentley

New Orleans Saints

Demario Davis is one of the veteran leaders of the defense. He’s been one of the durable LBs and has appeared in virtually every snap over the last two seasons. His tackle efficiency has declined but is still a dependable LB2/3 on a weekly basis.

The Saints don’t do much experimentation with single-LB, so you can bet they’ll be rolling with at least two LBs and in some instances, three. I do like Pete Werner to get the majority of the snaps alongside Davis this season and he’s who I’m targeting for a breakout IDP season.

Week 1 Preseason: Saints sat their first-teamers, including Demario Davis and Pete Werner.

Week 2 Preseason: No change from Week 1. No Demario Davis or Pete Werner.

Week 3 Preseason: Demario Davis got work in this week and wore the dot. Continues to an under-rated IDP. Draft Davis with confidence as an LB2. Pete Werner still dealing with a groin injury that's bothered him over the last week or so. It's a bit of a concern. Eric Wilson appears to be his backup. If you're a Werner owner, I wouldn't go out and grab Wilson, but I'd be cautious starting him in Week 1.

Green Dot: Demario Davis

New York Giants

Pretty simple here - Blake Martinez is healthy and should have a three-down role. I don’t think the Giants want to see Tae Crowder on the field for 90% of the snaps again.

Micah McFadden is a name I’m keeping in my back pocket for later in the season.

It looks like Wink Martindale is utilizing Xavier McKinney as his play caller. Wink did the same in Baltimore, utilizing his DB (Chuck Clark) as the signal caller.

Week 1 Preseason: Blake Martinez didn't play in this one. Xavier McKinney wore the dot for the defense and is trending as the regular season play-caller. Dynasty owners, keep tabs on Darrian Beavers - he might be a grab and stash on your taxi squad.

Week 2 Preseason: Blake Martinez returned to the field. He did come off the field for 1-LB packages and Tae Crowder was the three-down LB. I do believe Xavier McKinney wore the dot on the first team, but it looks like Julian Love is going to get some time with it, as well. I'm hoping the Giants are limiting Martinez as they head into the regular season.

Week 3 Preseason: Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder were on the field with the first team defense and each was on every snap, With no Xavier McKinney, Crowder wore the dot. McKinney will be calling the plays and hopefully allowing Martinez to go after the ball and make plays. I'm also hoping Martinez is the three-down LB with Crowder coming off single-LB packags.

Update 9/2/2022: In what can be described as a surprise, the Giants outright released Blake Martinez. The veteran ILB was coming off a torn ACL and looked to be on track to take over the three-down role this season. As the preseason went on, it looked Tae Crowder was the every-down LB, even when Martinez returned. New DC, Wink Martindale, didn't think Martinez was a fit, and apparently, there might have been internal issues. The release is being called a "mutual decision." This has a big ripple effect for IDP leagues because he was probably drafted among the top-six LBs. This is comparable to seeing a tweet that read, "The Baltimore Ravens have released JK Dobbins."

Tae Crowder looks to be the three-down LB by default, but he's not a good player so I don't know how long the leash will be. This could be a tank job on the Giants' part, so they may not have any interest in upgrading this season. If you missed out on getting Crowder, I wouldn't lose sleep over it. If you want to add him from the wire, I wouldn't give drop any pieces of significance for him. This is shaping up to be a three-safety look team, so I'm targeting Xavier McKinney and Julian Love. They could be cleaning up tackles beyond the second level from poor LB play. Xavier McKinney will also be the one wearing the dot. The Darrian Beavers injury is looming large. Micah McFadden is an untested 5th-round pick, but he has pass rush upside and could be a fit in Martindale's system. If I'm shooting for upside, McFadden might be the target instead of Crowder.

If you are a Martinez owner, don't drop him just yet and wait for him to land. I don't think he'll be out of a job long.

Green Dot: Xavier McKinney

New York Jets

CJ Mosley returned to the field in 2021 after opting out of the 2020 season. It was his first action on the field since Week 2 of the 2019 season. Mosley appeared in nearly 1,100 snaps (1,096) and recorded 168 tackles - resulting in an elite 15.3% tackle rate. I’ve got him as my LB9.

The Jets didn’t do too much to address the LB position in the offseason, so Quincy Williams is in line to get the snaps opposite Mosley. The third-year LB ended up with a sizable role during the season and finished with a 78% usage rate. The Jets ran out 2-LBs over 70% of the time and rarely deployed just one LB, so the LB2 opposite Mosley should continue to produce.

Kwon Alexander could put a damper on Quincy Williams's IDP value, as there could be a rotation between the two. Kwon has a relationship with Robert Saleh, and is a bit better in coverage.

Week 1 Preseason: Jets ran 3-LB sets with Kwon Alexander, Damien Phillips, and Quincy Williams. Phillips wore the dot with CJ Mosley sitting out. Will be interesting to see if this continues. When the Jets ran out 2-LB sets, Alexander came off the field.

Week 2 Preseason: The Jets continued to show 3-LB sets with Kwon Alexander, Damien Phillips, and Quincy Williams. CJ Mosley, once again, sat this one out. Kwon came off the field when they ran out 2-LB sets. Robert Saleh said starters will play Week 3, so we'll see if Mosley suits up. I'm still projecting him to wear the dot come Week 1 of the regular season.

Week 3 Preseason: CJ Mosley got the start and wore the dot and he's heading into the regular season as the play caller. Quincy Williams played each snap alongside Mosley, but Kwon Alexander looms and made a few big tackles to stand out. I do think it'll be Mosley, Williams, and Kwon in 3-LB packages, and Alexander coming off. Mosley is the three-down LB here.

Green Dot: CJ Mosley

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are trying to piece together their LB room with spackle and brought in Myles Jack to play alongside Devin Bush or Robert Spillane. As of now, Jack has stood out in camp and looks to be right at home with Brian Flores. When asked about the green dot, Jack has said Devin Bush is wearing it right now. How long will that last? Jack had decent seasons with Jacksonville when he didn’t have the responsibility.

Devin Bush is under pressure in his fourth year, even coming off a torn ACL from 2020. He was a solid tackler with just five misses all season. He was a liability in the run and struggled in coverage at times. Bush ended up close to a full-time player, appearing in nearly 80% of the snaps. The IDP production didn’t translate from the volume.

His 2022 training camp isn’t getting off to a strong start either. Robert Spillane was typically on the field for their dime packages or 1-LB sets.

As of now, Jack is the only Steeler off-ball LB I’d target. TJ Watt is definitely an asset in big play scoring formats, but with his ADP, you’re counting on another record-breaking season.

Week 1 Preseason: Myles Jack and Devin Bush got the start. Bush was calling the plays, but Jack looked a bit quicker off the snap. Jack is the one I'm trusting in IDP.

Week 2 Preseason: It looks like Myles Jack will be calling the plays and wearing the dot. Jack was the three-down LB against Jacksonville. Devin Bush looks to be coming off on third downs. As of now, Jack is the LB to target and he's shaping up to be a solid LB2. He looks quick and is making plays on the ball.

Week 3 Preseason: Myles Jack continues to be the only Steeler LB to target. Devin Bush was in a rotation with Robert Spillane. When Pittsburgh went one LB, it was Spillane, but the Steelers don't run single-LB packages enough to keep off of Myles Jack. Jack will also wear the dot when Spillane and Bush are on the field, or if Spillane is on with Jack in 2-LB packages.

Green Dot: Myles Jack

Philadelphia Eagles

The only reason TJ Edwards played fewer than 65% of the snaps, is because he found himself in a rotation early on in the season. Once the Eagles realized he was the best LB, he took over the green dot and was a full-time LB. Here is his usage in the final eight games of the season:

I think he continues on as the signal caller of the defense as one of the full-time LBs.

The LB2 is going to be on the field quite a bit, but who will it be? Kyzir White was signed as a free agent but only on a one-year deal and the Eagles drafted University of Georgia standout, Nakobe Dean. I think Dean is behind White in the pecking order, that could change. Davion Taylor is also in the mix. Dean is still learning and we may need to temper expectations on him this season, but he’s getting first-team reps.

Week 1 Preseason: TJ Edwards and Kyzir White were out there with the first team and saw just five snaps. Edwards wore the dot.

Week 2 Preseason: The starters didn't play in this one. Philadelphia ran mostly 2-LB packages with Davion Taylor and Nakobe Dean.

Week 3 Preseason: Starters sat out the finale. TJ Edwards is looking like the play-caller of the defense.

Green Dot: TJ Edwards

San Francisco 49ers

Fred Warner is one of the locker room leaders and will wear the dot heading into 2022. He’s been as durable as they come; appearing in 970 or more snaps in all four seasons of his 49er career. Warner has produced a career 12.6% tackle rate and is working on causing more turnovers, so there’s big play upside to go along with his tackle floor. Target Warner as a weekly LB1.

Who will play alongside Warner? Early indicators have Dre Greenlaw. Injuries limited Greenlaw to just three games. Azeez Al-Shaair took advantage of the volume and was a serviceable LB - finishing with 102 tackles. Early on, it’s been Al-Shaair who is coming off the field for the extra DB, so Greenlaw is on track to earn the three-down role. If Greenlaw does get the snaps opposite Warner, there’s sleeper appeal and can be had for free in drafts.

Week 1: 49ers sat their relevant linebackers against the Packers.

Week 2 Preseason: No one of relevance played against Minnesota.

Week 3 Preseason: Not much here. I'm under the assumption Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw will be the three-down guys here. Fred Warner is your top LB target.

Green Dot: Fred Warner

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks will look dramatically different without Bobby Wagner. Jordyn Brooks isn’t half the player Wagner was. Brooks will take over the green dot and have a three-down role. His role hasn’t changed dramatically, outside of the dot.

Cody Barton should be the three-down LB opposite Brooks this season and is embracing the new role and added responsibility. GM John Schneider has shown confidence in Brooks and Barton by not adding any other pieces at the LB position. Barton’s experience at safety will help in coverage and keep him on the field. I prefer Barton’s price and could have a breakout IDP season with his workload.

Week 1 Preseason. Jordyn Brooks didn't play, so Cody Barton got the nod with the first team and wore the dot. I believe Brooks will call the plays when he's on the field.

Week 2 Preseason: Once again, Jordyn Brooks was held out of this game. Seattle is keeping their play-caller wrapped in bubble wrap. This is going to be a bad defense. Cody Barton received the first-team snaps and wore the dot. Barton finished with three tackles. It's still shaping up to be Barton and Brooks as the three-down LBs for 2022.

Week 3 Preseason: No Jordyn Brooks, as he's been dealing with a hamstring issue. He says he'd play if the games counted. Cody Barton played just 10 snaps and appears ready to go as a full-time LB opposite Brooks.

Green Dot: Jordyn Brooks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Devin White recorded his second straight season of 120+ tackles and was the signal caller of the defense. White had his third straight season of 900+ snaps and appeared in 1,079 in 2021. His pass rush efficiency dipped in 2021. White converted 27% of his pressure into sacks and that fell to 8% last season. He improved his pressure rate but just couldn’t convert his hits into sacks. His tackle numbers are still consistent to warrant him being a weekly LB1.

Lavonte David will be the LB2 opposite White. He’s appeared in virtually every snap, however, he missed five games in 2021. Is the air of invincibility slipping? Even though he missed five games, he came up just three tackles short of 100 - recording a 12.3% tackle rate. In redraft leagues, I’d still target him as my LB2.

Week 1 Preseason: Nothing really of note here. Devin White and Lavonte David didn't play.

Week 2 Preseason: Nothing of note in Week 2. Devin White and Lavonte David were held out.

Week 3 Preseason: This was our first chance to see Lavonte David and Devin White. White wore the dot. White and David were out for the first team snaps and sat out for the rest of the game after just eight snaps.

Green Dot: Devin White

Tennessee Titans

It looks like this has become David Long’s defense. Jayon Brown suffered an injury at the beginning of the season and Long took over playcalling duties and never relinquished them. Long dealt with some injuries throughout the season, but ended up appearing in 634 defensive snaps. With Brown now in Las Vegas and Rashaan Evans in Atlanta, Long appears to have the green dot for the 2022 season. He should be targeted as a weekly LB1/2.

The Titans ran out 1-LB packages nearly a third of the time. This is worth noting since I’m seeing Zach Cunningham drafted as an LB2. If the Titans are going to continue running out 1-LB packages, Cunningham’s usage might settle at around 70% of the snaps. Cunningham has a chance to redeem himself after getting cut by the Texans. He’s a risky LB2 with his potential usage floor at around 70%.

Week 1 Preseason: Not much to glean here. David Long and Zach Cunningham didn't play. Rookie, Chance Campbell, got most of the work here and wore the dot. He looked like a rookie.

Week 2 Preseason: No one of note played this week. No David Long or Zach Cunningham.

Week 3 Preseason: No one of note played this week. David Long appears to be the play-caller of the defense. The Titans look to be a primary 2-LB defense, so Zach Cunnighsm could see 75% of the snaps this season. I'm not going out of my way to draft Cunnighsm, but could a waiver pickup at some point.

Green Dot: David Long

Washington Commanders

I don’t think there’s any argument or doubt; Cole Holcomb has the best head of hair among the NFL’s linebackers. The mullet flows freely and smoothly, much like his movement to the ball carrier. Holcomb looks to be on track to wear the dot for Washington this season. Holcomb was on the field for all but a handful of snaps and produced a 13.9% tackle rate on 1,021 snaps. He’s a weekly LB1 heading into 2022.

It’ll be impossible for his running mate to match his locks. They may only see field fewer than 70% of the snaps since Washington favored single-LB looks. Jamin Davis was a first-round pick but didn’t look like it. At this point, Davis and Khaleke Hudson are battling for snaps. David Mayo is also going to factor in, but he’s just a run stopper at this point. I’m hoping Davis’s draft capital gives him the edge and is the guy I’m targeting if I miss out on Holcomb.

Week 1 Preseason: Jamin Davis and Cole Holcomb were on the first team and were on the field as three-down LBs. Holcomb wore the dot and finished with 4 tackles in his time on the field. Holcomb is locked in as a weekly LB1. Davis is still looking like a late-round target with breakout potential if he gets the full-time role.

Week 2 Preseason: Washington looks to be a 2-LB defense. Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis saw snaps with the first team and were the primary LBs. Holcomb wore the dot and Davis played alongside.

Week 3 Preseason: Cole Holcomb sat in the preseason finale but Jamin Davis got some work in with seven snaps.

Green Dot: Cole Holcomb

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