8 Breakout Linebackers to Target in 2018 IDP Leagues
The key to your IDP drafts is finding those late-round diamonds in the rough. It's easy to select Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechly, and the known commodities at linebacker. The difficult part is trying to pinpoint late-round targets at the position.
Below you will find a list of under-the-radar or breakout linebackers to target later in your IDP drafts, either because they've earned a three-down role, are coming back from injury, or find themselves in a new position or role due to a scheme change.
Raekwon McMillan, MLB, Miami Dolphins
McMillan falls into the "coming back from injury" category when talking about him as an under-the-radar target. If you're in a league where your opponents sort by last year's stats and ranks, they won't find McMillan's name, as he missed the entire 2017 campaign after suffering a knee injury during camp.
He was set to play middle linebacker before the injury and that appears to be the case heading into the 2018 season. During his 2015 and 2016 seasons at Ohio State, McMillan was a tackling machine. He recorded 221 total tackles, including 11 tackles for a loss. Hopefully, the knee injury hasn't sapped all of his speed. His abilities to stop the run and read the QB in coverage should keep him on the field for every down.
The fact the Dolphins let Lawrence Timmons go should tell you they feel good about his health heading into the season. It remains to be seen who'll call the plays—Kiko Alonso wore the dot last season. Dot or no dot, McMillan should be a three-down LB in 2018.
Zach Cunningham, ILB, Houston Texans
I liked Cunningham heading into last year's draft, but I wasn't a fan of his landing spot. Houston still had Brian Cushing lurking around Benardrick McKinney, and snaps were going to be limited.
Cunningham was a beast around the ball for Vanderbilt in 2015 and 2016. He was an efficient tackler, with an elite tackle rate. During his 2016 season, he produced a near-17 percent tackle rate and had an impact near the line of scrimmage—notching 16.5 tackles for loss.
Cunningham appeared in 16 games and started 13 at ILB. Cushing was busted for PED use during the season and ended up missing 10 games, which opened the door for Cunningham. He wound up playing 812 defensive snaps during his rookie year—recording an 11-percent tackle rate. He finished the final five games of the season producing at least 11 or more fantasy points. He didn't whiff on many attempts either, missing a tackle in every 13 tackle attempts.
Cunningham is set to take on a three-down role and Houston's defense has been on the field for an average of 1,035 snaps over the last three seasons. If he's able to produce an 11–12-percent tackle rate, he should hit triple-digits with ease in 2018.
Reggie Ragland, ILB, Kansas City Chiefs
Continue reading to see which other linebackers Mike believes are in store for a breakout season...