IDP – Linebackers – Buyers Market 2016

I continue with my 2016 IDP buyers market with the ever so gold; linebackers.  They’re pretty much our bread and butter in IDP land, our foundation and even though there’s so much depth to be had we love to target to elite’s (I would too).  But, in this article I take a look at five linebackers who are poised for big seasons in 2016, a few you’ve heard of and two that are flying under the radar big time and provide big potential.   So without further ado, here are the five linebackers you need to be targeting in your IDP leagues whether it’s via trades, draft or FA pick-up.

  1. ZACHARY ORR (Ravens): Orr is entering his third season after he signed with BAL as an UDFA; and the plus side is Ravens have had their success with UDFA LB’s such as Bart Scott, Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain.  The arrow is pointing up for Orr as we head into 2016, he was mainly Daryl Smith’s backup last season in dime/sub packages.  He brings quickness and coverage ability to the defense which’ll allow Mosley to go after the QB more.  Right now Orr is the favorite to start in place of departed Daryl Smith; the Ravens haven’t drafted anybody nor have they signed a veteran FA so they trust that Smith’s replacement is in house – and they could be right.  Orr’s main competition this off-season is Arthur Brown; but I don’t see Orr losing the job to him unless he completely face plants in training camp.  Daryl has left behind 121 total tackles, I have no doubt that Orr can get close to that number given that Orr has every down potential.  I’d definitely give Orr a look if you’re in a league that starts 3 LB’s and he’s pretty much free currently so if you got dead weight on your bench, flip him with Orr.  
  2. BENARDRICK MCKINNEY (Texans):  McKinney posted 58 tackles 1 sack and 7 tackles for loss in 2015 as a rookie.  Early on he seemed lost and lacked confidence but as season wore on he showed his aggression & instincts kicked in; his game was falling into place then.  He got bigger and stronger this off-season and heads into 2016 as the starter next to Cushing.  Coaches say McKinney has the confidence now that he’s familiar with scheme and has gotten more comfortable; he’s a thumper against the run and mans the middle of the defense.  McKinney has been working on lowering his pad level to gain leverage against blockers (seems he’ll be rushing QB a lot) and continue to improve on coverage to become an every down LB.  Look for McKinney to play more freely and more instinctively in 2016 and is of solid value in drafts right now.  I believe he can hold a LB2 value as we head into the season, definitely worth trading for if you got the pieces and is affordable (he should be).  This is the year McKinney elevates his IDP relevancy to flirting ith his Derrick Johnson ceiling!  Preston Smith
  3. PRESTON SMITH (Redskins):  Preston is another rookie from 2015 that’ll have an even bigger 2016, I mean just how good was Preston for the Redskins last year? Yes, like most rookies he hit a “wall” and sorta went on a slump, but in his regular season debut (week one) against the Dolphins – we’ve caught a glimpse of how dominant Preston can and shall be as he terrorized the Dolphins for 1 QB Sack and 3 forced fumbles on ONLY 12 snaps; impressive or nah? He grew comfortable in his role as season progressed, he recorded 3 sacks against the Eagles in week 16 to later end his rookie season leading all rookies in sacks with eight to go along with 35 tackles and 4 forced fumbles.  He’s been lining up inside and outside, wanting to improve moves to be more natural and fluent, could even play on the line this season so Redskins can get Kerrigan, Galette and Smith on the field together.  Preston may not be the starter (Galette) but Preston will see the field more often than not and shall at the very least mirror his 8 sacks as a rookie but I’m expecting that total to jump between 10-12.  He can find his inner 2014 Von Miller IDP Profile (58 tackles 13 sacks) and we can use that as a ceiling, not too shabby right? Go get Preston now, especially if your league scores 4+ for sacks and 1 pt per tackles for loss. 
  4. JUSTIN MARCH (Chiefs):  there’s a good chance you don’t even know who Justin is but I don’t blame you, he missed the 2015 season due to a torn meniscus.  Before that injury he was impressive for the Chiefs in the off-season, he was one of the shining players and his athleticism, quickness and ability to drop back in coverage showcased over and over again.  Even though he’s considered “small” he was always around the ball, applied solid instincts and what has helped him is that he played SAM in college so he was always in space playing man to man on tight ends and running backs, he’s comfortable doing all that.  Justin is back in 2016 and seems like he never lost a step, practicing with full confidence and once again shining in coverage and just an all-around football player.  There’s a good chance he is Derrick Johnson’s replacement and Johnson’s position is what best suites March’s skill set too as he’s able to be more finesse and run around blocks or drop back into coverage.  Don’t underestimate his size though as Justin will take on blocks and get in the backfield.  With his ability to shine in coverage he already has the upper advantage on carving up a role for the Chiefs in sub packages, and if he continues to impress all throughout training camp and pre-season there’s no doubt Justin has carved a significant role for the Chiefs and your IDP Squad.  He is practically free right now as he’s on your waiver wire, another worth the stash and wait as it’ll pay off.  I’m taking a hard look at March for all my rosters as well, I’m making an effort to make room for him for depth and bye week spot starts, his value will only increase once he performs in pre-season – so why wait?  Markus Golden
  5. MARKUS GOLDEN (Cardinals):  Now we enter the last of the bunch (there are many more to choose from) but Markus is in store for a career type season in 2016.  Markus started 6 games as a rookie and he was impressive, was around the ball and pressuring the QB on many occasions.  The sky is the limit for Golden and the Cardinals aggressive defense; he recorded 4 sacks as a rookie while bringing his physicality and aggressive motor game in game out.  He has been working hard this off-season and now that Chandler Jones is on board the Cardinals have a lethal unit of edge rushers that includes Alex Okafor, Kareem Martin and Shaq Riddick.  With Freeney out of the picture (for now) this is Golden’s time to shine as he’ll be first up to snatch a starting spot opposite Jones.  There’s no doubt Golden will surpass his 4 sacks of 2015, he can definitely double that but I’m looking forward to him increasing his tackle numbers slightly – can have serious impact on this defense as the attention will shy away from him with Jones/Calais to focus on as well.  Markus is a must have in big play leagues but is also a solid depth piece in all leagues as your LB4.  

Now what are you waiting for, go to your leagues and go get these guys – fill out the rest of your roster with upside IDP’s.


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