If you’re a DLF subscriber who regularly reads the impressive IDP content featured on this site, you don’t need to be told Darius Leonard, Tremaine Edmunds, and Roquan Smith are great dynasty linebacker assets. This week, I’m checking in on some other names you may be wondering about.
Rashaan Evans, TEN
Well, this wasn’t the start most IDP enthusiasts were hoping for when Evans went in the first round of the NFL Draft and the second round of many IDP rookie drafts.
But to quote All-World quarterback Aaron Rodgers: “R-E-L-A-X.” Evans’ time in the sun is coming.
Nick Saban’s star linebacker from Alabama is 22 years old, 6’2” tall and 232 pounds. He has that rare combination of football IQ, anticipation and speed, all while finishing tackles and punishing offensive players.
He was immediately slotted as a starting inside linebacker for the Titans. Fantasy gold, right?
Unfortunately for Evans, he missed a lot of valuable time in camp nursing injuries. Specifically, he’s had a hamstring injury that he keeps aggravating, and his time on the field has been spotty. Evans did play 77 percent of the defensive snaps in week four and posted one solo tackle and two assists. Not great numbers, but you have to start somewhere.
Talent like Evans possesses is hard to find. Be patient with the Crimson Tide product; it will pay dividends. I like Evans as a buy low if the owner in your league is getting worried.
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Jerome Baker, MIA
Baker is a 6’2”, 215-pound linebacker from Ohio State. The former Buckeye is 21 years old, and was a third-round pick of the Dolphins.
As disappointing as second-year middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan has been so far this year, Baker has been the opposite. He was expected to battle with Stephone Anthony for the starting strongside linebacker job, but the battle was quick and bloody and Baker won. Despite giving up two inches of height and 16 pounds to Anthony, Baker played “bigger” and showed more aggression and better tackling than Anthony.
Your opportunity to get the former Buckeye on the cheap is closing fast. He started 2018 with a three solo tackle, three assist performance against the Titans. His production dipped a bit against the Jets in week two, with just two solos. But the last two games, Baker has flashed the talent that made him a third-round selection, posting seven solos and two assists against the Raiders and six solos and four assists against New England.
Baker played 65 snaps on defense and 20 more on special teams in week four. He’s a priority add if he’s available.
Oren Burks, GB
Just like IDP owners had to wait a short while for Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham to work his way into a large role, we’re having to do the same with Vanderbilt LB Oren Burks.
At 6’3”, 233 pounds, Burks was a godsend for the Packers in round three, who used earlier picks to shore up their secondary with Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. Conventional wisdom at the time was that Jake Ryan may still man the middle in Green Bay’s defense with Blake Martinez, but Ryan tore his ACL in practice in July and it looked like Burks’ job to win.
It hasn’t exactly worked out like that yet for the 23-year-old rookie. A shoulder injury has limited his availability so far this season, and the team seems content to bring him along slowly. Burks didn’t play at all in weeks one-two. In week three, Burks saw the field 18 times: ten on special teams and eight on defense. That flipped in week four, as Burks was in on 20 defensive snaps (34 percent) and six special teams snaps.
Antonio Morrison saw his ILB snaps drop to ten in week four.
Burks is the kind of player many IDP dabblers won’t know, and if he’s available on your waiver wire, he’s worth an add (or at least an add to your watch list, depending on the depth of your league).
Lorenzo Carter, NYG
What’s this? The New York Giants investing draft capital in a linebacker? Right after trading for Alec Ogletree in March? Who are these guys?
It’s not hard to see why the Giants were interested in the Georgia product. At 6’5”, 252 pounds and 22 years old, Carter is an athletic specimen. Consulting MockDraftable.com, you can see that Carter is 98th percentile in both 40-yard dash and broad jump. He’s 87th percentile in hand size, 85th in wingspan and 82nd in vertical jump. The only unimpressive score was in weight compare to other edge rushers. Two names that jumped out as comparables: Danielle Hunter and Jadeveon Clowney. Not bad company to have as an athlete.
Carter has to compete with Kareem Martin and Olivier Vernon for OLB snaps. Martin never really caught on with the Arizona Cardinals, but the Giants thought enough of him to give the 26-year-old Martin a three-year, $21 million contract. So Carter is going to have to earn his opportunities.
With Vernon banged up, Carter did see the field for 37 defensive snaps and 19 more on special teams in week four. He made the most of the chances he had, tallying three solo tackles and two assists. He also notched his first sack of the season in week three against Houston.
Outside linebackers are often overlooked in IDP leagues, especially those who don’t explode right out of the gate, and especially in tackle-heavy formats. But I’ve always been fond of the young pass rushers who post solid tackle numbers. It gives you a nice floor if you have to rush them into duty in your lineup as you wait for the pass rushing skills to develop.
Genard Avery, CLE
Though he’s much lower in the rankings, I thought I’d mention a favorite of mine in the 2018 NFL draft evaluation process. Genard Avery is a 6’0”, 250-pound linebacker from Memphis. The Cleveland Browns snagged Avery 150th overall (fifth round) in the 2018 draft.
Slowed a bit by a hip injury, Avery still looked very good in the preseason. He has a great motor, but the biggest obstacle Avery faces is the talent in front of him on the suddenly stout Browns defense. Jamie Collins, Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey are all locked into their roles, and the oldest of the three is Collins at 28 – arguably his prime. Even James Burgess, another linebacker in the mix, is young and talented enough to compete for snaps.
Despite all of that, Avery has been too talented and hungry to leave on the sidelines. In fact, if you add in special teams snaps, Avery has seen slightly more action through four weeks than Kirksey has (157-149), although Kirksey owns the slight edge on defensive snaps, 144-142.
Avery has only nine combined tackles (seven solos, two assists) so far in 2018, but has 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass defense. While Avery will continue to struggle to get snaps, an injury could blow his IDP numbers up, and he’s definitely one to monitor.
In closing, I would add that most of the players profiled here are great prospects but still need monitoring. Don’t drop an established linebacker to add Genard Avery – always refer to DLF’s dynasty IDP rankings for linebackers to discern trade value or for add/drop decisions.
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