2014 Fantasy Football IDP: Top 10 Linebacker Keepers
Top 10 Keeper Linebackers
In fantasy football IDP formats, the linebacker position tends to be the most important. Linebackers are around the football more and have the ability to rack up tackles, while defensive linemen and defensive backs tend to be more one-dimensional.
In recent seasons, there have been more and more linebackers having an impact in their first year. Stars like Patrick Willis, Luke Kuechly, and LaVonte David have all had breakout fantasy campaigns in their first season. Most owners previously locked onto veteran linebackers, but recently a youth movement has taken over the linebacker position in fantasy.
This past season saw some breakout performances from some other rookie linebackers. Tackle specialists such as Kiko Alonso and Patrick Worrilow exploded on the scene in their first NFL season. Both linebackers were undrafted in a majority of IDP formats, but they quickly ended up becoming weekly fantasy starters.
The season may be over, but fantasy fanatics are never done thinking about their rosters. So as you start preparing for next fantasy season and thinking about your keepers in dynasty leagues, here are the top 10 linebackers to hold onto for the 2014 fantasy season.
10. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers – After breaking his thumb twice this past season, it was no wonder Matthews struggled to put up numbers this year. He appeared in a career-low 11 games and only managed to rack up 7.5 sacks. However, the outside linebacker is still one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the league when healthy. Matthews should bounce back next year and post another 10-plus sack season for fantasy fans.
9. D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland Browns
D’Qwell Jackson, Cleveland Browns – In his first four NFL seasons, Jackson missed 15 total games due to injury. He has played in 48 consecutive games, though, and has completely shed his injury-prone label. Jackson has averaged 139 tackles and 2.8 sacks over the last three years alone. He will be as safe as they come at the linebacker position and will be good for another 120-plus tackles in 2014.
8. Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts
Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts – Mathis won his first sack title this past season despite years of punishing opposing quarterbacks. He led the entire NFL with 19.5 sacks and had one of the best IDP performances of the entire year. He may be turning 33 years old this February, but the sack specialist has a couple more seasons left of solid fantasy production. If you have Mathis on your roster, don't be afraid to keep the veteran for one more season.
7. LaVonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – After a big rookie campaign (139 tackles/two sacks), David followed it up with a big sophomore season. He did have a couple crucial unnecessary roughness calls against him throughout the year, but he still displayed that he is legitimate fantasy IDP option. He is only 23 years old and the youngster has a long fantasy career ahead of him. Lock up this young linebacker in IDP formats now while you still can.
6. Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs
Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs – Houston shockingly racked up an astonishing 7.5 sacks through the first three games of the season, but a dislocated elbow quickly derailed his breakout campaign. He still showed that he has the skill to potentially lead the league in sacks one day and the 24-year-old is an absolute must-keep option in any IDP dynasty leagues.
5. Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars
Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars – Posluszny posted career numbers across the board this past fantasy season. He racked up a career-high 161 tackles (121 solo) to go along with three sacks and two picks. Pos was a tackling machine and the veteran will be able to average close to eight hits per game. He may not be the sexiest keeper at the linebacker position, but he will post LB1 numbers game after game.
4. Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati Bengals
Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati Bengals – Burfict was once a top-five prospect around the NFL in 2012, but some drug problems and character issues caused the talented linebacker to go undrafted. He was eventually signed by the Bengals and has thrived since being given the opportunity. He led the entire NFL with 171 tackles this past season and showed he has the skill to put up LB 1 numbers. It is unlikely he will lead the league in tackles again in 2014, but he should still be able to finish with over 130 hits.
3. Kiko Alonso, Buffalo Bills
Kiko Alonso, Buffalo Bills – Alonso had eight double-digit tackle performances in his rookie season, including a 22-tackle outing against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6. Alsono was a bit of an unknown when Buffalo drafted him in the second round this year, but his tackle production quickly put him a weekly starter. He has become the leader of Buffalo’s defense and the linebacker will only become more popular as the Legend of Kiko Alonso grows. If you have Kiko on your roster, hold onto him at all costs next season.
2. NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers
NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers – Bowman has shined since taking over as an every week starter in San Fran. Bowman has racked up at least 140 tackles and two sacks in three straight seasons, while usurping LB Patrick Willis as the team's best fantasy linebacker. Fantasy fans can write in another 140 hits for Bowman in 2014.
1. Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers – After 164 tackles in 2012 and 156 tackles in 2013, it is safe to say that Kuechly is the number one IDP option at his position. He isn’t afraid into drop in coverage and the linebacker ended up posting a career-high in sacks (2) and interceptions (4) last year. Kuechly has matured into the ideal fantasy linebacker and the 22-year-old will be worth locking up for another five years.
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