With the 2016 fantasy season over and done with, I decided to look back at each defensive position and publish my top 20 players at each spot. The focus is on the linebackers now! Check out the defensive ends here, and the defensive tackles here.
25. Jerrell Freeman, Chicago – Was playing at a top 5 level before he got suspended four games (during the FF playoffs) for PEDs. Averaged 9.25 total tackles per game in 2016.
24. Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh – Would have been way higher had he not missed 3 weeks early on in 2016. Has excellent upside as he’s only 24 and the leader of a strong defense.
23. Jamie Collins, Cleveland – Another very nice season for the star from Southern Mississippi, combining for over 100 tackles and producing four turnovers.
22. Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati – When playing, Burfict was all-world, getting 9 or more solo tackles in six of his 11 games played. Unfortunately, suspension and injuries kept him out of 5 games.
21. Luke Kuechly, Carolina – Kuechly would have easily been top three this year had he not gotten concussed, yet even missing 6 games, he still combined for 102 tackles. Wow.
20. Eric Kendricks, Minnesota – The second year star put together a strong, consistent, 16 game season where he produced 109 tackles, 8 pass defenses, and scored a TD.
19. Deion Jones, Atlanta – The rookie 2nd rounder had an awesome 2016, securing over 100 combo tackles and defending 11 passes. He’ll only get better for Dan Quinn going forward.
18. Nigel Bradham, Philadelphia – Bradham continued his excellent play for the Eagles LB core with his second 100 tackle effort of his career.
17. Von Miller, Denver – Early in 2016, Miller was carrying the defending world champions, creating 12.5 sacks through his first 11 games. Unfortunately, his pace slowed as the Broncos struggled, as he did not record another sack the rest of the season.
16. Kiko Alonso, Miami – Alonso was all over the field for the Dolphins in 2016, recording 116 total tackles and 7 turnovers. He’s a solid IDP start when healthy.
15. Lorenzo Alexander, Buffalo – Started out on fire in 2016, dropping 11 sacks in his first 9 games. At 33, Alexander won’t have much future value, but last year was a trip!
14. K.J. Wright, Seattle – Wright was his typical disruptive self this season. Totaling 126 tackles, 4 sacks, and 5 pass defenses in 2016.
13. Mark Barron, Los Angeles – Barron has transitioned nicely to linebacker for the Rams, proven by his 90 solo tackles and 8 pass defenses in 16 games last year.
12. Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville – His 132 tackles were outstanding once again. Posluszny has been nothing short of excellent his entire 10-year career.
11. Benardrick McKinney, Houston – In his second year, first as a full-time starter, McKinney took over games, finishing 2016 with 128 combo tackles and 5 sacks.
10. Christian Kirksey, Cleveland – Another young, talented linebacker, Kirksey (24 years old) doubled his tackle numbers from 2015, putting him in the top 10 for 2016 with 148.
9. Thomas Davis, Carolina – Davis lead the Panthers in tackles with 106, was involved in 6 turnovers, and scored a TD! The 12-year veteran is still playing like he’s 25.
8. Lavonte David, Tampa Bay – David spent plenty of the 2016 season in opponent’s backfields, registering 17 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, and 5 sacks.
7. Telvin Smith, Jacksonville – The 3rd year man out of FSU continued to dominate in 2016. Smith finished with 119 tackles and 7 pass defenses. He’s looking like a top 5 LB next year.
6. Bobby Wagner, Seattle – There was rarely a play this year that didn’t involve Mr. Wagner. His 86 solo tackles AND 83 assists are unreal. Add 4.5 sacks for good measure too!
5. Sean Lee, Dallas – Even taking 1.5 games off, Lee managed to register 144 tackles, including 12 for loss. After a couple of tough injury seasons, Lee’s last 2 have been really good.
4. Zachary Orr, Baltimore – At 6’0”, 225 lbs, some weren’t convinced Orr could handle full-time duties for Baltimore. He sure proved them wrong, producing 133 tackles, 6 turnovers, and 5 pass defenses in 15 games.
3. Alex Ogletree, Los Angeles – After an injury-shortened 2015, Ogletree came back with a vengeance in 2016, securing 99 solo tackles, 38 assists, and 11 pass defenses.
2. Zach Brown, Buffalo – Brown was signed as depth behind the young Bills LBs, but when a spot opened prior to the season Brown exploded and carried that momentum through the entire season, finishing with 145 total tackles, 4 sacks, and 4 pass defenses.
1. Kwon Alexander, Tampa Bay – Kwon was a force in 2016, racking up 108 solo tackles, another 37 assists and defending 8 passes. At 22, Alexander could be the top LB for years to come.
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out all of the Dynasty Football content we offer at Dynasty Football Factory. You can interact with me on Twitter @FF_EvilEmpire. Go forth and build your empire!