Welcome to my 2022 Fantasy Football IDP Rookie Linebackers breakdown!
Every year in the world of fantasy football there are highly touted rookies on offense. It seems the entire fantasy football community has expectations set for incoming players like Breece Hall or Chris Olave.
The same can and should be said about the defensive side of the ball.
There is a great incoming pool of talent ready to make an impact in your IDP league. Many of these young linebackers will likely become staples in any IDP draft sooner rather than later.
While they may not be the biggest names called on draft night, don’t miss out on these promising prospects.
2022 Fantasy Football IDP Rookie Linebackers
Devin Lloyd, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Devin Lloyd wasn’t the first linebacker to cross the stage in Las Vegas, but he may be the most valuable in an IDP league. In fact, it should be no surprise that I have him picked as my top overall rookie on the defensive side of the ball.
Lloyd’s value stems from two key factors. The first is his talent and multifaceted impact on the game. During his last season at Utah, he did everything for the Utes’ defense. He led the team in tackles and interceptions. He also finished second in sacks and passes defended. Throw in two touchdowns and it’s easy to see why he was a first-rounder.
Secondly, Lloyd seems poised to secure a starting job immediately. As with any position in fantasy football, volume is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. With the acquisition of Foye Oluokun, Lloyd may have more competition for tackles, but his versatility and starting role make him a fine addition to your linebacking core. This is likely the safest pick you can make among incoming rookies.
Nakobe Dean, LB, Philadelphia Eagles
While Devin Lloyd may be more of a sure thing, Nakobe Dean comes with a lot more question marks. Thankfully, none of the questions are related to his actual talent on the field. For comparison, his Georgia teammate Quay Walker was the first linebacker selected in this year’s draft. Both played 15 games in 2021 for the Bulldogs with Dean beating out Walker in total tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, interceptions, and forced fumbles.
Injury concerns caused Dean to drop in the draft. On the bright side, it looks like he will be ready to go for training camp. While it may take him longer to crack the starting rotation than other rookies, Dean is simply too good of a player to keep on the sidelines.
— JAKIB Sports (@JAKIBSports) July 6, 2022
Some may be turned off by his shoulder injury and the decision to not undergo surgery. Others may dislike his lack of length and undersized frame. I’ll take my chances on a national champion that knows how to play the game. A lot of times fans make the mistake of ignoring one of the most important aspects of a player’s resume. Winning. In an IDP dynasty league, Dean could emerge as a huge asset. Don’t be surprised if he makes an impact this year too.
Christian Harris, LB, Houston Texans
Christian Harris is coming from one of the most dominant teams in college football to arguably the biggest mess in the NFL. While he may not be familiar with losing, the Texans do offer one key advantage, a mediocre linebacking room. Harris brings an All-American pedigree to the Texans and was a three-year starter for Nick Saban.
Harris will need to improve his ability to drop into coverage as his college numbers are less than impressive, as he only defended six passes in three seasons. Regardless, he plays with energy and has flashed great explosiveness and an ability to get after the quarterback. He has managed to produce seven or more tackles for loss every season in college and had five and a half sacks this past year.
Having posted the second-fastest 40-yard dash and second-best broad jump at the NFL Combine, the raw athletic ability is present. Harris just needs to refine it and bring it all together. With a relatively unimpressive group starting ahead of him, Harris could find his way onto the field. If he does, I believe there is sleeper potential here.
Troy Andersen, LB, Atlanta Falcons
First and foremost, including Troy Andersen here was connected to increased reports that the Falcons could be looking to trade incumbent starter, Deion Jones. If Jones vacates the starting role in Atlanta, Troy Andersen becomes a very intriguing albeit unknown commodity.
With only one complete season under his belt as a full-time defensive starter, it’s hard to imagine Andersen being ready to compete at the NFL level. Yet, he was extremely productive in that one season. Combined with great measurables at 6’4, 240 pounds and a 4.42 40-yard dash, the outline of a great player is there.
With 150 total tackles, three sacks and two interceptions, Andersen displayed a solid nose for the ball in 2021. Still, there will be questions surrounding the level of competition that Andersen’s Montana State Bobcats faced. Thankfully there is precedent for a dominant FCS linebacker making the leap to the NFL in South Carolina State University’s Darius Leonard. If Andersen can find the right amount of volume on the field, he could surprise some people for a rebuilding Falcons team.
In a previous article, I mentioned the importance of linebackers when it comes to IDP rankings. With great versatility, tackle statistics and snap volume, a strong group of linebackers can carry a Fantasy team’s defense. While some of these rookies may be more sought after in dynasty leagues, a breakout season from a young sleeper can turn the tide of any drafting format. Who’s to say that Nakobe Dean or Troy Andersen isn’t the defensive equivalent to Justin Jefferson in 2020 when he single-handedly won many managers a championship? Don’t sleep on the young guns, you might regret it.
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