Instead of just looking at specific players that can take your fantasy teams to the top of the leaderboard this year, it’s also important to know the ins and outs of the teams those players are playing for or against. In this series, we’ll take a look at some of the top units around the NFL.
Be sure to check out the rest of the series by following the links below:
NFL: Top 5 Linebacker Corps
5. Denver Broncos
I was torn between the Broncos and Seahawks in this fifth slot, but ultimately went with one of the league’s most potent edge rushers in the Broncos linebackers. While the Seahawks are stout, they play more as a unit and less individually. But I won’t get into that unit, as that’s not who I’m discussing. The Broncos corps is led by outside linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. While Ware is up in age, he continues to play at a high level. He recorded 10 sacks in 2014. Miller is not chopped liver either, as his explosive first step usually creates trouble for the defense to contain him, making him one of the better pass rushers of his position. In the middle is Brandon Marshall, please note that I’m referring to the linebacker not the Jets wide receiver. Marshall is one of those linebackers you don’t hear much about, but is a big asset to his teams’ defense. He can defend against both the pass and the run. This stable of linebackers compliments each other well and should be considered one of the most dynamic and dangerous group in the league.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
On paper, this is arguably the best linebacking corps in the league. However, I’d like to see them put a strong season as a group before handing them the best corps title. They parted ways with veteran Trent Cole, but received Kiko Alonso in a trade. Their inside linebackers now consist of Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, and DeMeco Ryans. This trio is arguably one of the best in the NFL. They are a combination of speed and versatility. On the outside they have Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. In 2014, Graham was noted for his solid contribution in a limited role. This is one of the most dynamics groups of linebackers and will create pressure for opposing quarterbacks more often than not. They should be fun to watch.
3. New England Patriots
In a dynasty league that I’m in, I took Jamie Collins in the last round of that league and signed him to a five year $1 deal. Boy, am I happy about that! He has quickly established himself as an all-around linebacker. He’s capable of playing coverage defense and also defends the run well. He has made a name for himself, and has embraced “the Patriot Way.” The Patriots also have two other very good linebackers, Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo (missed a large portion of 2014). This trio will wreak havoc on opposing offenses this year. While many are concerned about the secondary of the Patriots, I’m excited to see these three play together for an entire season. Look out running backs!
2. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers already had one of the best combos of linebackers in Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, but in this year’s draft they selected linebacker Shaq Thompson in the first round, to make this an even scarier unit. Kuechly and Davis are both quick and athletic, along with being very smart. Thompson also provides great athleticism making this unit one of the most versatile groups of linebackers in the league. This is going to be a stingy defense this season and a lot will have to do with these three guys.
1. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens linebackers have always set the tone for their defense. Years back it was Ray Lewis, today, it’s Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil on the outside. In addition to C.J. Mosley, who has proven that he could be one of the better middle linebackers in the game in his rookie season. Suggs and Dumervil combined for 29 sacks in 2014. These two complement one another as Suggs is known for his strength and power, while Dumervil is known for his quick feet and speed. They are both over 30 years of age, but remain arguably the best linebacker tandem in the game. Take those two and add the young Mosley in the mix and you’ve got yourself a really nice group of linebackers.