2021 RSO IDP Linebacker Review

Updated: April 24th 2022

With the defensive linemen in our rear-view mirror, let’s maneuver our way to the second level like the crafty little scat backs we all are and weave ourselves into some glorious IDP information. Let’s take a look at the 2021 linebackers for RSO and recap what we saw.

As we look at the world of linebackers, we have a bit of the conundrum we saw in the previous article with OLBs who are truly edge rushers (or pass rushers) but end up with the designation of LB, which only muddies our ability to try and makes our analysis a bit more tricky, but we will get there! For those LBs who are in that pass-rushing role, please take a peek at the previous article, 2021 DL Review, for thoughts on how to look at players in that role and designation.

So what did the top 24 LBs look on the RealitySportsOnline platform this last year for IDP123 scoring?

An interesting list with a solid mix of players who are talented NFL performers, some LBs that I like to consider “warm body” LBs, and a few others that you were wondering how are they on this list?!? How do we identify this talent if it is not based on just NFL talent? In this case, we circle back to our first and consistent IDP indicator, the volume of snaps! Snaps! Snaps! And more snaps! #SpoilerAlert, this will come up again in the review of defensive backs in the next article too!

With linebackers, it is not just the volume of the snaps that help indicate the potential success of an IDP linebacker, there are other pieces that are solid indicators to look into. One of the first ones that stand out for me is the number of zone snaps a linebacker takes on a given week and season. This helps show us who is playing on the field for most of the snaps and the very important third-down snaps (and getting that 3-down role on their team). That doesn’t mean we don’t want to see a baseline for just overall snaps and we should be looking for players that are getting close to that 1,000+ snap baseline (which equates to around 58 snaps per game, based on a 17-game season). Lastly, you want to look at the number of snaps per game a team’s defense is actually taking on a per-game basis to understand these baselines for a defender to achieve.

Here is what some of these top performers look like in terms of these numbers. Of course, these are not gospel and the only way to determine things, there are most certainly outliers to any process, some examples not shown are Kamu Grugier-Hill and Alex Singleton both failed to surpass 800+ total snaps on the year but managed to still break the top 24 with above average tackle efficiency (average tends to show around 12-13% for league average) and some massive week performances to boot.

Moving forward with these thoughts, what are you looking for in building out your roster this year and the following ones? You want to focus on teams that keep their LBs in a strong amount of zone coverage snaps and the LBs who are getting those snaps (pay attention to who is running the defense and how they have historically). See what teams are getting enough snaps to hopefully hit that 1,000 total snap threshold based on the number of defensive snaps they are taking and the snaps a defender is getting (big hint, getting 100% of the team’s snaps is good!). Lastly, tackle efficiency helps us identify outliers a bit more as well with very high tackle efficiencies being an indication of over-production in the majority of instances (think high TD totals for a WR and how those generally are not a sticky stat).

I hope this helps you gain a better understanding of what you can look for based on what we have seen from players in the past as you get ready for your drafts this off-season. As always, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@jakekohlhagen) with any thoughts, comments, or general discussions and happy drafting!

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2021 RSO IDP Defensive Line Review

Updated: April 7th 2022

Welcome back you IDP connaisseurs! Let’s continue our journey into the IDP world of fantasy football. We will kick off our review of the 2021 season, with the DL position group. If you recall from our intro to IDP, the DL position(s) is one that can be dictated by two key factors, the first, and most important for all IDP success, is the volume (as it is for most fantasy positions). The second factor is the NFL player’s ability to win their one-on-one matchup at the line of scrimmage. The defensive line is the unique position of IDP that generally correlates IDP success based on NFL success, similar to the offensive side of the ball. These will be things we want to keep in mind as we go forward through IDP.

Before we look at those top-performing pass-rushers from 2021, we must look at who is designated as a DE or DT. Figuring that out though is tough because defense in today’s era of the NFL is not the same kind of football from 1990 through 2010 or even just 5 years ago. Part of that understanding is that so many times people throw around the term “3-4 base” or “4-3 base” as a point of how to identify or designate players. However, thanks to the talented Tom Kislingbury (@tomkislingbury on Twitter), this base defense generally doesn’t account for more than roughly 8,000 snaps across ALL TEAMS AND 17 GAMES! Down from nearly 12,500 in just 2014! The point of this tangent is to call out that NFL defenses run so many different packages and looks, just like NFL offenses do and that has left us in a precarious situation in which we are not always accurately identifying or designating defensive players. And the greatest offender to this is in the DL position group.

Let’s get back on course and take a look at our top 24 (ish) “defensive linemen”, and you will see the top 12 on RSO based on designation and then the other “DL” or “EDGE” players that get LB designation (scoring is based on IDP123 scoring):

Top pass rushers 2021

Cool, a table that shows the top 12 DL in RSO and those you can’t use due to designation, you say. But the table highlights our initial article about understanding your league’s roster composition and the difference between elite DLs and those at the replacement level. If you got inside the top 5 for this position, you were very happy with the production of your DL spot(s). It also showcases the need to understand positional designation for your leagues as well. Then, how do we get it so you can identify these players for you so you can get them on your roster?

For IDP, the first piece is getting on the field, and understanding an IDP’s snap counts is the first step to finding those who will succeed. The next step at the DL level is those who are winning their reps as much as possible each play. When you find that intersection you will see the top of your list here.

Baseline Analytics

After this elite level, you see things start to mix up with either higher snap counts (800+ total or ~50 per game) or consistent QB Pressures ( 50+ total or ~ 3 per game). These are baselines and basic analytics you want to search for to help you with your search for consistent IDP DL production. As for the Pass Rush Win Rate, this is a PFF analytical stat, so you can rely on a source like them to provide this via their site or you can use the eye-test if you are able to watch enough games or replays to see which defensive linemen are winning those snaps each play at a consistent rate and getting to the QB. I like the mix of this to help round out my search for my IDP assets.

Well, picking out All-Pro and Pro Bowl players is easy because that is what this list looks like. While you are correct, there are outliers and information in both directions that can help us avoid making mistakes or help us find the next top performer. Looking at players who had an abnormal amount of snaps (Cameron Heyward is up almost 125+ snaps based on previous 4 seasons’ averages) or one who showed consistent success with QB pressures but just did not find a way to convert this into statistical success. Examples from this past year would be Maxx Crosby (100 pressures, first in the league) and Rashan Gary (81 pressures, third in the league).

The last point I want to call out is to pay attention to players’ and coaches’ movements when it comes to IDP position designation. This is still an inexact science at this point and as you can see from the first table, there are players who are true pass rushers but have that LB designation so they don’t get to score at a DL position. And as defensive coaches and schemes change, LB and DE position changes can change along with it like Chandler Jones moving from Arizona’s “3-4 base” to Las Vegas’s “4-3 base”, will he stay with the LB tag? Will he shift to DE? And the inverse for Danielle Hunter (assuming he stays with Minnesota), where will his designation end up?

I hope this gives you some insight as to who the 2021 successes were, how they got there, and how you can work to understand it going forward for your drafts, trades, or anything else IDP related!

If you ever want to discuss IDP thoughts, IDP strategies, or just talk about fantasy football, you can reach out to me on Twitter @jakekohlhagen.

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QB Musical Chairs

Updated: July 23rd 2017

This offseason could be one of the more intriguing in memory thanks to an unprecedented amount of quarterbacks possibly switching teams. Stable starting quarterbacks rarely move because finding just competent level players at the position is incredibly hard in the NFL.  This year’s candidates for taking over starting jobs in other locations include, among others, free agents Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer, and Mike Glennon; trade/release options Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Tyrod Taylor, Jimmy Garappolo, Colin Kaepernick, Nick Foles, and A.J. McCarron; plus rookies DeShaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, and DeShone Kizer.

This article examines possible landing spots based on a variety of factors including team composition, draft capital, and salary cap situation. The large supply of veteran quarterbacks available with starting experience could make for a very interesting market this offseason at the QB position and will undoubtedly force many into backup jobs.

The Elite Landing Spot: Houston

The Texans provide the premier landing spot for our quarterback class. The defense was among the better units in the NFL in 2016 without superstar defensive lineman J.J. Watt.   The offense boasts quality playmakers at wide receiver (DeAndre Hopkins) and running back (Lamar Miller) plus a decent offensive line which should improve next season.  Houston is set up to win now except for the quarterback position in one of the NFL’s weakest divisions.  There is no need to write more about the struggles of Brock Osweiler.  Tom Savage looked the part of starting QB for about a half of football then reverted to a player who did not belong on the field.

Best fits: Tony Romo, Jimmy Garoppolo.  Houston should find a way to get Romo on the roster despite the difficulties with Osweiler’s contract and Houston’s cap issues.  He instantly makes the Texans a legitimate Super Bowl contender and Houston does not want to waste the limited time frame of a great defense.  Garoppolo answers the cap issue and Houston’s 25th pick would be hard to resist by New England as part of a trade but the Osweiler debacle makes investing in another QB with limited experience scary for Houston.  Selecting a QB at 25 in the draft is another cap-friendly option addressing the position.

No Man’s Land: Buffalo, New York Jets

Both of these teams seem caught in that blurry area of having just enough roster strength to possibly fight for a playoff spot but having far too many weaknesses to truly contend. Both were major disappointments in 2016 failing to make the playoffs.  The Bills (10) and Jets (6) are both at spots in the NFL draft where one of their top rated quarterbacks may fall to them.

Buffalo brings in a new coaching staff led by new HC Sean McDermott.  The Bills are unlikely to pick up the large option on current QB Tyrod Taylor.  The defense unexpectedly bottomed out in 2015 and 2016 under former coach Rex Ryan.  A few analysts made a questionble argument this team is close to competing with the addition of a solid quarterback based on a strong run game and solid offensive line.  A major improvement from a defense among the worst in the league against the run and not good against the pass would have to happen for any talk of contention to occur however.

Best fits: Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon.  This depends a lot on whether the organization views Cardale Jones as a long-term project or an eventual successor.  Buffalo management must find the direction they want to take this team.  Signing a cost-friendly free agent quarterback gives this team desired flexibility for the future. Cutler should come relatively cheap, provides a short-term fix with recent upside (QBR 10 in 2015, QBR 3 in 2013), and has the arm needed for Buffalo’s late season weather.  Resigning Taylor is another option but looks unlikely given the current contract situation.

New York faces a difficult choice about whether to take one last shot or start the rebuild process.  The roster is full of aging former stars including running back Matt Forte (who was clearly outplayed by Bilal Powell in 2016), wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker (who suffered through injuries and the awful version of Ryan Fitzpatrick), and cornerback Darrelle Revis (whose days as a starting corner look over).  This looks like a team in need of a fresh start when adding in an elderly offensive line and a secondary that was among the worst in the league last season.  The Jets also have one of the worst salary cap situations in the league with limited flexibility to obtain significant cap room.

Best fits: DeShaun Watson, Colin Kaepernick.  Time to start over with the top rated QB left on their board.  This is too early in the draft for this quarterback class but better to take the gamble on a possible franchise QB.  This team is going nowhere soon, the top tier defensive prospects might be gone at 6 in the draft, and the Jets do not have the cap space to make big moves in free agency.  The Jets might also effectively “punt” next season on quarterback and sign one of the lower-end options available in free agency like Kaepernick or Nick Foles to compete for the starting job.

The Young Rebuilders: Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago

These teams occupy the top three positions in the NFL draft after winning a combined six games in 2016. Each team has significant holes throughout the roster to be filled.  Each organization has plenty of cap room with Cleveland and San Francisco holding the most cap space in the league.  The cap space and draft capital give each of these teams a variety of options available in addressing QB needs.  Taking one of the top quarterbacks is certainly an option but might not be the wisest choice for a top-three pick with the uncertainty surrounding this rookie class.

Best fits (Cleveland): Tyrod Taylor, DeShone Kizer.  Taylor allows Cleveland to keep all of their draft picks which the Browns management covets.  Hue Jackson displayed a willingness to work with Robert Griffin III who has a similar skill-set to Taylor.  Kizer makes for an intriguing pick at the 12 spot but could fall further.  The Irish quarterback has all the required physical traits and throws one of the better balls among the rookie class but needs a lot of coaching to become ready for the NFL.

Best fits (San Francisco): Mitch Trubisky, Jay Cutler.  San Francisco feels like another team who could wait in determining a long-term quarterback solution.  The roster is nowhere close to competing despite new GM John Lynch’s optimism.  New head coach Kyle Shanahan will not force the issue for quarterback at the top of the draft if he is not confident about the talent available and has ties to Cutler.  Many consider Trubisky the most accurate QB in the draft, if San Francisco goes in that direction, but questions surround the Tar Heel with a limited sample of game film to go off of.

Best fits (Chicago): A.J. McCarron, Patrick Mahomes.  Chicago is a team who could compete sooner than many would presume. There is a strong rushing attack anchored by a very good offensive line and injuries decimated a defense which could be better than expected in 2017 if the Bears find some help in the secondary.  McCarron makes for a low-risk option which should come much cheaper than Garappolo.  Any team acquiring McCarron will also have an extra year of control with his contract as a restricted free agent in 2018.  The Bears should re-sign Brian Hoyer, who showed well in limited action this season, whether as the backup or a bridge to the future for a quarterback taken later in the draft like Texas Tech standout Mahomes.

The Longshots: Denver, Washington, Kansas City

There has been talk of Romo going to Denver but the Broncos seem happy enough with their quarterback situation and just used a first round pick on Paxton Lynch last year.  Kirk Cousins is staying in Washington on the assumption somebody in the Redskins management maintains some level of reason.  Cousins will probably get the franchise tag again as there is no backup plan to Cousins leaving. Kansas City is another popular landing spot for Tony Romo to put the Chiefs over the top.  This seems somewhat unlikely on a team with 23 wins over the last two seasons, a competent quarterback, and limited salary cap flexibility.


Bio: Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

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