By: Gary VanDyke II @hbogart27
Updated: 12/31/2017

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FFD260 IDP: Reviewing the 2nd & 3rd Year LBs (Part 2)
If you’ve missed part 1 of this series, you may like to have a look and see exactly what my purpose was from the start of these “takes” starting this past August. Including the coverage on linebackers Eric Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, B.J. Goodson, Jake Ryan, and Blake Martinez.
Part 1

After we cover all the linebackers that were on the spot this past season we’ll focus on who to target for 2018. Including a couple low ball “fliers”. Hang in here, this will be a process. But one that can set us up over the very early off-season for 2018. Focus now on “upgrades” and later we can restock on return values and/or replacements with those players that fell thru the cracks. It happens every season and knowing this we’ll replenish our ranks. I 100% believe in “we get what we pay for”. I’ll always overpay with a few pieces that are mid-tiered (including picks) for the productive players with owners who will “jump” on what I’m willing to offer. All the time knowing I have all kinds of time to recover.

There is one very important thing to remember about IDP, top-tier productive players that consistently score a solid average of points each week are key. And the “others” are always replaceable. Over my years of playing IDP, I’ve learned in the standard size leagues that the waiver wire always holds serviceable players. And there are always way more “fliers” that work out on the defensive side of the ball over the offensive side. It is something to take advantage of to build both the best IDP lineup you can and also to throw in value to build up the offensive side. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, using this concept will give fantasy owners the edge if we use it as a long-term strategy. We’ll keep covering this strategy as we roll thru the offseason.

This is the start of the first step, each event coming up in the NFL holds another step. From here thru the offseason signings, combine, draft, camps, and into the preseason we’ll cover the next move to try and use. And all the time we will know that in the end that serviceable replacements are dime a dozen on waiver wires by Week 1 of the 2018 season. I’ve repeated this process with success for years. And along the way, I’ll be the one doing all the research for you to stay ahead in your league when it comes to the players and their values. My focus is to help get your team into the playoffs, the fantasy gods will take it from there.

The Reviews

NYJ LB Darren Lee: Will be in his 3rd season in 2018

My first “take”: “As an Ohio State fan, this one is rough for me to “take” on. I want to believe he will be top notch as soon as this year, but realistically I don’t think he reaches that tier. I’m also torn on the idea if I sit and wait to see this year out or to sell his hype while it is very high right now. He struggled last year on the field and didn’t show anything proof positive to me that I should gamble on him. If he fails to take that step upwards then I could be missing out on getting value at its peak. I’m selling now and not taking the risk. All I need is an interested trade partner who will give me his hyped value.”

Now: So, to me, Lee would have been a good “sell” as I stated in the first take. Based off of his 2017 season numbers he is hovering at the lower end of an LB2 or really upper LB3. After 15 weeks of games, he is sitting on 92 combined tackles with 66 of those being solo. And other than 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles there are no “playmaker” stats like interceptions, passes defended or touchdowns. He reportedly hasn’t been up to Todd Bowles standards and even had been benched a game for not going with the flow with what Bowles is trying to do in New York. At this point, he has lost value from where he was at the time of the article last August. Just maybe some owners made that right move and sold him as I would have tried to do. But I realize that my “take” is just that and there was a 50-50 chance I was wrong. The Jets brought in Davis again and he was clearly the leader of the defense. We can’t be sure if he will be next season or even if Bowles will be running the show in 2018. If Bowles does remain the head coach we shouldn’t be surprised if a linebacker is signed or drafted, maybe both. If he isn’t and we are hedging our odds that Lee is a starter again in 2018 and make that major jump to upper tier we may want to but our beer down and think it thru. If a new head coach is hired then he’ll be looking at Lee’s game films. Again leading us to believe that a 3rd season doesn’t seem plausible for Lee to impress. Lee struggled last season and now no improvement to mention in this season. We should have Lee on the trade block and recoup whatever value we can for 2018.

K.C. LB Reggie Ragland: Will be in his 3rd season in 2018

My first “take”: “A complete hold and see here this year. Maybe the top-notch player we strive to find. I know Brown is being touted as the MLB, but I have a hunch Ragland will get his shot to shine soon enough. If he doesn’t fit the Bills system I’d sure think someone will make the trade for him and Buffalo would be willing to recoup their losses in any case. Hold him and your breath. If I do trade him it is for “great value.”

Now: I’m kind of stunned by my first take. Rarely would a scenario like that actually play out as it did, by that I mean the part about him being traded. Those are just rare to hit on. Ragland wasn’t a fit in Buffalo and was actually traded to Kansas City. It took a little while but the Chiefs have inserted Ragland into the starting line up as a rotational player. Derrick Johnson (to me) lost a step a season or two ago and by how things are playing out the have plans for Ragland in 2018. Him and another linebacker I’ve been promoting as a stash that I’ll cover again later on. But at this point, Ragland is worth another wait and see for 2018. We should think of his college career that he has the skillset to be a top-tier productive player. Don’t take that wrong, if we have a sure shot at a known top-tier and the package to get him includes Ragland, he is gone. But as for his upside, we should consider him one of the last linebackers we let walk away over the others in this series. He hasn’t had a full season to prove himself after an injured rookie season and this transition during his second season. Andy Reid has produced some nice linebackers in his career and Ragland is in line for a chance at that. We have to consider this may be Derrick Johnson’s final season. All indication has been that it likely is. So Ragland is a hold with a sell if the right situation can happen for a known top-tier. By himself, he is a sell high, and I mean really high.

CIN LB Nick Vigil: Will be in his 3rd season

My first “take”: “A possible MLB down the road if Minter out prices himself for Cincinnati next offseason. For this year he is slated to see the SLB and odds are only a 2 down thumper. With Burfict being the top notch guy on that defense it’s hard to imagine anyone unseating him. Can’t see his value ever being higher than it is right now and I’m trading this player now. Maybe adding him and another player or pick for that upgrade for this year could happen.”

Now: At the time I wrote the “take” I never dreamed that weeks later I would find myself trading for this player in my 32 team flagship league. And in there at a nice bargain price versus what I believe his value may have shot up to now. In the ten full games, he played he was an every-down linebacker at the SLB position in the base package and switched to the MLB position on passing downs. Keeping him on the field 100% of the time. This seemed to be a trend this year with a few teams to have the SLB do this. Out of all of them that come to mind Vigil had the most success I can think of. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury in Week 12 that landed him on I.R. in the end. Out of the ten games (with or without Burfict on the field), he played in full he only had two mediocre outings. And I use the mediocre word lightly, in those two or maybe three games he still remained very serviceable in his production for fantasy purposes. He managed an average of a upper tier linebacker for the most part. During that period he hung in the top ten in combined tackles across the league. If I recall at one point his highest ranking was around the 4th at one time. So what should we do with him for 2018, this might be a little tricky. The first major thing to consider is if Marvin Lewis will return or not after yet another disappointing season. Vigil may have been one of Lewis’s “guys” but I’m not sure how the next coach would look at him. He wasn’t actually what you would call a top graded linebacker on the field. At least from some of the game reports perspective. It really would depend on what source the report was coming from. The next question we should determine with that being said is can he do it again in 2018 if things fall in his favor. With Burfict being suspended the first few games and then enduring injuries this season keeping Vigil in the spotlight a little more has to be something we think about. We have some time to let things play out in Cincinnati, so for now, he is a hold. If Lewis keeps his job we keep Vigil or sell high, very high. One has to wonder after Burfict’s last few seasons if he can remain on the field enough not to let Vigil do his thing. Even when Burfict was able to be at 100% for games Vigil remained relevant enough. I think we give Vigil another season unless someone is willing to overpay for him. The other scenario will come into play if a new head coach enters the picture. If that happens I will be on it right away for us to determine then if he is a player we start shopping and hope the other league members don’t catch on. The Bengals have a lot of things they need to fix even if a new head coach came in so we should then gauge what our options are. But for now treat him as a holdable player with top ten “upside”, the kind of player we are shooting for here.

Next up and the last of the reviews on the players I covered back last August are Kamalei Correa, Myles Jack, Denzel Perryman, and Jatavis Brown.

Thanks again for reading, I hope you found some helpful information to gain the edge in your IDP leagues heading into 2018. As always I can be found on twitter at @HBogart27 or emailed at gmtvandyke@gmail.com for a follow-up or any questions you may have.