Sep 18, 2013

Week 3 Shuffle: Linebacker

Listed are the Top 40 LBs for the upcoming week.  Rankings are based on the projected mean performance without any specific team context on who you should start.  Sometimes you need to start the lower of two players due to upside or a high floor, so things are fluid.  As always, players can move up or down as we approach kickoff.  So please indulge yourself & dissect our list from top to bottom.  Let's Go!

Tier 1:
1. Luke Kuechly vs NYG
2. Lavonte David @NE
3. Clay Matthews @CIN
4. Jerod Mayo vs TB
5. Wesley Woodyard vs OAK
6. Aldon Smith vs IND
7. Derrick Johnson @PHI
8. Navarro Bowman vs IND
9. Brian Cushing @BAL
10. Lance Briggs @PIT
11. D'Qwell Jackson @MIN
12. Kiko Alonso @NYJ

 - With the exception of Alonso & possibly Woodyard, everyone listed here was drafted as a LB1 on draft day.  Johnson has a great matchup against the fast paced Eagles and should benefit from sheer amount of plays being run.  Smith & Bowman should feast on a still young Andrew Luck.  Cushing, Briggs & D'Qwell should all be tackle machines and add some type of turnover along the way.

Tier 2:
13. Zach Brown vs SD
14. Paul Posluszny @SEA
15. Vontaze Burfict vs GB
16. London Fletcher vs DET
17. Chad Greenway vs CLE
18. Mychal Kendricks vs KC
19. DeAndre Levy @WAS
20. Karlos Dansby @NO
21. Jerrell Freeman @SF
22. DeMeco Ryans vs KC
23. Thomas Davis vs NYG
24. Donald Butler @TEN

- London Fletcher's value is in flux after an out of the ordinary 2 tackle performance again the Lions.  Kendricks will benefit from the Chip Kelly offense all year by seeing more plays run against him.  Levy has two endzone visits on the year, although one was taken away by Suh & his illegal blocking.  Thomas Davis makes his way back into a starting spot after having more ACL explosions then anyone else on record.

Tier 3:
25. Ryan Kerrigan vs DET
26. Mason Foster @NE
27. Danny Trevathan vs OAK
28. Daryl Smith vs HOU
29. Perry Riley vs DET
30. Terrell Suggs vs HOU
31. Phillips Wheeler vs ATL
32. Patrick Willis vs IND
33. Alec Ogletree @DAL
34. Stephen Tulloch @WAS
35. Bruce Carter vs STL
36. Bobby Wagner vs JAC
37. Dannell Ellerbe vs ATL
38. Craig Robertson @MIN
39. David Harris vs BUF
40. Pat Angerer @SF

- No one in this ranking should be considered a must start, even in Patrick Willis was the #1 LB only 2 years ago.  Kerrigan & Suggs rely on the sack in order to get their points, so adjust their ranking accordingly with your format.  Foster, Trevathan, Smith, Wheeler, Ogletree & Ellerbe have all strong performances the first two weeks of the year but still remain relatively untrusted due to their age, starting experience, or new team setting.  Angerer is a top tier LB when healthy, but I refuse to move him into elite status with just one matchup in the books.  He's still a speculative play in my book.

Check out all our Week 2 Rankings: QB RB WR TE LB DL DB K D/ST

As always, read & discuss.  You can reach me on Twitter @ClevRocks_James or comment your (dis)agreements below.

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