Welcome to the 2023 Inside Linebacker IDP Rankings presented on SGPN. With a reminder, you can catch more rankings and NFL content on our fantasy football tab or in the links below! Our box set for the LB rankings is for balanced and tackle-heavy formatted leagues. These are redraft rankings, so if you’re interested more in dynasties, here are our latest Dynasty Rankings.
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IDP Rankings Security Break
We have compiled a list of the top 10 linebackers (+1). Taking into consideration their skillset, experience, and potential risks. Our rankings also weighed the players and the current situation of their defensive team.
2023 Linebacker IDP Fantasy Football Rankings
1) Roquan Smith – Ravens
Last season, Roquan Smith had an impressive 169 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, and three interceptions. That was, despite switching teams midseason. He was still able to maintain his higher level of play. Throughout his five-year career, he’s also averaged 135.5 tackles per season and only missed four games.
That’s top talent Ironman football, on top of one of the highest yearly projected ceilings. That is a huge reason why Roquan Smith is the #1 ILB in our top 10 linebacker IDP rankings!
78 Games – 76 Starter – Fulltime Starter: Career
2) Foyesade Oluokun – Jaguars
In 2022, Foyesade Oluokun recorded 184 tackles, two sacks, five passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two fumbles. Grading out on the higher side while finishing as the NFL’s leading tackler. He averaged 12.9 tackles over the final nine contests, which also included the run in the playoffs. Oluokun is restructuring his contract to stick around a couple more seasons after having recorded more than 180 tackles in each of the last two in Jacksonville.
The only reason to suggest that Smith can be taken higher is…? The odds he can repeat a third season as the leading tackler in the league just aren’t there on paper. Especially considering that in the last 22 years, Foye Oluokun is the only inside ILB even to repeat back-to-back seasons. There’s no reason to prefer one over the other this year in redrafts.
81 Games – 58 Starter – Fulltime Starter: 2020 – 2022
3) Nick Bolton – Cheifs
Bolton is the youngest (23) of our top 12 ILBs. He finished second in as many years in total tackles. In his first two seasons, Bolton has recorded over 100 tackles each year. As a second-round pick in 2021, Bolton has proven to be a well-balanced IDP monster. Currently, he is on his rookie deal which has two more seasons left.
The Chiefs may have finally found a real dynasty ILB for the next decade, so they may actually extend this one for a change when Bolton’s a top performer again this year.
33 Games – 29 Starter – Fulltime Starter: Career
4) Bobby Okereke – Giants
Bobby Okereke set new career season highs in 2022. The four-year ILB was huge. With an often-injured Shaquille Leonard out for most of the year with a back issue, Okereke earned himself a new fat paycheck in New York. It’s not only his above-par veteran skillset and leadership that is so appealing here.
If you’re wondering why he jumped in the average draft position reports, it’s because he inherited the only secure ILB full-time gig for the Giants as soon as he signed on the dotted line. Hopefully, Okereke stays healthy as he has in the past. This position was notoriously productive and now filled with a very underrated and capable ILB.
64 Games – 49 Starter – Fulltime Starter: 2020 – 2022
5) Bobby Wagner – Seahawks
Bobby Wagner finished his one-year stint with the Rams, which was not very productive in 2022. However, he is an Ironman and has recorded triple-digit tackles for all 11 years of his NFL career. Wagner is back where he belongs in Seattle.
It might be that his age affects his ability to make big plays, such as interceptions and sacks soon. That fact won’t likely affect his combined tackle totals for this year or keep him out of where he belongs in the linebacker IDP Rankings Top 10.
168 Games – 167 Starter – Fulltime Starter: Career
6) C.J. Mosley – Jets
Mosley has totaled 168 and 158-tackle seasons, respectfully, over the last two years. Mosley is not quite always given his dues on a yearly basis in linebacker IDP rankings. He’s dipped in his overall performance after getting healthy again. The five-time pro-bowler has the same top-10 outlook as long as he’s leading this Jet’s defense again.
112 Games – 112 Starter – Fulltime Starter: Career
Top 5 Highest-paid LB’S In the #NFL #NFLTwitter #Colts Darius Leonard: $19.7 million
#49ers Fred Warner: $19 million
#Seahawks Bobby Wagner: $18 million#Jets C.J. Mosley: $17 million#Texans Zack Cunningham: $14.5 million pic.twitter.com/JPJMUmG7vW
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) August 18, 2021
7) Fred Warner – 49ers
The only thing keeping Warner from being ranked any higher is his fellow ILB2 Drew Greenlaw. The tandem played side by side all season long last year for the first time. Warner also has a stout line in front of him, which just got even better, adding former Eagle stud DT Javon Hargraves. Not to mention Greenlaw nearly matched Warner’s pace in tackles.
Greenlaw recorded 127 total tackles in 15 games with 88% of the available snaps. At the same time, Warner hit 130 in all 17 contests, with 96% of the available snaps. The 49ers’ LB2 did cut into Warner’s ceiling more than many people forecasted.
Warner: 81 Games – 81 Starts – Fulltime Starter: Career
So should Greenlaw be a top 12? Or is Warner just outside the top 12? We are working on consistency and security. So until it happens, Warner’s still got the edge as a higher-end athlete. He is one with a great knack for running a tough defense, as well as playing in it like a stud. But this doesn’t stop him from sliding a little. We really should be checking on what Greenlaw’s ADP is at in best-ball leagues right now.
8) Eric Kendricks – Chargers
The veteran, Eric Kendricks, who has recorded triple-digit tackles for seven years of his eight-year career, has landed in Los Angeles. Although he didn’t grade out well last season, Eric Kendricks is still very capable of taking over for 2022 starter Drue Tranquill.
According to the current depth, the Chargers have put all their footballs in the same duffle bag. This leaves Kendricks as the only real option to absorb Tranquill’s tackles (146).
Not to mention the five sacks that should still be in Kendricks’s wheelhouse. At least as an “easier” method to get production from an older player besides run stopping, which Kendricks just recently matched in 2021, is a positive sign. There’s still an upside.
117 Games – 113 Starter – Fulltime Starter: Career
9) Jordan Hicks MIN – Vikings
It’s another Warner versus Greenlaw aspect but with a twist. The difference being the exact same two players aren’t involved. As we mentioned, Eric Kendricks is with the Chargers.
We propose that Jordan Hicks will likely replace Kendricks in the middle. Second-year man Asamoah has to be better in coverage, right? This is where the downfall was of painting Hicks and Kendricks with the secondary. Granted, Hicks was targeted 301 times to Asamoah’s four, but the 75% percentage allowed is the same.
Asamoah was generally classified as a pursuit linebacker with speed and quick reflexes. Coming out of Oklahoma, he demonstrated good instincts for quickly reading the plays. However, his pursuit was raw and lacked technique in college. He is always near the ball, but he struggles with consistency in tackling. Asamoah’s athleticism makes him a strong contender for pass coverage as a starter.
Asomoah reads more like he is best suited as the coverage when they kept an aging Hicks to run this defense. Leaving the odds that we see Hicks up in the box way more than some might anticipate. Hicks recorded 128 combined tackles “playing” the weak side with 81% of the snaps. Right there with the guy playing the middle, Kendricks (137/94%).
10) Zaire Franklin – Colts
Zaire Franklin is in a similar case scenario with question marks, with recent former IDP stud favorite Shaquille Leonard lingering in this starting tandem. The difference here is that Franklin has elite competition to deal with for his piece of the pie. Of course, that’s if Leonard’s back is healed and he’s healthy to play at a level he just did recently.
According to current reports, he’s working on it and likely going to be ready. So if there’s a slight chance this turnover king gets back on stride, this was his team before. He proved so many (he felt) NFL pros wrong with his draft profiles. So if he’s really coming into camp on the brink of being 100% versus securing Franklin a higher ranking, it’s a no-brainer to pump the breaks this year on Franklin.
Alex Singleton – Broncos
Alex Singleton remains an outlier, recording unheard-of numbers per snap and basically doing it with part-time snaps. Not to mention that Denver just decide to cut him a nicer paycheck for the next three years. One notable enough to figure that, according to pro-football-reference.com, Singleton should shatter his 68% snap count share percent strike fairly soon.
So with that potential, if that scenario plays out, the ceiling is there in tackles per snap. Imagine that with a 10% to 15% increase. After all, teams don’t normally pay part-timers as much as they did Singleton this offseason. Increasing the odds he does receive some type of boost and wrapping up our top 10 (+1) inside linebacker IDP rankings heading into Week 1.