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2014 fantasy football profiles and projections (LBs 1-15)

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Auction...............$14

Bye Week.............12

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 93 2 4 7 0 143.50
2014 Projections 97 2 3 6 1 158.50

With each passing year Luke Kuechly just adds more hardware to his trophy collection. In 2012 he was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he followed that up by taking home the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013. So what's in store for Kueckly in 2014? Likely more of the same. Kuechly is the centerpiece in the Panthers defense, and works exceptionally well running defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's scheme. It also helps that he plays behind one of the most potent defensive lines in all of football, allowing him to use his speed and instincts to make a ton of plays. Just look at his 24 tackle, one interception performance against the Saints last season if you need proof. Kuechly has been a model of consistency over his first two years, posting better than 150 combined tackles in each season, with at least one sack and two interceptions to boot. He should be one of the first defensive players selected in all IDP formats.

Auction...............$14

Bye Week.............7

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 106 6 5 9 0 165.50
2014 Projections 109 5.5 2 8 1 159.00

The second-year Nebraska product continued his ascent as one of the league's most exciting middle linebackers in 2013 when he tied for fifth in the league with 145 combined tackles. More impressive, however, were the seven sacks David added to his resume, helping boost him into the top 10 fantasy finishers for his position. David will be a name to watch during IDP drafts, as he now has the benefit of playing under head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who came on board the coaching staff this offseason. Smith and Frazier have procured great fantasy seasons out of a number of players during their careers, and the talented David should shine under their tutelage.

Auction...............$12

Bye Week.............4

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 113 3 1 8 1 169.50
2014 Projections 110 2.5 2 5 0 147.50

While the Cincinnati defensive line gets most of the acclaim in town, Burfict deserves his share of the credit as well. Burfict proved all of his doubters wrong by entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and delivering back-to-back stellar seasons. His sophomore campaign was so stellar, in fact, that Burfict finished fourth in fantasy scoring at his position. Burfict flourished all around last season, posting career-bests across the board. He has great range and closing speed from his weakside linebacker position, allowing him to track down players all across the field and make plays. One cause for concern is that long-time defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has departed to coach the Minnesota Vikings. However, Burfict's linebackers coach Paul Guenther has been promoted to defensive coordinator, so a steep drop off in production is unlikely. Burfict is only 23 years old and should continue to deliver as one of the top fantasy linebackers in 2014.

Auction...............$10

Bye Week.............11

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 121 3 2 9 1 170.00
2014 Projections 102 3 3 6 0 146.00

Posluszny was one of the few bright spots on a Jaguars defense that gave up the fifth most points and yards last season. Posluszny recorded a career-best 122 solo tackles last season, and had the honor of scoring his first professional touchdown by intercepting the venerable Peyton Manning and taking it to the house. Linebackers are defensive coordinator Bob Babich's specialty, so it's no surprise he helped Posluszny turn in one of his finest seasons to date. There's little reason to doubt that "Poz" can duplicate this level of production as the Jaguars look to add more pieces through the draft to a defense in need of talent. Year 2 under the braintrust of head coach Gus Bradley and Babich should keep Poz right at the top of the IDP linebacker pool, which makes him one of the first that should be selected in fantasy drafts this fall.

Auction...............$9

Bye Week.............6

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 95 4.5 2 7 0 125.00
2014 Projections 101 2.5 2 7 1 138.50

If you need an example of a prototypical middle linebacker with speed and instincts, look no further than Derrick Johnson. He's fought his way into the discussion as one of the better middle linebackers in the league over the course of his nine-year career, and has made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons. He's a safe linebacker to target, but be warry of his league-leading 21 missed tackles last season. Hopefully that was an aberration and not a sign of his age finally catching up with him.

Auction...............$9

Bye Week.............8

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 82 3 0 1 0 104.00
2014 Projections 94 2 2 7 0 137.50

The arrival of NaVorro Bowman made the San Francisco 49ers a better team, but also coincided with the end of Willis' reign as one of the go-to top selections in IDP leagues, as he hasn't hit 100 solo tackles since 2010 -- the year before Bowman became a starter. Well, 2014 could mark Willis' return to IDP glory, as Bowman will be sideline for much of the season as he recovers from a ghastly torn ACL and MCL suffered in the NFC Championship Game. Willis is the unquestioned leader of the 49ers defense, and on a unit that will be missing Bowman, and likely Aldon Smith, for large parts of the year, the team will be coutning on its leader to rise to the occasion. Many fantasy owners will likely be sleeping on Willis heading into fantasy drafts based on his recent production, so grab him before they realize the error in their ways.

Auction...............$9

Bye Week.............4

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 72 5 2 6 0 118.00
2014 Projections 84 3.5 2 5 0 130.00

Wagner missed two games and part of a third with a sprained ankle in 2013, otherwise he likely would have ended up as in the top 10 for fantasy scoring among linebackers. Wagner is a rising star at the middle linebacker position, and he likely picked up a few more IDP fans after a solid postseason where he averaged more than 10 combined tackles per game. Wagner is an adept blizer, and capable in coverage as he snagged two interceptions and defended four passes. Wagner owns the middle of the Seahawks defense, and will be counted on once again to secure that level so the "Legion of Boom" can do their thing in the secondary. Wagner is an excellent option to target once the top names are off the board, as he could very easily wind up finishing ahead of all of them in fantasy points once the season is all said and done.

Auction...............$9

Bye Week.............4

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 112 6 4 19 2 174.00
2014 Projections 98 3.5 2 15 1 149.50

Dansby returned to the desert last season after three years in Miami, and turned in one of his finest seasons posting career-highs in solo tackles (112), passes defended (19) and interceptions (four.) Now, Dansby has once again moved on, this time to Cleveland where newly minted head coach Mike Pettine will look to have Dansby call the shots from the middle of his 3-4 defense. Dansby left a talented defense in Arizona, but will suit up with a defense in Cleveland not lacking for talent, either. Dansby will join the ranks of Joe Haden, Paul Kruger, Phil Taylor and fellow newcomer Donte Whitner on a defense looking to prove that its top-10 finish in yards allowed in 2013 was no fluke. Dansby does have a decade's worth of wear on his tires, and a new fat contract, so a dip in production isn't that far out of the question. He's still a solid IDP linebacker, and should be drafted accordingly. Just don't chase last year's numbers.

Auction...............$8

Bye Week.............10

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 35 1.5 0 1 0 51.00
2014 Projections 72 2.5 1 5 0 115.50

Losing Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo to injuries last season really softened up the middle of the Patriots defense. Well, both should be back at full strength this season, and ready to chase another Super Bowl trophy. Mayo was off to a great start in 2013, as he was on pace for over 140 combined tackles for the second straight year. Unfortunately, a torn pectoral muscle halted that pursuit. Now, Mayo will once again be the signal-caller in Bill Belichick's defense, and with his former middle linebacking partner Brandon Spikes now a member of the Buffalo Bills, Mayo will have plenty of space and opportunities to make plays. Spikes was the primary run-stuffer, but now those duties could fall to Mayo. He'll make an excellent backup or rotational linebacker this season, and has the potential to return to the top 10 among linebackers in fantasy scoring.

Auction...............$8

Bye Week.............10

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 83 3 3 3 0 123.50
2014 Projections 92 1.5 2 6 0 124.50

Were it not for one 99 tackle season in 2009, Greenway would have had seven consecutive seasons with at least 100 combined tackles. Still, the eight year veteran bumped his current streak up to four consecutive season in 2013 when he notched 134 combined tackles (83 of them as the solo variety.) The Vikings will be looking to get younger and faster at the inside linebacker position soon, but until that happens Greenway will still be patrolling the middle of the field for the Norsemen racking up tackles and fantasy points. He's a solid second linebacker option who should be available late in fantasy drafts.

Auction...............$8

Bye Week.............4

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 95 1.5 1 9 1 138.50
2014 Projections 87 2.5 3 8 0 137.00

During the 2013 NFL Draft, Ogletree's stock took a serious hit due to character issues, but the Rams took a chance on him at the end of the first round, hoping the talented youngster would deliver. Ogletree certainly did deliver on his first-round status by putting up an impressive 138.50 fantasy points in his rookie season. The athletic, rangy linebacker from Georgia not only led the Rams in combined tackles, but proved his mettle in pass coverage too. Ogletree had 10 pass defenses and one interception -- which he returned 98 yards for a touchdown. Ogletree has the benefit of playing within one of the most talented front sevens in football, which should allow him to continue racking up stats in 2014.

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............10

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 83 5.5 2 9 0 110.50
2014 Projections 88 3.5 2 6 0 1

Since entering the league in 2012 as a CFL transplant, Freeman has posted back-to-back top-10 finishes in fantasy scoring for his position. He anchors Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense in Indianapolis, and will find himself along a new, more capable partner than he's used to in D'Qwell Jackson. Freeman's tackle totals may take a slight hit due to the arrival of Jackson, but Freeman has had no trouble filling up the rest of the stat sheet. He produced six forced fumbles, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions last season -- numbers he won't struggle to replicate in 2014. Freeman will be looking to land a fat contract extension after 2014, as he's in the last year of his deal with the Colts. This is the kind of situation that has "career year" written all over it. Target Freeman early among defensive players in fantasy drafts this fall.

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............4

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 85 3.5 2 8 0 124.00
2014 Projections 97 3.5 3 4 0 130.50

After back-to-back top-five finishes, Laurinaitis slipped down to 19th in fantasy scoring among linebackers last season. At only 27 years of age, the Ohio State product still has plenty left in the tank. His slip in fantasy rankings can mostly be attributed to his solo tackles dropping from a ridiculous 117 in 2012 to 85 last season. Laurinaitis is still a playmaker, though, as he tacked on 3.5 sacks and two interceptions to his résumé last season. The presence of the young, athletic Alec Ogletree is likely a cause for Laurinaitis' dip in production, but he's a safe bet to finish among the top scoring linebackers in fantasy once again.

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............9

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 79 2 0 1 0 108.00
2014 Projections 93 2 2 4 0 130.50

Worrilow was one of the surprises of the fantasy IDP world last season, when he was thrust into the action as an undrafted rookie free agent -- and actually played pretty darn well. While he was at times out of position, he flashed his raw athleticism and playmaking instincts while rejuvinating an Altanta linebacker corps in desperate need of a spark. Now, with another full offseason in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's system under his belt, the game should be slowing down for Worrilow and he'll be able to put his athleticism and instincts to greater use. Nab him as a No. 2 linebacker with loads of upside.

Auction...............$6

Bye Week.............12

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Pass Def Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2013 Statistics 86 3 2 6 0 126.00
2014 Projections 82 4 2 6 0 124.50

Timmons has been a fixture of the menacing Steelers defense since he came into the league in 2007, and over the last few years a fixture in IDP fantasy circles as well. Timmons has posted consecutive 15th place finishes in fantasy scoring for linebackers, and back in 2010 he was a top-five fantasy scorer. Timmons has no trouble filling up the stat sheets as he finds a way to be a part of almost every play for the modern version of the Steel Curtain. He'll have a new running mate in Arthur Moats, whom the Steelers signed during the offseason. Moats has a little less wear on his tires than Timmons, and could eat into Timmons production a tad. Still, Timmons is a proven commodity in IDP leagues, and will make a top-notch second-string linebacker, or a solid starter.

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