Written By Jesse Shaw Follow me on Twitter @Jesse_DFW
Like an NFL team, in dynasty, rookie drafts are the best way to build your team for short and long term success. Drafting well goes further than taking the sexiest RB or WR in the first round. It’s vital to find guys in the later rounds that can become key pieces on your fantasy team.
While elite skill player talent may lie in round 1, your mid and late round picks are the perfect place to build an elite defense. Traditionally, defense always takes a back seat to the offense, by being savvy and grabbing elite and above average defensive players while other teams are still looking for the diamond in the rough RB or WR can allow you to build a significant competitive advantage against your opponent. The later rounds are the perfect place to solidify your defense for long term success. I like to look for the perfect combination of skill, talent, and opportunity.
As the NFL has shifted to a more pass happy league, the pattern of the MLB as the elite option fantasy stud has began to change. Today, many teams run Nickel packages as much as base packages and we have seen a shift in fantasy football LB production because of this. Modern fantasy football linebacker production today lies on the ability to make plays on all 3 downs and that is the type of player I will look for in my upcoming rookie draft. Here are some under-the-radar guys that meet my criteria.
Kiko Alonso: 6’3”, 238 lbs., Buffalo Bills:
Alonso is a versatile LB who displays a high motor, good awareness in coverage, and adequate pass rushing skills making him a nice all around talent. In addition, Alonso is an explosive player with an aggressive attitude and he should get the opportunity to fly around and make plays for the Bills this year.
Kiko came in to the draft slightly underrated due to off the field problems early in his career and injuries that limited Alonso’s impact and production in college. Thankfully, the Bills were able to look past these issues to see that he possesses a unique set of tools to be a productive NFL linebacker
I love Kiko because he is in an ideal situation and has the talent and skills to be great. The Bills drafted Kiko to come in and start right away in the coveted MLB position, but the reason I really him is that he also has the coverage skills to stay on the field on 3rd down.
Rookie Draft Target Rounds: 3-4. Linebackers are a hot commodity and most people still value the MLB position over all others, so if you want Kiko you will have to grab him pretty quick. I would be surprised if he lasts past the 4th round.
Sio Moore: 6’1”, 245 lbs., LB, Oakland Raiders:
Moore is a talented all-around LB and brings a unique skillset to the NFL. In his final 2 seasons at UConn Moore racked up 160 tackles, 14 sacks, and 17 pass break-ups. Moore has also proved he has top-notch athleticism by being a combine top performer in the 40 yd. dash, bench press, vertical jump, and broad jump.
Moore finds himself in a great situation as well. The Raiders are bereft of talent at the LB position after letting Phillip Wheeler walk and cutting 1st round bust (and now retired at 23) LB Rolando McClain. Moore is instantly the most talented LB on the roster and has already impressed in rookie camp. Moore is projected to fit in on the weakside and will be a 3-down LB that will produce in many different ways.
I predict Moore will end up with 100+ tackles and has the skills to add 5-6 sacks and possibly a couple interceptions. Think of him as a better version of Wheeler and look for similar if not better stats in his rookie year.
Rookie Draft Target Rounds: 4-5. Moore should be come off the board somewhere in the 5-7 range for LBs, which should slot him somewhere in the last 2 rounds of your rookie draft.
Khaseem Greene: 6’1”, 241 lbs, LB, Chicago Bears:
Greene was a standout LB his senior year with great production on the field, racking up 125 tackles, 5 ½ Sacks, and 6 forced fumbles. Greene is a great all-around player who shows the ability to not only make big plays, but play within himself.
Greene was a top performer in the 20 yd. and 60 yd. shuttle at the combine, backing up what you see on tape. Known as a violent tackler, Greene is a quick, explosive LB with top-notch awareness. In addition, Greene is a converted safety that displays above average coverage skills.
Greene isn’t in the most ideal situation to put up numbers this year but the Bears have an aging LB group and he would be a great fit anywhere. Overall you will have to be a little patient with Greene, but he possesses such a great combination of athleticism, skill, and production that I expect him to be a playmaker for the Bears sooner than later.
Rookie Draft Target Rounds: 5-UDFA. Greene may be overlooked in drafts since Chicago took Jon Bostic ahead of him and he may go undrafted. Depending on your depth at LB I would snag him up in the 5th round or make him someone to keep an eye on going into the season.