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Fantasy Football: Projecting the most effective NFL linebacker duos for IDP leagues in 2020

Whether you’re new to IDP leagues or a grizzled vet, we should all have an idea of who the top linebacker option is for every NFL team, knowing that this position produces the most consistent quality fantasy performances on a weekly basis. While opportunity is paramount to fantasy production, we also don’t want to ignore the linebackers who are paired with some of the elite fantasy performers at the position.

The dual purpose of this article is to look back at levels of production by linebacker tandems from 2019 as well as ahead to expected levels of production in 2020. This will help better identify some teams' LB2s who can be overlooked as they live in the shadows of the No. 1 LB on the depth chart.

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To do this, I took the top two highest tackling linebackers from every NFL team, eliminating games where they did not play together — either due to injury or other reasons — and then figured out how many tackles their teams made during those games. I finished by looking at how many of those tackles came from either member of that team’s linebacker tandem to determine what percentage of team tackles they contributed during those games.

Most efficient IDP LB duos ranked from 2019
RANK TEAM LB1&2 LB1&2 Tackles/Team Tackles LB1&2 tackle share
1 Seattle Seahawks Bobby Wagner/K.J. Wright 282/967 total tackles in 16 games 29%
2 Houston Texans Zach Cunningham/ Benardrick McKinney 238/830 total tackles in 14 games 29%
3 Carolina Panthers Luke Kuechly/Shaq Thompson 240/828 total tackles in 14 games 29%
4 Dallas Cowboys Jaylon Smith/Leighton Vander Esch 153/519 total tackles in 9 games 29%
5 Indianapolis Colts Darius Leonard/Anthony Walker 223/833 total tackles in 13 games 27%
6 Denver Broncos Todd Davis/Alexander Johnson 209/780 total tackles in 12 games 27%
7 Chicago Bears Roquan Smith/Danny Trevathan 138/513 total tackles in 8 games 27%
8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Lavonte David/Devin White 196/745 total tackles in 13 games 26%
9 Atlanta Falcons Deion Jones/De’Vondre Campbell 236/963 total tackles in 16 games 25%
10 New York Jets James Burgess/Neville Hewitt 97/402 total tackles in 7 games 24%

When looking at all 32 teams' linebacker pairs from 2019, something of note is that the elite tackle percentage threshold is seemingly around 25-29% of the team’s total tackles, with fewer than 10 teams actually hitting that mark.

EXPECTED TOP 10 for 2020

With 2019 results now laid out, and after going through our projections for 2020, I’ve pulled all the expected tackle numbers from each team’s starting two linebackers to compile our top 10 most-effective linebacking duos list going into 2020. For this list, and for the sake of consistency, we will be assuming a 16-game season for everyone to determine who the more effective LB2 options are to target in IDP leagues:

1.  Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, Seattle Seahawks (expected 277.1 total combined tackles)

Analysis: The Seahawks' duo came in at No. 1 in 2019 and is projected to do the same in 2020. Seattle played significantly more base personnel last season than any other NFL team, meaning K.J. Wright will come off the field less on obvious passing downs, providing him plenty of opportunity to help this duo repeat as the top pairing.

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