Skip to main content

Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Linebacker Rankings for 2022

Defense/Special Teams Rankings Week 16: Darius Leonard/Indianapolis Colts

Shaquille Leonard may have changed his name, but the Colts linebacker's across-the-board fantasy production should stay the same.

When it comes to Individual Defensive Players (IDPs) in fantasy football, linebacker remains the "it" position. And the reason is pretty simple — the guys that man the middle of any defense are typically those that are in on the majority of plays.

Linebackers are generally the top scorers among IDPs, especially those who can do a little bit of everything. Look no further than the top four guys in this year's rankings — Bobby Wagner, T.J. Watt, Shaquille Leonard, and Roquan Smith.

Wagner has been a tackling machine ever since he stepped on the field as a rookie in 2012. The six-time All-Pro has had 130-plus tackles in six straight seasons. Even though he's not getting younger (turned 32 in June), Leonard has been a fantasy mainstay and should be re-energized following his release from Seattle and signing with the defending Super Bowl champion Rams.

Meanwhile, T.J. Watt is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year after racking up 22.5 sacks but don't forget about the five forced fumbles and seven passes defended either.

Leonard may have changed his first name (he's asked to be called Shaquille instead of Darius), but he's still the same player who has made a reputation for across-the-board production. He was hampered by injuries last season but gutted through 16 games and still finished as a top-10 fantasy LB because of his four interceptions and league-high eight forced fumbles, among his other numbers.

And then there's Smith, who may be the closest comp to Leonard because he can do it all — make tackles all over the field, get to the quarterback (3 sacks in 2021), create turnovers (5 career INTs), and come up with the game-changing play (returned INT 53 yards for a TD last season).

They are not the only sideline-to-sideline playmakers to choose from at the LB position, but you can certainly expect them all to go quickly in fantasy drafts once the IDPs start coming off the board.

2022 Positional Rankings: Top 300 I QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Top 50 IDP I DL I LB I DB

2022 Linebacker (LB) Rankings

2022 Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Magazine

Available on newsstands everywhere or purchase your copy online!