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Top 5 IDP Linebackers Under 25 (2024 Fantasy Football)

Top 5 IDP Linebackers Under 25 (2024 Fantasy Football)

With the offseason upon us, the focus now shifts to dynasty fantasy football, the NFL Draft and the incoming class of rookies. However, for some of us, it is good to reflect on players drafted in recent years and see who are the top performing individual defensive players (IDP) under the age of 25.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Every year, it is important to see who the emerging talent in the league is already, for potential buy-low opportunities. While some fantasy players are focused on the new hotness entering the league, some of the players on this list might all of a sudden either go undervalued or are players who can be acquired for 2024 rookie draft picks.

Therefore, it is time to look at the first of a three-part series and review the top five linebackers under 25.

Top 5 LBs Under 25

1. Nick Bolton (LB – KC) — Age: 23

Nick Bolton, after ending up as one of the top linebackers in fantasy football in 2022, suffered a traumatic season in 2023. He spent most of the season on injured reserve due to ankle and wrist injuries. However, he did return for the final four games of the fantasy season, before getting a rest in Week 18 as the Kansas City Chiefs had already locked up the No. 3 seed.

In just under eight games, Bolton amassed 60 combined tackles and averaged 10.7 points per game. While these numbers don’t jump out as outstanding, they are the absolute floor for a player who suffered multiple injuries.

With a full offseason to recover, expect Bolton to be fighting for the top spot again amongst all fantasy eligible linebackers. Do not trade Bolton under any circumstances. You can try to acquire him. However, it will be a difficult ask and hard to pry from rival fantasy managers’ lineups.

2. Ernest Jones (LB – LAR) — Age: 24

Ernest Jones broke out in a big way in 2023. He amassed 145 combined tackles and achieved career highs in all metrics. What is also incredible is that at age 24, he has already played three seasons in the NFL.

In what is expected to be a contract year coming up for Jones, he has every incentive to produce even more, in order to earn a significant contract. Jones needs to up his solo tackle count. Should he be able to increase this into the 90/100 range, he should be able to cement a top-five overall linebacker finish in fantasy football in 2024.

There would be some risk in trying to acquire Jones in 2024. While he is looking to build on his breakout season, he does run the risk of moving to a new team in 2025. That could mean a diminished role or learning a new scheme. However, as a Jones owner, I would not sell him. This season appears to be a chance for him to have a career year and earn himself a significant contract that looks after him for life.

We have seen it many times in the NFL. Contract years tend to produce career years. Let’s hope it is the same with Jones this season.

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3. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB – CLE) — Age: 24

While many believe we have not seen the best out of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, 2024 is the year we see him become a LB1 in fantasy football.

Owusu-Koramoah had a career year in 2023, putting up 71 solo tackles. However, he only managed just 27 assisted tackles. While he did manage to play all 16 games of the fantasy regular season (he did not play in Week 18 due to the Browns already securing a playoff spot), he played them hurt. He spent most of the season dealing with a mid-foot sprain and he declined the option to have surgery on it.

With a full season’s rest, it is likely he will return in full health and reason to go. This is also a contract year for Owusu-Koramoah on a team crying out for better production from the linebacker position. Expect Owusu-Koramoah to have a career year. If he can add 10-15 more solo tackles and get a load more assisted tackles, he will return a LB1 season.

Of all the players on this list, Owusu-Koramoah is the easiest to acquire via trade. Owusu-Koramoah managers will have not seen the value on their draft pick so far and have grown to be frustrated with his fantasy production. You will have quite a few fantasy managers willing to cash in for him while they can, not believing he has a LB1 season in him. Try and acquire him for a late third round rookie pick and see how you get on. Some will bite your handoff for that offer. However, as linebackers get better with age, if they do part with him, they might come to regret it.

4. Quay Walker (LB – GB) — Age: 23

Quay Walker, like Nick Bolton, was on this list last year. And, I cannot find a way to get him off it this year. Yes, 2023 was poor compared to his rookie season. However, it is clear he struggled through a groin injury last season.

Walker missed three games, however, it was very stop and start for him after the bye due to injury. Nevertheless, he still managed to produce more combined tackles per game in 2023 than he did in 2022. His 118 combined tackles in 2023 was just one short of his 2022 total, despite playing three games fewer. He also had more sacks and an interception in 2023.

Walker has not quite been the blustering success we expected him to be. However, if remains healthy, 2024 might be the season Walker breaks out and ends up as a LB1. I am not sure how easy he will be to acquire. He is worth floating a fourth round pick offer for and testing the waters. See what the counter offer is. If it is something you don’t feel impacts your roster and you are a contender, you should try and make it work. Because, unlike some, Walker’s best days are still to come in both fantasy football and the NFL.

5. Christian Harris (LB – HOU) — Age: 23

I am willing to take a chance on almost any player in a DeMeco Ryans scheme. Especially young linebackers. Christian Harris fits the bill. The former third-round pick out of Alabama has yet to truly unleash his talent in the NFL as of yet. However, he took a significant step forward under Ryans in 2023.

Harris returned 110 combined tackles (64 solo) in 2023, as well as two sacks and seven passes defended. This is a significant increase, which was boosted by an increase in playing time in 2023 as well. With Denzel Perryman leaving the Texans, it will be interesting to see if Harris is given the mic in 2024. If not, he will still be highly effective as the Will linebacker in 2024.

Expect Harris to become even better in 2024 and challenge for a LB1 overall spot in 2024. However, I expect he will still be a top-20 linebacker, at a minimum, given that Ryans would have had more time to develop the scheme and Harris will be the senior holdover at the position. If Harris is given the mic he could be an excellent buy-low candidate. However, his cost might be just a tad too high right now to be worth pursuing it further.

Nevertheless, he is still a player to watch out for in 2024 as a potential breakout candidate.

More Early 2024 Fantasy Football Draft Prep

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Adam Murfet is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Murf, check out his archive and follow him @Murf_NFL.

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