- 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick finally had all his weapons back but didn’t have as big a day as dynasty leaguers would have liked. Going 19 of 28 for 275 yards and a touchdown, and tacking on 21 yards rushing, Kaepernick is capable of playing better. It’ll be interesting to see what his production is the rest of the year.
- Rams rookie running back Zac Stacy had a decent game considering the competition and circumstances. Rushing 19 times for 72 yards, Stacy has an outside shot at 1,000 yards even though he wasn’t named the starter until October. He’ll be rated as a RB1 heading in to 2014.
- 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin had a good game with nine catches for 98 yards. Boldin is in a contract year and, most likely, playing somewhere else next year. It also, again, raises the question of just who Kaepernick will be throwing to in 2014.
- Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis is on pace for ‘just’ 120 tackles. But at just 27, he’s still a low-end LB1 or high-end LB2 and consistently gets tackles. Rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree is definitely flashier but Laurinaitis is more consistent.
- Rams running back Zac Stacy is a man. He went off for 127 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns and added six catches for 51 yards. Stacy is performing despite the lack of talent around him and strong opposing defenses. He’s on his way to being a RB1 in dynasty leagues.
- On the other side of the field, Chris Johnson had 150 yards on 23 carries plus three catches for 20 yards. I can’t believe it’s the start of a trend upwards – Johnson has had many chances to be consistent and hasn’t done it.
- Titans receiver Kendall Wright led the team in targets and catches but wont’ produce much being in a first-run offense.
- Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis had a good day with nine tackles and a sack. Laurinaitis is on pace for over 100 tackles and continues to be underrated.
After just calculating the amalgamated linebacker rankings, it’s clear there’s a top tier of five. Luke Kuechly of Carolina is the consensus #1 no matter what rankings you’re looking at. The combination of his age (22) and the fact that he’ll be a three-down back on a pretty bad team means he should see plenty of opportunities to be right in the action for many years to come.
The next two spots are interchangeable and include San Francisco’s NaVorro Bowman and St. Louis’ James Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis is another three-down back playing the middle. He seemingly had his hands on everything – four passes defended, two interceptions and 117 solo tackles to go with 25 assists. The guy is a beast and is only ranked lower than Kuechly because of his age (26). The same could be said of Bowman who actually had more total tackles than Laurinaitis (148-142), more sacks (2.0-0.5), more passes defended (6-4). He’s also a year younger (25-26). If you put a gun to my head and told me to pick one, I’d go with Bowman.
The next two include Seattle’s Bobby Wagner, with a similar resume than Laurinaitis and Bowman but is just 23.
Next is the first outside linebacker of the group, Lavonte David. The second year linebacker from Tampa Bay is just 23 and has the potential to rack up sacks with 19 tackles for a loss in his rookie season.
Bottom line is you can’t go wrong if one of these guys is your lead LB for the next five years.