29-Year-Old Linebacker – St. Louis Rams
2015 Fantasy Football Outlook
Laurinaitis lost some of the spotlight to teammate Alec Ogletree, but the elder statesman is still a quality mid-tier IDP consideration. Laurinaitis stills plays three downs for St. Louis, logging mor...
James Laurinaitis Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $41.5 million extension with the Rams through 2017 in September of 2012.
Laurinaitis hyperextended his elbow during Sunday's game against the Browns and is expected to have an MRI on Monday, NFL Network's Rand Getlin reports.
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Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
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James Laurinaitis: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
Exclusive Fantasy Analysis (FREE PREVIEW)Although Laurinaitis is wearing a walking boot at Saturday's practice, the injury is not considered serious. The Rams' depth at linebacker is shaky, so it would be a big concern if the injury were to linger.
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
It appears Laurinaitis' IDP stock is in the midst of a slight decline. He was in clear LB1 territory in 2011 and 2012, posting 142 tackles in each season (222 solo over that span) while throwing in 3.5 sacks and two interceptions, but the arrival of 2013 first-round pick Alec Ogletree deprived Laurinaitis of some of the tackle opportunities he might have had in the past. His tackle total dropped from 142 to 116 last year, as he logged a career-low 85 solo stops. He did remain a playmaker, posting a career-high 3.5 sacks and intercepting two passes for the third year in a row, giving him nine interceptions in his five seasons. Laurinaitis' days of 140 tackles may be in the past, but he should improve slightly on last year's total, and he's one of the most reliable linebackers in the league when it comes to supplementing his tackle totals with sack and interception production. He should remain active in coverage with Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Aaron Donald forcing bad throws from opposing quarterbacks.
Laurinaitis has been an IDP beast each of his four NFL seasons, and his owners will have every reason to expect a repeat for the fifth year in a row in 2013. The former Ohio State star posted 142 tackles for the second straight season in 2012, though he raised his solo tackle total from 105 to 117 in the process, which actually signals an improvement. Laurinaitis isn't just an elite source of tackle production, though, as he has recovered a fumble in each of his NFL seasons while totaling 8.5 sacks and seven interceptions in that span. There's a fair amount to be said regarding Laurinaitis' consistency, too, because he had six or more tackles in 13 games last year. Laurinaitis should continue to pile up tackles and make plays in a rising St. Louis defense. A highly talented defensive line of Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford should both open up lanes for Laurinaitis and keep offensive linemen preoccupied, leaving Laurinaitis free to pursue the ball.
Forced fumbles aside, Laurinaitis might be behind only Patrick Willis and Desmond Bishop when it comes to well-rounded IDP production, as he reliably posts above-average numbers in the most conventionally important stat categories – solo stops, sacks and interceptions. In his three NFL seasons, Laurinaitis has averaged 103 solo tackles per year, as well as 2.5 sacks and two interceptions. He could post career highs in all of those categories this year, moreover, as the Rams defense figures to become more aggressive and more effective in 2012 under the watch of new coach Jeff Fisher. Laurinaitis will also benefit greatly from the arrival of defensive tackles Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers – the former a free-agent signing from Miami and the latter the 14th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Langford (6-6, 295) and Brockers (6-5, 322) are both mountainous figures with big wingspans who figure to occupy three offensive linemen each play, leaving offenses with just two tackles and perhaps a tight end or running back to deal with Laurinaitis and the intimidating end duo of Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Dangerous as he is, offenses will have no choice but to leave Laurinaitis unaccounted for much of the time.
Laurinaitis is a skilled all-around linebacker who has been quite impressive in his first two seasons of NFL play. The former Ohio State star concluded the last two years with 234 tackles (205 solo), five sacks, three interceptions and a forced fumble. He needs to create more turnovers to increase his fantasy value, but in the meantime he’s an extremely reliable run stopper with a floor so high that it’s almost indistinguishable from his ceiling.
After Laurinaitis spent his rookie year minicamp with the second team, expectations dropped. A 120-tackle, two-sack, two-INT campaign proved the skeptics wrong, cementing Laurinaitis in place as the Rams’ starting MLB and as a top-10 option in IDP leagues. A year’s worth of experience and a team that has nowhere to go but up should help Laurinaitis build upon last year’s impressive numbers in his second season.
The coveted rookie out of Ohio State should enter 2009 as the Rams' starting middle linebacker despite seeing time only with the second team during early mini-camps. Laurinaitis is a every down linebacker and should help solidify the Rams' linebacking corp against the run and in coverage while allowing fellow starter Will Witherspoon to return to the weakside role he excels in.