Fantasy soccer seasons are at all times filled with surprises, particularly in terms of particular person participant performances. This may be good or unhealthy, relying on what our expectations are going into the season. For the sake of this text, I need to deal with gamers who dissatisfied final yr however provide purpose for optimism heading into 2021.
A few of these gamers handled accidents in 2020, however that is not the reason for all of their struggles. These are the 2021 IDP choices who I imagine have very actual bounce-back potential.
A part of the inspiration for this text was the information that Derwin James is 100% healthy getting into offseason group actions. For IDP avid gamers, it is a large purpose to be excited heading into 2021.
Again-to-back seasons with main accidents have scared loads of folks off of James, however there are nonetheless loads of the reason why you ought to be focusing on him as one of many prime safeties going into this season. By now, we’re all conscious simply how good James’ rookie season was from each an NFL and IDP perspective, as he instantly put himself within the dialog as one of many league’s greatest safeties, ending that yr as an All-Professional, Professional Bowler and second in defensive rookie of the yr voting behind Darius Leonard.
James was utilized everywhere in the area as a rookie, functioning as one of many largest playmakers in each position he performed. He managed total defensive grades above 75.0 at every defensive alignment on the soccer area (defensive position, field, free security, nook) in 2018. The time period “defensive weapon” is usually thrown round, however James actually personifies that moniker together with his play.
So we all know James is an elite participant within the NFL, however we want him wholesome and on the sector to see that translate to his IDP manufacturing. James noticed motion in simply 5 video games in 2019 however was used much less creatively in what was already a misplaced season for the Chargers. Whereas he nonetheless produced loads of top-10 numbers as a security in these video games, they weren’t fairly what we noticed in 2018.
With new head coach Brandon Staley coming in and the Chargers prone to be extra aggressive than in 2019, there’s purpose to imagine James will probably be used extra like he was as a rookie, particularly if the Chargers need to have a bonus on protection. Let’s all hope we get a full season from the previous All-Professional, which might make him the No. 1 bounce-back candidate on protection within the league.
Whole tackles: 32 (ninth)
Defensive stops: 19 (1st)
TFLs + no acquire: 7 (1st)
Protection grade (min. 25 snaps): 83.9 (sixth)
Total grade (min. 25 snaps): 82.3 (eighth) https://t.co/xgaHJWVDjP
— Jon Macri (@PFF_Macri) June 1, 2021
Savvy IDP managers over the previous couple of seasons are in all probability conscious of the worth that Milano presents as one of many extra underappreciated linebackers in IDP leagues. Milano will at all times be the second Payments linebacker drafted in IDP leagues after Tremaine Edmunds — often by a big margin. Coming off a yr the place he was injured and used sparingly, that is going to be the case as soon as once more in 2021.
I’m definitely not saying you ought to be drafting Milano forward of Edmunds, nevertheless it ought to in all probability be a bit nearer than most assume. Heading into the 2020 season, Edmunds was being drafted as LB12 on common (in line with MyFantasyLeague.com), whereas Milano was going as LB32, regardless of how shut they had been within the 2019 season.
Tremaine Edmunds vs. Matt Milano | 2019
|Snaps||Whole Tackles||Tackles for a loss||Sacks||PBUs||Whole Pressures|
PFF’s Sam Monson lately ranked Milano because the 11th-best linebacker entering the 2021 NFL season attributable to his robust protection capacity — truly forward of Edmunds (twenty fourth). Accidents performed a big half in why Milano had a down yr in 2020, however I might totally anticipate a bounce-back in 2021.
The Payments can have each Edmunds and Milano on the sector a ton (if wholesome) as traditional, which can result in simply as a lot alternative for Milano to supply as Edmunds. Whereas well being has been the most important distinction between the 2 lately, Milano comes off as the higher worth of in IDP leagues assuming he can keep on the sector.
The defensive finish place in fantasy suffered a whole lot of disappointment in 2020, as top-10 choices like Danielle Hunter, Nick Bosa and Josh Allen all struggled and/or missed time. Whereas accidents performed a serious half in all three gamers not having an impression in 2020, Allen was the one one who noticed an honest quantity of enjoying time earlier than his damage and nonetheless ended disappointing as an IDP choice.
After posting 10.5 sacks and 44 complete tackles as a rookie, there was hope that Allen may elevate himself even additional in Yr 2 as one of many league’s premier pass-rushers. This, sadly, didn’t come to fruition from a manufacturing standpoint, as Allen solely mustered 2.5 sacks and 13 complete tackles by eight video games this previous season. Whereas definitely a far-cry from what was anticipated of him in 2020, the previous seventh-overall decide is definitely able to getting again to his productive methods in 2021.
Allen was nonetheless in a position to generate 22 complete pressures and a 74.2 pass-rush grade whereas battling damage this previous yr, which bodes nicely for his manufacturing when totally wholesome. Going into his third season, Allen ought to be wholesome and on a group that also needs to be higher in protection this season contemplating it will likely be troublesome to be any worse after the Jaguars completed with the second-worst protection grade (33.0) within the league final yr. This may hopefully be a contributing consider getting Allen extra time to get house and construct these field rating numbers again up.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 18, 2020
Walker has been one in all my favourite security targets later in redraft, mock drafts and even dynasty startups, just because he (and his scenario) was so untrustworthy final season that many are avoiding him. After his 2019 season the place he led the Lions in tackles (100), including eight go breakups, an interception and a compelled fumble, his ADP skyrocketed to the fifth security total — to the purpose the place he was so overvalued that I used to be staying distant from him. Now the whole reverse has occurred after he was used inconsistently by the 2020 Lions’ teaching employees.
Walker actually did not have a full-time position in 2020 and was principally getting used as a part-time participant, together with the likes of Jayron Kearse and Will Harris. It was anybody’s guess as to which one can be the chief in snaps at robust security on any given week. This led most individuals to drop Walker, or at the least not even think about him for a beginning spot on their rosters by midseason.
Fortunately for Walker and his fantasy managers, the Lions have a brand new teaching employees that has finished little or no on the place to trigger any actual competitors for snaps for Walker. That is what made him one in all my IDP winners after the NFL Draft, which ought to result in a extra constant position in 2021.
Getting on the sector for a full sport is large for any IDP, however Walker has proven that he can produce at a excessive degree for fantasy, it doesn’t matter what sort of position he’s enjoying as one of many group’s beginning safeties. Walker completed as DB10 total in 2019 (in line with FantasyPros scoring) enjoying principally deep, and when given a big field security position in 2020 (Weeks 16-17), he was DB1. Don’t overlook about Walker in drafts — likelihood is he’ll fall, and he’s going to be definitely worth the worth in 2021.
Mosely was of the most important names in IDP previous to the final couple of seasons. He was one of the crucial dependable and productive IDPs for 5 straight seasons in Baltimore for 5 straight seasons. After signing a large take care of the Jets in the course of the 2019 free company interval, Mosely has performed simply two video games for the franchise. He solely performed 114 snaps in his first season with the Jets after which opted out of 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mosley has lastly rejoined his new-ish group this offseason and is seemingly able to contribute and earn that monster contract that he signed simply two seasons in the past. Mosley has not simply been a productive linebacker by way of field rating numbers — he’s additionally at all times graded nicely all through his NFL profession. His cumulative grade of 78.5 from 2014-2019 ranks inside the highest 25 linebackers over these 5 seasons amongst LBs which have performed a minimal of 200 snaps over that point.
Only one take a look at the Jets linebacker depth chart exhibits that they are going to be counting on Mosley closely to play the majority of the snaps this coming season. With new head coach Robert Saleh coming in, anticipate to see him get essentially the most out of Mosley in an identical method as Fred Warner in San Francisco. He ought to be enjoying each down and utilized as each a pass-rusher and in protection because the group’s signal-caller in the midst of the protection. So long as Mosley is wholesome and/or doesn’t get traded, (which was apparently a chance at one level) we must always see him re-establish his standing as a must-own linebacker in IDP leagues this yr.
The previous first total decide has not precisely had the profession most anticipated of him popping out of South Carolina, which has led to many IDP managers to fade him lately. That is comprehensible, as Clowney appears to have a decrease ceiling by way of his pass-rush capacity, having by no means hit double-digit sacks in his NFL profession. A lot has been product of Clowney’s capacity to play the run and to perform as extra of an early-down edge participant, which isn’t overly enticing for IDP functions as a result of it doesn’t permit as many possibilities to hurry the passer. Due to this narrative, he’s develop into a reputation that almost all now keep away from in IDP leagues.
Nevertheless, he could very nicely be a worth in IDP at this level in his profession, getting into an honest scenario for a possible bounce-back in 2021. After not registering a single sack in 2020 and solely three the earlier season — each years enjoying on a poor pass-rushing line — he now will get a shot to play reverse of probably the greatest defensive ends in soccer, Myles Garrett. The Browns did usher in one other former first-rounder in Takkarist McKinley, however I’m not overly involved that McKinley will probably be consuming an excessive amount of into Clowney’s workload, with each gamers being relative disappointments to this point of their careers. Clowney ought to be on the sector fairly a bit this coming season and can have a possibility to out-produce his previous two seasons mixed.
Enjoying throughout from Garrett will definitely assist, as Garrett posted 16 complete pressures that led to a sack for his teammates in 2020 — tied for third-most within the league amongst edge rushers. If Garrett can have that very same impact this season, we could also be taking a look at one in all Clowney’s greatest statistical seasons since his years with the Texans.
I don’t know if there was a participant that the IDP world has turned on quicker than Collins over the previous eight months. Collins definitely wasn’t having his greatest statistical season earlier than he tore his achilles in Week 7, however that doesn’t imply his time as a starting-caliber IDP is over. Sure, seventh-round rookie Kamren Curl changed Collins with elite manufacturing by the again half of the yr, however suggesting that Collins ought to be benched, reduce or traded due to that could be a bit far-fetched, for my part.
The primary purpose Collins makes for a main bounce-back candidate is solely that he’s going to be the beginning robust security on this protection. Reducing him post-June 1 would value the Soccer Staff upwards of $16 million simply to avoid wasting slightly over $200,000. This isn’t a possible choice for any group, even one with a second-year participant in Curl who carried out nicely as a rookie.
Whereas achilles accidents are by no means straightforward to return again from, all indicators level to Collins being accessible for Week 1. This implies he’ll resume his beginning position because the group’s major field security — a place that we all know yields vital fantasy alternative — whereas Curl greater than doubtless goes again to the slot nook position he was enjoying final yr when Collins was lively.
Collins could also be coming off his worst season statistically and from a PFF grading perspective, however that’s a part of what makes 2021 a bounce-back yr for him. Nonetheless simply 27 years outdated, Collins has the utilization, athleticism and enjoying time to create an ideal storm of top-end security manufacturing this coming season.
Arguably the most important IDP disappointment final season was Littleton in his first yr with the Raiders. Expectations had been excessive from each NFL and IDP followers alike after Littleton signed a giant three-year contract value $32M, placing him contained in the top-10 highest-paid linebackers within the NFL. Littleton was being drafted among the many top-five linebackers in most IDP leagues after which struggled significantly in the Raiders system — a giant purpose the IDP group has soured on him.
Littleton will now enter the 2021 season with new defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley and what ought to be a less complicated defensive scheme. The Raiders additionally didn’t actually handle the linebacker place this offseason, other than re-signing Nicholas Morrow and drafting Divine Deablo. Littleton ought to get each alternative to begin as soon as once more for the Raiders and deal with getting again to his 2018-2019 type.
Littleton ought to be far more comfy in Bradley’s scheme. Bradley’s linebackers sometimes have a extra centered and singular position within the protection, operating and chasing from the deal with field versus lining up everywhere in the area with a number of roles. Bradley’s linebackers rushed the passer lower than any group within the league throughout his final 4 seasons with the Chargers, which ought to permit Littleton to deal with making tackles. That would assist him reemerge as an IDP asset in 2021.
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Weeks 12-17 (return from damage):
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— Jon Macri (@PFF_Macri) May 31, 2021
One yr after signing with the Lions and main the group with seven sacks, Flowers had a quiet and injury-ridden 2020 season. Flowers was one of many extra wanted free brokers alongside the defensive position again in 2019, which finally landed him a five-year, $90M contract with Detroit. Contemplating accidents performed a big half in his disappointing 2020 season, I’m not prepared to jot down Flowers off simply but — it looks like we may see a return to type in 2021.
Flowers was far and away one of the best participant alongside the Lions defensive position in 2019, however since that point the group has finished a good deal to enhance his supporting forged. Together with the emergence of Romeo Okwara, the Lions have additionally introduced in former first-round decide Michael Brockers by free company and drafted two of the highest inside defenders from this yr’s class in Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill. Having some assist to trigger stress on the opposing offensive line will assuredly open up extra alternatives for Flowers to generate manufacturing as soon as once more in 2021.
Flowers is coming off of 4 straight seasons with a pass-rush grade within the 70s. He landed contained in the top-20 at his place in complete pressures in three of the previous 4 seasons whereas additionally compiling 23 sacks over that point.