We’ve finally hit the end of the road on my 2020 breakout candidates overview series! The past couple weeks, I took a look at the defensive backs and linebackers. Now, we will cover the last group of candidates, the defensive line players. In my opinion, the defensive line is THE most scarce position in IDP fantasy football! Let’s not beat around the bush any longer, here are the seven players I covered last summer!
Quick rundown: this will be a short series. I plan to give you a quick summary of how my predictions went. Last summer, I wrote about some players I thought would have the potential to break out and be value grabs for you in fantasy drafts. Each player will get a paragraph about how they performed in the 2020 season. This was the toughest group for me to write about. The defensive line is such a volatile position. Season to season, the top performers seem to fluctuate quite a bit. It’s hard to predict breakout candidates at the position. The first player I’m going to cover is Kemoko Turay, from the Indianapolis Colts. All statistics are pulled from Pro Football Reference.
Kemoko Turay, DL, Indianapolis Colts: 3 Solo, 1 Ast, 1 TFL, 3 QBH, and 1 Sack
During most of the 2020 season, Kemoko Turay was recovering from an ankle injury he sustained in 2019. He only saw action in seven games, and didn’t receive a start in any of those. It looks like the Colts were very careful bringing Turay back from his injury. Which, seemed to be the plan to begin with. With his teammate, Justin Houston, looking at the tail end of his career. I think it’s likely that Turay will receive more snaps in 2021. He may even become a starter along the defensive line. He is an extremely talented player! Turay will add more options for Indianapolis to use on their defensive line. I believe he is still a player every IDP manager needs to keep an eye on, he still has potential to be a breakout candidate.
Hit or Miss? – Miss, Turay was one of my biggest misses from last summer. I expected him to return to the team sooner, and also to get more playing time. On to the 2021 season for him!
Shaq Lawson, DL, Miami Dolphins: 17 Solo, 15 Ast, 4 TFL, 18 QBH, 4 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 Defensive TD, and 1 PD
The Dolphins signed Shaq Lawson during free agency last summer. After coming off a pretty decent season in Buffalo in 2019, expectations were high for Lawson! Unfortunately, Lawson didn’t exactly live up to the hype some of us were expecting from him. Emmanuel Ogbah regularly outshined him in 2020. Lawson certainly didn’t have a bad season, but his IDP performance was disappointing. He put up a few duds throughout the season. He also had a couple of decent games. It might be easy to say that the ship has sailed on Lawson, he may never live up to that first round pick hype. I wouldn’t go above and beyond to find a spot for him on my fantasy team.
Hit or Miss? – Miss, Shaq Lawson can likely be dropped if he’s on your team. Especially in deeper leagues. He is not worth a roster spot until we see him prove he’s worth picking up.
Josh Allen, DL, Jacksonville Jaguars: 7 Solo, 6 Ast, 2 TFL, 11 QBH, 2.5 Sacks, and 1 PD
Josh Allen had a huge chance to become the main man in Jacksonville in 2020. His 2020 season came to an end in week 11 when the Jaguars faced off against Pittsburgh. Allen gave us a glimpse of his abilities in his rookie season. He was able to rack up 10.5 sacks in 2019. Then, in 2020, Allen seemed to struggle to get to the quarterback. The Jaguars traded Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell. So, that left Josh Allen as the big dog on the team. He battled injuries in 2020. He only appeared in eight games. Allen didn’t do much in those games, as you can see from his statistics from 2020. He ended the season on the injured reserve with a knee injury. If healthy, Allen has the capability to be a top ten defensive line player for IDP!
Hit or Miss? – Miss, Allen’s injury is the main cause of his subpar season. He has the talent to be one of the best in the league when he’s healthy.
Chase Winovich, DL, New England Patriots: 33 Solo, 15 Ast, 6 TFL, 12 QBH, 5.5 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 Int, and 2 PD
I don’t have an article out on Chase Winovich. But, I did put out a series of tweets when I made him my last defensive line breakout candidate. Winovich had a team high 5.5 sacks in New England. That was on only 58% of the team’s defensive snaps. His season didn’t really go the way I thought it would after seeing all the players that opted out of the 2020 season for the Patriots. I thought it was ensured he would see plenty of playing time. I should’ve known better. Going into his third season, his fantasy IDP production will obviously have to be related to the playing time he receives in 2021. Coach Bill Belichick seems to have confidence in him going forward. I will only believe that when I see it.
Hit or Miss? – Miss, Winovich was highly productive when he was getting snaps. But, he didn’t receive enough playing time to truly become a breakout candidate in 2020.
Stephon Tuitt, DL, Pittsburgh Steelers: 33 Solo, 12 Ast, 10 TFL, 25 QBH, 11 Sacks, 2 FF, and 3 PD
Stephon Tuitt really proved his worth this season for the Steelers. He achieved a career high in sacks and quarterback hits. He’s the first of my defensive line breakout candidates that made me proud. He was set up in an awesome position to start receiving more snaps. The Steelers defense was one of the best in the league early on. Although, they did have some struggles towards the end of 2020. Tuitt was one of the bright spots on the team though. 2021 will be the final year of his contract with Pittsburgh. He will be turning 28 this year and still seems to have plenty left in the tank. In my opinion, Tuitt is a player we can rely on to have continuous production as long as he remains healthy. I’m rostering him where I can.
Hit or Miss? – Hit, Tuitt showed the NFL and fantasy IDP players what he was capable of doing this past season. Tuitt is a defensive line player that needs to be rostered on your fantasy squad.
Brian Burns, DL, Carolina Panthers: 35 Solo, 23 Ast, 8 TFL, 21 QBH, 9 Sacks, 3 FF, and 4 PD
Brian Burns had an excellent sophomore season. He made the Carolina Panthers look good for drafting him in 2019. Burns played in 15 games for them in 2020, and certainly put the league on notice. IDP fantasy analysts around the world are probably in agreement, Burns is a future star. He saw a boost in his snap counts, playing about 71% of them for the Panthers. One of his more notable games was in week 15, where he was able to sack Aaron Rodgers twice. Considering the Packers had one of the best offensive lines in the league, it shows that Burns is a very capable player in the NFL. He should continue to grow as a player going into his third pro season. On the platforms he is DL elgible, Burns needs to be added to your team.
Hit or Miss? – Hit, Brian Burns had a very impressive season. He’s not DL eligible on every platform though. Where he is, he’s worth grabbing or making a move for.
Montez Sweat, DL, Washington Football Team: 28 Solo, 17 Ast, 12 TFL, 20 QBH, 9 Sacks, 2 FF, 1 Int, 1 Defensive TD, and 6 PD
In my opinion, Sweat was by far the most impressive of my 2020 IDP breakout candidates along the defensive line. With the help of rookie Chase Young, Sweat made his sophomore season one to remember for fans around the league. Washington’s defensive line is certainly one of the best in the NFL, if not THE best. Montez led his team in sacks. He was an impact player for Washington on a regular basis. In week 5, he had a huge game against the Rams with 8 combined tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. He proved that he was able to be the player Washington wanted him to be when they drafted him. Sweat will be a force along with his running mate Chase Young. Both are able to be rostered and will be productive in IDP.
Hit or Miss? Hit, Sweat was the best defensive line player in Washington. That says a lot when you look at the talent along that line. Go get him, he’s young and a future star.
Recovering from his ankle injury most of the 2020 season, Kemoko Turay was a let down as a breakout candidate. I fully believe he will be able to bounce back though. Shaq Lawson is not the player to own in Miami, go for Emmanuel Ogbah instead. Josh Allen is a great player, when healthy. He has the talent to be one of the best defensive linemen in the league. Stephon Tuitt is going into the final year of his contract with Pittsburgh, look for him to prove his worth there. Brian Burns and Montez Sweat both had excellent sophomore seasons for their respectful teams. Both Burns and Sweat have the talent and potential to be stars in the NFL and are definitely worth rostering or making moves to grab them for your IDP fantasy team!