IDP Breakout Candidates: Jahlani Tavai

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The Detroit Lions have had trouble figuring out their linebacker corps for the last few seasons. They have signed a variety of players and drafted a few to add the the group. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Lions drafted Jahlani Tavai. The 11th pick of the second round looks to fight for a starting job in Detroit. Let’s take a blast through a few reasons why he has the potential to become one of the 2020 IDP breakout candidates!


Jahlani Tavai’s 2019 Statistics: 36 Solo, 21 Ast, 5 TFL, 3 QB Hits, 2 Sacks, 1 Int, 1 FF, and 2 PD

Detroit has had some trouble finding the right group of players to start at linebacker for them for years now. In the second round of the 2019 draft, the Lions drafted a rather questionable linebacker named Jahlani Tavai. I’m sure many of you had the same reaction fans of Detroit had. Who is this guy? Well, Tavai was drafted out of Hawaii. He is tied as the third highest draft pick to come from Hawaii.  Jahlani has not let the negative feedback affect him. Some say that Detroit reached in a major way when they grabbed him. The front office and coaches had a pretty decent idea of who they were getting when the picked him. I believe Tavai will prove he was worth his draft position this season.

As you can tell, from the limited defensive snaps he received last season, Tavai has not let anyone keep him down. He has proven to the coaching staff that he is worthy of a starting role. His tackle numbers may not be eye popping, but he has shown that he can produce with what one of my fellow IDP enthusiast likes to call, auxiliary plays. Those plays such as passes defended, tackles for loss, and even the big plays in interceptions and forced fumbles. In most IDP leagues, tackles are the bread and butter, but it always helps when a IDP fantasy player can give you points in other categories. It didn’t take him long to pick up on how the Lions defense was run.

Versatility: 

Jahlani is a very versatile player that the Lions can use in an impressive variety of ways. It’s actually one of my favorite things about the guy as I dug more and more into my research on him. This is a reason why he has such a high potential to become an IDP breakout candidate for your fantasy squad. He stands at about 6’2 and weighs in around 250lbs. He is an animal when he’s on the field and loves to hit the ball carrier whenever he gets a shot. His high motor is remarkable to watch, he doesn’t quit. He’s quicker than most people give him credit for, so he has little issue with dropping in coverage. His natural instincts help provide him with the capability to do what is asked of him, he seems to shed blocks with ease.

He was given snaps at every linebacker position the Lions had in 2019! That definitely screams versatility. It also shows that the coaching staff believes in him and his abilities when he’s on the field. Even when he’s on the edge, Tavai has proven he can get after the ball carrier and shut down the run. Since he can basically be plugged in wherever they want him, it has thrown rumors around that Tavai may be the MIKE in Detroit. If the rumors end up being true, this further pushes my theory about the high possibility of him breaking out for a defense that has been begging for a star linebacker presence.

IDP Breakout Potential

Being a rookie, he made rookie mistakes. He still has plenty to learn about pro ball, particularly in covering tight ends and running backs in the middle of the field. He did allow around 70% of passes to be completed when they came his way, but, he went the whole season without allowing a touchdown. Not many rookies can say that for themselves going into their second season. His snaps varied throughout the season. He logged about 605 defensive snaps in 2019. He also did not receive much experience in a starting role in the crowded linebacker room. His biggest competition this season should be Jamie Collins Sr. and Jarrad Davis. All three should be starting when the regular season gets under way.

Tavai is going relatively unnoticed in IDP leagues with smaller rosters. For those of you who enjoy playing in leagues with more bench spots, Tavai can be grabbed in those later rounds when you’re looking for IDP players with value. On the IDPGuys site, his consensus dynasty ranking is 468! So many of us are always looking for an IDP hopeful who can breakout for their team. He wants to prove his worth to the city of Detroit and their fans. Even so, he probably won’t care if you believe in him or not. He will let his play do the talking. Draft him late, and get yourself a potential IDP breakout player!


Check out my past articles! Keep your eyes peeled as I can continue my IDP Breakout Candidate series! Please follow me on twitter, @ZmagsIDP is the tag! Always enjoy chatting about all types of fantasy football with the twitterverse! With COVID still wearing us all down, we should all consider wearing a mask to keep ourselves and our families safe! Please subscribe to idpguys.org and dynastyfootballdigest.com for all your fantasy needs! Live Long and Prosper!

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Just a guy who enjoys his football.. I'm a huge fan of IDP leagues. In all honesty, I probably tend to focus on the defensive side more than I should. My fantasy teams tend to lack that offensive prowess lol. I have two kids but they aren't always with me, so when I'm on my own I put my time into fantasy, among other hobbies. It's a honor to be here with others doing what I enjoy.