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IDP Candidates For Breakout in 2021: Highsmith and Chaisson

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We’ve come to the end of our “IDP Candidates for Breakout in 2021” series! The last two players we’ll cover are defensive line players who may also have linebacker eligibility in your leagues.


Alex Highsmith, DL/LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

2020 Statistics: 30 solos, 18 assists, 5 TFL, 2 sacks, 6 QBH, 1 PD, 1 INT

Alex Highsmith is heading into his second season in the NFL with a decent amount of hype behind him. After ex-teammate Bud Dupree was lost for the season to injury back in 2020, Highsmith had to step up and take over his role.

Highsmith was drafted by Pittsburgh in the third round, 102nd overall. As a rookie, he displayed how well he could handle playing at the professional level. It certainly helped he had some great veteran experience to learn from.

The Steelers may have one of the best defensive lines in the league. Highsmith gets to learn from veterans like TJ Watt, Stephon Tuitt, and Cameron Heyward. Playing opposite of  Watt — someone who could win defensive player of the year almost any season — will certainly help your prospects at making some impact plays in a game.

Highsmith has a wonderful opportunity at a high snap count. He should be starting at the right outside linebacker position for the Steelers.

Overview:

With the recent additions of inside linebacker Joe Schobert and edge rusher Melvin Ingram III, There has been some talk of a “too many mouths to feed” situation in Pittsburgh. It could be partly true that there is some talent spread around on the defense. However, I don’t see it becoming a problem for any of their player’s IDP value.

Highsmith showed us flashes of his abilities multiple times last season. With him having some real professional experience, I expect a leap in his production this season. He’s looked good in the limited preseason action we’ve seen so far and could be a steal in late rounds for IDP fantasy managers.

I legit believe Highsmith could be drafted and left in lineups all season long. He should provide DL2-3 value weekly. If he has linebacker-only eligibility in your league, Highsmith may be better off as a bye-week fill-in. For dynasty leagues, he is a player you could depend on for the next decade — if he stays healthy.

K’Lavon Chaisson, DL/LB, Jacksonville Jaguars

2020 Statistics: 12 Solo, 7 Ast, 3 TFL, 9 QBH, 1 Sack, 1 PD

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The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted K’Lavon Chaisson 20th overall in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. Chaisson’s rookie season definitely didn’t go as he — or the team — had hoped. He appeared in 16 games and started three of them, all with underwhelming production.

Chaisson was able to display his ability to put some pressure on the quarterback, though, totaling nine quarterback hits for the season. With a nice path to an above-average snap count, we can expect to see his production jump in 2021.

Last season, the Jaguars ran a 4-3 base defense. While playing at LSU, Chaisson mainly played in a 3-4 defensive role as an edge rusher. With a new coaching regime in Jacksonville, the team’s plan is to move to a multiple-defense scheme that will run more from a 3-4 base. This could help Chaisson’s production and IDP value in the long run.

Chaisson is playing the opposite of top-end talent, fellow edge rusher, Josh Allen. No, not the quarterback!

Overview:

With Chaisson moving to a position he was familiar with in college, he has the potential to return to the form that made him a first-round pick. He was selected by Bleacher Report as the favorite option to breakout for Jacksonville in 2021.

Chaisson started to hit his stride in December towards the end of the season. Pro Football Focus has him with a total of 29 pressures last season, many of them coming towards the end of the year.

K’Lavon Chaisson could actually end up being a steal for any fantasy managers who decide to roster him. He’s relatively undrafted in leagues without deep rosters and should be able to provide DL3-4 value weekly, depending on how your league’s lineups are set up.

Chaisson also has the fantasy IDP upside to do even better than that. With a clear path to a starting spot on the team and meaningful snaps, Chaisson could end up being one of the top value steals of 2021!


Thank you for reading my “IDP Candidates for Breakout in 2021” series! You can read all my work on my IDP Guys Author Page. Follow me on Twitter at @ZMagsIDP — I always enjoy chatting about all types of fantasy football with the Twitterverse. Please subscribe to IDPGuys.org for all your fantasy football needs, and check out our customizable IDP scoring tool! Also, don’t forget to order the IDP Guys Rookie Magazines — both offense and IDP — for your league drafts. As always, Live Long and Prosper!

Zach Magley

Father of two beautiful girls. I won 3 fantasy football championships in 2020. I am a true IDP degenerate. I love writing and putting out the the best content for my readers and followers. Looking forward to the 2021 NFL season!
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