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Fantasy Football: 2021 IDP breakout candidates

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons during Red & White Practice at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Most rookies don't burst onto the NFL scene, but some defy the odds. For others, it's a waiting game of sorts before their development leads to a career year.

In IDP fantasy football, talent, team and, most importantly, opportunity all play a major role in bringing us our next crop of stars. If you pay attention and can key in on who these players will be, it gives you a major advantage in drafts and leagues of any kind. Here are 10 IDPs who are set to enjoy the best season of their NFL careers in 2021.

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LB ISAIAH SIMMONS, ARIZONA CARDINALS

Simmons, a 2020 top-10 pick, played a mere 34% of the Cardinals' snaps as a rookie despite being fully healthy and earning a higher overall grade for the year (59.9) than Arizona’s starting linebackers Jordan Hicks (50.4) and De'Vondre Campbell (49.0). While none of these grades are overly impressive, Simmons was at least able to find his groove about halfway through the campaign.

Isaiah Simmons (2020) Def. snaps (LB rank) Tackles (LB rank) Sacks (LB rank) Pressure Rate (LB rank)
Weeks 1-8 83 (98th) 11 (T-96th)  0 (N/A) 0 (N/A)
Weeks 9-17 293 (55th) 43 (T-48th)  2 (T-7th) 22.4% (5th)

Over the back half of the year, Simmons was used more as a pass rusher, generating 11 pressures and two sacks while also adding a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. There just wasn’t room for Simmons to add to those numbers and get on the field full-time. Campbell and Hicks stood in his way, but with Campbell now in Green Bay and Hicks on the trading block, Simmons will lead the way alongside rookie Zaven Collins as the new faces of the Cardinals' linebacker corps.

Opportunity is a massive factor in IDPs being relevant for fantasy football, and Simmons’ opportunity is a great one. After being drafted as a “do-it-all” type of player out of Clemson, Simmons should be fully unleased in 2021 and racking up points in a variety of ways.

He earned grades above 80.0 in all defensive categories during his final season at Clemson, putting up 85 tackles, 30 pressures, eight sacks, two forced fumbles, five pass breakups and three interceptions. This was the version of Simmons advertised to fantasy managers during draft season more than a year ago, and it appears that 2021 is when we can begin to see that come to fruition in the NFL.

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