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Fantasy Football: IDP League Draft Strategy

Tim McCullough Managing Editor July 15, 2014 3:23PM EST
WHY IDP?

One of the most common complaints associated with Fantasy Football leagues is that the scoring from week to week can be a real crapshoot. In any given week, a single offensive player can put up a monster performance that propels a dog of a Fantasy team to victory. Meanwhile, after putting all kinds of thought and research into carefully drafting a team of studs, you are saddled with a loss for the week that could leave you on the outside come playoff time. Which begs the question, how can your league level the playing field to prevent the frustration that comes with what I call the one-week-wonder syndrome?

The answer is to do away with Team Defense/Special Teams use and introduce Individual Defensive Players or IDPs into your league scoring system. IDP leagues are rapidly becoming the standard for Fantasy Football play, and most major hosting services have the capability to add this exciting and challenging dimension of play to your game. Team Defenses are actually a detriment to Fantasy Football play because they do not add much to the overall scoring between Fantasy teams.

Last season, the Team Defense scoring leader, the Kansas City Chiefs, finished with 151 Fantasy Points (FP) or 9.4 FP per game. The two next best D/ST, the St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers, finished with 120 FP (7.5 FP/gm) and 118 FP (7.4 FP/gm) respectively. The rest of the Top 12 D/STs finished with between 93 (5.8 FP/gm) and 109 FP (6.8 FP/gm). So there were just 16 total Fantasy Points between the number 12 Team Defense and the number four Team Defense. If you didn’t have one of the three elite teams there was virtually no added value from your Team Defense; the difference between having the number 12 D/ST and the number two D/ST amounted to less than two FP per game! And this happens every single year!

With the addition of IDP scoring, your league will add seven or more individual players to the scoring mix that will add value and level the playing field to eliminate one-week-wonders from ruining your fun. Adding Individual Defensive Players is easy to do because there is a large pool of players to choose from; every defensive player on every team is eligible. The best part is that with so many players to choose from there are always Waiver Wire options available, which makes week-to-week play simple, yet challenging.

A TYPICAL IDP LEAGUE

Adding IDPs to your league is simpler than you think as long as you follow a few guiding principles. First, as with any Fantasy league you must know the scoring system to pick the right players for your team. In general, IDP scoring follows one of two formats. One format emphasizes and rewards every down play, awarding two points per solo tackle and one point for each tackle assist. The other format emphasizes so-called big plays and awards one point for solo tackles, perhaps one-half point for an assist. Both formats also award points for sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, recovered fumbles, defended passes and possibly other types of plays. The table below gives examples for the two main types of leagues but be aware that there can be many variations of these formats.

Emphasis on Every Down

Emphasis on Big Play

Solo Tackles

2

1

Tackle Assists

1

.5

Passes Defended

1

2

Forced Fumbles

2

3

Fumble Recovery

2

3

Interceptions

2

3

Sack

2

4

Your league’s scoring format will largely dictate which players you will want to draft for your team. However, the vast majority of IDP leagues use some combination of Linebackers, Defensive Linemen and Defensive Backs. A typical roster might use three linebackers; two defensive linemen, three defensive backs, and perhaps one IDP flex which can come from any of the three groups.

On draft day, instead of drafting a Team Defense you will be taking individual players, but just as you would wait to take your Team Defense at the end of the draft (right before your kicker) you will still draft your entire offensive squad before you draft any IDPs. Yes, we’re leveling the playing field, but offensive players are still the meat and potatoes of your team and its scoring.

The next step is to discuss the three player groups and the best way to go about stocking your team with IDPs for success.

Luke Kuechly is expected to lead all linebackers in tackles this season. Photo Credit: Guy Harbert

Luke Kuechly is expected to lead all linebackers in tackles this season. Photo Credit: Guy Harbert

DRAFTING LINEBACKERS

Linebackers are the heart of your IDP lineup since they will be your best scorers regardless of format. You will want linebackers to be the first defensive players you take for your IDP squad. In general, you want outside over inside and weak side over strong side linebackers. This is because the outside linebackers are where your pass rushers generally come from and strong side linebackers are often bogged down by double teaming offenses. However, there are exceptions, so don’t exclude a linebacker with a proven record of success just because he plays inside or middle linebacker, they can still be consistent run stoppers depending on the defensive scheme they play in.

One thing you do want to be certain of is that your linebackers play nearly every down. Linebackers that rotate out in pass situations or sit on third down are not going to put up the numbers you need. Once again, knowing your scoring rules is essential, but linebackers that regularly make 100 or more tackles in a season are your best choices for most IDP leagues. You will note that some of the best IDP linebackers come from some of the worst offensive teams in the NFL. This is because teams that have weak offenses usually have their defense on the field for many more snaps than teams with strong offenses. More snaps means more opportunities to score for your IDP team. So don’t be afraid to take defensive players from craptastic NFL teams.

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