Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues. It’s a Fantasy Football option that has been gaining steam the past couple of years and more and more leagues are incorporating it into their already well-established leagues. But what is it? How does it work? And more importantly, how do I not suck at it? Those were the first questions I asked myself when one of my leagues started using two IDPs per team.
And here’s the thing, no one knew what they were doing. No. One. We all know the big names on defense, but the strategy and the valuing of these players were all something that we needed to learn how to do.
So what are the first things you need to know if you’re in a league that incorporates IDP? This is going to be treated as a “What I Wish I Knew Then” piece.
IDP Draft Strategy
The first step that you need to do before participating in an IDP Draft or one that is going to be including two to three IDPs is know the scoring format. This sounds so basic and simple and it is, to an extent. There are several different formats that are used with IDP and it’s important you become familiar with it. This could steer you to favor a defensive end for sacks, a linebacker for tackles or a cornerback for interceptions. This is all very important.
Next, you need to know if there are any positional requirements? If we could, we’d all start seven quarterbacks and ignore those pathetically low scoring tight ends, but we can’t. There are rules, this isn’t ‘Nam! Big Lebowski, anyone? No? Well alright then, let’s keep moving. Anyway, it’s crucial to know who you can start and who you have to start.
It’s even important to know if there’s a difference in designation between defensive tackle and defensive end or if it’s just generally grouped together as defensive lineman. And the last thing is how many defensive players are there? If there are just two, then wait until the end because there are a ton of solid defensive players. If your league requires five starters, now that places a higher value on those studs at the top.
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Once you’ve realized what the scoring format is, take a gander at who the best IDP players were from the previous season and examine their point total and incorporate them into the totals from all offensive players. This will give you an idea of how many running backs and wide receivers Von Miller was better than. This is so very important in trying to determine a solid value for your picks. Von Miller may be one of the best defensive players in the league, but according to Fantasy Football Today, he scored 127 Fantasy Football points last season. That was less than Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and Todd Gurley.
Those first three are the easy ones. The fourth step is going to be the difficult one. If you’ve been playing Fantasy Football for years, you know that the Ravens like to run the football, mainly because Joe Flacco sucks. Sorry, that’s neither here nor there, but the Ravens like to run the football. The Saints on the other hand love to pass. Because of this, we tend to rank Saints receivers higher in comparison to others because of opportunity. The same thought process needs to be applied to the defensive players you select.
Richard Sherman is a lights-out cornerback. Maybe the best in the NFL, but because of the scheme the Seahawks run and because of how much opposing quarterbacks shy away from his side of the field, he isn’t much use in IDP leagues. On the opposite side of that spectrum, a mediocre talent such as Zach Brown can line up at middle linebacker and rack up tackles because of the scheme and his position. And see, now we’ve made it full circle because we’re back at needing to understand how scoring happens. Some value interceptions and “big plays” (sacks, forced fumbles, etc.) while others value tackles. Know the league you’re playing in.
Knowing positional schemes will become your meal ticket to dominating your IDP league. While other players may be picking Josh Norman or Ndamukong Suh because of their name value, you’ll know better. For the record, Suh is an excellent option as a defensive tackle, but if your league only requires a defensive lineman, Suh’s value drops considerably because he lacks tackle and sack opportunities compared to the edge rushers in a 4-3 scheme. This may all sound terribly confusing and at first, it may be, but in time and with some research you’ll get it.
As a general guideline, you’ll want to target safeties before cornerbacks. 4-3 defensive ends are way more valuable than 3-4 defensive ends. 3-4 nose tackles are pretty worthless; incredibly so. 3-4 inside linebackers are your friend over 3-4 outside linebackers. Don’t believe me? Jake Ryan (who?) scored more Fantasy Football points than Clay Matthews did last season. 4-3 middle linebackers and 4-3 weak side linebackers are also generally well received in IDP Fantasy formats. In general, a 4-3 scheme tends to be more Fantasy friendly than a 3-4. But again, these are just guidelines.
As we get closer to Fantasy Football Draft season, make sure you got the first three steps nailed down and once you do that, you’ll better understand the types of defensive players you should be targeting and where. If your league values tackles, Bobby Wagner may be the number one choice. Yes, even over JJ Watt. If your league favors sacks and forced fumbles, Watt is your man.
IDP leagues can be incredibly frustrating at first if you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing, but in the end, they can be incredibly rewarding. And for those of you out there that live, breathe and eat Fantasy Football, IDP adds another element to an already near perfect game.
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If you are looking for a place to conduct a mock draft or need assistance with drafting in general, check out the Fantasy Pros Draft Wizard. This is a terrific tool that will help you dominate your league, along with So-Called Fantasy Experts, of course.
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