Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Fantasy Football IDP Strategy and Cheat Sheet

I will admit that I am relatively new to the IDP game. I have played in two Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues in the past and have a very deep one scheduled for this season. You can expect this article to be crazy thorough because I'll be using it on draft day myself.

FYI, this post is very long. I have broken it down into some main headlines: Standard Scoring Breakdown, IDP Commentary, IDP Overall Draft Strategy, IDP Position Draft Strategy, and IDP rankings. If you just want the rankings, skip to the end. Looking for how to draft, find it in the middle. Got it? Wonderful!


Standard Scoring Breakdown
A basic breakdown is this. IDP scoring is very similar to the offensive scoring. Standard leagues will see a point for every tackle, half point for assisted tackles, 2-3 points for a sack, 3 points for fumbles (forced and recovered) and interceptions, and six points for defensive touchdowns. Simple.

A Little Commentary (Mostly for My Sake)
First off, a little commentary on the matter. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about IDP leagues. I like that you are giving attention to the defensive side of the ball. I'm on the side of the tracks where I'd rather pass on watching a receiver make a dazzling catch over the middle and watch a free safety annihilate a receiver trying to make a dazzling catch over the middle. Everyone loves a good hit, and it's good that the public is learning the names of these guys through fantasy football. They deserve it as much or more than their offensive counterparts.
On the other hand, I think the fantasy IDP system still needs some work. Defensive backs are awarded a couple points for interceptions and a point for a tackle. This means that the big name cornerbacks are actually the worst people to draft. They are so good at their position, no quarterback throws at them which drastically hurts their fantasy football IDP stats.
Linebackers make the vast majority of their points through tackles. My argument here is that this position might actually be too consistent. 21 linebackers had over 80 tackles last year, meaning that if your league allows you to start one linebacker, chances are that every single fantasy team in that league is going to get similar stats each week. Linebacker is nearly obsolete because you can expect the same statistics week in and week out.
Defensive line makes a little more sense. You can have elite players here. You have your sack monsters and the run stuffers. Again you run into a week-to-week consistency and all teams will have about the same stat line, but it is less blatant than at the linebacker position.
Basically, once a scoring system is in place to make IDP leagues more competitive and fair to the star cornerbacks, more people will likely catch on and start playing. That's not to say that drafting for IDP leagues is not difficult. It's extremely difficult. We all know that a game can be decided by a single point, so your draft is very important.

IDP Draft Overall Strategy
It is generally a wise decision to create a starting line-up first. As stated above, while there is a scoring gap between the top tier and second tier, it is not enough to justify taking a Patrick Willis in the first round. Also, throughout the year you will probably have more of a revolving door at IDP positions than you would at offensive ones as the waivers will be full of undrafted players who are scoring highly.
Just like in a regular draft you wouldn't (with few exceptions) take a defense in the early middle rounds, in standard IDP leagues, you want to wait. Owners that take a defense too early often regret it when the year begins because of injuries to their starting offensive players or if one of your top guys turns out to be a bust. It's good to solidify a little depth before jumping into the defensive players.
When the time comes to select the defensive guys, you want to make sure that the first four you take include two linebackers, one defensive lineman and one defensive back. By setting this guideline you have more freedom to choose the best available player without worrying about which position to take when. As long as those four spots are filled, you are solid.
Here comes the tricky part. Often the pre-ranked defensive players that are made available to you by your fantasy football league service as skewed. It is not as thought out as the offensive side and they will generally focus more on who did well last year. Also, they will tend to have the guys that you don't want (Darrelle Revis, Nnamdi Asomugha) pretty high as well. There are plenty of sites where you can find well thought out IDP rankings. GodHatesLosers is one of them.

IDP Position Draft Strategy
Linebacker: Simply put, this is the position to go after. If your league doesn't have a defensive position breakdown and just allows for IDP players at any position, these are the guys you want. They get the most tackles, they get the sacks, and will put up a number of forced and recovered fumbles and an interception or two.
Linebackers put up the most consistent numbers week in and week out. With the top guys, you can expect to get 10-12 points every single game. There is not a huge difference between the middle linebackers and the outside linebackers so don't worry too much about that. Treat the linebacker like you would the running back. When people start picking up defensive players, take a linebacker first and second.
Defensive Line: All you care about here should be sacks and tackles. Every season new players emerge at this position to make a huge fantasy football impact. You do have a top tier, but it would be wise to wait it out as you can find tons of sleepers in the later rounds.
Defensive Backs: Avoid the big name cornerbacks. You are looking for the little guy when it comes to fantasy football corners. They may not be a top-paid back, but they are the ones getting thrown to meaning a higher tackle number. A good bet is to look at the top scorers from last year and get ideas from those statistics.
Looking at Defensive Backs as a whole though, it's a smart move to go with safeties. They are far more consistent game-to-game than cornerbacks and produce higher tackle numbers while still contributing to interceptions and sacks. Playing it safe is a good call here and stick to safeties.

IDP Rankings
(Player Name, Fantasy Points Last Season)
Defensive Line
1.     Justin Tuck, 89
2.     Jared Allen, 84
3.     Ndamukong Suh, 82
4.     Trent Cole, 73
5.     Terrell Suggs, 81
6.     Robert Mathis, 69
7.     Julius Peppers, 76
8.     Mario Williams, 42
9.     Charles Johnson, 77
10. James Hall, 87
11. John Abraham, 67
12. Justin Smith, 77
13. Osi Umenyiora, 86
14. James Hall, 87
15. Haloti Ngata, 57
16. Elvis Dumervil, 0 (due to injury, 88 in 2009)
17. Gerald McCoy, 34
18. Jason Babin, 75
19. Calais Campbell, 58
20. Israel Idonije, 58
21. Dwight Freeney, 56
22. Kyle Williams, 65
23. Kyle Vanden Bosch, 47
24. Glenn Dorsey, 55
25. Chris Long, 52


1.     Jerod Mayo, 120
2.     Patrick Willis, 119
3.     James Laurinaitis, 108
4.     Paul Posluszny, 107
5.     Jon Beason, 102
6.     Lawrence Timmons, 116
7.     Curtis Lofton, 110
8.     Clay Matthews, 97
9.     Chad Greenway, 114
10. James Harrison, 117
11. Derrick Johnson, 113
12. Ray Lewis, 120
13. DeMarcus Ware, 93
14. Desmond Bishop, 91
15. Stephen Tulloch, 113
16. Rolando McClain, 64
17. Barrett Ruud, 101
18. D.J. Williams, 108
19. DeMeco Ryans, 34
20. Jonathan Vilma, 92
21. London Fletcher, 105
22. Brian Urlacher, 114
23. David Harris, 78
24. Bradie James, 91
25. Lance Briggs, 94

Defensive Backs

1.     LaRon Landry, 75
2.     Tyvon Branch, 96
3.     Eric Berry, 106
4.     T.J. Ward, 106
5.     Bernard Pollard, 98
6.     Roman Harper, 104
7.     Eric Weddle, 95
8.     Donte Whitner, 104
9.     Charles Tillman, 100
10. Quintin Mikell, 100
11. Yeremiah Bell, 96
12. Patrick Chung, 90
13. Kerry Rhodes, 108
14. Troy Polamalu, 88
15. Charles Woodson, 109
16. Cortland Finnegan, 101
17. Oshiomogho Atogwe, 86
18. Adrian Wilson, 88
19. Michael Huff, 106
20. Brent Grimes, 96
21. Devin McCourty, 105
22. Antoine Winfield, 97
23. Joe Haden, 86
24. Dawan Landry, 97
25. Nick Collins, 81

Overall, if you are in an IDP league, have some fun with it. Chances are that after reading this you will have a head start on others in your league. Keep it simple. When in doubt go to sack totals and rest assured that if you make some bad picks, there will be extra talent on the wire for you to pick up.
Hope this has helped you out as much as it's helped me!


  1. Man, this is good stuff.

    I'm going for new challenges this year and I wanted to try IDP and Auction Drafts, two things I've never done.
    So I joined a friggin' crazy 20-team deep league, auction draft, and the following roster positions:
    QB, WR, WR, WR, WR, RB, RB, RB, TE, Q/W/R/T, K, DEF, D, LB, LB, LB, DT, DE, DE, CB, CB, S, S, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN, BN

    I'm probably screwed (as is everybody else in this league), but your post sure will help me out.
    I just don't know what I'm going to do when the bye weeks come because we have so many roster spots with few bench players.

    Totally agree with the DB strategy. Safeties is the safe pick (bad pun intended).
    Although in my league we have a different scoring system. Tackles give 1 point and Pass defended gives 3 points, so I guess it changes the strategy a little bit.

    Overall I'm going into this without any expectation but learning.
    Well, not really, I always expect at least playoffs.
    But I could live with an early elimination in this league, specially because of the Auction Draft format that I'm not a bit familiar to.

    With 20 teams, I cannot expect much help from the waiver wire, so the draft is critical.
    I just hope I don't screw this up.

    Thanks for the help, anyway.

  2. I'm in a 12 team IDP league with 24 total spots, so you are quite a bit deeper than mine. My scoring is a little awkward with 2 points per tackle and 1 point per assisted tackle. The rankings and numbers I posted in this article are for standard IDP leagues.

    Best of luck to you man. That is a huge league. Sounds like fun. Glad I could help.

  3. Last year you posted mostly about standard leagues.
    Since you're in a IDP league too, are you posting anything about them during reg. season?
    you know, I'll need any kind of help I can get, even if it is not weekly rankings (that would be crazy even to think of)

  4. Most of my stuff will be a blend of standard and PPR. Since this post isn't getting much love, I have to assume that there are not a ton of IDP guys out there. Because I'm in an IDP league, I will post a few things most likely, but feel free to comment on any article and I will be more than happy to answer any questions or comments from you. I would actually be good to have your perspective on IDP related stuff to, since I am still a student of it as well.

  5. Well, it will be interesting for sure.
    I didn't draft my IDP league yet.
    As soon as it happens I'll give you my first impressions about what I did well and what I could have done better.

  6. I appreciated your article a lot. There is simply not a lot of good material out there that I am finding! I've been in a 10 team IDP league for 3 years now. The scoring is what sets the league apart. 2 pts per tackle, 1 points per asst tackle, and 3 pts per interception.

    Any general advice on drafting with this setup? Obviously Linebackers become even more dominant than before, but Linemen are still equally scarce... what balance of drafting would you go with when scoring is like this?


  7. That is exactly how my IDP league was set up. When I drafted for that league I used the rankings that I listed above. However, before my draft, I went to and found the tackle numbers for each of the players listed. Then chance the rankings just a little bit accordingly.

    My league had 1 DL slot, 2 LBs and 2 DBs. I went and got all 2 LBs first. Then a safety (or a corner that gets a lot of tackles) then my DL and then another DB. I ended up with a pretty nice lineup. You can pretty much trust that with a self-prepared list and the research you put in, you will be easily the most prepared.

    I got my offense all set up first. Then went LB/LB. Then DB/DL. When you are drafting defensive guys, dont forget the importance of an offensive bench. Always keep your eyes opened.