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Fantasy Football IDP Rankings
and IDP Draft Strategy

For leagues with individual
defensive players (IDP)

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September 1, 2015

We strive each and every year to provide the most accurate fantasy football player rankings and fantasy football projections available, and we wanted to offer our Individual Defense Players (IDP) draft strategy, advice, fantasy football IDP rankings, and IDP player commentary to help those playing in fantasy leagues with an IDP format. After writing several individual replies, we decided it would better serve the masses to post a compilation of those replies in an IDP article. Our responses to those questions are provided below, and we conclude with an unofficial FootballDocs' IDP rankings list. So whether you are completely unfamiliar with IDP, on the fence regarding whether or not to play IDP, or a seasoned veteran of IDP play, this article has something for everyone and based on our experience from having played in numerous IDP leagues.

Fantasy football leagues with Individual Defense Players (a.k.a. IDP Leagues) are slowly becoming more and more prevalent; however, they still remain in the minority with most leagues opting for team fantasy defense rankings in their draft. This is neither good nor bad, but just a reality of the current state of fantasy football. Personally, we do not like IDP leagues as much as standard fantasy football leagues that use a Team Defense format. We have played in expert and highly competitive leagues that have used IDP, and while we did have success in those leagues, we did not enjoy the experience nearly as much as your standard fantasy football league that uses a team defense. For one, you can dominate the highlight reel with players on ESPN's NFL Primetime and lose your fantasy football game by a collection of defensive players on your opponent's roster that recorded several tackles (not necessarily sacks). We have been both the recipient and provider of such loses, and neither was much fun. In our opinion, part of the excitement of fantasy football is watching a highlight reel and knowing your fantasy team did well (or poorly). Individual tackles rarely make the highlight reel, yet factor in significantly to most IDP scoring formats. Second, more players required for the start means watering down the performance of your primetime players. Tom Brady being 1 of 8 fantasy players (traditional format) that compose a starting fantasy roster is more significant than Tom Brady (see our fantasy quarterback rankings) being 1 of 15 fantasy players that compose a starting fantasy roster (IDP format). The extra players dilute the impact of his fantasy scoring performance. However, opinions are like noses, and everybody has one. Other folks will disagree and would prefer nothing else than to play only in leagues that offer IPD. That is what is great about fantasy football - the ability and flexibility to incorporate new systems and new ideas to tailor to individual interests. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, we would recommend trying an IDP league at least once to see for yourself if you like it or not.

As noted above, we have had good success playing in IDP leagues and will outline our strategies that have helped us be successful in IDP formats. We will start with the basics and work our way up to our IDP Draft Strategy, Rankings, and Player Commentary. The information is presented in a very scannable format, so depending on your level of experience with IDP, feel free to skip sections that are not relevant to your particular level of IDP expertise:

What is IDP?
OK - let's start with the basics. IDP is simply that, a league that incorporates individual defense players into fantasy football scoring. Traditional fantasy football leagues use a team defense, where the aggregate play of an entire defensive unit (i.e. Atlanta Falcons Team Defense) contributes to the overall score of the fantasy defense. Typically fantasy team defenses are but one factor in an overall fantasy football team output. Other positions include QB, RB, WR, TE, and K.

For those interested, links to our free player rankings for these positions are provided below:
Position:   QB   |   RB   |   WR   |   TE   |   K   |   D

Somewhere along the way someone wanted to try to incorporate individual defense play into fantasy leagues - after all, we don't have team offense in traditional systems do we? So hence started the concept of IDP leagues, where now you also draft (and start) Linebackers (LB), Defensive Backs (DB), and Defensive Line (DL) players rather than an aggregate team defense for your fantasy football team.

How do leagues incorporate IDP players into the line-up?
There is a large range in regards to the level of detail each fantasy league incorporates IDP into the starting requirements for each fantasy football roster. On the one hand, you have leagues that still start a team defense, but incorporate a single IDP flex player (LB, DB, or DL) as an additional start to the team defense (i.e. QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, K, D, and IDP Flex). On the other hand, you have more dedicated IDP leagues that only start IDP players with no team defense. Typically, these leagues start players at each of these positions (2 DL, 2 LB, 2 DB, and 1 Dflex). This makes the league go relatively deep at IDP: Eight offensive players and seven defensive players. The fantasy points awarded for tackles, sacks, INTs, and passes defended can vary from IDP position to IDP position. If the same system is used for all IDP players, LBs will dominate since they are involved in all categories consistently. As with anything, adjustments are made as experience is gained, and most IDP leagues now incorporate a weighted scoring system for each IDP position in an effort to equilibrate scoring a little better between the positions of DL, LB, and DB.

IDP Draft Strategy:
Even in an "Expert IDP league", there are plenty of serviceable IDP players available off the waivers each week. There are just too many defensive players available. Just for starters, 5 of the 11 offensive players on a NFL team aren't even usable (the O-line). On defense, all 11 starting defensive NFL players (plus a few reserves) are draftable and available for a potential fantasy football start each week. Basically, the numbers create an excess of IDP players. This means that in the draft and regular season the following hold true:

1) Go after offensive players first. (Show them your "O" face by using our custom fantasy football cheat sheets) Again, this is just a simple matter of supply and demand. High quality offensive skill position players will be more of a commodity than defensive players given the large selection pool of defensive players.

2) Wait on your kicker until the end of your draft. (Write this on your hand before the draft if you are still having trouble remembering it).

3) Take most IDP players later in the draft (late rounds), but it is OK to grab the top couple of guys at each position a little early (mid rounds).

4) Work the waivers and don't worry if you have never heard of a guy before. If he is hot, find a spot on your bench for him. (For those of you that play fantasy baseball, it is very similar. That same mentality will serve you well in IDP fantasy football leagues).

5) Don't let IDP players take up too much room on your bench. It is still all about the O (offense).

6) Don't even bother trying to get the top LBs. The price will be too high relative to the benefit of having them on your fantasy football team.

7) If you do get a couple of the top IDP guys, you should free-fall on your #2 guys at each IDP position. (By free-fall, we mean wait several rounds before selecting another IDP player).

8) If your league doesn't weight points by IDP position, get LBs and lots of them.

Fantasy Football IDP Rankings and Player Commentary:
As for IDP players, here are a few players we like for later in the draft (i.e. at the right price). We are omitting the top picks because you will probably be letting the rest of your league take them if you are following our advice. You will notice that many of these players are younger and therefore stand a better chance of being drafted at a bargain (later rounds of your draft).

ADP* Player Team Comments
102   Chandler Jones NEP Jones may slip by your league mates thanks to him missing 6 games last season. When Jones is in the game he is elite with top 5 performances on a per game basis. You will need some good luck to keep him healthy all season, but that could pay off big time based on where you can get Jones in drafts.
139   Calais Campbell ARI Campbell has a proven track record, but just hasn't flashed that elite potential. However, he is a very solid option that will provide good production on a weekly basis. The best thing about Campbell is that you should be able to grab him at a good discount during your draft.
154   Ezekiel Ansah DET Ansah is entering his 3rd season, and he should see his playing time increase this year. Ansah has produced in with 7.5 sacks playing limited time. Players like Ansah that are seeing a big increase in playing time make great additions as IDP steals in most leagues.
175   Muhammad Wilkerson NYJ On the Jets, there are a lot of high profile defensive linemen. Wilkerson's name doesn't get the publicity that his teammates get, but that is what makes him a draft day deal. Wilkerson is an excellent DE and he should see some extra sacks in 2015 thanks to the return of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in the secondary.
185   Cameron Wake MIA Wake was the 7th best DL in 2015, but he is coming off the board as the 14th DL taken heading into this season. The addition of Ndamukong Suh on the interior should open things up for Wake to have another great season. Wake could finish higher than he did in 2014 and he is a steal in most drafts.
214   Leonard Williams NYJ Although he is a rookie, Williams was widely regarded as the best player in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Jets secondary and defensive line will combine to create a QBs nightmare. Williams may struggle at times to adjust to the NFL game, but he has enough talent to take a flyer on him.
234   Vic Beasley ATL If you are in a deeper IDP league, Beasley should be a player you take a look at. He was taken by the Falcons as the 8th player in the 2015 NFL Draft. He has flashed some of his talent in the preseason and he will quickly become a featured player on for the Falcons' defensive schemes. Considering the other options the Falcons have on defense, Beasley should see loads of playing time.
253   Demarcus Lawrence DAL Lawrence was a highly touted draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, he missed most of 2014 with a broken foot. That missed time will keep him way off the radar, but he has the talent to succeed. If you are in a deeper league, he is worth a flyer.

ADP* Player Team Comments
100   Navorro Bowman SFO In Bowman's case, the 49ers have lost tons of tackles this offseason with the departures of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. Bowman is a little bit of an injury risk, but he could pay huge dividends thanks to the workload he is in line for in 2015.
106   Kiko Alonso PHI Alonso is leaving a Bills team that couldn't get off the field to the Eagles. The Eagles will press to put opponents in predictable situations to try and score, so that could help Alonso keep some of his 2014 value in 2015. Don't look for the same production you saw last year, but He should still be a solid performer.
122   Paul Posluszny JAC Posluszny tackles everything in site on a team that will leave its defense on the field a ton. This simple equation will result in a mountain of tackles for Posluszny. That kind of solid weekly production could be a great value in most IDP leagues.
132   Paul Worrilow ATL Worrilow is setup with a great opportunity in Atlanta to be on the field often and have tons of plays filtered to him. Worrilow isn't an elite talent, but he has enough talent to cash in on a golden opportunity for production.
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156   Ryan Shazier PIT Shazier was a high draft pick for the Steelers in 2014, and he is now ready to take a big step forward in his second season. The Steelers have a tradition of producing some serious LB talent. Shazier is primed to take on a lot of work for a Steelers defense that will be below the typical Pittsburgh standards.
170   Sean Lee DAL Lee is a big injury risk, but he is highly productive when playing. Don't pay too much for Lee, but you know you have a top performer when he is in there. Lee is a good value in leagues based on the numbers you will get with him in your lineup. Playing from the weak side this season should keep Lee upright more in 2015.
192   Stephone Anthony NOS Anthony is falling into a great role in New Orleans as a rookie. The Saints have been begging for someone to step into the middle and make some big plays. Anthony should be able to deliver a 2015 that lands him in consideration for defensive rookie of the year.
216   Derrick Johnson KCC Johnson is getting older. Thus, many leagues are ready to move on from this former high draft pick. The Chiefs have a good defense that will feature Johnson if he can manage to stay healthy. Considering the value you can get on Johnson, you should think about adding him in deeper leagues.

ADP* Player Team Comments
162   Reshad Jones MIA Jones was suspended the first 4 games of 2014, but he played very well after that. Because his yearly totals are reduced due to this missed time, you are going to be able to get Jones at a discount. Jones will be used as an additional tackler from the safety spot. Consistent tackles from your DB is just what you need in an IDP league.
181   Ha Clinton-Dix Ha Clinton-Dix is ready to follow-up his great rookie season with a strong second year. Clinton-Dix is on a team that will force opposing offenses to throw often to keep up with Aaron Rodgers. Clinton-Dix is a solid DB that comes at a value.
225   Tyrann Mathieu ARI It is hard to lay off the Honey Badger. He is a playmaker that is good for a couple turnovers a season and he is capable of 70+ tackles. He has yet to play in all 16 games through 2 NFL seasons. The think to keep in mind is that Mathieu is going to be only 23 years old this season, so he can still get much better.
253   Antoine Bethea SFO Since the beginning of the 2008 season, Bethea has had at least 70 tackles in every season. Last season's 4 INTs is probably a little ambitions, but Bethea should still be a solid choice in most leagues.
274   Charles Woodson OAK Woodson is still playing and still making plays. At some point, Woodson is going to have to hang them up. He will be 39 this season, but he has produced 75 and 81 tackles in the last two seasons as a safety in Oakland. Woodson is also still grabbing a few interceptions. His age makes him a risk, but it also makes him a value on draft day.
285   Kyle Fuller CHI Fuller had a good rookie season where he was a ball hawk with 4 INTs and 3 fumbles. It is hard to expect him to repeat those numbers, but you can get him at a big discount on draft day. The Bears have parted ways with some of the veterans, so Fuller will be expected to take on an even bigger role in the defense.
304   Antrel Rolle CHI Rolle is joining a Bears defense that should allow plenty of plays to flow to the defensive backs. Rolle should see plenty of tackles in 2015. The Bears could leave their defense out on the field based on all the turmoil the WRs have experienced this offseason. That is good news for a player like Rolle that will be asked to clean up the mess.

ADP - Average Draft Position in IDP fantasy football leagues.

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