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Fantasy Football IDP Rankings
and IDP Draft Strategy

For leagues with individual
defensive players (IDP)

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August 23, 2012

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
131   Jason Babin PHI High end sack guy lining up wide. If you get a premium for sacks, Babin is a great choice coming off an 18 sack season.
133   J.J. Watt HOU Watt is ready to follow up his strong rookie season with an even better year in 2012.
137   Calais Campbell ARI Huge man that reminds you of Mario Williams' build. However, Campbell will be playing in a 3-4. He would likely do much better in a 4-3, but it was a good move for Miami.
145   Chris Long STL Howie Long's little boy has been making a big impact in the NFL. Chris Long has improved his production each season. There is little reason to believe that he will fall off, so look for another good season from him.
153   Elvis Dumervil DEN After missing all of 2010 with an injury, you saw some rust on Dumervil in the first half of 2011. The second half he was getting a sack in every game. Health is still a concern, but the potential is there.
160   Cameron Wake MIA Wake is converting from linebacker to defensive end in 2012. He should be able to produce in this new role.
168   Cliff Avril DET Franchise tagged this year, so he will be playing for a new contract in 2012. Avril has been trending up and finished 2011 on a hot streak. We expect to see that continue this year.
170   Charles Johnson CAR Johnson has had a productive preseason and we feel like he is ready to take the next step forward.
200   Osi Umenyiora NYG Umenyiora still wants to get paid and could be a free agent in 2013, so look for him to be highly productive. He will split time, but he is still good enough to grab lots of sacks.

ADP* Player Team Comments
111   Colin McCarthy TEN McCarthy was a 4th rounder in 2011. He managed 52 tackles and 14 assists in 2011 with only 7 starts. He should continue to improve in his second season in the NFL.
111   Daryl Washington ARI Washington's tackles jumped from 64 to 94 from 2010 to 2011. This year he should continue to assert himself for the Cardinals.
123   Sean Weatherspoon ATL Curtis Lofton is off to New Orleans, so look for Weatherspoon to scoop up more production in 2012.
134   Lawrence Timmons PIT Timmons left a bad taste in owners mouth's last season, but injuries to other Steelers impacted his production. Timmons is capable of a rebound in 2012.
138   Paul Posluszny JAC Posluszny struggled last year in his 1st as a Jaguar, but he should rebound in 2012. The talent is there for that type of rebound.
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151   Chad Greenway MIN Can you say jumping on the pile! If your league gets points for assists, Greenway is a good late get. His assist totals are impressive.
164   Jon Beason CAR Beason is coming off an early season ACL, so his isn't someone to bank on too much. However, there is a chance for a significant rebound. His injury was early in 2011.
169   Donald Butler SD As a rookie, Butler racked up 75 tackles and 19 assists in 2011. This year he should be ready to progress to the 90+ range on tackles.
174   Karlos Dansby MIA Dolphins move to a 4-3 should help keep more blockers off Dansdy. A jump in production is expected.

ADP* Player Team Comments
131   Eric Berry KC Berry had a smoking hot rookie season, but then he only played in 1 game in 2011 thanks to an ACL injury. This year his is back and you can look for some solid production. If he slides, you are getting a premier playmaking talent.
156   Tyvon Branch OAK Solid and reliable from a fantasy perspective. Expect similar production to last year.
171   Morgan Burnett GB Production was limited in middle of last season by an injury. He did recover by season's end. His reduced 2011 stats make him a sleeper in 2012.
175   George Wilson BUF Wilson is a tackling fool as the Bills safety. This should continue in 2012. If he slides at all, you have a great pick.
183   Roman Harper NO Still a top producer despite Bountygate. He is a great value if he slides.
191   Mark Barron TB This rookie should be able to contribute right away.
201   Patrick Chung NE Chung is a health concern, but a healthy Chung is a top producer.
221   Bernard Pollard BAL One of the players that benefits from opposing defenses picking on him. Baltimore is stacked, so Pollard will get involved in lots of plays.
230   LaRon Landry NYJ Explosive player when healthy. He will have an excellent defense around him if he can stay on the field.
248   Quintin Mikell STL If you have a deeper league, you can get good production from Mikell as a late round value pick.

ADP - Average Draft Position in IDP fantasy football leagues.

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