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Fantasy Football IDP Rankings
and IDP Draft Strategy

For leagues with individual
defensive players (IDP)

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August 3, 2014

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
151   Cameron Wake MIA Wake struggled last season and let down his fantasy owners a little. You shouldn't give up hope on him though. He should be healthier this season and ready to produce at a high level again.
167   DeMarcus Ware DEN Ware is finally out of the circus known as the Dallas Cowboys and now has a chance to actually win some playoff games. Look for Ware to flourish in his new environment. If Von Miller can produce opposite of him, Ware will have the best running mate of his career.
168   Rob Ninkovich NE Nickovich is the kind of tackling fool that would impress Bobby Boucher. Nickovich had 91 total tackles last season and 8 sacks. He will give you solid production for you in 2014 with a steady diet of tackles again.
162   Mario Williams BUF Super Mario Williams has a big name, so he could go to high in your draft. However, his production was down last a season and that could lead to him dropping in your draft. His tackle numbers were low, but there is a good chance he can leverage his talent for a great season.
182   Charles Johnson CAR Injuries slowed down "Big Bully" last year. With Greg Hardy attracting lots of the blocking assignments, all Johnson has to do is stay healthy to be an impact player in 2014.
138   Ezekiel Ansah DET Ansah had limited playing time last season, but he was very productive with that playing time. This season he should see a dramatic increase in playing time that should lead to a boost in production. Considering where you can draft Ansah, he is a great value with serious upside.
>260   Everson Griffen MIN Griffen will get the chance to step into a larger role in 2014 thanks to Jared Allen leaving the team. Griffen will get to come off the edge in Mike Zimmer's defense. Zimmer was very successful in creating productive IDP linemen in 2013 with the Bengals.
>260   Jerry Hughes BUF Hughes had 10 sacks in 2013, but he is poised to take a big step forward in 2014. Hughes is moving from playing outside linebacker to defensive end because the team is switching to the four down lineman. Considering that Hughes will be opposite of Mario Williams, he should see less double teams.
>260   Malik Jackson DEN Jackson didn't do a whole lot in his rookie season of 2012, but he started to come on strong late in 2013 when given the opportunity to play. Jackson is a deep sleeper, but he could help you in deeper leagues.

ADP* Player Team Comments
66   Paul Posluszny JAC Posluszny had his best year for tackles with 121 solo tackles. That was the best in the NFL for 2013. This season the Jaguars should make him a fantasy stud. No one else on that Jacksonville defense is going to be tackling all that much. Expect big numbers for Posluszny in 2014.
109   Karlos Dansby ARI Dansby is now in Cleveland, but he is still a player producing at a high level. His new location may help drop his stock some, but you should remain confident in his ability.
140   Brian Cushing HOU A sluggish start and torn ACL made Cushing's season a bit of a mess. The Texans will likely leave the defense on the field for a lot of snaps. Those increased chances should result in more stats for Cushing.
125   Jerod Mayo NE 2 season ending injuries in the last 3 years has taken the luster off of Mayo's star. You do need to remember that he still has the talent and he has a scheme that is matched well to his abilities. He is only 27 and could be a huge steal.
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129   Paul Worrilow ATL Worrilow is another great example of a player that no one was looking at going into 2013, but everyone was paying attention by the end of the year. Injuries pushed Worrilow into more playing time. He responded with 11.5 tackles per game over the last 8 games of 2014.
160   Chad Greenway MIN Greenway should benefit from his new HC and defensive guru, Mike Zimmer. Greenway isn't as flashy of a name as some other LBs, but he provides solid production and is a safe bet. If you are in a league that only drafts 1 or 2 LBs, you can grab Greenway at a value and you can count on him from week to week.
>260   Sio Moore OAK Moore is entering his sophomore season with the Raiders and he is ready to take that next step forward. Moore will be moving to the weak side position opposite this year's 5th overall pick, Khalil Mack. Moore has a strong chance to take a step forward with an improved defense in Oaklland.
>260   Arthur Brown BAL Brown is a deeper sleeper for you to consider. Brown was a high draft pick for the Ravens in 2013. His rookie season was not all it was promised to be. He did not play regularly. This season Jameel McClain has left the team and opened up a new opportunity for Brown. Look for Brown to jump on the season now that his talent will be given lots of opportunity.
>260   Wesley Woodard TEN Woodard has to actually win the starting job first. Just make sure to check that prior to your draft. However, he could be a huge steal for the Titans. Woodard should only be drafted in deeper IDP leagues, but he is a player that should greatly outperform where you can get in in drafts.

ADP* Player Team Comments
202   Bernard Pollard TEN Pollard is a consistent player that produces lots of tackles with a sprinkling in of big plays. Pollard won't be a sexy option off the board, but he is a player that you can put in your starting lineup and forget about him the rest of the season.
170   Morgan Burnett GB Burnett missed 3 games, but he still hauled in around 100 tackles. His big plays should rebound in 2014, so look for Burnett to be another great option in drafts.
151   Eric Weddle SD Weddle is exceptional and consistent. He should be a player you target in most leagues. His ADP has him as the 6th best DB in some leagues. He should be top 2. This makes Weddle a great value in shallow IDP leagues.
201   Antrel Rolle NYG Rolle should benefit again from the rest of the Giants defense leaking like a sieve. Rolle had huge career numbers last year, and he should be able to approach those numbers in 2014.
212   Tyvon Branch OAK Branch is YET another player working to come back from injury. These players all have the talent, so you have to watch if they are healthy. The good news for Branch is that his broken leg shouldn't set him as far back as an ACL would be.
202   Reshad Jones MIA One of the best things you can get for any fantasy player is opportunities. Jones had more snaps than any other defensive back in 2013. Jones is a safe pick with reliable production
>260   Stevie Brown NYG Brown is another injured player that is looking to rebound. Brown can be had extremely late, but you can expect him to crush his average draft position if he can return.
>260   Roman Harper CAR Harper is keeping it in the division. He is moving from the Saints to the Panthers. That is a huge step up in defense, and that should open Harper up to make more plays than most expect. Harper needs to stay healthy.
>260   Duron Harmon NE The Patriots released Steve Gregory, and that is providing an opportunity for a young player to step up. This will be Harmon's second season, and he should take a big step forward.

ADP - Average Draft Position in IDP fantasy football leagues.

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