I am a fantasy football junkie. I have participated in Fantasy Football
since 1989, and simply cannot fathom an NFL season without it. With
that said, I have just recently discovered the challenge that is
IDP. Trust me on this one fellow fantasy football enthusiast's,
If you are participating in a league without IDPs, quit resisting
change and get with the program. It's past time to incorporate IDP
(Individual Defensive Players), into your personal leagues.
IDPs increase the realism of our chosen hobby and make it complete.
If you like to crunch statistics, then you get 50% more stats to
crunch. If you are the type of football fan who enjoys the bone
jarring hit, then the bone jarring hit provides your fantasy football
squad with additional points. It makes watching the NFL games more
enjoyable, because you become enamored with viewing the contest
closely on both sides of the ball. It is a win/win situation for
all fantasy football enthusiasts.
Although I have participated in fantasy football for 14 seasons,
this is my first year of incorporating IDPs into my fantasy football
experience. I have participated in several IDP type drafts during
this off-season. They have all been a lot more intense than a standard
offensive player (team defense) only draft. I have thoroughly enjoyed
the nuances that come with rating and incorporating defensive players
into my overall fantasy football strategies.
My personal "Homeboy" league has resisted implementation
of IDPs for a couple of seasons now. I feel we have really missed
the boat. One reason for us being so hard headed, is the statistical
upkeep. We felt it would be too much to handle. Now with IDPs becoming
more popular the statistics are easy to find and many league commissioning
software's can do the tabulating for you.
Statistical buckets utilized in IDP fantasy football vary from league
to league, but here are some of the common ones:
- Tackles (Both Solo & Assists)
- Forced Fumbles
- Fumble Recoveries
Points for each of these buckets vary from league to league, but
in most scenarios you want to think tackles. Tackles remain fairly
consistent while interceptions & forced fumbles can vary widely
from season to season. Thus, part of the strategy and appeal of
IDP fantasy football.
For example, Derrick Brooks had 4 scores last season on defense.
What are his chances of duplicating said feat in 2003? Was it an
anomaly, or is Derrick Brooks a player whom is around the football
& makes things happen? This is only part of the overall picture
you will need to analyze when ranking Mr. Brooks in 2003. Sounds
like fun stuff - yes?
Before I start the next section of this article, please let me provide
you with a disclaimer. I am only trying to provide you with a thumbnail
sketch of IDP strategy. IF you decide to become involved in or convert
to an IDP scenario, then you will need to structure your strategies
to mirror your individual league scoring rules. Here are what I
have found to be the basics. The commentary is supplied by Dr.Football
- an experienced IDPer with several years of playing fantasy football
in that format.
Middle Linebackers (MLB) are GOLD in IDP fantasy football. Linebackers
are the defensive equivalent to running backs. They are stationed
in the perfect location on the football field to produce a lot of
tackles. Think Brian Urlacher & Keith Brooking in this scenario.
These two players are tackling machines that rack up a lot of points.
In a 3-4 alignment, players like Ray Lewis & Jamie Sharper are
also very attractive. Next in the pecking order are weak side linebacker
(WLB), followed by strong side linebackers. (SSLB) A strong side
LB has an extra blocker (TE) to contend with which tends to make
them the least attractive option in most cases.
Doc's Commentary ~ In a standard
league, the running back is the dominant position for most owners.
Without exaggeration, 80% of the players taken in the first two
rounds of any draft are running backs. The reasons are obvious to
most. Ever heard of the "Stud RB Theory"? Well, once you
enter the realm of IDP, it doesn't take long to realize that the
middle linebacker is the "RB" of the defense. Rick's 100%
correct on this point.
Of the Top 15 IDP Linebackers last year, 10 were MLBs (middle),
4 were WLBs (weak side) and 1 was a SLB (strong side). Of the
non-middle linebackers who made the cut, only 1 had more than
100 solo tackles (Keith Bulluck). The others (Derrick Brooks,
Lavar Arrington, Joey Porter and Eric Barton), were propelled
into the Top 15 ranking because of their sack and/or TD totals.
Arrington led the group with 11 sacks and Brooks led the group
with 4 TDs.
Note: IDP Scoring used for
this analysis was a high performance model from the REM Expert
Strong safeties (SS) should be your targets when building your
defensive secondary. Safeties tend to have higher tackle numbers
than CBs. Think tackles! Like I said previously, interceptions
vary dramatically from season to season. In addition, cornerbacks
(CB) are normally locked up on wide receivers, while safeties
have a lot more freedom to fill the box during running downs resulting
in higher tackle numbers.
Avoid shutdown cornerback types. There is a rookie cornerback
theory, which suggests they will be tested frequently & put
up solid numbers early in their careers. However, if they prove
themselves to be a true shutdown corner, then all bets are off.
If the NFL quarterbacks and offensive coordinators are avoiding
them, then so should you.
Doc's Commentary ~ The statistical
numbers for defensive backs will change dramatically, depending
on the scoring system of your league. One scoring category that
Rick did not mention is "passes defensed". If your league
uses this category, several cornerbacks will jump into your Top
15 ranked defensive backs. Last year, CB Brian Kelly and CB Dre'
Bly both fell into this category with 21 passes defensed each.
While Rick's take on strong safeties is accurate, don't be
too quick to overlook the free safety position. While they won't
give you as many tackles, they will give you more interceptions,
because of the nature of the position. For several free safeties,
that will be enough to place them in the Top 15 DBs. Again, you'll
have to look at your league's scoring system.
When considering defensive lineman (DL), think tackles & sacks.
Even though sacks are a very important consideration with defensive
lineman, there are some DLs who only enter the game on passing
downs. Therefore they do not tend to help your tackle output.
Target every down DLs when you have the option to do so. Sack
numbers are usually generated from the defensive end (DE) position
or the edge. While there are some defensive tackles (DT) that
will provide statistical output in the sack category, they are
few & far between. Look for defensive ends with consistent
tackle/sack totals for your defensive line. With that said, do
not totally ignore the interior lineman, as there are a handful
that put up decent tackling statistics. If you feel the sack guys
are running thin during your draft, then by all means take a look
at some defensive tackles with high tackle numbers & sack
Doc's Commentary ~ Big names
- forget em. Warren Sapp, LaRoi Glover, "Big Daddy"
forget em already. They will not produce fantasy
numbers for your team. For fantasy results, think speed and play
making ability. The big boys in the middle of a 4-3 defense, are
there to clog things up and push the play to the outside. In IDP
fantasy football, you'll need a fast defensive end. Think - Jason
Taylor or Simeon Rice. That's where you'll find the real big boys!
Now to throw you really off
Can the top ranked DL score
as many points as the top LB or DB? The answer will surprise you,
but yes they can come very close! Again, depending on your scoring
system, a Top 3 defensive lineman can score almost as many points
as a Top 3 linebacker or defensive back. The big difference is
this - there is a larger drop off in talent level for the DL category
than the others. Once you get past the first 6 or 7 defensive
linemen, it's over. Forget em and move on to filling out your
LBs and DBs.
Note: IDP Scoring used for
this analysis was a high performance model from the REM Expert
In closing, the main reason I wrote this article was NOT to throw
the kitchen sink at you in an effort to make you an IDP expert.
I feel I have outlined some very basic stuff here to whet your
appetite. There are many additional factors that require consideration
when rating defensive players. There are also many different scoring
systems to consider. Any prospective league pondering the addition
of IDPs will have to ascertain how deep they are willing to jump.
Speaking from a minimum of experience, I would incorporate at
least 1 DL, 1 LB, & 1 DB into your league for the upcoming
season. I think with this minimal approach it will give you some
insight on how much extra challenge IDPs pose when implementing
them into your draft strategy. I am attempting to get fantasy
football enthusiasts whom have been sitting on the IDP fence to
crossover. IF you consider yourself a hardcore fantasy football
junkie, then you absolutely need to incorporate them into your
fantasy football experience. IF you don't, then in my mind you
simply aren't a hardcore fantasy football junkie. Just one viewpoint,
please don't shoot the messenger.
Doc's Commentary ~ I would
certainly suggest that you jump in with both feet. Most IDP leagues
start 2 DL, 3 LBs and 3 DBs. If you go with the minimum numbers,
the talent pool will be too deep and strategy will not play as
pivotal a role. With a standard 12 team league, there will be
plenty enough full time starters to meet the requirements of starting
start 2 DL, 3 LBs and 3 DBs. Consider that in the NFL right now,
there are 128 starting DL, 96 starting LBs and 128 starting DBs.
More than enough to go around.
:: comments to kirk
Rick Hawes is a staff writer for FantasyAsylum.com
and has fourteen years of fantasy football experience. Kirk "Dr.Football"
Bouyelas is the co-owner of FantasyAsylum.com. Kirk originally founded
Dr.Football. This off-season, FantasyAsylum.com merged with Komments.com,
DrFootball.com and David Grey's Fantasy Football Report, to form
the new and improved: FantasyAsylum.com.