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If you’re looking for a good way to avoid depression in the month following the Super Bowl, I recommend holding a Winter Meeting for your league. This is a perfect opportunity to meet up with your league-mates, award the championship trophy, and deliver your oft-rehearsed excuse why your team didn’t make the playoffs. (Pro-Tip: If your champion won some sort of monetary prize, this is likely your best chance to get that owner to buy you drinks, as they will be flush with cash and in a good mood.)

It’s also a great time to discuss rule changes for the upcoming season. Will we eliminate kickers? (YES!) Will we award extra points for RBs who break 100 yards (NO!) Will we use individual defensive players? (HMMM…). That last question is complicated, and cannot be answered in one word. In fact, I’m about to spend 1200 words discussing just that question: Should your league be using IDPs?

Adding defensive players to your league is not for the faint of heart. Roster sizes will increase by only a few slots, yet the amount of players available will more than double, and you will now have to grasp the significance of stats like Assisted Tackles and Passes Defended. These changes may seem overwhelming, but in reality, defense in fantasy football is a lot like offense. Over the course of the offseason, I will be outlining IDP Strategy, breaking down rookie prospects, and discussing scheme changes, but today is all about selling the concept of IDP itself. Here are a few reasons why your league should include defensive players.

If you’re reading this site in February, you clearly care about fantasy more than the average owner.

I would never recommend IDP for a league full of fantasy noobs, as it takes most owners a few years before they learn not to draft their kicker before the last round, let alone worrying about defensive players. But if you care enough about this fake sport of ours to be looking at Razzball during the off-season, then you seem like the kind of person who would enjoy IDP leagues. Either that or you’re looking for Grey’s 2013 baseball projections, in which case you’re a little lost.

IDP Leagues have more in-season trades and moves, so the draft is not the end of the excitement.

There is nothing like the anticipation leading up to a fantasy draft. Will I get the sleeper I want? Will I get laughed at for picking a player whose already been taken? Do I have a list of insults for my league-mates prepared? The draft is like Christmas for fantasy owners, except that you don’t have to listen to your drunk uncle’s story about seeing a real reindeer for the 500th time.

But once both Christmas and your draft are over, you have to wait another year before you get to feel that excitement again. Sure there are ways to spice things up during the season, switching to FAAB waivers instead of standard, drafting a fantasy basketball team, taking up parkour, but none of it compares to selecting players that you will monitor over the course of a football season.

The best way to keep the excitement level up in your league is to encourage plenty of roster moves, and IDP makes this both easier and necessary. Sure there are trades and waiver wire gems in offense-only leagues, but that increases exponentially in IDP leagues. Not sure if you can get Calvin Johnson for CJ Spiller? Throw in a high-upside defensive player like Von Miller and it might seal the deal. Did one of your starting DBs go down with a concussion? The waiver wire will be full of guys like Janoris Jenkins who can be inserted into your starting lineup and make you look smart.

When you think about it, Team D/ST kind of sucks.

Is there anything worse than outscoring your opponent going into Monday Night Football, only to lose because their D/ST returns a punt for a TD and gets a pick-six of a tipped pass? Even if you benefit from such random luck, you can’t really take pride in your “victory.” Many teams rode the Bears D/ST to a #1 overall seed this year, only to see them put up a combined 11 points in Weeks 14 and 15. Those same owners got to watch wistfully as the Bears put up 2 TDs in Week 16, while their teams were already eliminated from the playoffs.

Defensive players will score fluke TDs as well, but the scoring weight is not nearly as great as compared to Team Defense. The TD to Sack ratio in standard Team D scoring is 6:1, while in IDP it is typically only 2:1 or less. This rewards more consistent players and more predictable stats, just like the offensive side of the ball. Return TDs still play a part, and that is why players like Patrick Peterson have some extra value, but they don’t wreak the same havoc as they do from Team D/ST.

IDP gives you more chances to watch the players on your fantasy team.

If your team has Tom Brady or Dez Bryant, you’ll get the pleasure of watching your guys on TV as they rack up the points every week. If you have Trent Richardson or Vincent Jackson? You’re stuck following online updates and watching highlights. One of the underrated benefits of IDP leagues is that you have more chances to actually watch your players play.

It also helps if your favorite NFL team has a terrible offense.

If you’re a fan of a team like the Jets or the Jaguars, drafting one of your favorite team’s offensive players to your fantasy team is an exercise in futility. Watching Dwayne Bowe waste away on your bench as the Chiefs cruise towards another top-10 pick can make a frustrating season even worse. But anemic offenses often provide increased opportunities on the defensive side of the ball, because their inability to pick up first downs keeps the defense on the field for long stretches. In fact, the Jets, Cardinals, Raiders and Rams put up 7 top-10 IDP options at their respective positions in 2012. It won’t make up for watching the likes of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer attempt to throw the ball, but seeing Daryl Washington put up over 100 tackles and 9 sacks is somewhat of a silver lining during a miserable season in Arizona.

If you can make it through your first season, you’ve done the hard part.

As I said before, IDP is not for everyone. It can be discouraging to draft stars like Darrelle Revis and DeMarcus Ware and wonder why they’re not scoring as much as Cary Williams and Paul Posluszny. As with anything, practice makes perfect. In some leagues, IDP is adopted for a season, and then dropped because owners didn’t “get it.” But I’ve found that with each year of experience, the understanding and appreciation of IDP strategy grows, just like on the offensive side of the ball. So when you hear that the Saints hired Rob Ryan, you don’t immediately invest in beignet stock, you add David Hawthorne to your 2013 sleeper list, as the 3-4 scheme will boost his value.

So my challenge to you, loyal Razzball reader, is to add IDP to one of your existing leagues, or join an IDP league in 2013. The worst that could happen is that you feel slightly overwhelmed in one league, while learning more about JJ Watt than you ever wanted to know. Base case scenario? You become yet another advocate of the #NoTeamD movement.

1 Response

  1. Sky

    Sky says:
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    I’m actually giving IDPs a chance this year. Should be fun in a ‘I don’t know what I’m doing and plan to get killed’ sort of way.

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