2014 In-Season Accuracy: 57.0% (3rd out of 20 Experts, 58.4% Highest, 48.1% Lowest).

If you’re still reading these posts, you either made your Championship game, play in an ill-advised 17-week league, or spend far too much time thinking about the intricacies of IDP fantasy football. Regardless of your motivations, I congratulate you for making it this far. In a season that has been marked by untimely injuries to highly drafted stars as well as surprising breakouts from previous no-names, it’s been easy to ignore the absolute domination of J.J. Watt. From an IDP perspective, he was the first man off the board in most drafts, so me talking about him every week would be like Jay telling you to start Peyton Manning or Jamaal Charles. But let’s not ignore the fact that Watt has now reeled off a ridiculous three straight seasons as the #1 DL, and he’s put up top 10 overall IDP numbers in that time. Most DLs will have a breakout season, followed by opposing offenses adjusting, performances regressing, etc. If anything, Watt has gotten better.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

2014 In-Season Accuracy: 56.4% (4th out of 21 Experts, 59.3% Highest, 45.9% Lowest).

This season has felt like a warzone on the IDP front, with more highly-drafted players going down to serious injuries than any year in recent memory. I’ve been dwelling on this fact since we all lost Derrick Johnson in Week 1, but as bittersweet as it can be, injuries can often create the kind of opportunities that allow sharp owners to capitalize and ultimately win championships. The playoffs have just begun, but the ripple effect of injuries has already been felt all over the IDP landscape. Of the top 10 IDP scorers in Week 14, only 1 of them was the top player at their position on their own team heading into the season. And only one other player was likely even drafted. Let’s take a closer look at these guys and see if we can learn anything:

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2014 In-Season Accuracy: 57.0% (2nd out of 21 Experts, 59.8% Highest, 46.0% Lowest).

Week 14 marks either last the week of the regular season or the first week of the playoffs, depending on your style. Either way, we’ve reached the can’t-lose portion of the season. Apologies for abandoning you all during the playoff push, but I’m back from Argentina, full of steak and wine and empanadas, and ready to do nothing but watch football (not futbol, which I had to put up with for the last 2 weeks).

Because the upcoming games will likely dictate how much you enjoy the next 9 months, it’s time to re-wire your brain for the playoffs. Preseason assumptions stopped being meaningful long ago, but even players we thought we knew 2 weeks ago might not be the same. You obviously know that Chris Borland is an IDP god sent here to wreak havoc on all that he touches. But there are some other players who aren’t as much of a sure thing, and that can be dangerous in the playoffs. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

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2014 In-Season Accuracy: 59.0% (2nd out of 21 Experts, 61.0% Highest, 45.5% Lowest).

On the offensive side of fantasy football, it’s a common debate about whether it’s a good or bad strategy to pair up a QB and WR on the same team. Some argue that it’s great because you get double the points for every TD, while others say it’s twice as bad when that team has a bad week. I’m not hear to offer my opinion on that particular discussion, but in the IDP world there is a similar debate: Is it a good idea to pair up two players from the same team that play the same position? Let’s take a closer look.

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2014 In-Season Accuracy: 59.6% (2nd out of 21 Experts, 61.8% Highest, 46.6% Lowest).

In a year that has seen more than its share of devastating injuries, IDP owners everywhere have been scrambling to fill holes left by their “sure-thing” draft picks. While some of those replacements have shown flashes at times (Jelani Jenkins, Jasper Brinkley), they have yet to truly dominate statistically like we saw in Week 9. The top three scoring IDPs for the week were Jacquian Williams, Chris Borland and K.J. Wright, all of whom got their starting jobs thanks to injuries to more proven commodities. We even saw huge weeks in big-play leagues from guys like James Harrison and Whitney Mercilus, who weren’t even really on the radar. Performances like these are often very difficult to see coming, but if you pull the right string, the payoff can be enormous. With another IDP mainstay down for the year (see you next year DeMeco), there is yet another opportunity to look towards an unproven backup (this time Casey Matthews) with a chance to shine.

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2014 In-Season Accuracy: 59.3% (4th out of 22 Experts, 62.3% Highest, 42.6% Lowest).

In this space we typically just talk defense, and for good reason. Offensive players are covered ad nauseam on literally every other page on the Internet. I try to provide a safe haven for IDP owners to come and rejoice in the beauty of the solo tackle, and mourn the losses of beloved friends like Derrick Johnson and Paul Pozluszny. But IDP fantasy football doesn’t exist in a silo, and in order to maximize your lineup’s potential, we occasionally need to think about the other side of the ball.

Early on in the season, playing matchups is a bit of a fool’s errand. Teams are still struggling to establish their identity, starting lineups can be fluid, and one game can have an outsized impact on stat lines. But now that we’re two months into the season, using matchups to help inform lineup decisions can be a valuable tool.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at teams that have been the best (and worst) matchups for each IDP position.

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2014 In-Season Accuracy: 59.3% (4th out of 20 Experts, 61.9% Highest, 43.9% Lowest).

I hate to start off with yet another injury, but the loss of Paul Posluszny for the season with a torn pectoral muscle (along with the same injury to Brian Orakpo, do you guys even lift?), leaves the IDP world with yet another stud down for the count. I’ll talk replacements in a second, but I want to take a second to talk about the brilliance of Poz. He’s played on terrible teams for his entire career, yet he’s been an IDP stud ever since he cracked the starting lineup. And by terrible teams, I mean really, really terrible. Like his teams have never even been .500 and their winning percentage during his career is .305, including this year. This is yet another reason why playing in IDP leagues is fun, because even when you’re forced to watch Blake Bortles literally learn the game of football in front of your eyes, you still can enjoy a ball hawk linebacker destroying opposing RBs and giving your team valuable points. Get well soon Poz.

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2014 In-Season Accuracy: 57.7% (3rd out of 21 Experts, 60.6% Highest, 44.5% Lowest).

We are now six weeks into the NFL season, a time when most fantasy squads should be officially locking down their rotations and planning for bye weeks. Instead, we are dealing with a run of major injuries the likes of which have not been seen for a long time. Losing guys like Sean Lee and Navorro Bowman before the season was bad enough, but since Week 1 we’ve lost guys like Derrick Johnson, Stephen Tulloch, Tyvon Branch and Jairus Byrd. Things continued to get worse last week, with Jerod Mayo going down for the year with a leg injury, and honestly IDPs everywhere have to be afraid that they’re next. Even the seemingly indestructible J.J. Watt looks vulnerable to a hamstring injury if he keeps running for long TD returns.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

2014 In-Season Accuracy: 59.9% (2nd out of 21 Experts, 63.4% Highest, 43.1% Lowest).

Now that each team has played at least four games, we have somewhat of a sample size, at least by NFL standards. One or two big plays can still make a scrub look like a stud (Danny Lansanah anyone?), but in general the guys at the top of each position have earned their spot. So what do they all have in common? Tackles. The most consistent IDP stat doesn’t always, or ever, make headlines, but it does win championships. It’s the reason I was high on David Harris, should have been higher on Paul Worrilow, and was not high on Von Miller or Clay Matthews. If you see a fluke 3-sack or 2-interception game from a n0-name, it can likely be ignored. If you see a guy like Jelani Jenkins put up 14 tackles? Pick him up!

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2014 In-Season Accuracy: 62.7% (2nd out of 21 Experts, 65.8% Highest, 43.6% Lowest).

The lede this week is, of course, an homage to one of my favorite childhood shows Keenan & Kel. After pairing on this show, All That, and the criminally underrated 1997 film Good Burger (Sinbad, Abe Vigoda AND Carmen Electra?), Keenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell unfortunately went their separate ways, Keenan to an improbably long career on SNL, and Kel to do the voice of the bulldog on Clifford the Big Red Dog. What does this have to do with IDPs you ask? Well another Keenan is making an improbable rise to the top, this time in Washington.

Please, blog, may I have some more?