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If you’re looking for a good way to avoid depression in the months between the NFL Draft and Fantasy Draft Season, I recommend getting your league(s) together 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. Between now and Week 1, I will be outlining IDP Strategy, ranking players by position, 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:

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It’s been hot as hell for two months here in Texas, but the rest of the country seems to consider Memorial Day Weekend as the kickoff of the summer. The NFL is no different apparently, as it’s using the start of bikini season to get rid of those excess LBs. In this case, I’m talking about Sean Lee and Daryl Washington, but Andy Reid and the Ryan brothers can always stand to drop some weight. Let’s take a look at how the loss of two studs for the season affects the IDP landscape for 2014:

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I’ve seen several articles talk about winners and losers based on last weekend’s Draft. The winners typically include Matthew Stafford, EJ Manuel, and the NFL for getting higher ratings than the NBA playoffs for an event that is months removed from the next game-day. I’m going the other way on this one. The winner of the Draft in my mind was clearly Elton John. I’m not sure what type of rights deal he negotiated with Aloe Blacc, but I’m sure Sir Elton benefited from this weekend’s festivities as much as Emperor Goodell did.

From an IDP perspective, despite the first overall pick being on the defensive side of the ball, and a record number of DBs going on Thursday night, the people most impacted by the draft are the existing veterans in the league. More so even than on offense, defensive rookies’ fantasy value is heavily tied to the team that picks them. Other than a few elite players, and sometimes even including them, situation matters more than talent. Before apparently lighting up a fat one, Josh Gordon lit up the league the last two years while playing on a terrible team without a legitimate professional QB. On the flip side, Dont’a Hightower (taken 25th overall the same year Gordon was picked in the Supplemental Draft), has toiled away in a crowded New England LB corps.  Hightower will get his chance this year, but his owners have had to show tremendous patience, with very little to show for it thus far.

So as I run through the big names taken in this year’s draft, keep in mind that they will likely take multiple years to make an IDP impact, and their most immediate effect will likely be on the veterans that they are either complementing or trying to replace.

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Now that the dust has settled on the annual money grab that is NFL Free Agency, it’s time to take a step back and see how it affects IDP leagues. As is often the case, the biggest headlines on ESPN don’t have much impact on the IDP world (I’m looking at you Revis), but there are some significant change that took place. Whether you are in a dynasty league and taking stock of your current roster, or you’re just addicted to IDP and want to adjust your way-too-early 2014 rankings, here is what you need to know:

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Over the past couple of months, you’ve seen the rankings, you’ve seen the sleepers, you’ve seen the busts, and you’ve seen the NSFW Blurred Lines video. Now you’re ready to do two things: Draft and Google Image search Emily Ratajkowski with SafeSearch off. I’ll give you a minute…okay welcome back. Now you’re ready to do one thing: Draft.

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As we come to the conclusion of the Razzball IDP Sleepers and Busts series, we get to the toughest position to project. For that reason, it is imperative that you avoid picking a bust, especially early. There is just too much depth every year at DB to reach for a guy like Morgan Burnett or Harrison Smith.

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I already went over my (admittedly vague) definition of a Sleeper and Bust in the Defensive Line version of this article, but it’s worth revisiting. A sleeper is someone who will significantly outperform their draft position, allowing you to improve your team at other positions, while a bust is someone who will essentially do the opposite.

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It’s always tough to determine what makes a player a sleeper or a bust during the preseason. JJ Watt was being drafted as a top 10 DL last year, but he finished as the #1 DL by a wide margin, so did that make him a sleeper? Jared Allen, on the other hand, was typically the first or second DL off the board, yet finished at DL16 for the season, so did that make him a bust? This question is best answered by looking at opportunity cost.

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