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.

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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.

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2014 In-Season Accuracy: 60.8% (7th out of 23 Experts, 64.5% Highest, 42.8% Lowest)

Week 3 Results: 61.4% (6th out of 24 Experts, 65.0% Highest, 44.5% Lowest)

After a week off with post-wedding festivities, I’m snapping back to reality this week with a look at the contenders and pretenders so far in 2014. We’ve seen breakouts from no-names, bounce-backs from fallen stars and a flurry of injuries ranging from torn Achilles to disastrous Discount Double Checks. So what’s real and what’s not? Let’s take a closer look and see.

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This is weekend is the most important one of my life. Not because I’m 0-1 in 4/6 leagues, but because I’m getting married. So before I use and abuse this topic as a gimmick for my article this week, I also want to stress the importance of this weekend to all of you. Not because your resident IDP writer is about to have his own Mrs. IDP, er, forget I mentioned that, but because Week 2 is the time to make moves! Week 1 had countless injuries and disappointments, but it also had breakouts and stud performances.

So using my impending nuptials as a theme, let’s take a look back at last weekend…

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I spent the last two weeks combining my apartment and my fiancee’s apartment into one, just so I could be prepared for Week One of the NFL season. I sat around waiting on the DirecTV guy for four long hours just to be told, immediately, that the satellite dish wouldn’t work on my balcony. While he was discussing the finer points of the southern sky, I had a terrible realization: I’m about to spend the next 17 Sundays with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tony Romo, and the occasional Drew Brees sprinkled in just to taunt me. Mind you, I am a Miami fan, so it’s not like I’m used to excellent quarterbacking, but this is ‘Murika. I expect freedom!

After a bottle of bourbon and a good night’s sleep, I started trying to make the best of the situation. When life gives you Cleo Lemon, you make lemonade. I thought back to my own words about being stuck watching teams that you’re not interested in, and I realized that I get the pleasure of watching Watt and Clowney terrorize the league. I can see if my boy Anthony Hitchens can become a starting LB in Big D, while also laughing as Romo throws yet another pick to Antrel Rolle or DeAngelo Hall. And if I want to watch some offense, there’s always NFL RedZone.

So once again, that’s the beauty of IDP leagues. Even when you have a balcony that is apparently facing the wrong direction, you still don’t need to feel compelled to jump off it.

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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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