In the trenches of their team defenses, linemen can be the key to your IDP draft. Until I’m blue in the face I will say it over and over again: make sure you know your scoring system. Do you want a lineman with a high sack upside or someone in the interior who will produce tackles? Does your league separate out DE/Edge and DT? Does the hosting site have TJ Watt and Shaq Barrett as linebackers or Edge rusher? It’s simple to state that you need to know your rules but you’d be surprised at the number of fantasy players that don’t. Another aspect of drafting IDPs is how does their scoring compare to their offensive counterparts? This will help you decide when to jump into the defensive side of your draft. For those starting out with IDP, I’ll be covering draft strategies in upcoming articles and you’ll find out why you may want to prioritize this position over the more popular linebackers.

My rankings are based on a balanced scoring system (3:1 ratio of big play points to tackle points). If your league leans big play or tackle heavy, then some adjustments may be necessary.  

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I know you’ve been on the edge of your seats waiting for the second half of my linebacker rankings to drop.  Well probably not but since you probably have to draft more than 2 in 12 team leagues, this should be useful.  We see the debut of three rookies for those who asked “Where are the rookies?” in response to my top 25.  We have three tiers here in the second 25 because, well, the differences between these players start to get smaller.  

Remember in leagues where you are starting two linebackers, these are all bench guys/bye week fillers if you were smart enough to take two of my top 25.  Here you want to look for upside if you took players towards the end of the top 25 or you just don’t agree with my rankings. If you took Darius Leonard, look for a guy who has a great matchup in week 7 because, well, you’re not benching him. Ever.  Or you can just go with the boring guy like Matt Milano who will give you tackles week in and week out.

 

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If you play in an IDP league, you already know that linebackers are the bread and butter of defensive scoring.  If you are trying to learn about IDPs or deciding whether to convince your fellow league mates to switch from the hum-drum team defense to the dynamic scoring of individual defensive players, this is a good place to start.  We’ll start with the top 25 linebackers and then cover 25-50 and the top 50 at DL and DB.

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Whenever you see an overall ranking for IDP leagues, linebackers will dominate the list.  Some will have the top 10-20 players be linebackers and that would be true if you only based the rankings on projected points, but draft strategy has to come into play.  As in your offensive player part of the draft, position scarcity and tiers come into play.  There is a large core of players in each of the three positions that don’t vary much, but the start of each of these cores varies greatly between positions.  

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Individual defensive player (IDP) leagues have been around for a long time.  I’ve been playing in one for over 15 years, but why are they so scarce?  “I don’t have time for that” “It’s too complicated” “Makes the draft too long” are the excuses you hear by those who don’t play in this format.  These excuses come from the same people who will play in a 50 round dynasty league in both baseball and football.  It’s not that difficult and adds a level of competition that goes beyond picking a team defense.  Your league can make it as simple or as complicated as it wants.  Start with the basics and tweak each year as the owners in your league get more comfortable with the format.  

Please, blog, may I have some more?