2014 Accuracy: 57.00% (3rd out of 20 Experts, Range: 58.40% – 48.10%).

After months and months of analysis, mock drafts, and ultimately the actual draft, it’s finally time to set your Week 1 lineup. There is nothing more alternately exciting and terrifying as having to make the choice between two players that you valued similarly at draft time. The rankings below will hopefully help make some of those choices, but given that this is the first week of actual football, the best plan is to keep things simple. Typically, the guy you drafted first is the guy you want to start this week. There will obviously be exceptions to that rule, mostly due to injuries or suspensions, but don’t overthink matchups at this point. Basing lineup decisions around matchups is difficult for IDPs in general, and even more so when all we have is training camp and preseason games to analyze. Instead, the goal is to simply get as many snaps for your guys as possible. I tend to play things safe in Week 1, going with someone I know will at least get me some points instead of a guy who could potentially throw up a goose egg and contribute to an 0-1 start…

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Every year ESPN has it’s Draft Day Manifesto, which is an entertaining read, but always rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s because that article assumes little to no fantasy football experience. It’s 2015, even my grandmother knows the basics of our beautiful game. It also could be the word “Manifesto” which just comes off as un-American to me, and conjures images of Marx and Lenin. So rather than rip off our well-funded competitor, I named my annual “post the same article but update it to reflect the league’s current landscape” column after a song by a different Lennon, albeit one who was still not a resident of the 50 states and may have also been a Communist. Hey, nobody’s perfect! Without further ado, here is my annual case for including IDPs in your fantasy football leagues:

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We’ve already tackled the draft and free agency, but there is one more facet of the IDP offseason that could potentially play the biggest role in altering a player’s value: scheme changes. When a team brings in a new Head Coach or coordinator, it’s a good bet that the new guy will want to imprint his own style on the team he’s inheriting. And while only seven teams changed their Head Coach since the 2014 season, a whopping 12 changed their Defensive Coordinators. Not all of these personnel changes will result in a true scheme change, but they all figure to have an effect on the opportunities presented to IDPs. It may take until training camp and the preseason to get a read on some situations, but there are other teams where we can already sense how things will look in Week One.

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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.

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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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What’s up all you IDP junkies? It’s J to the F-O-H here to cover Kevin while he is off in Argentina working on Kevin Jr.. I imagine him munching on a steak with some chimi-churri and sipping on some Quilmes. I will not be doing the rankings, that’s his thing (which will still be updated and found below), but I will be covering the RazzDP’s in lieu of his usual player highlights and buys. I have a confession, I am not as deeply knowledgeable as Kevin in this format, but I have been playing IDP leagues for about six years now. Now don’t get me wrong, I have strong IDP knowledge, just not as vast and kick-ass as Kevin. Strangely the RazzDP’s are only my second venture into standard scoring, for I always customize my leagues for more dynamic numbers and higher rewards. I prefer more love for quality defensive performances. But that’s another article where I lay out my preferred scoring for IDP players. Damn stupid tangent… or is that agenda? Please feel free to share any opinions about what kind of scoring you like. Or any other opinion about anything… as long as it’s clean.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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