One of the keys to IDP leagues is knowing your scoring system. They are sort of like dates, whether it be a guy or girl, they all have the same two chromosomes, but they can all be vastly different. If you’re just starting out playing in an IDP league this is the most important thing to know before you draft. Your rankings will be highly dependent on the scoring system so do not go into it blindly with some list of rankings.

The scoring for IDP generally breaks down into three categories, similar to standard and PPR scoring for offense, and they are based on the ratio of points given to tackles and “big plays”. Balanced scoring systems will have a ratio of big play to solo tackle points of 3:1 to 4:1.  If it’s above 4:1, the scoring is considered ‘big play heavy” and if it’s less than 3:1, it’s “tackle heavy”.

I’ve played in an IDP league for about 15 years and it’s big play heavy.  So what I’ve done is look at two other scoring systems and compared the players who finished 1-25 in my league with how they would finish in the other scoring systems.  It’s obviously not the complete picture, but it gives you an idea of the types of players that are favored in each format. I used the scoring from Fantasy Pros to use as our “tackle heavy” format as their big play to tackle ration is a little less than 3:1.  For the balanced approach I used the IDP 123 system from Expand the Boxscore’s Jordan Rains.  The scoring categories included are Solo Tackles, Assisted Tackles, Sacks, Forced Fumbles, Recovered Fumbles, Interceptions, Passes Defensed, and TDs. Each player’s stats are from MyFantasyLeague.  The scoring systems points are in the chart below.

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If you’ve never played in an IDP league you probably have one major question. When do you start taking defensive players in your draft? With July’s arrival the fantasy draft season starts to ramp up and we can take a look at early ADP. The linebacker position is your bread and butter when it comes to consistent fantasy scoring and finding value here can allow you to take a top defensive lineman early in your draft.  

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As we all know there are many ways to skin a cat and drafting your fantasy football team is no different. Don’t draft a QB early. Zero RB strategy. Grab at least 2 RBs in the first 3 rounds. Which one is right? Well the one that wins of course as each season presents us with different options depending on trends in the NFL. With IDP leagues becoming more and more popular and many trying them out for the first time, what are some strategies that will help you win?

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Defensive backs are like the kickers of IDP leagues.  There really aren’t too many players that need to be picked early in your drafts.  They are also like tight ends after the first 5 or so where streaming on a week to week basis can be the way to go based on the weekly matchup.  Outside of some top end safeties who rack up tackles, guessing who will finish near the top of DB scoring is a crap shoot.  In tackle heavy scoring systems it’s a little easier to go after safeties, but in big play leagues, trying to predict who will garner interceptions, passes defensed, and sacks from this position is tough. A typical drafting strategy for DBs in IDP leagues is to wait and here’s why.

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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.  

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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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