You down with IDP?
The fantasy team defense is dead. Not quite as poignant as Nas’s take on Hip Hop, but if you dare to venture for a more organic form of fake pigskin explore picking defensive players individually. Odds are if you’re reading this you’re either already in an IDP league or at least thinking of making the switch (or just accidentally pulled this post up while surfing for the definition of rugged individualism: Smarty McSmart Ass); if so, kudos on all levels.
IDP leagues instantly make both sides of the ball more intriguing. Victory fist pumps that typically spill your Sunkist, Pepto and Dewars mixer are not limited to only rushing/passing/receiving TDs, but now occur during big tackles, forced fumbles and passes that are batted down with a subsequently unwarranted celebration.
The Score (credit the Fugees)
Scoring choices are essential to making the IDP format relevant. Think of your fantasy football defensive players like a fantasy baseball pitching staff and one day it will all make sense. It pays to attempt to weigh defensive player scoring on par with that of their offensive counterparts. For instance, think about allotting the following points system to “even the playing field” without upsetting Congressman Ron Paul too egregiously:
As you can see, this scoring now makes it tough to pass up on elite defensive stallions early in the draft really turning tradition on its melon. I realize scoring is like religious worship in most leagues, so this might appear blasphemous. Repent! Change doesn’t happen overnight, unless you’re Jose Bautista or Ashley Simpson, but one could argue that drafting a team comprised of offensive and defensive players is a purer virtual sporting experience. Get your geek on. I suggest roster’ing at least 2 Linebackers, 2 Defensive Backs, 2 Defensive Linemen, and 1 flex defensive player. Obviously, the world is yours in terms of roster spots and scoring settings just painting a picture for you to interpret as something between utter frustration and tongue-tied euphoria. Let’s talk players.
3 Yards High and Rising
The most sought-after, consistent draft day targets in the IDP ring of fire: the ‘backers. These dudes anchor the singular defensive player vessel.
- Patrick Willis (SF) – The best Jerry, the best.
- Jon Beason (CAR) – An old friend from “The U” with oodles of upside and track record. Not a soul on this planet will think you’re bonkers selecting this guy as number one, as he’s slated to fill his old spot on the field.
- Jerod Mayo (NE) – Too high? Nah, the guy is young fast and primed to step into the elite conversation (led league in tackles). Interior double teams on Haynesworth or Big Vince Wilfork increase value on draft day just as Miracle Whip does on a boloney sandwich.
- Lawrence Timmons (PIT) – Versatile sideline-to-sideline speed demon that gets a bump in leagues that reward passes defended given his role in Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme. Additionally, Larry has added some muscular bulk to help shed blockers like golden retriever fur.
- Ray Lewis (BAL)/James Harrison (PIT) – Two crazed and productive veteran defenders of the gridiron. Caveats come up when discussing potential helmet shot suspensions OR that thing called age, but I’m not betting against these guys until I see further evidence to disprove their nastiness.
The Get Backs
In the defensive backfield these hawk-eyed ball magnets are worth a starting look, but one thing to note with D-backs is that value can be found very late. Late, as in 1962 homerun derby on ESPN Classic 3:30 am late.
- Eric Berry (KC) – This is quite high, yes, yes it is. Look for a big step forward for Mr. does-it-all-and-does-it-all-well (10 tackles and 4 passes batted in ’11 Wild Card game vs. the Ravens).
- Terrell Thomas (NYG) — Had to insert a corner that always gets picked on and can tackle a bit (101 total tackles and 21 passes batted). Foreshadowing to another post: when in doubt pick cornerbacks that QBs will throw at often; also known as the “Adventure Islanders” , which is a LOST plane crash away from Revis Island.
- LaRon Landry (WAS) – Great speed combined with the Redskin defense being anatomically attached to the field this year makes LaRon kind of a big deal in IDP formats; even though he’s an injury concern (Achilles issue).
- T.J Ward (CLE) – The Browns defense will be called on frequently and without an elite linebacker Mr. Ward will be as busy as Micky Ward after his hiatus (123 total tackles in ’10).
- Patrick Chung (NE) – Ball flocking, Shaolin Chung-fu safety that can explode for huge points at any moment. The biggest top 5 stretch of the bunch, but Pat knows how to pack a punch.
It Takes a Nation of Guards and Tackles to Hold Us Back
Elite defensive linemen are hard to find in the IDP draft room, seems odd given their size doesn’t it? The guys below ruffle up the pocket more than the Costanza wallet.
- Justin Tuck (NYG) – Tuck doesn’t give a flying dash of an eyelash about the Quarterback, therefore he strips the ball (6 FF in ‘10) and tackles them behind the line of scrimmage repeatedly (12 sacks in ’10).
- Jared Allen (MIN) – Silencing critics that said he was more of a menace in noisy Minnesota (7 sacks at home and 5 sacks away in ‘10), the mullet-ed mauler is a fool-proof option in your DL spot throughout the season.
- Osi (NYG/Somewhere in America) — Causing fumbles (10 FF in ’10) is Osi’s specialization, and when he majors in it he challenges (former?) teammate Tuck for d-lineman valedictorian. Should Osi flee the New York Football Giants his value will theoretically fluctuate, but given the Everest-esque drop off in DL contributors I don’t think he falls any lower than 5.
- Suh (DET) – Warren Sapp’s heir apparent blows things up inside similar to the @qbkilla himself (10 sacks in ’10). Hit the draft button/slap the felt-tipped maker against the whiteboard stolen from your office and just keep him active.
- Julius Peppers (CHI) — The former Carolina Tar Heel and Panther is still a force to be reckoned with in 2011. Peppers is a clear-cut number 1 option in the IDP trenches, but has known to disappear from time-to-time (5 games with 3 or less tackles and no sacks in ‘10).
That’s installment 1. Hate it or love it, we at least had some face-scrunching album references. Next time we talk IDP sleepers and cobble together even better allusions.