Before I get started let me introduce myself as I am new to Razzball but not new to fantasy football, baseball, or even writing about them. First I’ve been playing these fake team games since 1991 (yes I’m no spring chicken) and about 18 months ago started writing about them when out of work on a leave of absence. From my pen name you may have guessed that my real job is an anesthesiologist although once again I’m out on leave due to this pandemic so I have a lot of time to write. Thanks to B_Don for introducing me to Donkey Teeth and getting me on board. Let’s get started with a brief intro of IDP leagues for those who haven’t played in one or are thinking about it.
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.
Typical leagues in fantasy football have between 16 and 20 roster spots. Adding IDPs would add as little as 8 rounds to your draft and considering most high stakes fantasy baseball leagues are 25-30 rounds, this is not going to be taxing. Why not add time to something you enjoy doing? Each team would roster three defensive lineman (DL), linebackers (LB) and defensive backs (DB) and start two at each position every week. Points awarded would be based upon tackles, sacks, interceptions, etc. and we’ll cover the specifics next. Can you be more creative? Of course, but why get complicated at first when you’ll probably get some push back from some of the owners in your league? Picking an entire defense is boring. It’s like buying a pack of football cards and never opening the pack to see what’s inside. Once you go IDP, you won’t go back.
A typical scoring system would be
Solo Tackle 1 pt
Assisted Tackle 0.5 pts
Sack 3 pts
Interception 3 pts
Forced Fumble 3 pts
Fumble Recovery 3 pts
Pass Defensed 2 pts
Safety 2 pts
Touchdown 6 pts
Scoring systems vary greatly in IDP leagues and this is critical when it comes to the strategy of who to pick and when to start targeting defensive players in your draft. This basic scoring system is a fair balance between tackles and big plays. Just like the WR who goes off for three TDs and 150 yds, the linebacker who gets a strip sack and runs the ball in for a TD has a big day but these days are not the norm. You can adjust your scoring to stress tackles over big plays or vice versa. Adding other categories can also increase scoring for your defensive players such as points for return yards on turnovers, yards lost on a sack, and tackles for loss. The most important decision is to decide whether to have a league that is “balanced”, “tackle heavy” or “big play heavy” and should mirror your offensive scoring system.
There are the three basic positions for IDP league play: DL, LB, and DB. If you are starting up a league, again it is best to stick to the basics. If you’re really into it and want to expand your rosters even more, you can break down each of these into separate positions. Defensive linemen can be drafted as defensive ends and tackles, linebackers as outside/edge and inside, and defensive backs as corners and safeties. By further breaking down the positions, you will see vastly different scoring results within each position. In a big play scoring system, defensive ends and outside linebackers will outscore their tackle and inside counterparts. Although many positions may be fun, here the basic three will do just fine.
Which players and when to dive into the defensive side of the player pool during your draft is highly dependent upon your league’s scoring system. Tackle heavy leagues tend to favor linebackers and big play heavy leagues tend to favor defensive ends and edge rushers. We’ll discuss how to decide when to start that run on defense when everyone else is taking their second or third wide receiver. Is there a puntable position that you can just play waiver wire roulette with each week? Which one suffers from position scarcity and should be targeted earlier?
This is just a brief introduction to IDP leagues. I will be releasing my rankings soon and will then cover draft strategies, individual players, and eventually waiver targets as the season begins. You can follow me on Twitter @gasdoc_spit. Always available to answer questions. Looking forward to the NFL season and be safe out there!