Most who follow Matt Schauf of RapidDraft.com on Twitter seethe at each “IDP” tag and wonder how he can make light of internally displaced persons. In this case, however, we’re talking individual defensive players, who add realism to your fake football leagues and gripes for the whiny leaguemate who always finishes last anyway. Schauf will be stopping by once a week to help you beat ol’ whiny even worse.

In leagues that do it right, IDPs should act more or less like their offensive counterparts in fantasy. However, just like with hitting a golf ball and dental hygiene (yeah, I’m talking about you), a whole lot of folks don’t do it right.

In my experience, the typical IDP league often includes something like three or four starting slots. That’s understandable if you’re just getting into the whole defensive player thing. It’s scary to jump all the way in the first time. Water wings are comforting.

Once you learn to dogpaddle, though, you should realize that only using that many defenders is akin to crafting a fantasy lineup with three or four starters from the entire pool of running backs, receivers and tight ends. Actually, the defensive pool is even deeper because it includes all defensive starters for every team.

If you do fall into that group that starts fewer IDPs, however, it’s important to realize the advantages. The primary focus for today is that the deep pool makes it easier to draft risky players. You might shy away from investing in Laurent Robinson because his injury history could leave you in whatever a lurch is (OK, and because he’s a Ram). If/when Bob Sanders gets hurt, though, you probably won’t have to search nearly as hard to find a replacement. Bernard Pollard finished last year averaging more points per game than any other defensive back in most fantasy outfits (that’ll confuse the Google bots), but he started the year on the waiver wire.

With that in mind, here are some other defenders you can take a chance on in your shallower-lineup IDP leagues …

Bob Sanders, SS, Colts — You know he’ll get hurt at some point, but you should also know that he reached 90 tackles (that’s good for his position) each of the two years he made it to double-digit games. The last time he stayed around for most of the year, Sanders was the defensive player of the year. Go ahead and draft him. Melvin Bullitt will be around if he gets hurt.

Nick Barnett, ILB, Packers — He tore up a knee two years ago and started last year slowly as a result. Some swelling in that knee and resultant downtime this summer has led to recent worry, but Barnett’s expected to be ready to go for the regular season. If we find out in the first few weeks there was reason to worry, we’ll adjust. For now, take the guy with top-10 potential at his position.

Jonathan Vilma, MLB, Saints — Two opinions told Vilma he doesn’t need groin surgery, and at least one even came from a doctor. He should start Week 1 and has top-five scoring potential.

DeAndre Levy, MLB, Lions — This second-year guy has been one of those sleepers who might not really be a sleeper because so many folks call him a sleeper. (That make him a napper?) Either way, the fact that he missed a lot of camp practices with a back injury and then a more recent groin injury hurts his draft status, which makes him a much better value. Levy might miss Week 1, but as long as you’re ready for that possibility, you can get yourself a prime breakout candidate.

Kenny Phillips, S, Giants — Last year at this time, those around the Giants (who must look tiny by comparison) were excited about Phillips. The off-season brought worries that his career could be in jeopardy (or was that Ken Jennings?) because of a deteriorating knee condition. He now appears on track to start the season, though, and has star potential.

D’Qwell Jackson, ILB, Browns — When a guy finishes one season on IR with a torn muscle and then suffers an injury to the same area (chest) the following year, it can be worrisome. No tear this time around, so Jackson should be back soon. He has been a favorite of Eric Mangini and a tackling machine (seems unfair) when in there, so Jackson should be drafted at the later stage he’s likely available.

A few others with camp injuries about whom you should be confident

Trent Cole, DE, Eagles

Lance Briggs, OLB, Bears

Gary Brackett, MLB, Colts

Clay Matthews, OLB, Packers

Two others to roster if you have a backup spot but who won’t start right away

Shaun Rogers, DL, Browns

Calvin Pace, OLB, Jets

Five injured players to ignore

Darren Sharper, S, Saints — The knee on which he had microfracture surgery appears likely to sideline him early this year. The inflated fantasy numbers from nine INTs and three TDs last year were reason to look away from him in the first place.

Jairus Byrd, S, Bills — He made a name for himself last year (which probably insulted his parents) by picking off a lot of passes as a rookie, but Byrd didn’t tally too terribly many tackles. Look at the overall numbers (plus as many groin injuries as he’s had pro seasons) and you’ll understand why to not draft him.

Elvis Dumervil, OLB, Broncos — Denver is holding out hope that he’ll play in December. You’ll be charged as a hostage taker if you keep him on your redraft-league roster under the same hope.

Thomas Davis, OLB, Panthers — If you could kindly take that previous paragraph and insert Carolina in place of Denver, I’d appreciate it.

Channing Crowder, ILB, Dolphins — You women out there who like your men mysterious might be fans of Crowder and his “undisclosed” leg injury, but I want no part of it. He doesn’t produce consistently enough to be worth the wait.

Matt Schauf is the senior football writer for RapidDraft.com and the brains behind (or would that be inside?) the “Suit” character in their free fantasy football game. Challenge him and 10 other fantasy Pros for a guaranteed $100,000 grand prize.


  1. Beau says:
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    @Razz Community…

    Need some trade advice. Came out of a frusturating draft with this team:

    QB: Rodgers
    RB: Moreno, Ronnie, Forsett, Fred Jackson, Donald Brown, Hardesty
    WR: Wayne, Smith (CAR), Nicks, Jacoby Jones, Naanee

    I’ve been looking around for a trade partner to solidify my RBs and have a standing offer from a guy looking for a WR1. The deal would be Wayne and a bench rb/wr for Steven Jackson and santana moss or santonio holmes. I’d love to add Steven Jackson but fear not having a true WR1, especially in this 0.5 ppr league. Does this deal look OK given my roster? Thoughts?

  2. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @Beau: I’d probably do that if you can start 3 RBs.

  3. Principal Blackman says:
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    I just joined my first IPD league, but it’s not like the ones described above. This league is 12 teams, each with 28-man rosters, of which 11 spots are IDPs (10 offensive starters, 1 kicker, & 6 bench spots) At what point do you begin to draft defensive players? Do you wait to fill out your offensive starters, or are there guys you reach for?

  4. I tend to wait longer than most, but yeah, in general I’d say fill your offensive starters first. For one thing, that’s simply a smaller pool of players from which to pick. For another, folks don’t tend to be as aware of proper value on the defensive side or of players likely to rise or fall. Exactly when to start depends on what’s on the board. How many IDPs do you actually start, and at which positions? How does the scoring look, particularly tackles vs. sacks. It can often make a lot of sense to grab a DE first among your defenders because that position is a bit more top-heavy than others.

  5. Principal Blackman says:
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    The league starts 3 LBs, 4 DBs, & 4 Linesmen.

    Tackles are worth 1. Assists 0.5
    Saftey, Sacks, Forced & Recovered Fumbles each = 2 points
    Interceptions and Blocked Kicks each = 3
    TD = 6
    A Defended Pass ???? is worth 1 point.

    Thanks.

  6. Beau says:
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    @Doc: So who would you prefer then of moss/holmes and who would you try to send from my team, hardesty, brown, jackson (in that order?)? Thanks for the help!

  7. Sacks are really underappreciated in that system, so there’s no need to chase the top of any defensive position. When it makes sense, though, Jared Allen, Justin Tuck and Trent Cole make up the dependable top for me at DL. I really like Eric Berry at DB, and there are likely to be 5-10 others drafted before him. The linebacker pool can be fairly deep. If Willis is hanging out in, say, Round 9, go for it. Beason’s not too far behind. The group behind those two is more fluid.

  8. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @Beau: I’d rather have Moss and I agree with that order.

  9. el gaucho insufrible says:
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    We have one defensive player on our teams. Would you prefer Bernard Pollard or D.J. Williams?

  10. Honestly, you should tell your league to switch to team defenses if you’re only going to use one IDP. Either/or, depending on whether scoring favors tackles or big plays.

  11. el gaucho insufrible says:
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    @Matt Schauf: Thanks! Yeah, they do away with the kicker and use an IDP instead. Maybe next season we can have more IDPs, I think it sounds like fun.

  12. T-BZA says:
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    Do you think Beason is still elite given his position switch? Dan Connor moves to Beason’s former spot and could be a nice sleeper.

    You can’t teach Beason’s speed and my league values IDPs GREATLY (2 pts per solo tackle, 1 per Asst., etc.), so the question is: Is he reach worthy?

    Big ups on the IDP article! Thanks in advance.

  13. dja says:
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    so rodgers and brees went the 2 picks before me (11th pick) in my 12 team 6pt pass td (-2 int) league.

    i think i’m going to change strategies now that i can’t have a stud qb. does manning or brady warrant a #11 or #14 pick in this league?

    i’m thinking of going with mendenhall and whichever of deangelo/matthews/green is available.

    how do you feel about that?

  14. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @dja: Agreed. I would wait on QB.

  15. Dominic says:
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    I am in a first year dynasty league and we start 11 IDPs with these stat categories:

    Tackle Solo 2
    Tackle Assist 1
    Sack 10
    Interception 5
    Fumble Force 3
    Fumble Recovery 4
    Defensive Touchdown 6
    Safety 6
    Pass Defended 4
    Block Kick 5

    Since these points are worth so much would you reach and pick someone like Patrick Willis or Jon Beason in a early round because it is a dynasty league? Or do you wait until later?

  16. @T-BZA: Beason moves from the middle to the position from which Thomas Davis was outscoring him prior to injury last season. Beason remains elite and should be the second linebacker drafted in most IDP formats.

  17. @Dominic: The only way I think that scoring changes how early to draft defenders is if the numbers create bigger scores than on offense. I would hope that the scoring on the other side would be balanced with this, but those are some huge point totals. If anything, the scoring would probably make me lean heavier toward getting a top DE early, and the 4 points per pass breakup is going to greatly enhance the value of corners. Make sure you take a look at the player scores generated last year (and before) by these scoring rules. That’s the best way to gauge position scarcity and craft your draft strategy.

    In general, it’s more important to chase the top of the DL group than LB and DB, which present deeper player pools.

  18. Buge Hoobs says:
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    Matt,
    I’m relatively new to fantasy football, and a newbie in the concept of IDP’s.

    My league is a 10 team starting 3 IDPs with the following scoring: sacks, ff and int=4; anything resulting in td=6; solo tackles=1 assisted=0.5; stuffs an passes defended=1

    I wound up drafting:DeMico Ryans, London Fletcher and Lawrence Timmons

    Stick with them? or swap one out with FA’s Tulloch, Weddle, Tuck, DQwell ??

  19. @Buge Hoobs: Wow, what a coincidental name, Buge. That almost looks like …

    That’s a good example of why to play with more IDPs — even when starting out — because every one of those players should be owned. Ryans’ ceiling dropped the past two years, likely due at least in part to being dinged up in 2008, playing with improved talent last year and playing on a defense that ranked very low in snaps faced each of those seasons. Fletcher scores a bit higher and at least as consistently. Timmons has the most upside but has also been maddeningly injury prone.

    Weddle, meanwhile, still has INT upside beyond what he has produced to go with strong tackle numbers to date. Tuck was my No. 1 DE scorer in 2008 before being hurt last year and outscored all three of your current linebackers at 3 points/sack. Jackson is a top 10 LB when healthy.

    I would say hang on to Timmons, whose full breakout is coming and go with Weddle and Tuck at the other two spots. If you have the roster spot, stash Jackson for when he becomes available, which is reportedly expected to be Week 2 or 3.

  20. Buge Hoobs says:
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    BOTH Weddle and Tuck over Fletcher and Ryans ?? I am allowed to start 3 LB’s.

  21. @Buge Hoobs: Well, you could keep Fletcher over Weddle to have a more consistent scorer on board, I just don’t see his ceiling rising with the move to a 3-4. He would be safer. Weddle carries more upside, though.

  22. Foo Foo says:
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    Who do you like better in a PPR Keeper League? Jacoby Jones ($1) or Donald Brown ($4)? I am leaning towards Brown even though my league rewards yards and touchdowns for punt returns. Should I be worried that Jacoby Jones will be a breakout star?

  23. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @Foo Foo: I like Jacoby a lot, but I like Brown’s upside more. I could see Jones scoring more overall points this season, but Brown could be the Colts main back next season.

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