If you’re looking for a good way to avoid depression in the months between the NFL Draft and Fantasy Draft Season, I recommend getting your league(s) together to discuss rule changes for the upcoming season. Will we eliminate kickers? (YES!) Will we award extra points for RBs who break 100 yards (NO!) Will we use individual defensive players? (HMMM…). That last question is complicated, and cannot be answered in one word. In fact, I’m about to spend 1200 words discussing just that question: Should your league be using IDPs?
Adding defensive players to your league is not for the faint of heart. Roster sizes will increase by only a few slots, yet the amount of players available will more than double, and you will now have to grasp the significance of stats like Assisted Tackles and Passes Defended. These changes may seem overwhelming, but in reality, defense in fantasy football is a lot like offense. Between now and Week 1, I will be outlining IDP Strategy, ranking players by position, and discussing scheme changes, but today is all about selling the concept of IDP itself. Here are a few reasons why your league should include defensive players:
If you’re reading this site in the offseason, you clearly care about fantasy football more than the average owner.
I would never recommend IDP for a league full of fantasy noobs, as it takes most owners a few years before they learn not to draft their kicker before the last round, let alone worrying about defensive players. But if you care enough about this fake sport of ours to be looking at Razzball during the offseason, then you seem like the kind of person who would enjoy IDP leagues. Either that or you’re looking for this week’s Stream-o-Nator picks, in which case you’re a little lost.
IDP Leagues have more in-season trades and moves, so the draft is not the end of the excitement.
There is nothing like the anticipation leading up to a fantasy draft. Will I get the sleeper I want? Will I get laughed at for picking a player whose already been taken? Do I have a list of insults for my league-mates prepared? The draft is like Christmas for fantasy owners, except that you don’t have to listen to your drunk uncle’s story about seeing a real reindeer for the 500th time.
But once both Christmas and your draft are over, you have to wait another year before you get to feel that excitement again. Sure there are ways to spice things up during the season – switching to FAAB waivers instead of standard, drafting a fantasy basketball team, growing a sweet mustache – but none of it compares to selecting players that you will monitor over the course of a football season.
The best way to keep the excitement level up in your league is to encourage plenty of roster moves, and IDP leagues make this both easier and necessary. Sure there are trades and waiver wire gems in offense-only leagues, but that increases exponentially in IDP leagues. Not sure if you can get Demaryius Thomas for Doug Martin? Throw in a high-upside defensive player like Alec Ogletree and it might seal the deal. Did one of your starting DBs go down with a concussion? The waiver wire will be full of guys, like Barry Church last year, who can be inserted into your starting lineup, and might even end up as DB1 for the year.
When you think about it, Team D/ST kind of sucks.
Is there anything worse than outscoring your opponent going into Monday Night Football, only to lose because their D/ST returns a punt for a TD and gets a pick-six of a tipped pass? Even if you benefit from such random luck, you can’t really take pride in your “victory.” Many teams rode the Chiefs D/ST to the Championship game last year, thanks mainly to them putting up 41 points and 3 TDs in Weeks 14 and 15. Those same owners got to enjoy the goose egg that their “stud” defense put up with the trophy on the line.
Defensive players will score fluke TDs as well, but the scoring weight is not nearly as great as compared to Team Defense. The TD to Sack ratio in standard Team D scoring is 6:1, while in IDP it is typically only 2:1 or less. This rewards more consistent players and more predictable stats, just like the offensive side of the ball. Return TDs still play a part, and that is why players like Patrick Peterson have some extra value, but they don’t wreak the same havoc as they do from Team D/ST.
IDP gives you more chances to watch the players on your fantasy team.
If your team has Peyton Manning Brady or Dez Bryant, you’ll get the pleasure of watching your guys on national TV as they rack up the points every week. If you have Jamaal Charles or A.J. Green? You’re stuck following online updates and watching highlights. One of the underrated benefits of IDP leagues is that you have more chances to actually watch your players play.
It also helps if your favorite NFL team has a terrible offense.
If you’re a fan of a team like the Jets or the Jaguars, drafting one of your favorite team’s offensive players to your fantasy team is an exercise in futility. Watching Larry Fitzgerald deal with double teams as the Cardinals offense goes three and out again, can make a frustrating season even worse. But anemic offenses often provide increased opportunities on the defensive side of the ball, because their inability to pick up first downs keeps the defense on the field for long stretches. In fact, the Texans, Jaguars, Bucs, Jets, and Giants put up 6 top-10 IDP options at their respective positions in 2013. It won’t make up for watching the likes of Matt Schaub, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates attempt to throw the ball, but seeing J.J. Watt wreak havoc in opposing backfields somewhat of a silver lining during a miserable season in Houston.
If you can make it through your first season, you’ve done the hard part.
As I said before, IDP is not for everyone. It can be discouraging to draft stars like Joe Haden and Terrell Suggs and wonder why they’re not scoring as much as Tashaun Gipson and Stephen Tulloch. As with anything, practice makes perfect. In some leagues, IDP is adopted for a season, and then dropped because owners didn’t “get it.” But I’ve found that with each year of experience, the understanding and appreciation of IDP strategy grows, just like on the offensive side of the ball. So when you hear that the Texans hired Romeo Crennel, you don’t immediately invest in Tex-Mex stock, you start thinking about if Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will be considered Defensive Ends or Linebackers.
So my challenge to you, loyal Razzball reader, is to add IDP to one of your existing leagues, or join an IDP league in 2014. The worst that could happen is that you feel slightly overwhelmed in one league, while learning more about Chandler Jones than you ever wanted to know. Base case scenario? You become yet another advocate of the #NoTeamD movement.