Another week down, and with twice the information as we had last week, we can start to see which IDPs are for real and which were one-week fool’s gold. Two weeks in, and unfortunately injuries are already starting to take a toll on IDP rosters. You never like to see injuries, but there’s no doubt that they provide opportunities for new players to step in, which can make a big difference for your IDP leagues. You know what they say, “next man up!” Let’s dig into my top waiver wire target at each position heading into Week 3.

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If there’s one buzzword that coaches absolutely love to use this time of year, it’s “competition.” Hey coach, how’s your first round rookie looking? “He’s competing every day, and that’s all we can ask of him.” Wow, thanks… Or how about this one? “We love the additions we made through free agency and the draft, it’s added some great competition to our locker room, and it’s pushing everyone to be better.” Blah, blah, blah. These guys really know how to say something without saying a thing don’t they? In all honesty, most of the competition happens on the back end of the roster, as teams have to decide who to keep and who to cut as they trim the roster to 53 players. Most of these decisions don’t have a major impact on fantasy football, as we already have a good idea who the impact players are. There are always a few legitimate competitions, however, that WILL make a difference for your IDP rosters. Since coaches rarely tell us exactly what their plans are, I’m here to help you read the tea leaves for one of the top defensive battles in the league, the Dallas Cowboys linebackers.

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Hello again to all the IDP degenerates out there! Like it or not, you have stumbled onto the third and final set of position rankings for the 2021 season: Defensive Backs. If you missed the first two articles, make sure to check out the rankings for Linebackers and Defensive Line/EDGE. 

These DB rankings will include both safeties and cornerbacks, but you’ll notice the list is overwhelmingly safety-heavy. Corners provide a rare instance in which being a great real-life player does not translate to fantasy production. If the defense boasts a shut-down corner, offenses are less likely to throw his way, meaning fewer opportunities for tackles, pass break-ups, or interceptions, aka fantasy points. Even those corners who are targeted are often inconsistent fantasy producers on a week to week basis, since much of their production depends on where the opposing quarterback chooses to throw the ball. Safeties, however, generally provide much more consistency on the stat sheet, and are therefore more reliable assets for your IDP lineups. Like linebackers, look for safeties who are 3-down players, and preferably those who spend a lot of time in the box assisting in run support. More time in the box means the player is closer to the action, and therefore more likely to achieve tackle numbers that a deep safety will not. 

As always, it is important to know your league’s lineup requirements and scoring settings before you draft. Some leagues split defensive backs into cornerbacks and safeties, requiring the you start one or more of each. Other leagues may lump them together, but give cornerback stats an added boost to bring their value closer to safeties. These leagues are far from the most common, but still worth mentioning before getting into the rankings. Now that we’re all up to speed, let’s dig in!

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Welcome back for IDP Rankings Round 2! This week we take at the players that keep your favorite quarterbacks up at night: defensive linemen/edge rushers. A strong pass rush is critical for a defense in today’s pass-happy NFL, and a well-timed sack on an important 3rd down can swing the momentum like few plays can.

For the sake of these rankings, defensive tackles, defensive ends, and 3-4 outside linebackers are included together. It is important to know your league’s scoring, however, understand these rankings properly. Many leagues include DT/DE/OLB players as one position (like I’ve done), while some lump outside linebackers with inside linebackers. If you play in one of the latter, a player like TJ Watt may lose some value when competing with top tacklers like Darius Leonard and Roquan Smith for a spot in your lineup. Meanwhile, you may encounter a league which requires you to start defensive tackles as an entirely different position than defensive end, which will make players such as Aaron Donald or DeForest Buckner that much more valuable.

Bottom line is this: knowing the scoring and positional requirements for your leagues is absolutely critical to understanding player values and leaving your IDP drafts with a championship caliber roster. Anyway, enough lallygagging, let’s take closer look at the DL/EDGE players for the 2021 season.

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With training camps starting up this week, it’s time to get defensive!

“Wait, defense??? You mean those nameless guys that try to stop my running backs and wide receivers from scoring fantasy points?”

Yes! Well, sort of… Believe it or not, there are those of us so depraved that we actually play in fantasy football leagues that include Individual Defensive Players (IDPs); With this first set of rankings, we’ll focus on the heart of those IDP rosters, the linebackers. With linebackers, much like running backs (perhaps even more so), you should focus on full-time players who rarely leave the field. Generally, more snaps = more opportunities to produce statistics, a.k.a. fantasy points. These rankings will reflect just that.

“Yeah, yeah, I get it. I should roster LBs who play a lot… not exactly rocket science, pal. Just tell me who they are! Name names!”

Wow, impatient much? Ok, ok, fine! Without further ado, here are the top 40 linebackers for 2021 redraft leagues. Enjoy!

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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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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:

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It’s been hot as hell for two months here in Texas, but the rest of the country seems to consider Memorial Day Weekend as the kickoff of the summer. The NFL is no different apparently, as it’s using the start of bikini season to get rid of those excess LBs. In this case, I’m talking about Sean Lee and Daryl Washington, but Andy Reid and the Ryan brothers can always stand to drop some weight. Let’s take a look at how the loss of two studs for the season affects the IDP landscape for 2014:

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I’ve seen several articles talk about winners and losers based on last weekend’s Draft. The winners typically include Matthew Stafford, EJ Manuel, and the NFL for getting higher ratings than the NBA playoffs for an event that is months removed from the next game-day. I’m going the other way on this one. The winner of the Draft in my mind was clearly Elton John. I’m not sure what type of rights deal he negotiated with Aloe Blacc, but I’m sure Sir Elton benefited from this weekend’s festivities as much as Emperor Goodell did.

From an IDP perspective, despite the first overall pick being on the defensive side of the ball, and a record number of DBs going on Thursday night, the people most impacted by the draft are the existing veterans in the league. More so even than on offense, defensive rookies’ fantasy value is heavily tied to the team that picks them. Other than a few elite players, and sometimes even including them, situation matters more than talent. Before apparently lighting up a fat one, Josh Gordon lit up the league the last two years while playing on a terrible team without a legitimate professional QB. On the flip side, Dont’a Hightower (taken 25th overall the same year Gordon was picked in the Supplemental Draft), has toiled away in a crowded New England LB corps.  Hightower will get his chance this year, but his owners have had to show tremendous patience, with very little to show for it thus far.

So as I run through the big names taken in this year’s draft, keep in mind that they will likely take multiple years to make an IDP impact, and their most immediate effect will likely be on the veterans that they are either complementing or trying to replace.

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Now that the dust has settled on the annual money grab that is NFL Free Agency, it’s time to take a step back and see how it affects IDP leagues. As is often the case, the biggest headlines on ESPN don’t have much impact on the IDP world (I’m looking at you Revis), but there are some significant change that took place. Whether you are in a dynasty league and taking stock of your current roster, or you’re just addicted to IDP and want to adjust your way-too-early 2014 rankings, here is what you need to know:

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