Two weeks to go before the NFL season begins. Training camp coming to a close and position battles and injuries shaping the landscape. There are a few changes we need to pay attention to. Here are my updated LB rankings for your IDP drafts.  

Stock up

TJ Watt moves up from 11 to 8 as a lot of IDP leagues are starting to adjust their scoring systems and I think this helps Watt.  Look for Watt to dominate again this season and compete for the top spot in defensive player leagues.

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One of the keys to IDP leagues is knowing your scoring system. They are sort of like dates, whether it be a guy or girl, they all have the same two chromosomes, but they can all be vastly different. If you’re just starting out playing in an IDP league this is the most important thing to know before you draft. Your rankings will be highly dependent on the scoring system so do not go into it blindly with some list of rankings.

The scoring for IDP generally breaks down into three categories, similar to standard and PPR scoring for offense, and they are based on the ratio of points given to tackles and “big plays”. Balanced scoring systems will have a ratio of big play to solo tackle points of 3:1 to 4:1.  If it’s above 4:1, the scoring is considered ‘big play heavy” and if it’s less than 3:1, it’s “tackle heavy”.

I’ve played in an IDP league for about 15 years and it’s big play heavy.  So what I’ve done is look at two other scoring systems and compared the players who finished 1-25 in my league with how they would finish in the other scoring systems.  It’s obviously not the complete picture, but it gives you an idea of the types of players that are favored in each format. I used the scoring from Fantasy Pros to use as our “tackle heavy” format as their big play to tackle ration is a little less than 3:1.  For the balanced approach I used the IDP 123 system from Expand the Boxscore’s Jordan Rains.  The scoring categories included are Solo Tackles, Assisted Tackles, Sacks, Forced Fumbles, Recovered Fumbles, Interceptions, Passes Defensed, and TDs. Each player’s stats are from MyFantasyLeague.  The scoring systems points are in the chart below.

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If you play in an IDP league, you already know that linebackers are the bread and butter of defensive scoring.  If you are trying to learn about IDPs or deciding whether to convince your fellow league mates to switch from the hum-drum team defense to the dynamic scoring of individual defensive players, this is a good place to start.  We’ll start with the top 25 linebackers and then cover 25-50 and the top 50 at DL and DB.

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Whenever you see an overall ranking for IDP leagues, linebackers will dominate the list.  Some will have the top 10-20 players be linebackers and that would be true if you only based the rankings on projected points, but draft strategy has to come into play.  As in your offensive player part of the draft, position scarcity and tiers come into play.  There is a large core of players in each of the three positions that don’t vary much, but the start of each of these cores varies greatly between positions.  

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I was reflecting back on my 2015 Fantasy Football season and I started to sob a bit. I know it sounds ridiculous, but before you pass judgment, they were tears of joy because Fantasy Baseball is right around the corner. Now, you might be wondering why I bring this up and I’m not even sure why. Oh, yeah, it’s because this year’s 2015 Razzball Commenter Grand Champion and the winner of a $150 Best Buy gift card and a Razzball T-Shirt is actually a Razzballer I know from the baseball side of the site…

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 muscle-hamster

Doug Martin made fantasy owners warm and fuzzy (sorta NSFW) in 2012. After being selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 31st overall pick in the NFL Draft, Martin exploded for 1,926 total yards on 319 carries and 49 receptions. He tallied 12 combined touchdowns and ended as the No. 3 running back in standard scoring. Then, 2013 Doug Martin happened. To say Martin was a disappointment is an understatement. Fantasy drafters were selecting him as the No. 2 running back off the board, right behind Adrian Peterson. Before Martin was shut down for the year due to a shoulder injury, he rushed 127 times for 456 yards. He caught 12 balls for 66 yards and only scored one combined touchdown. He ended up scoring 0.8 fantasy points more than Shonn Greene and 2.1 less than Brandon Bolden. So what happened?

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Jay’s 2015 RankingsTop-200 | Top-200 (PPR) | Top-200 (Half-PPR) | QB | RB | RB (PPR)WR | WR (PPR) | TE | TE (PPR) | K | DST | Rookies |

Kevin’s 2015 IDP RankingsTop-100 | DL | DB | LB

Last week we unveiled the Defensive Linemen rankings, and within days they became outdated with the news of Sheldon Richardson’s suspension. This is yet another reminder of how quickly things can change in the NFL. These rankings will be maintained as the preseason develops, but if you have specific questions, feel free to ask them in the Comments as always. The LB Rankings below were affected as well, with Rolando McClain’s suspension adding more uncertainty to an already unpredictable situation in Dallas. In fact, “uncertainty” is a good theme for the Linebacker position in 2015, as player movement, injuries (both new and recoveries), and suspensions leave a lot of question marks from the top of the list to the bottom.

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The tale of St. Louis Rams’ running back Isaiah Pead may end up being a short one.

Pead was taken by the Rams with the 50th overall pick of the 2012 Draft, eights spots ahead of stud linebacker Lavonte David and ten picks ahead of corner Casey Hayward.  There would’ve been no reason to doubt the Rams selection at the time, after all, the University of Cincinnati product was an electrifying running back in college and performed very well in the pre-draft combines.  The 5’10”, 200-pounder finished fourth among all RBs in the cone drill (6.95) and had the fifth-best 40 time at the position (4.47).  Pead went into camp that year looking to compete, but quickly fell behind Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson on the depth charts, finishing with just 10 carries for 54 yards during his rookie season.

2013 was supposed to be his breakout.  Fantasy football owners pegged him as a guy who could be taken later in drafts, yet had fantasy starter capability.  With Jackson signing in Atlanta, Richardson was the starter on paper, but he could easily be overtaken.  Pead’s sleeper status grew exponentially during the off-season, until a suspension for substance abuse derailed that somewhat.  He was forced to miss the Rams’ season opener and never regained any of his momentum from training camp.  Coach Jeff Fisher saddled Richardson with the bulk of the ball-carrying duties for the first couple weeks of the season, limiting Pead’s upside.  Pead received only one carry in Week 2, turning that into just one yard.  He had two catches for 18 yards as well, but he was clearly behind the eight ball.  During Week 3 vs. Dallas, Pead rushed for 20 yards and caught seven balls for 43 yards — a pretty productive game.  Things were looking up for the second-year back — or were they?

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2014 Rankings: Top-200 | Top-200 (Half-PPR) |  Top-200 (PPR) | QB | RB | RB (PPR)| WR | WR (PPR) | TE | TE (PPR) | K | DST | IDP Rankings: Top-100 | DL | DB | LB

Here come the big scorers. As opposed to the DLs, a very top heavy position, the Linebackers are much more balanced. There are a few studs, but they’ll come at a cost, and there is plenty of value to be found elsewhere. Based on name recognition, it might surprise some people to see Lavonte David at the top of the list. He’s probably most famous for costing the Bucs their Week 1 game against the Jets with that ridiculous Unnecessary Roughness penalty. But David is so much more than that. In a division with an extremely diverse set of offenses, David is a legit three-down LB who can put up stats in a variety of ways. He leads a very impressive crop of young LBs (half of my top 10 are 24 or younger), which makes the future of the IDP game very bright.

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Keeping with the theme of moving into the future while looking at the past, we move on to Linebackers. The top crop of LBs in 2013 had a lot of the expected faces, along with a couple of rookies and some throwback performances by Ghosts of IDP Seasons Past.  But before we get to the top 20, there are others that warrant some discussion:

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