Fantasy Football: Why You Should Play IDP

by Bob Van Duser
IDP The Growing Niche

IDP, defined as Individual Defensive Player, leagues have become a growing niche in Fantasy Football. I'm here to tell you why you should play IDP leagues in 2020.

All of us Fantasy addicted folk are always looking for ways to improve our leagues, whether it be scoring or end of season rewards. You name it. One great way is the addition of IDP players.

Starting a league with IDP positions can enhance your Fantasy Football experience as well as your fanhood of this great sport we call football.

Check out my 2020 Fantasy Football IDP Rankings here.

Fantasy Football: Why You Should Play IDP

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What Makes IDP So Great

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I stumbled upon IDP about 7 years ago, and ever since then, it's become my favorite format to play in. Imagine another world of Fantasy Football that's been there the whole time just waiting at your fingertips.

I'm a big fan of researching players and profiles, especially when it comes to Dynasty Leagues. It can be quite the rush when you strike gold on a prospect or when you draft a player late and he becomes the consensus LB1. (Looking at you, Darius Leonard.)

That's what IDP means to me; more research, more player hype, and all the same intrigue. Imagine having that much more material to dive into and never being bored with Fantasy Football again.

Why You Should Play IDP

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Getting into IDP is an investment in yourself as a Fantasy Football player.

IDP has just painted such a bigger picture for me. I can name every notable off-season move as well as the impact that it has on the roster itself. I can name every head coach, their habits in regards to their "coach speak," and if they're more offensive or defensive-minded. On top of that, I can rattle off most of the Offensive Coordinators as well as the Defensive Coordinators. My recall memory is that disgusting.

When I started Fantasy Football I knew one team, The Green Bay Packers. Don't hate too hard they're my hometown team. Of course, I knew the big names like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and so on. But since then my knowledge has expanded to be so much more than that small little world for me. Taking part in IDP leagues helped a lot with that.

Now I can predict with better accuracy how a team's season is going to go. Instead of just looking at a team's defense fantasy finish from the year prior, I can take into account every single free agency and draft move a team made to address issues on their defense, as well as taking into account any losses they had on that side of the ball as well.

So How Exactly Does IDP Work?

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The scoring for IDP defense and DSTs in regular fantasy football are at the time very similar yet very different. While you're used to tallying Sacks, Interceptions, Safeties, Touchdowns, and Fumbles Forced as well as recovered; IDP scoring goes a little deeper.

Scoring for IDP includes all the above, as well as Solo Tackles, Assisted Tackles, Tackles For Loss, and Passes Defensed. On occasion: QB Hits, Fumble Return Yards, Interception Return Yards, and Punt/Kickoff Return yards come into play as well.

The reason for so much independent scoring per player is because if it was just the standard Sacks, Interceptions, and Fumbles, etc. you wouldn't score many points. All these different scoring metrics highlight just about every statistical metric a defensive player can have. They also make every position stand out in its own special way.

I break down IDP scoring into two categories: Play-Making and Tackles

Tackle scoring is your baseline. I typically compare it to yardage for an offensive player, though I don't score it nearly the same. It needs to provide a floor to your defensive scoring but keep positions level.

Play-Making stats are Turnovers, Touchdowns, and Sacks. These don't happen frequently and must be rewarded similarly to a Touchdown for an offensive player. Highlighting these correctly can really separate a meh player who everyone thinks is good (for example Blake Martinez) and a player who is actually great at football like Bobby Wagner.

What Players Should I Be Looking At?

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While Fantasy Team Defense and Special Teams (DSTs) is what you're probably used to, IDP breaks down into 3 essential positions: defensive lineman (DL), linebacker (LB), and defensive back (DB).

Linebackers are your high tacklers with low to modest sack numbers depending on where they line up and the scheme they're in. If you're lucky they'll make an interception or two in the season, but the turnovers you're banking on is a forced fumble or recovery. They'll easily put up the most of any position in tackles, and provide a strong baseline. If you have a league that doesn't highlight play-making stats and is favorable toward tackles, middle or off-ball outside linebackers often become king.

Defensive Linemen give you higher sack counts with generally low tackle numbers. In leagues that highlight play-making stats, DLs can be very valuable - especially your high-end guys that can hit 15+ sacks a year and keep up tackle numbers as well. They also present forced fumble and recovery upside with their QB Pressures. QB hits often inflate DLs a bit since they're the only ones that really compile anything in this stat category.

Defensive Backs generate the lowest sack numbers but are high play-on-the-ball guys (passes defended and INTs) along with moderate tackle numbers. Unless you score INT return points (which I don't in my leagues) the only positions here worth targeting are the Strong and Free Safety. Corners usually play far away from the ball and rarely produce roster worthy tackling numbers and their interceptions and passes defended don't come close to rectifying that number.

In-Depth Analysis

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With team defense it's easy to look at a match up and say "Well hey, The New York Jets do really well against the tight end position (TE)".

With my knowledge of IDP, I can tell you with confidence that the reason behind why they were top 5 against TEs last year is because Jamaal Adams (safety), formerly of the New York Jets, is a stud in TE coverage.

It's little things like that that can help shape you as a Fantasy Football player. That in-depth look at defense can help you look at a player's situation more clearly.

Say you have a middling tight end going against the Jets this week, but in this case, Jamaal Adams is out. Now your middling TE looks mighty fine. Deep dives like that could win you a week. Also heads up Jamal Adams is a Seattle Seahawk now, so you should know who to start your TE against, and sit him against.

You can look at a team's offensive additions and say, "Wow the Cleveland Browns made so many great additions to their offensive line they'll be unstoppable running the ball this year!". But I can look at every defense they're going to face and tell you which weeks Nick Chubb is going to finish as a top 5 RB and which weeks he'll have a rough day - all well before any statistics come out.

By the end of the day, everyone else in your league will be playing checkers, and you'll be playing chess, my friend.

Last Thoughts

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I can assure you that joining an IDP League will rock your world much like a stiff arm from Darius Leonard to Kenny Stills.

If you're a straight-up Fantasy Football Junkie like me I encourage you to give it a shot. Don't just avoid it because it's different; I promise you'll be doing yourself a disservice.

I've become a much bigger fan of the game in this process. Sure I have my hometown team, but I love this sport through and through.

I wouldn't take the time to sway others if I didn't truly believe that it'll enhance your Fantasy Football experience.

So please, I implore you: join a league, hit my twitter with questions(@Bbab_FFB), and do whatever you can to gain some exposure to the Growing Niche of IDP.

Visit the F6P Fantasy Football page for more advice, including all 32 Fantasy Football Team Previews to get you prepared for the 2020 season

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