IDP Football Draft Strategy – Combining Offense and Defense

by Mase Riney
IDP Football Draft Strategy

So, you play fantasy football? Have you ever joined a fantasy football league with offensive and defensive players? With another set of players and scoring to adhere to, it adds another layer of difficulty or fun (depending on how you look at it). Welcome to my IDP Football Draft Strategy, an article about drafting a fantasy football team with individual defensive and offensive players. 

Last off-season, a friend suggested I write an article about when to draft certain IDP position groups. This offseason, that article gave me the idea to one-up myself and create an article with the same idea in mind but with offensive players added. 

The fantasy landscape is an everchanging beast, and leagues can vastly differ. One consistent question I am asked by managers worldwide before their drafts. "Who should I draft, and when should I draft them?

Coming out of the draft feeling like you have the best-looking roster is only a portion of the game, so it is not an end-all but more of an advantage going into the season over your fellow managers. Many factors can derail one's season (benching, injuries, off-field issues, etc.…), so it's always best to keep up with the news from around the NFL to stay up to date and set your best lineup possible or pick up new players, but that is for another article.

This article aims to help better prepare readers for a fantasy football conjoined redraft league’s draft. It gives a breakdown by position and guides how to approach a 20+ round startup draft.

IDP Football Draft Strategy

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Keep Your Team Balanced

Everyone wants a boatload of great players on their roster when the season starts, but drafting an efficient lineup starts with a sense of balance on one's roster. Try to avoid over-drafting at any position. If you put all of your eggs in one basket, you may leave the draft feeling there is more to be desired in the rest of your position groups. Your leaguemates may also think you must trade some extra players to help your roster. Thus, you could lose the upper hand in trade negotiations at the heart of your season.

One draft strategy that I like to use is the "Tent Pole Strategy." Drafting a team with a big-time player at each position to anchor down each position group, thus allowing you to have a more balanced team as your draft moves on. Think of your draft like how you build a tent when you're camping. Your first few draft picks act as the tent poles that set up your tent's space, the foundation, and how stable it will be. The picks outside the first five rounds are the rest of the components that allow the manager to set up the tent according to their liking. 

Drafting Based on Value

Consider what players are of the most value in each particular round. What does the ADP suggest if you have that sort of information handy? How much consistency has a player shown in the past seasons? Once again, scoring settings are king and should be considered when assessing value-based drafting. Which players are going to get the most opportunity? Who are the players that produce but may not have such a household name? Which players are currently being hyped on Twitter or in the media? All of these and more should be considered when thinking about value-based drafting.

Overall Depth and Bench

You want to ensure you have enough depth at each position in case of unfortunate situations that may arise throughout the season or to account for bye weeks. Nothing is ever genuinely avoidable, but selecting solid depth pieces for your roster can be crucial to your team's success and make things easier on yourself as a manager down the road. Things can change at a moment's notice in the NFL, and unfortunately, only a few players have job security going into each season. 

With your bench in mind, managers must watch the player's weekly trends to see who gets the most time and opportunity to bring their team points and value. In this scoring format, managers should have more running backs and linebackers on their bench rather than extra tight ends, kickers, or defensive backs due to positional scarcity and the number of points the position group scores. 

Things to keep in mind when thinking of having depth in fantasy football:

  • Positional Depth
  • Bench Strength
  • Bye Week Consideration
  • Handcuff Players in Case of Injury
  • Weekly Matchups
  • Keep Eyes on Other Manager Moves
  • Watch the Waiver Wire

Flexibility

Many things change in the draft with every player’s selection. As there are quite a few ways to cook a chicken, there are many strategies when drafting a fantasy football team, let alone one with offensive and defensive players. Flexibility is key!

Always be aware of who is drafting and how the draft board is shaping up. Position runs and reaching a player from other managers can open up new opportunities that one may not have considered before that moment. Be aware of your surroundings, and if you find yourself in a live draft, look around the room and see which of your fellow league managers are focused, who came prepared, who talks the most pre-draft, who is drinking; anything can affect the draft, so keep your head on a swivel.

"Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive but adjust to the object.." - Bruce Lee

Know Your League

Knowing your league and its scoring and settings is critical to your success. It should also be a glamorous part of how you go about your draft preparation. How many positions do you have to fill and account for? What positions have the most opportunity to score points for your roster? Which ones score the most minuscule amount? How many bench spots do you have? Do any position groups have more starters than the others? Do you have to start a team defense as well? 

Looking over the details of each league could make or break your success, as every league can differ in many ways. Always watch your league-mate's roster and tendencies during the draft. Sometimes, you can read one of your fellow manager's strategies and know the direction of their next move based on how they begin to build their roster. Stay true to your league and know it well.

For this draft article, I will use two scoring systems from FantasyPros—their half PPR system for offensive scoring and their scoring system for Individual Defensive Players. A picture of both formats is below.

Scoring

IDP Football Draft Strategy IDP Football Draft Strategy

The Tale of the Tape

Remember what your scoring settings are and what position groups score more points than others. Here are some observations I have from this specific scoring system (pictured above)

Quarterbacks

High-numbered passing yards and touchdowns can quickly tally up points in fantasy leagues. If you have a quarterback rostered who generates points by running the ball and passing, that is a precious asset for your team.

Quarterbacks make their points from passing touchdowns, passing yards, and any additional rushing yards or touchdowns.

Running Backs

Players who run the ball efficiently and often are critical. Suppose you draft a running back who is also a passing game threat that can further your odds of generating points for your fantasy team. Be wary of a player’s overall usage from the season prior when looking into running backs.

Running backs make their fantasy points mainly from rushing or receiving touchdowns,  rushing or receiving yards, and points for receptions.

Wide Receivers

Players who catch the ball through the air and score touchdowns can also take off the rushing load. The more targets, the more an opportunity the player has to score points. Also, look at red zone usage and packages that the receiver is included in on gameday. Remember that the scoring settings can change the outlook on a position. A wideout is more valuable in PPR formats as opposed to standard scoring.

Wide receivers make their points from receiving and rushing touchdowns, receiving and rushing yards, and receptions.

Tight Ends

This is the era of the up-and-coming fantasy tight end. Having one of the top players can be a bonus because of the positional scarcity, as few tight ends score points consistently. A tight end that produces points every week can be a fantastic “bonus” on your team, unlike streaming tight ends weekly, but both strategies are efficient.

Tight ends score their points mainly from receiving touchdowns, receptions, and yards.

Kickers

One of the last positions, if not the last position, that I will draft in most leagues. See if extra points are included based on field goal yards in your scoring system, and go for kickers you feel will have the most opportunity to score points.

Kickers make points from, yep, you guessed it, making kicks. Be careful, as some commissioners will subtract points for missed kicks. Always revert to your league scoring.

Defensive Lineman

These players create fantasy scoring opportunities by bringing down the ball carrier and pressures on the quarterback that result in sacks. These players can have phenomenal spike weeks in their points, but the top defensive linemen tend to finish the season behind the top linebackers in this scoring format.

EDGE players or defensive linemen score most of their fantasy points from sacks, tackles, both assisted, and solo tackles for loss, sacks, and forced fumbles.

Linebackers

Linebackers finish atop the yearly scoring in this IDP format because tackles are worth so much. Finding a linebacker who can efficiently bring down the ball carrier and add a few pressures/sacks is ideal for this format.

Linebackers score their points from tackles, both assisted, and solo tackles for loss, interceptions, and sacks.

Defensive Backs

Cornerbacks and safeties who generate tackles and step in front of passing lanes, breaking up passing and intercepting the ball. I usually wait on defensive backs and target players who find themselves consistently around the ball, whether due to the game plan or the player’s position on the field (in the box or the slot).

Defensive backs score their fantasy points mainly from tackles, passes defended, interceptions, and occasionally sacks or forced fumbles.

Beginning Draft Rounds 1-5

I will conclude the article by describing how managers could/should draft their team in a start-up conjoined league. This isn’t the only way to go about it, but this is a solid guideline and will help provide a solid foundation for drafting in this format and with the previously stated scoring system.

Round 1

With the first selection in my draft, I would like to select an elite running back or wide receiver. Depending on which end of the draft, the board should dictate if you take one or the other. Some humans like to jump on an elite quarterback early and in superflex formats; I dont disagree. If you are drafting in a league where you only play with one quarterback on your starting roster every week, wait a few rounds before considering drafting a quarterback. 

Laying the foundation for a good roster involves drafting the players who give managers the most opportunities for points. In these formats, the running backs and wide receivers are those players.

Round 2

The second-round strategy isn’t far from my first-round strategy. Grab an elite running back or wide receiver. The fork-in-the-road decision is to end the round with one of each, a running back and a wide receiver, or double up, taking two players at the same position.

If you’re going with the “Tent Pole” strategy, as previously explained in the article, you are splitting the positions and drafting a running back and wide receiver of one of each. Drafting one of each position opens up more avenues for drafting as the draft progresses. The sooner you draft players at a position, the less likely you will need to draft that position later on, so always stay mindful of the ADP and look for the most versatility when drafting.

Round 3

After you draft your first two players, I look to see if any elite individual defensive players are still on the board. What is the vibe in the draft room? If your rosters and scoring value IDP are the same as offensive players, now may be the time to lock in one of your top IDP roster positions. 

In this specific format, tackling is critical, so grabbing a stud linebacker who has the green dot could be the move here, or drafting an elite defensive lineman who not only brings down the ball carrier consistently but also has a great pressure rate in pass-rush to add sacks in the stat column.

If you aren’t feeling like going down the IDP route just yet, maybe consider one of the elite top-tier quarterbacks or another skill position player to add depth to your running back or expansive receiver room. 

Rounds 4-5

These two rounds are critical and round out the beginning of your draft. If a top quarterback is still hanging around, you could go that route if you have yet to draft one. Once again, this comes down to your strategy and overall idea for your roster construction.

In this IDP scoring system, tackles are one of the most efficient ways to gather points, so why not draft your LB1 here? If you are still waiting on drafting IDP, you could also build more depth in your offensive skill positions. Avoid putting yourself in a hole by drafting only one position.

Middle Draft Rounds 5-12

Rounds 6-7

If you have neglected your IDP roster spots in your draft, fill one or two, depending on your roster construction. I usually advocate waiting on the defensive back position, so I suggest drafting your LB1/2 or a top defensive lineman. If you’ve waited on a quarterback, you could target one of the tier 2 players who may not provide rushing upside but are efficient passers with upside.

Rounds 8-9

At this point in the draft, I would assess one’s roster and see where to go next. What positions do you have more players than others? What position groups have the other managers neglected, and how does the draft board look? You want to wait a few more rounds before you start reaching for your favorite or home run upside players.

Look for the best positional value and players with the most opportunity to be on the field and gain fantasy points for your team. You could also see how many tight ends are off the board and go that route. 

Rounds 10-12

Now, I will consider finding value at the tight end or any other position. Start looking at the ADP and your draft board to find out where the value is on the board. Find some depth for your IDP roster and pay attention to it, or you may pay for it later in your draft. Maybe look into drafting your first defensive back if you’re feeling froggy. Any position but kicker is the move here. 

The key focus here is drafting players who give you an excellent second or third option for your roster while considering ADP, bye weeks, and a player’s overall opportunity. What not-so-big-named players with the most opportunity to see the field are still on the board?

The Later Draft Rounds 13+

Rounds 13-16

If you have rosters requiring a team defense, start considering your options at this point in the draft. Remember to check your scoring, as some leagues have the team defense account for special teams points. Also, start to consider drafting a kicker. I prefer not to be the first or second manager to draft a kicker, but having a guy you can draft, start, and forget about is one less thing to worry about as a manager during the weekly fantasy grind. 

At this point, put the lid on a few position groups and see who you still have to draft. Remember to spread the wealth and draft only a few players in each position.

Rounds 16-20+

Start targeting players behind players with a previous injury history, your handcuff players with breakout potential, or your sleepers for the season. Maybe consider the rookie players who have a shot to play as the season advances. Once they get into the swing of things as the NFL season progresses, the younger players may work themselves into more playing time. Remember to fill your IDP positions with the same mindset as your offensive players. Opportunity is the most significant thing here with your later-drafted players. 

If you haven’t yet, draft the kicker of your dreams or the guy that falls to you. Remember to keep an active eye on the waiver wire if your kicker or any player on your roster doesn’t perform as well as anticipated.


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2 comments

Chad Gorick February 28, 2024 - 10:34 pm

Great article, it’s very helpful to have a framework when approaching the draft. If you had to pick one from Brian Branch or Grant Delpit in dynasty, who do you like? Scoring 1.5/.75, 6 Int, 3 sack, 1.5 PBU, 2 TFL.
Thanks!

Reply
Mase Riney March 2, 2024 - 7:54 pm

Thank you for reading Chad! Brian Branch in Dynasty formats.

Reply

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