IDP: Observations From My First Year

Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues are still a pretty small subset of fantasy leagues, but really fun for players who are looking for something a little different. I played in my first IDP in 2012 and have a few things to share for those interested in transitioning from a team Defense/Special Teams (DST) format.

This 16-team league (27 roster spots each) is ridiculously deep and we start two defensive backs, two linebackers and two defensive linemen. Let’s take a look and see how our large IDP league shook out over the course of the season.

Scoring in this league is a little more conservative than ESPN Standard Scoring and is as follows;

1 point for every Solo Tackle
4 points for every Interception
2 points for every Sack
2 points for every Fumble Forced
2 points for every Fumble Recovered
4 points for every Safety
6 points for every Defensive TD
4 extra points for every Defensive TD of 80 or more yards
2 extra points for every Defensive TD between 40 and 79 yards (inclusive)
1 point for every Pass Defended

Here is how the top 10(ish) at each position broke down, along with their overall ranking of all players in our league.

Defensive Backs

PlayerTeamPointsOverall Rank
Charles TillmanCHI143134
Richard ShermanSEA132159
Janoris JenkinsSTL119179
Tim JenningsCHI118182
Harrison SmithMIN116193
Stevie BrownNYG115195
Eric WeddleSD115195
Cortland FinneganSTL114199
Morgan BurnettGB111208
Ronde BarberTB111208

You can see a pretty big drop off between the top two performers and everyone else. Also keep in mind that the #200 overall player for this league season was BUF WR Donald Jones (41 rec, 443 yards, 4 TD), so you probably aren’t going to spend a early round pick on a DB, even in a large league.


PlayerTeamPointsOverall Rank
Daryl WashingtonARI140141
James LaurinaitisSTL134155
Paul PoslusznyJAC133157
Luke KuechlyCAR126168
Derrick JohnsonKC126168
Lavonte DavidTB125170
Russell AllenJAC118182
Lawrence TimmonsPIT118182
Zach BrownTEN117187
Von MillerDEN117187
London FletcherWAS117187

We see a distribution pretty similar to the DBs, so the same strategy would apply; wait until the later rounds to load up on linebackers.

Defensive Linemen

PlayerTeamPointsOverall Rank
J. J. WattHOU137150
Charles JohnsonCAR76366
Carlos DunlapCIN75371
Jason Pierre-PaulNYG75371
Greg HardyCAR74377
Cameron WakeMIA74377
Geno AtkinsCIN73383
Rob JacksonWAS72389
Elvis DumervilDEN72389
John AbrahamATL72389

Wow. J.J. Watt out performed his peers by a drastic margin; nearly doubling up the #2 lineman. Another frame of reference is that the 16th best kicker, Adam Vinatieri, scored 119 points. It is safe to say that defensive linemen (outside of Watt) are completely disposable and your season won’t be won or lost because of which guys you started.

I have long been a fan of waiting until the final round of a draft to pick a DST squad and with the exception of a few top flight cornerbacks, some tackling machine linebackers and J.J. Watt, waiting to draft IDPs is a sound strategy.

In the end, my co-owner and I stumbled upon J.J. Watt (#1 DL), as well as Richard Sherman (#2 DB), and finished with a decent enough season, just missing out on the playoffs.

What have you noticed in your IDP leagues? Please feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


  1. Avatar

    Regan Yant

    February 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Great stuff! I will admit i havent done an IDP league yet but this helps for deciding draft strategy!

  2. Avatar

    Daniel Peck

    February 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    I do an IDP with full 45 man rosters plus a 5 man taxi squad. 24 starters, including kicker/punter. It is your choice whether you go with a 3-4 or a 4-3, or with 2-2 or a nickel. Here’s some things that I’ve noticed.

    -As with the NFL, product linebackers that tackle can help an average offense considerably. In fact, you have to be careful with your offensive scoring, incorporating PPR and yardage bonuses, or tackles can tilt the scoring balance toward the defense.

    -It goes without saying but solo tackles only. I’ve had guys ask to incorporate assists, which would just tilt the scoring entirely out of whack.

    -Almost every team figures out that they’re better off in a 3-4 than a 4-3, and most owners would avoid starting a DT at all if they could.

    -Along the same lines, if you let owners put three safeties and only one corner into the lineup, they will, because, again, it’s tackles that generate most of the points. That said, if you’re drafting a full roster, safeties, particularly Strong Safeties in bad defenses, can be a differentiator.

    -If you are employing an IDP in a keeper situation, whether you’re using a set number of carry over from year to year, or some sort of free agency/salary cap, try to communicate to potential owners dipping their toe in the water that the first year really is the hardest. IDP leagues have a high barrier of entry. Offensive statistics are easy to grasp, defense ones less so. But if you can get guys past the first year, they generally stay.

    • Avatar

      Matt Lane

      May 11, 2013 at 8:29 am

      In the scoring system i use we award a lot more for sacks (6) interceptions (10) tackles for loss (2) and forced fumbles (6).

      In my opinion its better as it gives IDPs more value and affect draft strategy a lot more. The top guys like JJ Watt, Jason Pierre-Paul etc. would be selected in the 2nd or 3rd round (16 teamer).

      Just my take on it but it’s worked out well for us for the last 3 years.

  3. Avatar


    February 17, 2013 at 8:40 am

    I play a 32 team league that awards more points per tackle and assists to make defensive players score higher. 29 LB’s ended up in our top 100 players. Watt was only DL to score in the top 100. I usually draft LB early in this league, take DL in mid rounds and DB’s late because there seems to be a lot that score well.

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