“I Don’t Play” IDP

… Well you should! Of all the elements of fantasy football that exist today, the most underplayed and under appreciated leagues are those that feature Individual Defensive Players (IDPs), so in this article I’ll try to give the uninitiated and uneasy all the reasons they need to broaden their fantasy horizons and deepen their football knowledge in the process.


 Say Watt? JJ Watt is the undoubted IDP stud of 2013.

photo from www.thehotroute.com

  1. No Team Defence!

I hate using team defence in fantasy leagues, its reductive – a cheap get out that doesn’t give any credence to several important factors. Some poor NFL defences can translate into decent fantasy D/STs owing to one or two exceptional players, whether it’s a sack-happy linebacker or an elusive kick-returner. Plus, any position where it is far more sensible to stream it throughout the season (i.e. Use the waiver wire to pick matchups each week rather than draft a good defence and stick with it) shows innumerable flaws to how their fantasy value exists in the grand scheme of things.

So why inhibit your fantasy experience with them? IDP’s offer you all the excitement of offensive positions and bring in a new factor to look at on draft day. Instead of your fantasy interest waning when you’re star running back’s team go 3 and out, you can re-engage with the game once you realise you also have the middle linebacker on his team as well. If you incorporate kick-returns into your fantasy league you can theoretically watch a game and get points on every play.


2.   Defence… It’s half of the game!

A real NFL exists as a battle between two opposing forces, the unstoppable force
of the offence and the immovable object of the defence… So why does your fantasy league not follow the format? The elation that comes from a last second 50 yard run for a TD to pip your opponent is unrivaled, and this can be expanded onto the other side of the ball with IDPs.

Just imagine you’re down by 40 points waiting for Monday Night Football, and you have 2 LBs and a safety yet to play whilst his team have all played. All hope is gone until the 4th quarter, when one linebacker’s sack causes a forced fumble, and your safety recovers the ball for a touchdown. In my league that would score a mammoth 15 points, perhaps sending you over the edge in your fantasy matchup that week. There is no logical reason to inhibit your experience for half of the game.

Furthermore, the old saying (whilst not so accurate nowadays) of ‘defence wins championships’ is easily translated to fantasy football, when your drafting of a stout group of defenders can be the difference between winning or losing.


  1.  But there’s no analysis out there!

If you look hard enough there is. A quick internet search, scour on twitter, or locating of forums can give you an exhaustive list of IDP analysis, guidelines, articles and everything you read about offensive players is readily translated into IDP fantasy football. There is no new jargon that isn’t self explanatory, there is no extensive three week course in Michigan you need to book yourself on – just a few quick reads of various articles can be all you need to get yourself on your way.

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4.   What’s the score?

The biggest issue is the scoring settings which are by no means standardised. However over time two broad categories have been established: Tackle-Heavy and Big-Play-Heavy.

Tackle-Heavy leagues typically award 1-1.5 points per tackle and half for an assisted tackle. Big plays account for around 3x the score of a tackle, and sometimes less. This means MLBs are attractive options for owners, as their constant stream of tackles each week translates as a running back who gets 100+ yards every week. In tackle heavy leagues it is a lot easier to predict trends in scoring, as tackling is a fairly consistent statistic.

Big-Play-Heavy leagues offer a different experience and award up to 6x the points for big plays like sacks, interceptions etc. as tackles. This creates monster scorers like JJ Watt, Aldon Smith and Von Miller who rack up sacks like it’s going out of fashion. Big-Play-Heavy leagues give more depth at all positions as OLBs become a much sought-after commodity, without giving MLBs’ value a distinct hit. DE also become the staple of your DL, though DTs tend to contribute less. The benefits gained in depth are balanced by the loss of clarity and predictability. The best players become highly erratic, scoring up to 50 points one week and then just 5 another week. However on a personal note I feel this just adds to the roller coaster that a fantasy football season is.


In my next article I’ll canvas the opinion of a number of fantasy players to try and get to the bottom of this anti-IDP logic. Until then, give it some love guys and girls! And remember, No Team-D!

*Editor’s Note: The author, Matt Lane, is from England, hence the differences in spelling.  We at FakePigskin felt it better to leave his proper English spelling as-is to show a Brit dropping knowledge of the American game rather than “Americanize” his work.


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