Baseball is America’s past time, but football is our obsession. You can replace baseball with any other sport here and the same holds true. Compared to the NFL, there isn’t a league that stands on the same ground. We love football so much we created a fantasy football industry that grosses more on a yearly basis than the actual NFL. That income gap isn’t close either, fantasy football out grosses the NFL by upwards of $25 billion dollars. Yes, you read that correctly, Billion with a B. We are so obsessed with a sport most of us are too frail to play that we’ve created a made up version that makes more money than the actual sport.
What makes football so addictive? Is it the shifty running backs and freak-athletic wide outs, or could it be the quarterbacks that see the field like a general during a war? While these may be the main focuses of fantasy football, during games they really are not what makes football what it is. Football is so deeply loved in this country because of the hitting. Without the chess match against the defense, the game of football is nothing. Football doesn’t transition offense to defense the way the other major sports do. The defense is its own team, and while they rarely put points on the board, they are truly the reason we watch football. Even in an era with rules that favor the offense, America is still obsessed with sacking the quarterback. Football stands apart from other sports because of the brutal hitting, and down right physicality of the game. So why do we take all that away in fantasy football?
There is nothing wrong with the standard format we have now. It is a great way to get people into the game of fantasy football. Once you’ve played, however, why stick around the same basic game you started with. A lot of people see it this way and start to graduate up into different league formats and scoring systems. The complexity of the game evolves, but one key aspect is almost always left out. In 2017 it is still very hard to find an IDP -Individual Defensive Player – league. People go nuts with flex spots and two quarterbacks rosters, but still, play the defense as one unit. The defense, like the offense, is made up of 11 different guys. Each position just as exciting as that on the offense. Each position collecting stats which can be counted in fantasy football.
Defensive players are a lot less difficult to predict than running backs and wide outs. Instead of depending on a couple touchdowns you need your linebacker to get a couple tackles. Of course, there are other ways defensive players rack up fantasy points but it really is as simple as tackles. Draft a starting player on defense, and you have half of what you need – opportunity. Going a little deeper in your research, look at rankings. If you don’t want to put in work beyond that you really don’t have to. Of course, as with anything else in life, the deeper you go the more fun you can have.
IDP format isn’t just for fantasy nerds, if you are a true fan of the game you can appreciate the actual football knowledge it takes to be good at IDP fantasy football. Knowing what kind of defense a team plays, and understanding which defenses lend themselves better to fantasy scoring give you a huge upper hand. A middle linebacker in a 4-3 is generally going to get you more points than the edge backers in a 3-4. Unless you’re starting a slot wide out you really don’t care what kind of packages the offense comes out in. Looking into the different defenses teams play and how they use their players in various packages lends itself to you understanding football better in real life too.
When you play without IDPs you are leaving points on the field. Obsessively watching offenses and tuning out when the defense comes on the field because you don’t have anyone in the game is something too many fantasy football players do. Lots of fantasy football fans claim they have come to have a deeper appreciation for the game of football because they have investments spread across multiple teams. Making investments on both sides of the ball only brings you closer to the game.
So maybe by now you’re curious, even tempted to go find a league that will play with defensive players. But you’re not sure how exactly how you go about playing in an IDP format. There are two paths that go very different directions with defensive players. The first is Dynasty Fantasy Football. Multi-year leagues with rules and formats that vary depending upon the commissioner. If you google IDP dynasty fantasy football there is a ton of information out there that will help you get into Dynasty. While Dynasty is fun, I’m here to convince the laymen to come on over and try IDP in a redraft league. If there was IDP daily I would be explaining that too, but unfortunately, we are not quite there yet with daily formats.
The basic way to look at IDPs in redraft depends upon the scoring rules, they will hold value similar to tight ends, kickers, and team defenses. Drafting them late, after you have filled out the majority of your roster is recommended. IDP runs usually begin between rounds eight and ten. Be wary of early runs, however, once someone jumps at a guy in a snake draft there will likely be a run on the position. You can take advantage of the offensive talent being ignored or jump at an IDP you feel you have to have. Neither reaction is wrong here, it all depends on how your draft is going. Targeting linebackers early and progressing back to the secondary is generally the way you want to go with IDP value. Target safeties over corners. As with any fantasy league, know your scoring system. Depending on how IDP stats are weighted in your league, your draft strategy will change slightly. The split is usually between tacklers and play makers. Leagues in which sacks and picks hold more value looking for the playmakers is key. In a normal IDP league looking for tackles is the way to go. I would recommend targeting players that rack up the tackles over a guy like Richard Sherman who will be ignored because of his dangerous abilities.
If you can’t find a league, you may have to create one and be the commissioner. Coming into the final week before kick off with draft season wrapping up I can’t encourage you to get out there and start an IDP league enough. It will change the way you watch football, and play fantasy football. Defensive players are truly a ton of fun to play with.
If you have any questions about IDPs or want to know more hit me up on twitter @ZachDaDraftKing
I’d love to help you out!