Brain and Braun is an article written by two self-proclaimed experts on aged Cheddar cheeses, Mexican prisons, and Fantasy Football; Tom Braun (the Braun) and Chris Dolfi (the Brain). This is normally the part where we share with you the magazines, radio stations, and expert leagues we’ve played in…we won’t waste your time. Bottom line, when it comes to Fantasy Football, let us share the idiot mistakes we’ve witnessed (and made) in the past, and throw in some of the info that has worked for us.
The following is a conversation that actually took place at 9:04 PM, this past Tuesday night, documented for you. (None of the names have been changed to protect anyone…like any good Hollywood tramp, they figure any publicity is good publicity.)
Braun: Dolf, lets talk about something that is still relatively new to people in a lot of their fantasy leagues, and that is individual defensive players or IDP’s.
Dolfi: All right, can’t be a good fantasy season unless I talk to someone about IDPs, so shoot.
Braun: Don’t tempt me. (laughs) Seriously, can you define what makes a good IDP?
Dolfi: Well, for those not familiar with IDPs, let me just say that a typical setup many leagues use is 3 defensive players (1 Defensive Lineman, 1 Linebacker, and 1 Defensive Back). Defensive players typically score in statistical categories like Tackles, Sacks, Interceptions, Fumble Recoveries, TDs, etc. Of course, you can set up any amount or combination of players or scoring that you and your league want to use.
Braun: Ok – I was jumping the gun a little bit. Now that you spelled out exactly what defensive players are, I still want to know who is a good IDP and who isn’t.
Dolfi: In a nutshell, it’s no different than offensive players. Good IDP players will vary somewhat from league to league, because the best players you can pick are ones tailored to your scoring system. If your league gives 1 point per tackle but 5 points for sacks and interceptions, you adjust your defensive player rankings accordingly. Just like any offensive player, you have to weigh the overall defense surrounding the player, his past stats, and what you project his future stats to be. No magic bullet – just more hard drafting research pays off.
Braun: You sidestep questions like McNabb sidesteps defensive linemen…
Dolfi: (laughs) I’m just giving the readers some background, and its hard to pick specific players without knowing their scoring system.
Braun: Ok – I’ll let you off the hook on names for now.
Braun: Ok – let me give you my 2 cents on the whole IDP thing. When I first ran across this idea a few years ago, I hated because it isn’t as easy to predict how many tackles someone is going to get in a week compared to guessing if LT is going to have a 100 yard game.
Dolfi: Not true. I understand what you and probably every third person feels, but it’s no harder to make guesses on what defensive players will do than it is to make predictions on offensive players.
Braun: Ha – now I got ya! Tell me how.
Dolfi: (laughter) Okay, let’s say you know that a particular team loves running the ball up the middle. That probably means the middle linebacker on the opposing team is going to be pretty busy and you can probably count on him to have a good game in terms of tackles.
Braun: Like any middle linebacker against Ronnie Brown?
Dolfi: Exactly (heh). I think why people *think* it is harder to predict defensive scoring is that those statistics aren’t flashed in front of their face on Sports Center every 5 minutes. The reason why you feel more comfortable picking a wide receiver is that you see their stats day in and day out. So while it may take more work or research to find out the statistics on the cornerbacks in your league, once you know those statistics, EVEN YOU can start making educated guesses.
Braun: I got ya’… I don’t know if that’s an insult or a complement, though.
Dolfi: I let you figure out that one for yourself.
Braun: Well, I will say this… things like IDP’s certainly don’t even out the playing field in a league, if you ask me.
Dolfi: On this point you are absolutely right! Good for you, you found out the secret why some players are ‘gung ho’ over IDPs and why some loathe them. The more starting players you add on a team, and the more types of scoring you implement in your league, gives everyone in the league more and more to think about in order to be successful. So adding IDP, in some ways, is just another way to help separate the best owners from the worst owners in the league.
Braun: Yea but if that really gives an advantage to some people, aren’t the guys who maybe don’t study the stats as closely just going to quit if they start losing tons of games?
Dolfi: It’s definitely a possibility. You’re either going to force them to study harder, or to find a league that matches the easier scoring system they like.
Braun: Well, I guess that’s certainly one big thing to think about when adding IDPs to a league. Sounds like if your friends are a bunch of football junkies they are gonna’ love it, and if they don’t follow the game as closely they are gonna’ hate it.
Dolfi: I think that is right on the money, Braun.
Braun: Ok – well I know you, and you love football stats almost as much as T.O. loves media attention, so I know you must have been doing your homework. Which leads me back to what I’ve been trying to get outta’ you for the better part of ten minutes… Can you give me a player or two who’s hot right now on your IDP list?
Dolfi: (laughter) Ok, ok – you pinned me down. Again, it’s hard to say exactly who the best IDPs are, because the scoring system certainly changes the ranks, but I’ll tell you some guys that have been a pleasant surprise to me this year.
I thought Julius Peppers might have been getting a little long in the tooth, but he’s been solid again this year so far. Trent Cole from Philly is tied with Peppers and Bart Scott as the league leads in sacks, with 5 each, but I didn’t expect Cole to be the Eagles main pressure bringer this year. Chris Hope looks like the move from Pittsburgh to Tennessee is treating him well too – he leads the league in tackles with 41, and he’s almost halfway to his best season total ever, and that’s only after 4 Weeks! Note to Tenessee: When your team’s safety leads the league in tackles, you are doing something very wrong on defense, but very right for Hope owners. Some of the big name tacklers are putting together solid seasons, too. Johnathan Vilma, Ray Lewis, and Zach Thomas are all doing just fine so far. Rashean Mathis has 4 picks so far, and you gotta’ love that from a d-back; averaging a pick a game is very nice, indeed. Now if he can only keep it up for 12 more games… (laughter)
Braun: Ok, I’ve definitely watched those guys every Sunday… I guess just never paid too much attention to their stats. I do have to say; I think I’m a little more comfortable with the idea of IDPs after talking to you, man. Thanks.
Dolfi: Anytime. I’m always happy to help, especially if that gets more people more interested in fantasy football.
Braun: And you can take THAT to the bank.
Dolfi: Hey, that’s my tag line!
Braun: You snooze you lose… just like picking IDPs. (laughter)
Dolfi: Good lord, I’ve created a monster.