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IDP TUTORIAL: Lesson 2 – Basic IDP Draft Strategies

If you read the first installment of my IDP Tutorial Series here at Fantasy Sharks, then you know that so far we’ve covered how important it is to understand your IDP league’s scoring, and how it affects not only Individual Defensive Players but also how they relate to your offensive counterparts.

If you haven’t read it, go ahead, go back and take a look. We’ll wait.

Still waiting.

Not getting any younger here, dude. Stop watching March Madness for a second and finish the damned article.

OK. Thank You.

Now that we’ve got a basic grasp on IDP scoring, there’s one more broad-strokes subject that needs to be addressed before we start breaking things down into more detail. Think of this at the last “beginner’s” lesson we start ratcheting the lessons up a notch or two.

In order to properly approach your IDP league and its draft, you need to understand how your league’s roster size and lineup requirements impact IDP value. As always, there are going to be exceptions (the insidious fiends. I personally take exception to exceptions, but I am but one man and they are Legion), but in general terms IDP leagues can be broken down into three main categories.

“Light” IDP leagues, either the scoring is weighted so heavily towards offensive players or the lineup requirements are so minimal that IDPs have generally been rendered irrelevant.

In leagues such as this I can break drafting strategy down into one word. Wait. Whether it’s due to only starting one player at each defensive position, or because a very short bench leaves no room for reserves (or both), the fact is that there are always going to be an abundance of start-able options on the waiver wire.

In this sort of league IDPs essentially have the same value as team defenses and kickers. It may be tempting to grab an elite player like Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly earlier in the draft, but you can just as easily wait until near the end of the draft and field a solid IDP lineup. If those guys don’t pan out there will plenty more to choose from on the waiver wire, which opens the door to just playing matchups with your IDPs each week.

The majority of IDP leagues likely lean towards
“Medium”. In those leagues the IDP lineup is enough to make a significant dent in your fantasy squad’s weekly score, but odds are the defensive end isn’t going to make you or break you.

The BTR Listeners League sponsored by Fantasy Sharks Radio is a good example of a “medium” IDP league. In that league owners start two defensive linemen, two linebackers, two defensive backs, and one “flex” player from any position.

As you move into these sorts of IDP leagues things like positional scarcity become more of a factor (just as they are on offense), but here are five basic guidelines to drafting in a “medium” IDP league.

1. Be Patient: Even though you have a fair number of slots to fill, and those IDPs might be capable of putting up some pretty hefty scores, be wary of being one of the first few people in your draft to reach for an IDP.

It might be nice to have Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt as the anchor of your IDP team, but in early mocks I’ve seen this year Watt’s going as early as the third round. In a mixed league that’s when you should be drafting your RB2, not your DL1.

It’s worth mentioning that last year the same thing happened with defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants and Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings. The pair were the first two off IDP draft boards in the majority of leagues, and by sixth round they were usually long gone. Both went on to have disappointing (by their standards) seasons.

If you gotta have Watt I guess you gotta have him, but you’re going to be scrambling for the next several rounds trying to build around him.

2. Two of your First Three Picks Should be Linebackers: Once the first couple of defensive linemen and a few linebackers have come off the board (I’m not going to pick a round, because there’s just no set “magic number”…it varies from league to league) then it’s time to start targeting IDPs. When you do, two of those first three picks spent on defense should be at the linebacker spot.

If you’re playing in tackle-heavy or balanced scoring systems both of these picks should be big-tackle types like James Laurinaitis of the St. Louis Rams. Those are the players who are going to be the most consistent on a weekly basis, and that consistency is going to come in handy.

If you’re in a “big-play” scoring system, then a guy like Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers can also work here. However, it’s advisable to pair that pass rusher with a tackle-vacuum type. The latter will help to offset the former’s down games in weeks where that pass rusher comes up empty in the sack department.

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