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Home / Commentary / IDP TUTORIAL: Lesson 7 – Scorekeepers and Their IDP Impact

IDP TUTORIAL: Lesson 7 – Scorekeepers and Their IDP Impact

We’ve come a long way with the Individual Defensive Player (IDP) Tutorial Series here at Fantasy Sharks. After starting with
Knowing Your Scoring
and
Basic IDP Draft Strategies
, we took a more in-depth look at
Defensive Linemen
,
Linebackers
and
Defensive Backs
before delving into some more advanced concepts with a look at how the NFL’s different
Defensive Schemes
can impact the fantasy value of IDPs.

Now we’re going to continue our look at the world of Individual Defensive Players and the tips and strategies that you can employ to dominate your IDP league, by looking at the “dirty little secret” of IDP, a fact that’s often overlooked, but that can be of significant help to IDP owners if they know how to exploit it.

NFL Scorekeepers can’t be trusted. Not even a little bit.

You see, even though a tackle is awarded on nearly every defensive play, they aren’t considered an “official” stat by the National Football League. That becomes plainly evident each year when teams release their tackle stats, which usually involve every player on their team being “credited” with 916 stops or some such nonsense.

The tackle statistics that you see on nfl.com, and the ones that most fantasy providers use when determining IDP scoring, are tabulated by the scorekeeping crews at each of the NFL’s 32 stadiums. One would think that there would be a certain amount of uniformity among these scorekeeping crews. After all, a tackle is a tackle, right?

One would be wrong. (Don’t feel bad. I’m wrong all the time. You get used to it.)

Let’s take a look at the five NFL teams that awarded the most tackle numbers (both teams combined) in 2012 according to
The IDP Guru
.

Team

Solos Per Game

Assists Per Game

Total Tackles Per Game

Washington

81

70

151

Cincinnati

75

68

143

New York Giants

104

38

142

New England

85

57

142

Buffalo

96

43

139

Let’s compare those numbers to the five teams who awarded the fewest total tackles last season.

Team

Solos Per Game

Assists Per Game

Total Tackles Per Game

Miami

95

11

106

Jacksonville

100

9

109

Kansas City

103

7

110

St. Louis

102

11

113

Tampa Bay

93

20

113

Granted, some variance from team to team is to be expected, but why did scorekeepers award 45 more total stops per game in the Nation’s Capital than in South Florida?

Simply put, some stat crews are much more likely to award assisted tackles than others. In places like Cincinnati and Washington, if a defender sneezes on a running back he’s often awarded an assist. Conversely, in Kansas City or St. Louis, that same defender could whip out a pair of nunchucks and beat the ballcarrier senseless. If he didn’t get there first, he’s getting a fat bag of nothing.

In fact, even the manner in which assists are awarded can vary. There are essentially two types of plays on which an assist is given. In one, one player will receive a “shared tackle” (which is scored as a solo), while the other receives an assist. In the other, both players are awarded an assist.

Prior to 2011, the default setting that was used by scorekeepers was the solo/assist model. The past two years it has changed to assist/assist. According to “ChrisH” a
Football Guys
message board poster who works with the NFL’s stat crews, “The data entry folks can override the default value but in practice they rarely do.” So, while some NFL teams may still be awarding the solo/assist “shared” stops, most clubs have adopted the “new” assist/assist model.

That’s where the generosity of stat crews can become a double-edged sword for IDP owners. Yes, the stat crews in Cincinnati and Seattle (where 65 of the 135 tackles per game last year were scored as assists) may be generous in awarding total tackles, but given that most fantasy leagues award fewer points for assists than solos, the high assist numbers can cost those players as much as the high tackle numbers help them.

These trends aren’t absolute where fantasy value in concerned. Kansas City inside linebacker
Derrick Johnson
and St. Louis middle linebacker
James Laurinaitis
play eight of their games in front of a stat crew that makes Ebeneezer Scrooge look like a big softie where assists are concerned, but that didn’t stop the duo from topping 100 solos each of the past two seasons, or finishing each of those years as Top 20 fantasy linebackers.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind what their high solo numbers mean for their teammates, since on most plays there’s only going to be a single solo awarded. Yes,
Jo-Lonn Dunbar
was able to post 115 total tackles last year and finish inside the Top 20 at his position in
Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring
, but Dunbar is going to hard-pressed to repeat that feat for the St. Louis Rams in 2013, especially with rookie
Alec Ogletree
now in the Gateway City. There’s only so many tackles to go around, and in some cities there are fewer than in others.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have linebackers such as Cincinnati’s
Vontaze Burfict
and
Rey Maualuga
. Both players topped 120 tackles in 2012, but neither player had 75 solos, which resulted in Burfict barely cracking the Top 40 and Maualuga finishing the season an IDP LB5.

Mind you, this isn’t to say that you should target one player, or shun another, based solely on where he plays his home games. However, availing yourself of information regarding scorekeeping is one more weapon in a savvy IDP owner’s arsenal, especially when considering two closely ranked players. When drafting your IDP team, it’s worth keeping in mind that Arizona linebacker
Karlos Dansby
plays nine games in front of less-than-generous scorekeepers (one in St. Louis, eight in Arizona), just as it’s worth considering that New England’s
Jerod Mayo
plays 10 of his 16 games against scorekeepers that lean towards the edges of the scale. (Nine in New England and Buffalo’s favorable environs, one in Miami’s not-so-favorable one.)

There’s one other area where there can be some deviation in scoring, and that’s where passes defensed are concerned. As Nate Hodges of

Pro Football Focus
recently pointed out, after looking at the past five seasons there aren’t any NFL stat crews that award substantially fewer than average passes defensed. However, there are six teams (Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Detroit, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks) who award a higher-than-average number of them. It isn’t necessarily a huge consideration, but it could mean a small bump in fantasy value for the players on those teams, especially in the secondary.

There’s another area where the variances among NFL stat crews can be an advantage for IDP owners who exploit them. That area is the next focus of the next lesson of the IDP Tutorial here at Fantasy Sharks, where we’ll examine the importance of playing the matchups in IDP.

Looking for more IDP information? Be sure to check out all the other great IDP articles by the rest of the Fantasy Sharks’ crew, the
IDP Forum
,
IDP Manor
, and for the latest injury news follow
@IDPManor
on Twitter.

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.