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The very first Fantasy Football league I ever joined with my friends was an IDP league, and it is a league that we still play. Perhaps I am biased because I have been playing in them since year one, but I find using IDP to be more enjoyable than Standard Settings and adds a new level of strategy.

In this post I will outline some strategy when doing an IDP draft, players to target and other tips that I have picked up.

Rankings and my general thought process based on Standard IDP Scoring:

1pnt per tackle, .5 per assist, 2 pnt sack, 3 pnt INT, 2 pnt forced fumble, 2 pnt fumble recovery, 6 pnt TD, etc…

My IDP Draft Strategy: When drafting my IDP teams, I tend to wait as long as I can before selecting my defenders. I will usually have my entire starting lineup and possibly even a number of backups before grabbing IDPs. I find that making sure you have the best offensive starters and backups possible will go farther in helping you win your league than having the top ranked IDPs will. While Patrick Willis is dominant force at LB, I will not try to draft him because I know I will likely have to take him way before I like drafting my IDPs. I may miss out on Willis and other top ranked LBs, but every year guys like Laurence Timmons (PITS) can be found on the in the final rounds of the draft and will make up for the loss. Their are so many IDPs getting decent tackle totals that committing to a top-end IDP in the eaelier rounds is something I think hurts a fantasy team.

When I draft my IDPs I routinely target linebackers first as I find them to be the most consistent position in gathering high point totals. LBs can consistently reach double digit tackle totals are can serve as a steady source of points every week. I have played in IDP leagues in various years where I drafted Sean Weatherspoon and Barrett Ruud in the final rounds of a draft and had them finish inside the top-15 and top-10 at their position. I also avoid drafting LBs that specialize in getting sacks (Demarcus Ware for example) as they will often have as many bad weeks as they will good. After I LB, I like to target DBs as they also can have very consistent tackle totals on a weekly basis. I don’t find interception valuable enough, and defensive TD predictable enough to really want to draft a DB based on those stats. A player like Yeremiah Bell was never a highlight player in Miami, but was always a player I targeted late in fantasy drafts as he was always getting solid tackle totals from week to week, even getting LB like tackle totals at times. DL is the final IDP spot I try to draft. Having a DE in your lineup who goes off for 3 sacks in a game is great, game like that are to few and far between for me to want to target these players. Cliff Avril (DET) was a great DE who was picked up off the wavier wire in an IDP league I played in last year, while his teammate Ndomakong Suh was drafted round earlier and finished quite a bit behind him in fantasy points at the end of the season. Everyone is my league was so focused on grabbing a DE, that I was able to draft Ahtyba Rubin in the final rounds of the draft and got great production out of him. While he only totaled 5 sacks on the season his consistent tackle totals were always a boost to my team.

IDP Draft Rankings:

Top 15 Linebackers: It is hard to rank them is a specific order, but these guys have shown the ability to get to the ball on a regular basis.

Patrick Willis – Considered the most talented and feared LB in the league for the past few seasons, Willis is routinely the first LB taken in drafts. His value has taken somewhat of a hit with the emergence of Navarro Bowman however.

D’Qwell Jackson – Jackson is a LB I have loved owning for the past few years if I can get him. He has missed time here and there due to injury, but playing in Cleveland he is a tackling machine.

Jerod Mayo – Mayo was a monster in 2010 and was on pace to be a top LB again in 2011 before going down to an injury for many games. In his few years in the league Mayo has shown nothing but an ability to get to the ball.

James Laurinitis – An extremely young, talented LB who has seen his stats improve each season in the league. He anchors the struggling Rams defence and they will need him at his best again this year if they want to improve.

Paul Posluszny – The former Bear and now Jaguar, Posluszny is an amazing tackler and should be able to improve on his 2011 numbers now that he has had a season and off-season with the team.

Derrick Johnson – Johnson finally emerged as the Chiefs defensive leader and cornerstone in 2011, amassing 131 total tackles. Johnson is just realizing his potential and could improve on his 2011 numbers.

London Fletcher – Old Man Fletcher, at the age of 37 led the NFL in tackles in 2011, not to shabby. Fletcher is showing that even into his late thirties he is one of the most consistent LBs in the league and deserves a spot on your team come draft day.

Sean Lee (DAL) – Lee was a breakout star in IDP leagues last year, racking up tackles week to week. He was even a valuable starter when he was playing with a club on his hand. Lee should have an excellent year should he play in all 16 games.

Pat Angerer (IND) – Another breakout star from last year, Angerer emerged as the most consistent tackler on an injured Colts squad. Make sure your league counts assisted tackles as Angerer had about 70 of them in 2011.

Sean Weatherspoon -Weatherspoon had an excellent 2011 and should be able to have an even better 2012 with Curtis Lofton now sent to New Orleans. Lofa Tatupu takes over at the position.

Navarro Bowman – Bowman emerged as a star playing alongside Patrick Willis, actually out performing im in the fantasy world. When drafting this year I would rather have WIllis but you may get more value in waiting for Bowman.

Chad Greenway – Greenway had over 150 tackels for the first time in his career, but much like Pat Angerer, many of his tackles were assisted, so be sure your leagues counts assits before drafting him.

Darryl Washington – Arizona’s defence was a big reason the finished the season as strong as they did and were able to scrape out a .500 record. A big reason why Arizona’s defence was so good was because of the improved play of Washington, as he totalled 107 tackles. Now, entering his third season I expect Washington to improve his  tackle total once again, perhaps getting up over 125.

Demarcus Ware – Demarcus Ware is player that you have to rank due to his ability to rack up sacks, but his inconsistency with tackles makes him an IDP that I avoid drafting. While he may have 5 tackles/3 sack game one week, he may also have a 2 tackle/o sack week the next. Too boom or bust for my liking.

Karlos Dansby – Dansby wasn’t as consistent last year as some had hoped he would be, but he was playing in the Fins 3-4 system.   Now the Dolphins have moved to a 4-3 system and the common quote going around is that Dansby has been like ‘a kid in a candy store’ playing in the new system.

Honorable Mention Ray Lewis: At the age of 38 Ray Lewis is still one of the most talented, and easily the most driven LB in the game. I imagine a 45-year old Ray Lewis would still be able to have a fantasy impact.

Top 15 Defensive Ends: These DEs have the ability to either get consistant tackle totals or high sack totals.

Jason Pierre-Paul – JPP was a BEAST in 2011, as many fantasy experts expected. I see Pierre-Paul as the top ranked DL in the league for seasons to come. He is a physical speciman with a non stop gas tank who still has much to lean about the game. Playing with Tuck and Umienyora also helps out JPP.

Jared Allen – Had an insane season in 2011 coming just 1 sack shy of Strahan’s all time record. While I would rather have the much younger JPP, Allen showed in 2011 how dominant he can be.

Trent Cole – While he may not have the highest sack totals from week to week, he always has one of the most consistent sack totals at the end of the season. Cole is routinely one of the most consistent players at the DE position and is always a solid draft pick.

Julius Peppers – Despite seeing double teams all season long Peppers was able to to rack up 11 sacks. One of the most feared pass rusher in the game, I expect Peppers to reach double digit sack totals once again in 2012.

Justin Tuck – In recent seasons Tuck has been considered one of the best pass rushers in the league. With the emergence of JPP however Tuck is now the second best pass rusher on his own team. Tuck only had 5 sacks in 2011 while playing in 12 games so their is room for improvement from him in the coming season.

Jason Babin – Babin had a career year as an Eagle and will be looking to build on that success. While it will be hard for him to match his 18 sacks from last year, he should be able to put up double digit sacks at the least.

Mario Williams – Mario will be looking to make a new mark on the league with his new team the Buffalo Bills. Having MArk ANderson on the other side should also help limit the number of double teams he sees.

Elvis Dumervil – After missing all of 2010, Dumervil was back in 2012 with the Broncos for 14 games and was able to get 9.5 tackles. Dumervil should only see improvement this year as he is in even better shape and will get to play a full schedule.

Osi Umienyora – The third Giant on the list! The Giants certainly have one hell of a pass rush. Osi only played in 9 games in 2011 but was still able to rack up 9 sacks. With JPP, Tuck and Osi all attacking the QB is it only a matter of time before one of them gets there.

Cliff Avril – Ndomakong Suh was the Lion that most fantasy owners were targeting last year, but it was Cliff Avril who ended up with double digit sack totals while Suh was stomping on players. Avril is currently going through some ugly contract negotiations that could hurt his value, but in the end is still a very talented pass rusher.

Calais Campbell – While his best sack total is only 8 in a season, his 72 tackles last season make him one of the most consistent options at his position; draft with comfort.

Chris Clemons – I recently read an article about Chris Clemons that touted him as the most underrated player in all of the NFL. He is coming off back to back double digit sack total seasons and should be a lock to make it 3.

Chris Long – In his 4th season in the league, Long had his best sack total yet in 2011 with 13. He has the luxury of playing in a very week division and should be a safe bet to get another 10-15 sacks in 2012.

Justin Smith – Like Calais Campbell, Smith might not get you the highest sack total but his ability to get to the ball and rack up tackles make up for it.

Cameron Wake – Wake had a major down year in 2011, largely due to the fact that he has almost no help and teams can double team him at will. Wake still is one of the hardest workers at his position and will do everything he can to bounce back.

Ahtyba Rubin – only 5 sacks in 2011 but great tackle totals; the only player on this list who plays is a DT and not a DE.

Top 15 Defensive Backs: Same with LBs, these DBs have shown a penchant to get to the ball regularly or be a ball hawk.

George Wilson – Wilson had te highest tackle total of his career in 2011 with 106, despite only playing in 12 games. If he plays 16 games WIlson’s numbers would have been more like a LBs numbers. Wilson is easily the #1 ranked DB in 2012.

Tyvon Branch – Branch is usually the DB I target for my own teams ans he has routinely been one of the best tacklers at his position and is able to cause fumbles. Barring injury Branch will be one of the most reliable DBs for seasons to come.

Eric Berry – Berry was expected to be a top DB in 2011 after his 96 tackles in 2010 but ended up missing the entire season due to injury. Berry has now had a whole year off and will be looking for blood when he comes back on the field in 2012. I would not surprise me if Berry had the best fantasy season among DBs.

Kam Chancellor – Kam took a huge jump in 2011, going from 23 tackles to 97 in just a season. In 2012 I would be shocked in Kam didn’t find his way to 100+ tackles to go along with whatever other stats he gets.

Roman Harper – Harper’s all around ability make him one of the best options at DB on a yearly basis. 95 tackles is already a good start, but then you add his 7.5 sacks and 2 FFumbles and you realize how potent this guy is.

T.J. Ward -After amassing 123 tackles in 2010, Ward was expected to be a stellar option at DB until he went out in week 8 with a season ending. As we approach the 2012 season my expectations fr Ward are as high as they were last year. There is tons of potential here.

Terrell Thomas – The Giants won the Superbowl despite having lost one of it’s best defensive players in Terrell Thomas before the season even started. Thomas was coming off a 100+ tackle season in 2010 that went with 5 INT and 4 FFumbles. Look for Thomas to approach those types of numbers should he get a 16 game season under his belt in 2012.

LaRon Landry – One of the most athletic players in the league, Landry would be a top-3 pick at DB every year if it were not for his injury concerns. Landry is as fast as they come and hts like a truck but has been unable to stay on the field in recent seasons.

Eric Weddle – Weddle isn’t the flashiest player in the league, but he is one of the most consistent. He is a great tackler, often causing a fumble or 2 and he is coming off his best single season INT number. The Chargers need Weddle to play at a high level if they want their defence to take a step forward.

Charles Tillman – Tillman had 80 total tackles again in 2011 and was even able to get 2 defensive TDs. Tillman is the model of consistency and a great addition to any squad.

Antoine Bethea – With the Colts struggling as they did in 2011, Bethea was able to have his best year yet in terms of tackles. It should be another great fantasy season for Bethea as the Colts struggle for wins once again.

Yeremiah Bell – Bell is now a Patriot and should be able to continue to high tackle totals. The Patriots have on of the worst secondaries in the league and are thrown against constantly as teams try to play catch up to Tom Brady. This should give Bell ample opportunity to maintain his fantasy value.

Morgan Burnett – Burnett played injured for a period of the 2011 season, despite not missing any time he did struggle a bit when it came to tackling. Still, in spite of this Burnett still 107 tackle to go along with a slew of other stats. Burnett will likely finish as a top-10, maybe even top-5 DB in 2012.

Jairus Byrd -Byrd has now played 3 full seasons in the NFL and has proved himself to be a very talented bal hawk. His tackling totals are also pretty impressive for the last 2 seasons. In his 3 season in the league has has 80+ tackels twice, and in the year that he didn’t, he had 9 INTs.

Mark Barron – The top Safety of the newest draft class Barron was drafted by Tampa Bay and is expected to be an every down starter from week one. Their will likely be a learning curve for the talented young DB, but the opportunities will be there for him from the start.

Honorable Mention Charles Woodson – I don’t like playing Woodson on a weekly basis but I have been burned by him more than once when he is on an opponents team and returns a TD. I have a good friend who loves drafting Woodson to play him against rookie, and other struggling QBs, as he often ends up with some INTs or sacks.

Other Tips and Tricks for Winning an IDP League: When I am picking IDPs, I always try to target players who have consistent tackle numbers. While it is nice to have a guy like Jarod Allen go off for 3-4 sacks to go along with his tackles, there is no telling when he is going to have those kind of outings. I will gladly pass up on grabbing Allen earlier in a draft and grab someone like Ahtyba Rubin, who despite only having 5 sacks was a top IDP at his position due to 83 total tackles (56 solo).

If you are like me and like to wait as long as possible before drafting IDPs, then it can at times be essential to hunt the waiver wire. There is almost always a few IDPs who do not get drafted at their respective positions, but end up having some of the best fantasy seasons. The best on field players are not always the best fantasy players. DBs who struggle in coverage can be great fantasy options as they are forced to make more tackles as they can’t prevent the play from happening.

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Follow me on Twitter: @Blackie_Mike

My Youtube Channel: youtube.com/user/koopafantasy

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