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If you haven't already joined the IDP revolution that has crept into the underground of fantasy football, its only a matter of time before one of your fantasy league-mates posits the suggestion to add Individual Defensive Players to your league. This little primer will make sure that you are up to the challenge when it comes to the other side of the ball.
As its name suggests, an IDP fantasy league allows you to draft individual defensive players to your squad instead of the standard “team defenses.” One of the difficulties in preparing for IDP leagues, is the general lack of standard scoring and/or line-ups. But for the sake of explanation, a defensive roster in your average IDP league consists of 2-3 Linebackers, 2 DL slots that can be filled with Defensive Ends or Tackles, and 2 DB slots which can be filled with Safeties or Cornerbacks. League commissioners can adjust these settings of course, allowing for specific slots for Defensive Ends, Safeties, etc. Its also not uncommon to have defensive utility or “flex” spots as well.
In terms of scoring, this is also an area that can vary from league to league, but to gain an understanding, you might expect an average scoring system to look like this: Tackle (1), Assisted tackle (0.5), Sack (3), Interception (3), Forced Fumble (3), Fumble Recovery (2), Defensive Touchdown (6), Safety (2).
So the elite Linebackers are going to be your most valuable defensive players, capable of putting up fantasy scores similar to tier-2 running back or Wide Receiver. With Defensive Backs, top-flight safeties are the most valuable, as they have ample time on the field and a lot of opportunities make tackles, plus the added potential of turnovers. Unlike in the Real World, shutdown Cornerbacks have a limited fantasy value because of the tendency for offenses to avoid them all-together.
Of the three main categories (LBs, DBs, DLs) linemen are overall the lowest point producers. Your top-tier defensive ends are the most lucrative option in here, as they usually record more tackles and sacks than your typical defensive tackle.
In terms of the defensive players' place in a fantasy roster overall, you actually should take a similar approach that you would to drafting a team defense in a traditional fantasy league. You want to make sure that you have your offense more or less taken care of before you worry about defensive players. It might mean that you miss out on some of the top guys at each position, but it will probably leave you with a healthier fantasy team overall.