An Introduction to The Individual Defensive Player Format


So, you joined a league that uses the Individual Defensive Player (IDP) format instead of the team format you’ve always used, or maybe you wish to migrate your league to IDP, or maybe you had a bad IDP year last year and want someone else’s thoughts on the topic. Welcome All to the corner of The Fantasy Football Gurus that focuses on defense.

This article is intended to provide some basic understanding of the IDP format, targeting positions and important scoring categories. In the coming weeks we’ll dive deeper into players and what to be aware of in the coming season, to get to that we need to set a baseline. So, again, welcome to people new to the IDP format, welcome to veterans who need to reset or refresh their knowledge, and welcome to anyone with a curiosity for fantasy football deeper than just teams.

Let us dive right into the two major topics at hand.

Positions in IDP can be goofy depending on your league’s set up. Most leagues that use IDP will have either 2 or 3 position types and a range of 3 to 8 roster spots in a lineup, some leagues may just have general defensive player flex roster spots, while others may try to emulate a professional football team and run with 11 roster spots spread over 3 to 7 position types. Luckily positions in fantasy scoring break down into 3 categories:

Linebackers: the collection of Inside Linebackers and Outside Linebackers positions, referenced as LB, ILB, and OLB. Most leagues do not break out the two positions, and it is tough to say on any given Sunday that an Inside or Outside Linebacker could produce more points, similar to if a Wide Receiver plays to the left or the right side of the field, there are just too many other factors to let the position be an indicator of expected points.

Defensive Backs: the collection of Cornerbacks and Safeties positions, referred to as DB, CB and S. Seldom does a league break the Safety position into Strong and Free, but it is an option on some platforms. This is a strange category as both CBs and Ss can either be tackle heavy players or passes defended/interceptions heavy players.

Defensive Linemen: the collection of Defensive Tackles and Defensive Ends, referred to as DL, DT, and DE. The DL category is the red-headed stepchild of IDP, and not nearly used as often for a position type as LBs and DBs. This is mainly due to both DTs and DEs do not often rack up many fantasy measured stats.

The fourth category for IDP is the defensive flex position, referred either as D or Def in most fantasy products. The D position type operates just like an offensive flex position where any player can be used in the spot. In leagues where the DL position type is not used, the D position can allow for a DL player to be used (unless your commissioner has excluded DL players from the D slot).

In most leagues IDP rosters are typically set up with 1 to 2 roster spots for Defensive Flex position, then 2-3 LBs, 2-3 DBs, and 0-2 DLs.

Stat Categories:

The important stats in the IDP format are Tackles, Fumbles, Sacks, Passes Defended, Interceptions, and sometimes Tackles for Loss. Not all leagues use Tackles for Loss, hence the sometimes. Other stats like Blocked Kicks or Safeties are too random or too few in a season to expect or count on them.

Tackles: are the cousin of yardage totals in Offense meaning consistency can be found in tackles. Often scored lightly, there are enough players who total over 80 tackles in a season to make the majority of teams in a 14 team league happy with point production from this stat.

Fumbles: are a tertiary stat and almost random enough across all positions to be ignored, but this is offset with the potential of a resulting Defensive Touchdown. Logically thinking, a defensive player only has so much control of the potential for a fumble, the offensive player’s grip and mental state are major factors that could let a normal tackle turn into a fumble or a missed tackle for a huge gain or an offensive touchdown. That all said, as in real football, players with a nose for fumbles can make for some exciting scoring.

Sacks: are a secondary stat for DL and LB players, some DBs will get sacks, however it will be with little consistency. Even the highest sack producing players will average 1 per game, so drafting heavy or expecting to depend on sacks is a high risk strategy.

Passes Defended: are a stat that is all over the place. Some high scoring DBs will see a majority of their points from Passes Defended trading off with Tackles, while other DBs will depend on Tackles and Passes Defended will be a secondary stat. Some of the high point producing DL and LBs will also collect Passes Defended, but both of these positions Passes Defended is tertiary at best.

Interceptions: are tertiary stat, which for DL players come as often as Safeties. For DBs Interceptions are Passes Defended taken to the next level, in addition to the initial points for the turnover the chance for a Defensive Touchdown is now a possibility. LBs and DLs have a chance for a Touchdown too, but they are often getting the turnover in traffic which is harder for them get down field.

Tackles for Loss: are a stat category that is not used as often as the others listed above, and is similar to Sacks, just not dependent on the Quarterback holding the ball when the tackle happens. The chances of a player tallying Tackles for Loss hinges on a team’s likelihood to blitz and the offensive scheme of the opposing team.

In the coming weeks be on the look out for posts to help understand individual position categories and then player analysis as the season approaches.

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