How Do IDP True Position Designations Affect Player Value?

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True Position IDP leagues are becoming increasingly popular. Here we explore how using this change in player designation affects player value.

IDP position designations are an old problem. In traditional leagues, positions may change from season to season depending on their team's defensive scheme.  Positions commonly affected are linebacker, defensive end, and defensive tackle. This frustrates fantasy managers because players change positions, despite no change in role.

Websites like ESPN and Sleeper have moved to use true position designations.  On those websites, all pass rushers are defensive ends and all interior defensive linemen are defensive tackles. Other sites like MyFantasyLeague and Reality Sports Online still stubbornly use traditional position designations.

There will always be players who blur the lines between positions, but true position designations do a much better job grouping players together. The change from traditional to true position designations alters the player pool for each position.

Before we continue, I want to credit user FBG_Tick in the IDP Guys Discord Server for suggesting this article. The Discord server is one of the membership benefits at IDP Guys and is a great place to discuss fantasy football with a group of dedicated players. Check out the subscription page here if you are interested in joining.

Methods for Comparison

I charted the 2021 fantasy scores for linebackers, defensive ends, and defensive tackles. Player statistics are from Pro Football Reference and scored using the standard settings used by FantasyPros and ESPN.

Traditional position designations were taken from MyFantasyLeague and the true position designations were taken from the Sticky Position Tool created by Adam Tzikas from Dynasty League Football.


2021 Linebackers MFL Position versus True Position

Pass rushers often score poorly compared to linebackers. In 2021, only three defensive ends classified as linebackers in traditional leagues finished in the top 36.  This includes T.J. Watt, who tied the single-season sack record but still didn't lead the position in scoring. True position removes these players and reduces the score of the 36th linebacker by about seven points.

After the 36th linebacker, several additional defensive ends appear in traditional leagues. True position leagues lose depth in this range. Leagues with large benches or with lots of starting linebackers are affected the most by this change.  By the 48th linebacker, the point gap between traditional leagues and true position grows to about 20 points.

The other effect in true position is that managers are unable to start pass rushers as linebackers to play for sack upside. Changes to linebacker are very sensitive to the scoring used.

This is because linebackers score most of their points from tackles. However, defensive linemen score most of their points from sacks. (Fantasypros scoring awards 1.5 points for a solo tackle and four points for a sack.)

Big 3 scoring awards 1.25 points for a solo tackle and five points for a sack. As a result, there were 11 defensive ends instead of three when Big 3 scoring is used. Knowing the impacts of your league's scoring is very important.

Defensive End

2021Defensive End MFL Position versus True Position

T.J. Watt's historic season gets the credit it deserves when he is a defensive end, beating the next player by 68 points.

True position adds linebackers and removes defensive tackles from the position. Depth is increased as more players are added than removed. Between DE8 and DE36, players score between 8 and 18 more points than the players at the same rank under traditional positions. Overall there are more usable players for fantasy managers.

Defensive Tackle

2021 Defensive Tackle MFL Position versus True Position

Cameron Heyward moved from the DE1 in traditional position to DT1 in true position. True position adds 3 defensive tackles to the top 12 and seven players to the top 24, adding depth to a position desperately needing it.

Aaron Donald remains a historically great player who carries high value compared to his peers, but the addition of several players adds depth and allows leagues to start two defensive tackles without emptying the player pool.


True Position adds depth to the defensive end and defensive tackle positions while removing depth from linebacker. It makes more defensive ends viable fantasy players, as they no longer compete directly with higher-scoring linebackers. As fantasy players, we want more usable players, which is why true position is popular.

Thank you for reading this analysis of positional designations. You can find my other articles on my IDP Guys author page, and you can find me on Twitter to comment or complain @djkelltown.

David Kelly

A Canadian fantasy football player for longer than he remembers. Enjoys the NHL, a good CFL game, and a lively IDP fantasy league.

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