Gary VanDyke (@HBogart27) breaks down his winning strategy for overall IDP playing. He has been developing this “IDP Bible” over the course of his writing career and has brought it to IDP Guys.
“The IDP Bible”
This “IDP Bible” that I like to refer to it as, has my suggested approach to our IDP rosters and starting lineups for fantasy football with additional information as to why it is a proven method. As the IDP format grows there are some informational aspects that should be known as basic and a baseline to success. We will cover per position what players we should target first and in a general order. Just like the offensive side of the ball in fantasy football, the IDP or defensive side of the ball can be addressed in a manner that increases the odds we will accomplish our goals.
On the offensive side of fantasy football we are more familiar to the players by name or fame and likely the production we will receive when selecting them for our fantasy teams. While on the defensive side of the game this doesn’t always hold true in that thinking process. In some cases, a “famous” or “named” player can be relevant in real life for their NFL team but not so productive for our IDP purposes. Additionally, we normally have all eleven players from the defensive side in play in fantasy football versus the offensive side that does not traditionally use the five offensive linemen due to obvious reasons.
While with IDP leagues we have the defensive linemen to consider as well for inserting into our lineups. Because of this the IDP lineup and roster, in general, should be approached by position just as well as “known” players. More often than not the selection or priority of the positions can suggest the odds of success over anything else. So this article will assist in the breakdown of this pecking order including why I suggest it for maximizing the IDP.
To begin with, we will look over three seasons worth of data from 2015 to 2017 with the statistics of players by position in the top 64. Then we will break it down by top 32, top 16, and the top 8 for those three seasons getting a baseline for each position. The data is based on NFL.com’s combined tackle totals for the end of each regular season.
The obvious data that stands out would be the lack of outside linebackers, strongside linebackers, and defensive linemen. We will cover that observation further on in this article. But for now, we will indulge ourselves with the data we have at hand.
So according to the numbers the inside linebacker offers us the most potential by position to start with. So before we break this down farther we can assume they are a “safe” option. But let’s take this a step farther and divide the inside linebackers by the number two that the 3-4 scheme utilizes. Those are known as the (Weakside) WILB and (Mike) MILB. After adjusting the calibrations we end up with the following.
The result of dividing by two adjusted the data fairly in range versus the two main every-down linebackers in the other base defensive scheme known as the 4-3 base. Comparably those two linebacker positions are known as the (Weakside) WLB and the (Middle) MLB. We can determine that as the inside linebacker’s side by side and in close proximity of each other actually affects each other production more than the WLB and MLB in the 4-3. This is truly splitting hairs, in general, the WILB, MILB, WLB, and MLB clearly are above the rest on average for production.
Here is the real big picture that the chart actually indicates to us. It reveals the consistency of the positions we want to target. Those positions didn’t happen to land with those percentages by accident over the last three seasons. They earned their place on the chart by having the higher weekly averages overall. And are our number one grouping by position to target overall when filling in our lineups and rosters for IDP.
Strong and Free Safety
As the data indicates, the safeties are the better and more constant options in the secondary over cornerbacks. The strong safety has the edge as the position is routinely used in run stopping support. As for the free safety, the trend is starting to take over the NFL with basically the two positions being interchangeable. But as of now the FS still isn’t used as much close to the line of scrimmage in that run support. Either position should be considered before ever depending on a cornerback in leagues that the designated position calls for general defensive backs. not only does the data indicate this, but further on in this article, we will touch base on the cornerbacks and that situation. Something to keep in mind, as close as the FS and SS are, it really depends on the quality of the player as well as how each team uses them overall.
The Outside Linebacker
We will cover the outside linebackers next with one simple statement to start with. And this is that 80% of them are sack dependent in terms of producing in fantasy football. If we look in general into the production of the outside linebacker there are a couple exceptions each season, but even if they manage to reach the tier two range in fantasy scoring overall, they are likely inconsistent on a weekly basis and manage to reach the tier by hitting big games every few weeks. At least in any standard or close to standard score setting. There are those that triple the normal scoring for sacks. But for the most part, at least 80% aren’t even serviceable or dependable on a week to week basis. If we have a lineup that requires that we start four linebackers and we depend on outside linebackers in that starting lineup and expect them to be consistent every week we will be disappointed more often than we want to admit. Don’t be distracted by the “name”s if they are designated outside linebackers in your league. That designated position can be one of the most distracting as for famous football players.
The 4-3 Strongside Linebacker
As far as the strongside linebackers, it boils down to the fact they normally are not every-down players. Their snap counts with the starting defenses are normally just about half on average of what the rest of the linebackers in the same scheme receive every contest. So none of them shining in the top 64 isn’t shocking. There was a trend in 2017 for a few teams such as the Saints, Bengals, Dolphins, and Jaguars that kept their strongside linebacker on the field over the middle linebackers on passing downs. This trend shouldn’t be depended on until further notice. While it looks like each team had a deficiency in the linebacker core at one of the linebacker spots, that they did this to just try and keep their best couple of linebackers on the field at all times. Until further notice strongside linebackers are just flat out “avoids” unless you need deep depth players or you happen to have solid proof one will be a full-time player, in on every snap.
Now we address the cornerbacks and where they slot into the grand scheme of things among the secondary players. We can reflect back on the chart above and see the percentage they fall into with the more consistent players. Or we can simply use one of each position from the strong safety, free safety and cornerbacks to demonstrate like we have with the linebackers. But overall we should consider the table and the chart as a whole, versus why the percentage on the chart and count on the table is so low.
If the cornerbacks are not registering at the level that the strong and free safeties are, their not consistent enough to win every week within 80% of the cases. And just like there is a stateable reason for the outside and strong linebackers not hitting the mark, there is one for the cornerbacks. They are matchup dependent. If they do not get a chance to register passes defended, or make interceptions, or simply just flat out targeted by opposing quarterbacks, they rarely get the combined tackle opportunities consistently.
Let’s think about this statement. On average we could say that any given pass play there are normally two to four and maybe up to five targets a quarterback can throw the ball to. This can include a couple or more wide receivers, a running back, and a tight end. A cornerback is out on an island most of the game taking on one area in a zone defense or one on one with a receiver. So his odds of being consistent every contest depends on being thrown at a lot.
Yes, there are a few exceptions each season. There are corners across from other corners that are better players so they get picked on. There are rookies to be tested or maybe the front seven in front of them are just that good that teams game plan to throw a lot. There are all kinds of reasons why some cornerbacks perform well in fantasy. But on a year to year bases, this isn’t a constant thing we can rely on. I personally suggest we consider streaming cornerbacks in most cases.
If you went thru your draft or take an existing lineup and use all available means to secure the core with consistent players at other positions, you can stream cornerbacks by their matchups all season long and never carry a depth player at cornerback. And as long as the core linebackers and such are secure you’ll never miss a beat as long as you make sure the matchup of the corner you pick up is viable. Simply pick up a player that is facing a high rate passing team and is not a “named” shutdown corner type. Always try to focus on the “other guy” across from a stud CB. The corner that the quarterbacks won’t test because he is the better player.
This is more than I want to even cover on cornerbacks. Give me the more reliable strong and free safeties with a solid weekly average every contest, preferably the strong safety. If you’re forced to have a corner in the lineup then stream them. It’s just my thoughts after years of playing IDP. If you land a producing corner early, of course, stick with him. You’ve hit the lottery for that season.
I’m taking the same approach with any defensive lineman. If you have hit a “Joey Bosa” or “Cameron Jordan” type, you’re in great shape. They basically fall in our outside linebacker area, the big difference is that they are designated as a separate group and hold more value there. The same exact thing with a defensive tackle, if you land a “Damon Harrison” or “Aaron Donald” type, hold on tight. There are basically a few top defensive ends and defensive tackles. After those, they are streamable players to insert by position and match-ups, just like cornerbacks.
I have a saying, most serviceable defensive lineman and cornerbacks are dime a dozen all season long on the waiver wire per match up. And it’s served me well over the years. It is worth to find at least one anchor to insert that is an upper tier. But that is a luxury after the core consistent players are on my roster.
With the information above this is my suggested drafting and/or current lineup building strategy. Keep in mind I do not personally join any leagues willingly that designate I have to use a cornerback.
1. MLB/ILB/WLB- max lineup out with them first, doesn’t hurt to have good depth here.
2. Strong Safety- the “linebacker” of the secondary, I’d like to have however many to fill my lineup and at least one depth player if possible.
3. DL- Only if I can get top 5-10. If not I skip down.
4. Secure any depth at the above and I would consider a free safety now at depth for defensive backs.
5. DL again- The best I can get with a solid weekly average. I don’t stop until the lineup is filled here and have depth.
6. At this point If I have room, I explore fliers or sleepers at the above.
7. Look at league’s overall rosters and see who took the outside linebackers, strongside linebackers and corners off the board and insert a “giggle”.
Remember: Consistency in IDP lineups win, period!
Thanks for reading and be sure to hit me up with any further questions you may have and anything IDP on twitter @HBogart27