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What is IDP Fantasy Football & What Are IDP Leagues? | Individual Defensive Players

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Individual defensive players (IDP) are already a fairly common occurrence in fantasy football leagues. In addition to drafting quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, team defenses and kickers, IDPs can also be a part of a fantasy football team.

IDPs are scored by their statistics: Tackles, assisted tackles, sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, recovered fumbles, safeties, blocked kicks, return touchdowns, passes defended, stuffs (stopping a player for no gain).

IDP leagues are either leagues in which either IDPs are included with the standard roster (QB/RB/RB/WR/WR/flex/TE/K/DEF/IDP) or it can be a league with only IDPs.

Either way, playing in a league which uses IDPs is a great way to better understand the other side of the game, which has been neglected in most fantasy circles. This added dimension makes the game more challenging and thus, hopefully more rewarding.

In standard IDP scoring systems, linebackers (LBs) are king. LBs accumulate the most tackles, the most surefire and consistent defensive statistic. Highlight defensive plays (interceptions, sacks, interception returns for touchdowns, forced fumbles, etc.) are highly irregular and while they are nice bonus, the LBs who lead the league in tackles typically dominate in IDP scoring.

The most important factor in determining which IDPs to target is to analyze the league’s scoring system. First, take a look at the list of players before the draft on the league’s website. This list is where the free agents or waivers are normally found. Rank the defensive players by who scored the most points. Again, in standard scoring leagues, you’ll see the top players are mostly linebackers who had a lot of tackles.

If your league stipulates you must start one defensive lineman (DL), one LB and one defensive back (DB), then take a look at each list and see what each player did to get on the list. Some DBs are ball hawks and intercept a lot of passes and deflect many passes. While some DBs get a lot of tackles since they are used more for run-support.

Typically, for consistency’s sake, it’s best to use players who get a lot of tackles and to consider the other defensive statistics as a bonus. Some players have a knack for interceptions or sacks, but one game they may have two interceptions which is great for one week, but may not have another interception for a month. The same goes for sacks. Last season, defensive end Jared Allen had 4.5 of his 14.5 sacks in one game against the Green Bay Packers. Owners must decide if they prefer the occasional big game or the reliable contributor.

The strategies for IDPs only goes deeper from there as things such as position, defensive scheme, kick returners and other finer details come into play.

IDP leagues are a great way to next the next step as a football fan. Everyone knows the old phrase, “Defense wins championships”. And if an owner knows IDPs, they can help him win a fantasy championship.

Writer – Matt De Lima

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About The Author

Matt De Lima is the guy behind the guy behind the guy. Born and raised near Los Angeles, CA during simpler times where the Rams and Raiders both played there. Back when Eddie Murphy was funny and people still listened to Whitney Houston's music. A graduate of Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!), he's played fantasy sports for the last 10 years and began writing down his opinions in 2010. You remember that fantasy football league you were in last season, there was that one team that somehow had Aaron Rodgers, Chris Johnson, and Andre Johnson? Matt was that guy. You should listen to him. Follow his exclusive content @

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