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IDP Draft Strategy

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A man’s draft strategy is sacred. Inevitably after a draft, every owner seems to love his team while he’ll find 11 differing opinions concerning his rag-tag group of overachieving bums. This is a fact of life and there’s no changing it.

What you can control and change is how you approach a draft. Each league is unique but there’s a series of steps you should traverse before making any firm decisions. IDP leagues throw a curveball into the mix by demanding an answer to the following question: When do I select my first IDP?

We’ll get to that. Sort of.

First of all, I’m going to avoid using hypothetical scoring systems because that will only confuse you. What you need to do is go to your league’s waiver wire and set it up so you can see every players’ stats and total fantasy points from the previous season. If this is a 12-team league, for every position, find the difference between that position’s top scorer and the 12th best scorer. If it’s an 8 team league, find the difference between the top scorer and 8th best scorer and so on.

As an example, let’s say in this league the top scoring QB was Tom Brady with 400 points and the 12th best QB was Matt Cassel with 300 points. So 400 – 300 = 100. Now, divide 100 by the top scorer’s point total. That would be 100 / 400 = 0.25. Now multiply that number by 100 and you’ll have a percentage which represents the point differential of the position. In this example, it’s 25 percent.

Why is this relevant? Well you know how people say to draft kickers in the last round because there’s no telling how they’ll perform? It’s also because the point differential between kickers is very low. Most kickers, even in an inflated scoring system, don’t score a ton of points and the point differential isn’t that high either.

This is why running backs are almost always best choice for a first round pick. The gap between No. 1 Arian Foster and No. 12 Rashard Mendenhall in one of my leagues was over 150 points, creating a ridiculous 39 percent point differential.

So the higher the point differential, the more valuable the position, meaning the earlier they should be taken. This is because as each player at a position is picked, the value of each remaining player falls more rapidly due to the higher point differential.

You’ll traditionally find that IDPs have relatively low point differentials, especially in tackle-heavy leagues. That’s why there shouldn’t be a pressing concern to reach for Patrick Willis or Jerod Mayo before the eighth or ninth round. As an example, in one of my leagues, Mayo scored 263 points last year. A 40% point differential player would have been the No. 38 ranked LB Mario Haggan. While it only takes 12 running backs to reach a 40% point differential, it’d take 38 linebackers. This is the essence of the argument and the main reason why it’s best to exercise patience with IDPs.

I know it would be nice to have Willis, LaRon Landry and Justin Tuck as starters in your IDP league, but you’ve got to understand that reaching for them will only hurt your fantasy team, especially if you have depth concerns at key offensive spots.

Ultimately, do what makes you feel comfortable but also understand why and when you’re drafting a player. If you’ve got to have a top LB, go for it, just keep in mind that an IDP’s fantasy value decreases much slower as they fall off the board compared to other positions. There are certainly more complicated ways to determine a position’s value, but this is a simple way to get an idea of what you’re dealing with.

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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 @ OpenSports.com

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