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Better Fantasy Football - IDPs

For the past ten years, I've been the commissioner of the greatest fantasy football league in the world.  Oh sure, you might think your league is the greatest...but you're wrong.   Ours is the greatest.  It's a twelve team league that includes -- and I'm not exaggerating here -- my closest friends in the entire world.  All but one of these guys served with me in the Air Force and if it wasn't for this fantasy football league I would've lost touch with most of them long ago.  As the USAF and jobs and families move us apart, fantasy football keeps us together.  When we do meet up, - usually only at weddings or at Christmas - it gives us plenty of things to talk about and rag each other about.   This is my "money league", the league I care about over all others.  I'll be mentioning some of the goings-on in the league over the next few months.

We've introduced some things that make our league great; some of them you've heard of, some of them we consider unique.   I'll be covering a few of the best features over the next few days. If you like them, bring them up as suggestions for your league.

Individual Defensive Players - You've probably heard of IDPs, but they're still amazingly rare. According to CBS Sportsline, only 5% of the leagues using their Commissioner service use IDPs!  
Playing with a team defense is fine if you have some new players in your league, or you're playing for fun. In that case, team defenses can be used because they are easy to understand.

But if you're serious about fantasy football, you need to play fantasy football with IDPs.  In a league with IDPs, the team defense slot is replaced by..well..individual defensive players. Standard leagues have three IDP positions:

  • Defensive Linemen, which include defensive ends and defensive tackles
  • Defensive Backs, which include cornerbacks and safeties
  • Linebackers
IDP Leagues usually require one player from each position, plus one or two defensive "flex" positions that can be filled by any of the IDP positions.  

So a typical IDP Starting lineup might look like this:  
QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, Offensive Flex, TE, K
DL, LB, DB, Defensive Flex, Defensive Flex

Advanced leagues will play with even more IDPs;  I've played in leagues that field a full 11-man defensive side.

IDPs are scored using (of course) defensive statistics.  Tackles, Interceptions and Sacks are the major categories, though Passes Defended and Forced Fumbles are also popular choices.  Just like Team Defense scoring, fumble recovery touchdowns and interception touchdowns are the big point scoring categories.  Except with IDPs, it has to be YOUR guy that scores the touchdown.  

Without IDPs, you're missing out on half the stars of the NFL.  The Lions team defense might not be that good, but LB Ernie Sims is a fantasy monster.  And while the Patriots team defense might be one of the first off the draft board, you'll want to stay away from DL Richard Seymour.  

When you're watching a game on TV and you have IDPs on your team, you'll find you're getting excited by a ball being batted away from a receiver -- not because the play was exciting, but because your DB just racked up a Pass Defended.  I would bet most football fans don't even realize there is an official stat called Pass Defended but now you're so concerned about them that your girlfriend is giving you strange looks.  Even stranger than usual.  

I encourage you to introduce IDPs into your fantasy football league.  While some of the owners will no doubt complain that it makes things "too complicated", like everything else, you get out of fantasy football what you put into it.