The IDP Bible: The Original
“The IDP Bible”
Before you continue…
This IDP Bible article has been updated for 2019 and beyond with more current information and can be found here…
This IDP Bible has a suggested approach to setting up IDP rosters and starting lineups. It contains additional information as to why it has been a proven method. And as the IDP grows there are some informational aspects that should be known as a basic baseline to success. We will cover per position what players we should target first and in a general order. Because like the offensive side of the ball the defensive side can be set to increase the odds.
On the offensive side of fantasy football we are more familiar to the players by name or fame. And likely assume the production we will receive when selecting them for our fantasy teams. But on the defensive side of the game this doesn’t always hold true. In some cases a “famous” or “named” player can be relevant in real life but not for our IDP purposes. Additionally, we normally have all eleven players from the defensive side in play in fantasy football. Where as the offensive side does not traditionally use the five offensive linemen for obvious reasons.
IDP Bible Consistency
To begin with, we will look over three seasons worth of data from 2015 to 2017. Examining the statistics of players by position in the top 64 end of year rankings. Then we will break it down by top 32, top 16, and the top 8 for those three seasons. Hopefully getting a baseline for each position. And this data is based on NFL.com’s combined tackle totals, to be clear.
The obvious data that stands out would be the lack of outside linebackers, strongside linebackers, and defensive linemen. We will cover that observation a little later 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 the “safe” option. But now let’s take this a step farther and divide the inside linebackers by two. Because that is the actual amount of ILBs in the two defensive schemes utilized. Those are known as the (Will) WILB and (Mike) MILB in the 3-4 scheme. And the (Weak) WLB and (Middle) MLB in the 4-3 scheme.
So the result of dividing by two adjusted the data fairly versus the two main sets of linebackers. We can determine the inside linebacker’s side by side and in close proximity of each other actually affects each others production. 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. Or should we say by consistency?
Strong and Free Safety
As the data indicates for the IDP Bible, 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 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. But either position should be considered before ever depending on a cornerback. Especially 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’ll touch base on that situation. Also keep in mind that 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 for the IDP Bible. And this is that 80% of them are sack dependent in terms of producing in fantasy football. If we look 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 leagues that triple the normal score settings 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 we don’t depend on outside linebackers. Because if we expect them to be consistent every week we will be disappointed. Don’t be distracted by the “name” if they are designated outside linebackers in your league. That designated position can be one of the most distracting for famous “named” IDP players.
The 4-3 Strongside Linebacker
As for 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 receive. 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 keeping the strongside linebacker on the field more. This trend shouldn’t be depended on until further notice.
So until further notice strongside linebackers are flat out “avoids” in the IDP Bible unless you need deep depth players. Or you happen to have solid proof one will be a full-time player for some reason.
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 as 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 meaningful reason for the outside and strong linebackers not hitting the mark, there is one for the cornerbacks. They are match up 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.
Yes, there are a few exceptions each season. There are corners across from other corners that are better players so they get picked on. And 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. So 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 weekly in most cases.
I’m taking the same approach with any defensive end. If you have hit a “Joey Bosa” or “Cameron Jordan” type, you’re in great shape. They basically fall in our outside linebacker area. But the big difference is that they are designated as a separate group and hold more value there.
And it’s the same exact thing with a defensive tackle If you land a “Damon Harrison” or “Aaron Donald” type, hold on tight.
Overall there are basically a few top defensive ends and defensive tackles. After those, they are stream-able players to insert by position and match-ups. Just like the cornerbacks.
The IDP Bible Phrase
I have a saying that most serviceable defensive lineman and cornerbacks are dime a dozen. And are available all season long on the waiver wire. It is worth it to find at least one anchor to insert that is an upper tier DL. But that is a luxury after the core consistent players are on the roster.
So 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!
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