Welcome to Deciphering Designated IDP In Fantasy Football at Gridiron Ratings. A basic 101 tutorial to help understand the individual defensive player translations from the NFL to fantasy football’s defensive squad. And clearing up some discrepancies that all IDP owners must keep in mind when building a lineup and rosters. Because let’s face it, not everyone grew up playing the game of football, or particularly understand the fundamental of the positions. And for that reason, it is sometimes hard to convert to playing the defensive side of this game when attempting to get it right. So in this tutorial, we’ll apply our knowledge to attempt to bring everyone up to speed and on the same page. We will state this is an opinion piece from our perspective, but what we are about to share does come from a very long history of playing IDP successfully.


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The following information is just one part of a huge picture for getting IDP right in fantasy football leagues. And deciphering designated IDP positions may seem trivial among the other things we need to keep in mind. But if you’re maximizing the IDP scoring formats, values, drafting methods, rankings, ratings, and whatever else you may come across. And not translating it all without considering the positions correctly, it won’t maximize your odds of winning on the defensive side of the ball. After all, we do want the best possible IDP players in place, but here is a little secret. Sometimes the most important thing can be that our IDP lineups aren’t our team’s weakness. Simply because in any given matchup, that weakness will drag us down.

The Problem When Deciphering Designated IDP Positions

The most common problem for IDP owners when deciphering designated IDP positions on the majority of sites is the structure of the layouts. Which in the end, comes across in a vanilla format. One that assumes the user is hardcore and very knowledgable of all the NFL team’s defensive schemes. And for those people that have played or coached the game of football, that’s fine. But for the larger portion of fantasy football owners who have not, things are lost in translation. Which the result gives an edge to some owners and leaves others scratching their heads because the players they are targeting aren’t living up to their designated position by name. Here are two examples of the worse depth chart layout culprits out there. And sadly, for fantasy football owners, they are really popular on a lot of sites offering depth charts.

Deciphering Designated IDP

The Problem

The first and most obvious problem with this layout is that it doesn’t clarify visually or title the defensive scheme of the squads. Not to mention, the poor off-season alignment of players by their designated positions. And it is not only plain as it gets, but there isn’t any real indication of the NFL positions for fantasy football owners. This leaves it completely on the knowledge of the user in translating some of the most important positions into the player’s IDP value. And by looking at these two teams side by side, can you tell they use two different base defensive schemes? 

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The Problem

In this example, we almost have the opposite problem from the plain version. Just how are fantasy football owners suppose to translate some of the positions unless they have a lot of prior knowledge? And even if there is a key describing all those positions, it takes it to a confusing level for the average fantasy football owner. In the two different schemes, how exactly are there SLB (strong side linebackers) in both schemes? Or how is there an MLB (which should be MILB for mack inside linebacker) in both schemes? And just to point one more thing out in this example, how do the Falcons have three defensive ends?

We are also going to pick on this overzealous layout for consistency problems for fantasy football owners. And also going to note, it’s not just this layout that we could pick on in this article. It’s everywhere in one form or another on most sites offering depth charts that fantasy football owner access.

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The Problem

Are they assuming that owners know the breakdown of every NFL team’s position term within the defensive scheme they use? Tampa Bay and Arizona both use a 3-4 base defensive scheme. And we understand that each NFL team does have certain terms and fundamental differences in the deployment of the scheme. But this does nothing for the average fantasy football owner trying to translate the positions. And can just confuse the situation, even more, when referring to the positions in the schemes.

The NFL doesn’t exactly help clear things up either. For one, they refer us to the team sites and the team’s official depth charts, if they are even posted or up to date. Which is logical, but yet we run into the same thing as any of the other sites. And that is consistency and the easy ability to translate the real world football into the fantasy game. Not to mention what they do give us on-site at their main NFL site HERE. Not only do they not allow access to IDP depth charts or general information unless you open a league with IDP. But they only generalize the players by name and not by their actual designated position.


Deciphering Designated IDP In Fantasy Football

Our sole purpose is to hopefully decipher the many IDP position terms down into general fantasy football designations. One that none defensive football gurus can relate to and still understand the fundamentals of IDP with. And giving owners a base idea of what these positional terms mean when structuring a lineup or roster based on the language. Hopefully, setting the base idea of what we are all looking at on depth charts and any other player lists we use for IDP.

Deciphering Designated IDP In Fantasy Football at Gridiron Ratings

Defensive Linemen 4-3

Defensive Linemen are generally known as a designated DL by sites. These positions include the following IDP in this defensive scheme base package.

The 4-3 defensive scheme: These variations can include an L for left or R for right.


Black: Interior Defensive Tackles Or DT
  • The RDT isn’t historically a very productive IDP player in fantasy football. This defensive tackle needs to be large and as powerful as possible to fill his role. He’ll normally line up between the offensive center and guard and lines up on the strong side of the formation. This IDP rarely records sacks, and his IDP production depends heavily on stopping the run at the line of scrimmage. And by being the big man on the line, he’ll often find himself doubled teamed by the opposing team.
  • The LDT (Gray Stripe) is considered the more productive DT for possible IDP production in most of these schemes. He isn’t normally oversized and gets the job done with speed, quickness, and using his technique. Which in this particular shot, that player is a well-known former 49er, DL DeForest Buckner. A couple of other well-known DT in the 4-3 base is the Falcons Grady Jarrett and Eagles Fletcher Cox.


Orange: Defensive Ends Or DE
  • The RDE or strongside defensive end is normally to the tight end side and needs to be a defensive player that can play the run well. And they are not known as the better pass-rusher on most teams between the two DE. He has to be able to shoot the gap while stopping the run often. And he may need to bump the tight end or watch for players in routes out of the backfield and all this can limit his opportunities for IDP production.
  • The LDE (Gray Arrow) is considered the blind side or weak-side pass rusher in this scheme. And is considered the prime DE for recording sacks and making plays in the backfield. Which in this particular shot that player is well-known 49ers, DL Nick Bosa. A couple of other well-known DE in the 4-3 base is the Vikings Danielle Hunter and Chargers Joey Bosa. Who also happens to be the big brother of Nick Bosa in this image.


The Deciphering Designated IDP Overlap
  • Trending in fantasy football is the designated Edge-Rusher position for IDP lineup purposes. And in this particular base scheme, the defensive ends are those designated positions when referring to that term. They are easily deciphered by their location on the outer edge of the defensive line and traditionally record the most sacks in this scheme. 

Deciphering Designated IDP In Fantasy Football at Gridiron Ratings

Defensive Linemen 3-4

Defensive Linemen are generally known as a designated DL by sites. These positions include the following IDP in this defensive scheme base package.

The 4-3 defensive scheme: These variations can include an L for left or R for right.


Black: Interior Defensive End Or DE
  • This particular position can also be referred to as a defensive tackle or DT by teams using the 3-4 scheme. And this will also vary at some fantasy football sites. But whichever designation the may have, they are not normally very productive. And are known more like a lane clogger or gap shooter to stop the opposing teams run game. So for that reason, we don’t have any well-know players to mention. And unlike the 4-3 scheme, and especially this particular defensive end, his first priority isn’t to get after the quarterback.


Black (Gray Stripe): Nose Tackle Or NT
  • This particular position is more commonly a designated defensive tackle or DT on most sites. This is simple to explain as they are a similar player in physical stature, but much larger normally. And although we are featuring the well-known Packer Kenny Clark in this image, the position overall is a wasteland in fantasy football. Clark is simply the exception to the rule and we shouldn’t target the nose tackle in this scheme. He is a physical beast, a great IDP play, and in most of the Packers defensive sub-packages, slides out to a defensive tackle position fairly often. Which is also not normally the case with most teams using the base 3-4 scheme. In a general description, their job is to clog the middle while occupying the opposing team’s offensive linemen.


Black (White Stripe): Defensive End Or DE
  • Again some teams and sites can refer to this interior left side IDP as a defensive tackle. And his player may be a defensive end by name, but his physical attributes are more in line with that of a defensive tackle. And is comparable to the LDT that we mentioned in the 4-3 defensive scheme. The position will also produce within the same range as the 4-3 LDT for IDP purposes. And we will also note that most sites do not include this 3-4 defensive end as a designated Edge-Rusher. Because he generally isn’t on the outer edge of the defensive line formation and considered an interior defensive lineman in the NFL. And just like his counterpart on the opposite side of the nose tackle, his first priority isn’t to always get to the quarterback. Even though a few do it well and are known for doing so. In this image, the position is manned by the Packers Dean Lowery, who isn’t the best example as an average player. But a couple of well-known examples would be the Texans J.J. Watt and Steelers Cameron Heywood.


The Deciphering Designated IDP Overlap
  • Trending in fantasy football is the designated Edge-Rusher position for IDP lineup purposes. And in this particular base scheme, the Outside Linebacker or OLB are those designated positions, when referring to that term. They are easily deciphered by their location on the outer edge of the defensive line and traditionally record the most sacks in this scheme. And although they are not technically referred to as a defensive lineman, they are a perfect example for this article’s purpose. The position isn’t defined well in the industry right now. And the term Edge-Rusher has to be included somewhere, right? In this particular case, the image features the Packers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Brown. And both players did have outstanding 2019 seasons. This is not normally the case to have two productive Edge-Rushers on the same team. But there are a few exceptions, including the outside linebackers of the Steelers and Broncos. And those well-known names include T.J Watt, Von Miller, Bud Dupree, and Bradley Chubb.

Deciphering Designated IDP In Fantasy Football at Gridiron Ratings
Deciphering Designated IDP

Defensive Backs 

4-3 (First Image) / 3-4 (Second Image)

Defensive Backs are generally known as a designated DB. These positions include the following in this base packaged defensive scheme.

These variations can include an L for left or R for right in both schemes for the cornerbacks.


Black: Cornerbacks Or CB
  • Known somewhat as an offensive play-called dependent position in terms of IDP production, there isn’t much to decipher here. There are normally two main CB per team that covers the opposing team’s receivers. They spend a lot of their time on the outer edge of the playing field. There can also be an additional slot corner (Black: Gray Stripe) who’ll play in packages or based on the opposing team’s offensive situation. And as by the name, he is normally responsible for covering the third receiver that lines up in the slot. The IDP production of these players can weigh heavily on a fantasy league’s scoring format and just how good the CB is in real life. Because the better the player, the more the opposing team will avoid throwing his way.


Orange: Free Safety Or FS
  • Traditionally, the FS is considered the last line of defense in the deeper portion of the field. This position on average is the second most productive among the designated DB. And although they are known for that deeper defensive alignment, they can be a key player used in stunting or spying particular offensive players. His best IDP attributes should be reading the offensive play as it happens and the range to get from sideline to sideline fast. And because they watch the opposing backfield, as they track the play, the FS will be in the vicinity of the ball fairly often. Which can also put them in position for some run stopping opportunities and recording tackles. In these particular images, the Vikings Anthony Harris (first image) is watching to defend the opposing tight end if necessary. And Daniel Sorensen (second image) mans the FS spot while the regular well-known FS Tyrann Mathieu (Black: Gray Stripe) mans the slot corner position due to his great coverage abilities. A couple of notable free safeties in the league well-known to produce for IDP are the Bills Jordan Poyer and Cardinals Budda Baker.


Orange (Gray Stripe): Strong Safety Or SS
  • The strong safety or SS is normally the bigger and more aggressively used defensive back on the field. He covers the strong side where the tight end lines up and should be exceptional in coverage while supporting the run well. And because of his role on the defense, the SS is routinely in the upper tier of recording tackles for most NFL teams. Which will generally translate well for fantasy football owners who use the position in their lineups. In these particular images, the Vikings well-known Harrison Smith is in the first one. And still needing to prove his IDP value, Juan Thornhill of the Chiefs mans the position in the second image. Some other well-known and productive strong safeties are Washington’s Landon Collins and the Jets Jamal Adams.


The Deciphering Designated IDP Overlap
  • There currently isn’t any designated overlap at this time when considering the defensive backs. And for our basic 101 purposes is the reason why we are giving one general deciphering for both base schemes. The only thing worth mentioning is on the cornerback consistency in both schemes is the same. It can be flukey from week to week and season to season. And based on the talent and situation of the player’s odds to maintain any IDP production consistently.

Deciphering Designated IDP

Linebackers 4-3

Linebackers are generally known as a designated LB. These positions include the following in this base packaged defensive scheme.


Black: Strongside Linebacker Or SLB
  • The Strongside Linebacker Or SLB, also known as the Sam position is typically a larger and perhaps stronger player that lines up against the stronger blockers on the offensive line. This will include the opposing team’s left tackle and tight end much of the time. His job is to attack the run, take on blockers, and blitz occasionally while not letting tight ends run untouched. The SLB is considered the muscle of the three linebackers in this scheme and can go largely unheralded in fantasy football. And because he does a lot of the dirty work he isn’t known to produce a lot for IDP owners. Although there have been a few exceptions over the years, their fantasy value isn’t very prevalent in most formats. And at this time we don’t have any well-known SLBs to mention heading into 2020. In this particular image, we have the Seahawks Cody Barton, who will likely have competition for his role this coming season.


Orange: Weakside Linebacker Or WLB
  • The Weakside Linebacker Or WLB, also known as the Will position, basically can have an open role compared to the other linebackers in this scheme. He’ll line up opposite of the offense’s tight end and try to deflect blockers more than taking them on. And the WLB can roam more freely while concentrating on pass coverage, watching for the screen pass, and getting into the backfield of the opposing team. This position holds a lot of IDP value in terms of fantasy football production. He will normally be one of the top players to record base tackles each week and on the season for his team. And in this particular image, we have the Seahawks K.J. Wright, who is well-known and consistently been an IDP asset for some time now. Another well-known example would be the Colt’s, Darius Leonard. Who just happens to be the number one ranked linebacker for most sites at the moment. 


Orange (Gray Stripe): Middle Linebacker Or MLB
  • The Middle Linebacker Or MLB, also known as the Mike position, serves as the main cog, or the general of the defense.  Not only is he responsible for calling the defensive plays on the field and making adjustments, but he is likely the best linebacker on the team. He needs to be smart, possesses above-average speed, and own a great all-around skillset. And when he does, we have our best tackler for producing IDP points in this scheme. The position is very consistent, comparably, and holds the best IDP value in a lot of IDP formats. In this particular image, we have the Seahawks Bobby Wagner, who has repeatedly been one of the best at his position. And a couple of other well-known MLBs would be the Falcons Deion Jones and the Steelers rising star Devin Bush.


The Deciphering Designated IDP Overlap
  • Technically on paper, in the NFL, the WLB and the SLB in this scheme are considered outside linebackers. But for our fantasy football deciphering purposes, we suggest looking at the WLB as an inside linebacker. There isn’t that fine of a line between the type of production a WLB produces versus a 3-4 schemed OLB. And to reinforce this thinking, there is a reason that the Will isn’t penciled in as one of the designated Edge-Rushers, that we’ve already mentioned. It boils down to sacks and the number of tackles a WLB will record. And we suggest that when we see this overlap in some depth charts or on any football sites, that owners find out exactly what kind of linebacker they are dealing with. Because if an owner is looking at a sack heavy scoring format in his league, the WLB isn’t likely going to be as valuable in IDP production.

Deciphering Designated IDP

Linebackers 4-3

Linebackers are generally known as a designated LB. These positions include the following in this base packaged defensive scheme.


Black: Outside Linebacker Or OLB
  • In all black, the Strongside Outside Linebacker Or just OLB will routinely line up over the tight end side of the formation pending the offensive linemen alignment. Not necessarily the best pass rusher of the two OLB, he must be able to cover, blitz, and attack the run. And mirrors the Sam Linebacker in the 4-3 scheme in his role and sometimes by the name of his position. The difference can be in physical stature because this OLB has a little higher priority repeatedly trying to get into the backfield and apply the pressure. So his stature is more along the lines of taller and slimmer 4-3 defensive end than the prototype stout inside linebacker. And he uses a two-point stance (standing up) over the three-point (one hand in the dirt) like the technic that the 4-3 DE uses. Comparably, this OLB isn’t typically recording the IDP stats as his counterpart over on the blindside. They also aren’t in demand for IDP owners to have in lineups, much like the strongside linebacker in the 4-3 scheme. But we recently do have the exceptions to the rule with some teams stacking both OLB with high-end skillsets. Like in the Defensive Linemen 3-4 image, where the Packers stacked both sides. And the strong side is manned by Preston brown who managed way above average stats for the position. Another notable and well-known OLB playing the Sam is the Broncos Bradley Chubb. Who is bidding his time at the position until long-time star Von Miller moves on leaving the need for another talented weakside OLB for a stronger pass-rushing purpose.
  • In black with a gray stripe, we have the weak side or blindside OLB. He’ll typically line up closer to the line of scrimmage and has the primary purpose of rushing the quarterback. And anything else he brings to the table is considered a bonus. Although they do prefer to line him up on the weak side, this player will scheme away from the tight end a lot. All in the effort to getting him to the passer with the least amount of resistance. This OLB and the blindside 4-3 DE mirror each other and in most cases and can translate from each other’s scheme when need be. In this image, the strongside is manned by an ok depth player of the Titans, (#44) Kamalei Correa. He will likely be substituted by newly signed Vic Beasley, a former Falcon who had played in a similar role for them in Atlanta. And the other weak side or blindside OLB is up and coming Harold Landry, who is developing the skillset to make a major impact going forward. We’ve already mentioned the veteran Von Miller, and another well-known pass rushing OLB would be the Bears Khalil Mack.


Orange: Inside Linebacker or ILB
  • The Weakside Inside Linebacker Or WILB can also be known as the Will Linebacker and needs to be excellent in pass coverage. And he mirrors the WLB of the 4-3 scheme in most cases. The only real difference, typically he will not be as far outside the formation as the WLB will venture. He is generalized as an inside linebacker because he spends the majority of his time lined up within the offensive tackles. And for his team, he can be a high producing player in terms of tackling and recording stats. And this certainly translates well into fantasy football, pending the league’s scoring format. In this particular image, the position has more of a run stopper playing, David Long. He is a backup linebacker, but as we can see by the offensive formation and the fact it was 3rd and inches, they were expecting the run. And they inserted Long over their normal well-known WILB Jayon Brown for a good reason. Brown was nursing a shoulder injury at the time or he’d likely been in there. A couple of other well-known WILB would be the rising star Buccaneer Devine White and Texan Zach Cunningham.
  • The orange with the gray stripe is known as the middle inside linebacker, or the Mack or Mike linebacker. Depending on the team’s verbiage within the scheme. He assumes the same role as the MLB in the 4-3 as the general of the defense. But he doesn’t need to be as good at all the same skillsets. His main role is as a run stopper or thumper in the middle who will blitz a little more often. Of course, they prefer a linebacker that can cover receivers, but it simply isn’t a requirement based on the position. He is the main run-stopper and should be one of the best, if not the top IDP performer based on recording tackles on his team. Comparably, his value isn’t as strong as the 4-3 MLB on average but certainly right there in terms of production. And in this particular image, the Titans Rashaan Evans is this main man playing the position. A couple of other well-known MILB would be the Bears Roquan Smith, and former Packer and newly signed Giant Blake Martinez.


The Deciphering Designated IDP Overlap
  • We are going to hit on the OLB in this scheme again, reminding readers that they are considered Edge-Rushers in some formats. And they aren’t the same type of OLB that we find in the 4-3 defensive scheme. These players are largely scoring format dependent, and owners need to do their due diligence to properly deploy them. They are the perfect example that no matter how well they are known. If they aren’t deciphered right for fantasy football, they won’t be able to live up to their fame versus their IDP production.
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Gary VanDyke

“The IDP Tipster”

The IDP Tipster

Would you like directly to have access to Gary VanDyke and his fantasy Football IDP “takes” or interact? You can find him here @TheIDPTipster via Twitter. His most active account. Or chat with us using our member’s chat on site. We look forward to hearing from you.

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