Welcome to the wonderful world of IDP

What’s better than a 279-pound behemoth gaining your fantasy team points by throwing the opposing quarterback to the ground? Welcome to the wonderful world of interceptions, pick-sixes, sacks, forced fumbles, tackles and deflected passes. In this new regular column we discuss the glorious realm of IDP (individual defensive player) leagues.


What is IDP?

In regular fantasy leagues you are rewarded for rushing yards, receiving yards, touchdowns and (increasingly) receptions. On the flip-side IDP allows you to draft defensive ends, defensive tackles, linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks. Points are then awarded for tackles, interceptions, defensive touchdowns, sacks, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.

Each position carries its different strengths: you want DEs, DTs and LBs to mainly accrue sacks and fumbles and your Ss and CBs to provide regular tackles and interceptions.

IDPs are generally taken during the same draft as their offensive counterparts. This adds a new challenge of knowing when to take your first defensive players. Pitting their value against the offensive side of the ball.

A growing majority of casual IDP leagues are grouping DEs and DTs into DL (defensive line) and Ss and CBs into DBs (defensive backs) to make the transition a little easier. In these cases you would want to actively chase defensive ends and safeties as these tend to put up the highest points at each position.


IDP – Defensive Linemen

Studs: Danielle Hunter (MIN), Joey Bosa (LAC), Myles Garret (CLE)

Three names that would give quarterbacks nightmares! Naturally these generational talents carry their real-world dominance into IDP. All 3 hit double-digit sacks last year: 14.5 for Hunter, 12.5 for Bosa and 13.5 for Garrett. Combine this with at least 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery each and you have a set of league winners that should be targeted as early as possible.

On the verge: Deforest Buckner (SF), Grady Jarrett (ATL), Brian Burns (CAR)

As the league’s highest paid defensive tackle, it’s fitting that Jarrett has been balling out for an otherwise struggling Atlanta defence. This season Jarrett has amassed 32 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles for the Falcons. Those numbers leave the Clemson fifth-rounder second amongst defensive linemen.

Buckner has come alive for San Francisco in his fourth year, leading a 49ers defence playing out of its skin. Currently sitting sixth in standard scoring, Buckner has already garnered 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery through 5 games.

In a position that does not usually see rookies excel, Burns has bucked the trend in remarkable fashion. Wowing the Panthers fans with 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and even a touchdown for the Carolina defence.

Don’t forget about: J.J. Watt (HOU), Calais Campbell (JAX), Cameron Jordan (NO)

Having featured in the nightmares of countless quarterbacks for over nine years now, these veterans need no introduction. Whilst reduced snap counts and scheme rotations have slowed down the near-legendary trio, all three hit double digit sacks in 2018. Jordan is close to averaging a sack a game this season, Watt already has 4 sacks on the year and in week 3 Campbell won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for a hat-trick of sacks on poor Marcus Mariota.


IDP – Linebackers

Studs: Luke Kuechly (CAR), Blake Martinez (GB), Darius Leonard (IND)

Similar to the defensive line, these 3 should be household names to any NFL fan worth their salt. Leonard ran wild in the AFC South a year ago, finishing as the highest scoring linebacker with 163 tackles, 7 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 interceptions.

A mastermind in the middle of the field, Kuchely finished a close second to Leonard with 130 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and an interception. As the Panthers head into the bye, the Boston college superstar currently leads all linebackers in standard scoring with 62 tackles and 1 interception.

Martinez lead the Green Bay defence a year ago with 144 tackles and 5 sacks, finishing with over 300 total points for his owners. The frighteningly consistent Martinez has 60 tackles and 1 sack after just 6 weeks of the current season.

On the verge: Devin Bush (PIT), Jaylon Smith (DAL), Leighton Vander-Esch (DAL)

An early contender for NFL Rookie of the Year is Devin Bush. Bush has been lighting up 2019 with 52 tackles, 1 sack, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions and 1 touchdown. In just 6 games Bush lies just behind points leader Kuechly in standard scoring. Not bad for a rookie.

The Cowboys’ are blessed with a pair of scary talented young linebackers in Smith and Vander-Esch. The enigmatic duo put up near elite numbers in 2018. While Smith remains on pace for a similarly dominant 2019. Vander-Esch is enduring what would be considered a slower start to the season. That being said, the fan favourite still has 51 tackles and one forced fumble in six games for Dallas. No doubt he will be seeking another top 10 finish.

Don’t forget about: Bobby Wagner (SEA), Anthony Hitchens (KC), Demario Davis (NO)

Although no longer able to put up the numbers to quite warrant elite status. 29 year old Wagner leads Seattle with 57 tackles on the year. Hitchens was teasing career year numbers before a hamstring issue in week 5 slowed him down. He will look to build on his 27 tackles going forward. Davis has become a solid tackle leader in New Orleans despite being unable to force turnovers as he once did.


IDP – Defensive Backs

Studs: Derwin James (LAC), Jamal Adams (NYJ), John Johnson (LAR)

Last season’s highest scoring defensive back, Adams had a jaw dropping 2018 campaign. 115 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and an interception. A poor start to the New York Jet’s season contributed to a slower opening for Adams in 2019. However with 17 tackles, 1 interception and 1 touchdown in his last three games, Adams looks to be getting back to his normal form.

James will sadly miss the majority of the 2019 season after fracturing his foot during training camp. Savvy dynasty owners, however, should target the former first round pick. After a 2018 that saw him finish with 105 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. The sophomore has all the tools to obliterate those numbers in 2020 and beyond.

Another player we are unlikely to see for the rest of 2019 is Rams’ safety John Johnson. Last season saw a monster sophomore campaign with 119 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 4 interceptions. A red hot start to the year brought Johnson 51 tackles and 2 interceptions in just 6 weeks. Despite a shoulder injury prematurely ending his second season, Johnson will be highly sought after in 2020 drafts.

On the verge; Jessie Bates III (CIN), Walker (DET), Ronnie Harrison (JAX)

The Bengals head office would have been rubbing their hands with glee after a mammoth rookie season from their Wake Forest second rounder. Patrolling the secondary with fellow rookie Shawn Williams, Bates’ 111 tackles, 3 interceptions and 1 touchdown aided a mean Bengals defence to a top 5 finish.

Duval may no longer be the home of the mean Jacksonville Jaguars ‘Sacksonville’ defence. However they can trust in the services of Alabama third rounder Ronnie Harrison. A slow rookie campaign still yielded a sack and an interception and Harrison has already beaten his tackle count for last year. Comfortably sitting in the top 10 for the position after 6 weeks, Harrison will look to make the Jaguars secondary his own.

Now under the tutelage of Patriots defensive mastermind Matt Patricia, Walker is another safety building on a quiet rookie campaign. With 43 tackles and 1 interception already under his belt, Walker sits comfortably in the top 10 after just 5 games.

Don’t forget about: Eric Weddle (LAR), Vonn Bell (NO), Jordan Poyer (BUF)

After attaining three consecutive years of over eighty tackles, Von Bell just misses out on elite status. A breakneck start to the season flashed Bell’s immense talent and he looked primed for a colossal year. He has slowed down after 3 forced fumbles and 1 touchdown during the first 4 games.

Now in an impressive thirteenth season with his third team. Journeyman Weddle will be looking forward to playing with newly traded standout Jalen Ramsey for the Rams. Despite having understandably slowed with age (and no longer able to consistently put up the numbers he enjoyed during the peak of his career), Weddle already has 51 tackles in 2019.

Showing the depth at the position, Poyer is extremely unlucky to miss out on elite status following 3 successive years in the top 5. Over the last 3 seasons the Buffalo talent has collected 10 interceptions and 5 sacks, already sitting sixth in standard scoring for 2019.

Congratulations you are officially an IDP expert! You should now understand the format a little better, have an idea of what you’re looking for scoring wise and have a small list of the leaders at each position.

Hungry for more? Worry not, i’ll be back next week looking a little closer at the scoring leaders over the first 7 weeks and cast an insight into which players you should targeting for your future IDP championship team.

Until next week, Keep Rushing.

Dre @lilcarat