By DJ Boyer
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or rookie who is still wet behind the ears, there are always a few tips and tactics you need to adhere to and be aware of when drafting for your IDP League.
1. Know Your Strategy Going Into the Draft
One of the key ingredients to being competitive in an IDP league is knowing which positions to concentrate on. Running backs are usually seen as the highest commodity in any fantasy draft. I have been a part of drafts where the entire first round consists of nothing but running backs. Aside from the quarterback, who is naturally taking the snap on every play, running backs touch the ball more than any other position. Therefore they have plenty of opportunities to score points. Good running backs are hard to find and they also have a higher percentage of injury compared to other skills positions.
Linebackers are viewed as the running backs of the IDP league. But you should never draft defensive players in the first or second round. You should not only have a good idea of the players you want but start a chart with the positions where you want to look. This list may change during the course of the draft if there are any “runs” on particular positions.
RULE OF THUMB: Elite LBs usually can still be found in the 6th or 7th round. Top DLs are still available in the 8th round and plenty of top-tier DBs can be had in the 9th or 10th round. Bottom line? Don’t reach for the elite IDP picks. Offense is still king in almost all fantasy leagues.
2. Know the Scoring System of Your League
I don’t know how many times I have been in a draft and a couple of rounds into the process one of the players wants to know how the scoring works. It drives me absolutely insane. Even if you are more of a casual Fantasy Football aficionado you need to know the point scoring system because subtle scoring differences can affect who you draft. This is especially true in an IDP league where the most common way to score defensive points is through a tackle. I have seen many leagues where you score a point for every tackle and one or zero points for an assist. I have also seen numerous leagues where tackles are worth two points and a point is tacked on for the assist. This will make a huge difference in your drafting strategy since the position you will be looking for first in most cases will be a linebacker. Many of the top linebackers in the league will post over 100 tackles in a season. While the differences I just described only amounts to a point per tackle that swing totals 100 points for the season. It’s hard to be effective in a league where you don’t have a complete comprehension of the scoring system. When I hear people make these comments during a live draft or see it come across my PC when drafting online, 9 times out of 10 I will write them off as a threat in my league.
Some other differences in the rule changes have to do with defensive touchdowns, some leagues give you bonus points depending upon the amount of return yards on the touchdown.
3. Study the Formations For Each NFL Team
This is becoming more and more important since we are seeing a number of clubs moving back into the old 3-4 defense. There are numerous examples of how defensive formations will affect the way you draft and the way you score. In the traditional 4-3 style defense you will normally see the more active defensive ends posting at least 8 sacks per season. When in the 3-4, some defensive ends are bigger and play more like defensive tackles. Their job is to occupy the offensive lineman and open up gaps for the linebackers to shoot through and make plays. Defensive tackles in 3-4 defenses are sometimes no more than fillers. They force opposing running backs to bounce their runs outside and hopefully into the waiting arms of a linebacker bringing pressure off the edge.
While the front seven account for most of the changes, we are starting to see more variations in coverages and the secondaries can be affected. In certain packages cornerbacks may switch sides of the field, they could press, some are in man coverage and others play a zone with help from the safeties. Knowing the different formations your teams like to use can give you an edge in a close fantasy matchup.
RULE OF THUMB: Take proven Safeties over a CB. You want to land a Safety that plays close to the line of scrimmage and is a tackling machine.
4. Look For Younger Players in Your Keeper Leagues
This should be an automatic thought. We hear so much about baseball players now playing and pitching well into their 40’s. In football the only ones that usually survive that long are kickers with the names of Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson (The NFL carbon tested their birth certificates and found them both to have come from the Jurassic era).
RULE OF THUMB: Avoid players on the wrong side of the 30 year old age line. This is especially important in a dynasty league where you have the same roster next season. Keep this in mind when making deals during the season, youth is served more in the NFL from a fantasy standpoint than any of the four major sports.
5. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Stars
This goes along with knowing your scoring system. Some people draft IDP players on name recognition alone. Others draft players because they are regarded as the best at their particular position. Not every star player is a star in a fantasy scoring system. Often we see players that the average fan knows little to nothing about constantly scoring high numbers every week. One reason may be the player is on a bad or losing team and they see the field more than a defensive player from a playoff caliber team. Others have star players around them and don’t have to make as many plays or cover as much ground on the football field.
RULE OF THUMB: IDP not HOF
Just think of the mid-to-late 1990’s when Troy Aikman always seemed to go much higher than he should have went in your fantasy draft. Why did Aikman go so high? Aikman won three Super Bowls and was one of the best in the NFL at the quarterback position. Aikman will some day enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. When it came to fantasy football, Aikman was not a top 10 quarterback. With Emmitt Smith getting the bulk of the offensive workload in Dallas it limited the amount of times Aikman needed to throw and Emmitt was a touchdown machine. In your fantasy league Aikman should have been nothing more than a reliable reserve or spot starter when he had a favorable matchup.
By adhering to these simple rules and going in with a plan there is no reason why you can’t be competitive in your IDP league and with a little luck, come out as the champion.
Without a doubt, always leverage the latest IDP Rankings in the 4for4.com Draft Kit and once the season kicks off, follow the 4for4.com IDP Power Rating each week.
Best of luck in your league this season.