Top 10 Mistakes Rookie IDP Drafters Make (Fantasy Football)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
May 25, 2019

It is usually best to avoid taking superstar IDP options, like J.J. Watt, before filling out your offensive starters

With IDP leagues becoming more and more prevalent, IDP prep has become part of the average fantasy player’s offseason homework. IDP drafting can sometimes be an error-filled process. We will take a look at some of the most common mistakes rookie IDP drafters make.

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Relying on default rankings, projections, or previous year stats
This is one huge mistake IDP drafters commonly make. Last year’s stats can indeed give you a good indication of players who may have another strong season, but not without context. Damontae Kazee had 80 total tackles and seven interceptions in 2018, making him an upside DB2 for 2019, right? Unfortunately, the answer here is no.

Kazee was forced into action due to injuries to the Atlanta Falcons’ two starters at safety in stud IDP option Keanu Neal and the solid Ricardo Allen. Kazee is expected to go back to a backup role, and will hopefully also see some work out of the slot. Due to a dramatic reduction in snaps, he will likely not come anywhere close to his 2018 numbers.

Drafting brand name IDP too early
The most common mistakes IDP owners make is drafting their IDP options too early. J.J. Watt should not be selected when you have yet to fill out your starters on offense. Luke Kuechly is an amazing IDP option, but is often not worth the draft capital you will need to expend to land him.

Shutdown cornerbacks like Patrick Peterson, who do not get targeted often, have less tackle and interception opportunities. This means they have fewer opportunities for fantasy points than the bad corners who get targeted often. Von Miller is a great IDP option in league providers where he qualifies as a defensive end. Outside of big-play leagues, an LB only designation is a big blow to his potential value.

Not realizing waiver wires often present gold in all but the deepest of IDP formats
The early season waiver wire will almost undoubtedly boast some impact players to add to your fantasy squad. No one ever gets all of their IDP projections right. Breakouts and busts can often lead to depth chart changes. Early career players with larger volume roles often become IDP game changers.

Most leagues will not have a full cohort of IDP experts, and this will leave considerable value on the waiver wire at the start of the season. Pay attention and take advantage of your league’s knowledge gap.

Not knowing rookies and their potential impact
A cursory knowledge of the rookies and their potential impact on their teammates is very important. This may seem elementary, but it means projecting out player roles prior to your league’s draft. This may not be as important if you draft in September after starters have been concretized, but for those of us who draft before the preseason, this should be a major consideration.

Josh Jones of the Green Bay Packers was drafted in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft to play a starting safety role. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix shipped out of town at last year’s deadline, the expectation was that he would finally get his chance to shine in 2019.

However, the Packers went out and signed Adrian Amos from the Chicago Bears. Not only that, but they added a mega talent in the first round in Darnell Savage. This likely means that Jones will play a backup role for Green Bay, and will not have the breakout season some may have hoped for. Fantasy players who have little to no knowledge of Savage’s talent or skills may still believe that Jones will still be the starter this year.

Knowledge of the rookie crop may also clue you in on players who may steal jobs during the season. The veteran may get the starting nod due to experience, but if the rookie continues to outplay the veteran, he will take hold of that job. Although it was fueled by injury, this is the same thing that happened to former LB1 Sean Lee, who saw Leighton Vander Esch start the season behind him, but later run with his role when yet another Lee injury gave him an opportunity.

No knowledge of scheme changes and how it affects production
Scheme changes can have huge impacts on how well an IDP asset performs. This is especially true for edge rushers. For example, not all 4-3 ends can transition smoothly to 3-4 OLB and vice versa. We have seen some transcendent players like Chandler Jones be able to flourish in either scheme, but in many cases, players can experience a big statistical dropoff in an opposing scheme.

One thing to note and pay attention to is how your league provider classifies edge rushers. Some will have dual eligibility due to scheme change, others may be stuck with a value depressing designation. A defensive end moving to a 3-4 scheme may now only qualify as an LB. This will severely mute his value outside of big play leagues. This is something to make note of prior to your IDP drafts.

Know your settings and draft accordingly
It may seem elementary to suggest you know your settings before you draft, but you would be surprised at how many managers both new and experienced fail to understand IDP roster and scoring settings prior to the draft. Is your league’s scoring system biased towards tackles or big plays, or has your commissioner attempted to strike a balance? Understanding this will help you develop your pre-draft cheat sheet, and will help you establish which positions or players to prioritize.

Dual eligibility players
One thing IDP players want to pay specific attention to in the offseason is position changes. Scheme changes can make former LB-only players now eligible at DE. Players often take on new roles or play hybrid roles for their teams. The most valuable position changes are corners that move to safety or DEs that move to or also play DT.

Top corners Damarious Randall and Kareem Jackson both played safety in 2018. Their fantasy values benefited greatly from their position changes as they both qualified at corner. Having a starting safety that qualifies at corner is a sure way to get a more consistent contributor. Being aware of these changes before your draft would ensure that you keep them on your radar and move them near the top of your corner rankings.

Depth and scarcity at different positions
Understanding the depth and scarcity of talent at each required position is critical to success in IDP leagues. There is a scarcity of consistent fantasy producers at defensive tackle and cornerback. Conversely, there is a wealth at depth at linebacker and safety. This makes these positions ones you can afford to wait on.

Not recognizing matchups matter for IDP players too
Matchups matter in IDP. Some teams run the ball more than others. This can result in more tackle opportunities for the front seven.

If your IDP player plays for a dominant offensive team, their opponents may not run as much as they will be forced to pass. This can result in more tackle and pass deflection opportunities for the secondary. Recognizing how your IDP players’ teams stack up against the rest of the NFL can give you a better idea of a specific player’s weekly ceiling and floor.

Snap counts
Projecting starting lineups is important, but having an idea of which players play in sub packages will go a long way in determining snap count upside. The linebacker position provides a perfect example. Ideally, you want linebackers that play on all three downs. This means you want the linebackers who stay on the field in nickel packages. If the team your IDP player plays on runs a lot of dime, you will want to identify the dimeback, as he is the one who will log the most snaps and, thus, have the most opportunities to rack up counting stats.

Bonus: Home field advantage (home field stat crews)
Stats such as tackles and tackle assists are compiled by the home team’s stadium crew, and they are not all created equal. Some scorers are known to be very generous, especially to their home team players. This affects their scoring output and, thus, it should be recognized. Teams like the Buffalo Bills often see their numbers inflated thanks to this phenomena. This is something to be cognizant of when weighing your picks and ranking players.

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his profile and follow him @FantasyContext.

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