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Reinvigorating Your League With IDP (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Ben Wasley | @FantasyFirstDwn | Featured Writer
Jul 14, 2021

We’ve all been there. The relationship that’s getting a little bit stale. You miss the excitement, the thrill of the first date, the first kiss, where your mind couldn’t stop thinking about your better half. You need to get that spark back!

Like relationships, sometimes Fantasy Football can get a little monotonous as you keep doing the same things year in, year out. When the fantasy bug hits, most of us dive right in. We join more leagues. We try dynasty, best ball, keeper leagues, and superflex, searching for new and fresh ways to mix things up. After a while, though, you start to run out of options. Never fear. IDP is here to reinvigorate your Fantasy Football experience.

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What is IDP?

IDP stands for “Individual Defensive Player (or Position),” and it’s as simple as it sounds; you’re adding individual defensive players to your fantasy team, ordinarily as a replacement for the DST spot. This ensures your fantasy team more closely reflects a real NFL team and allows fantasy players to illustrate their superior knowledge of the NFL more thoroughly.

IDPs are broken up into either three or five positions, depending on the site you use and your select settings. Most sites will offer three positions: Defensive Linemen (DL), Linebackers (LB), and Defensive Backs (DB). In addition, they usually offer an IDP Flex position, which functions as a standard offensive flex position and can hold any IDP player. Some sites also allow you to break the DL position into Defensive Ends (DE) and Defensive Tackles (DT). They also allow the DB position to be split into Cornerbacks (CB) and Safeties (S). We’ll talk about incorporating these positions later, while we’ll get into more detail about them in a later article.

How do IDPs receive points?

Individual Defensive Players equivalently score points to offensive players by making positive contributions to their real-life NFL team. While there are many ways to structure IDP scoring, the standard scoring categories include solo tackles, assisted tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, interceptions, passes defended, fumbles forced or recovered, touchdowns and safeties. It’s up to personal preference how you score these categories, but I’ve always found the Fantasypros Scoring Settings effective in accurately reflecting player contributions. With these settings, IDPs will score similarly to wide receivers and running backs. Of course, you can reduce their effect on the league but reducing the points for each statistic.

How do I bring IDPs into my league?

The options here are endless, and it really depends on how progressive your league is. I’d suggest four levels of IDP inclusion:

Level 1: The Starter Pack

If you want to dip your toe into the water, I’d suggest including between one and three IDP flex spots to your standard roster, replacing your DST spot (though you can keep it too). This will allow each player to start a few IDP players without worrying about positions or too much strategy. I’d suggest keeping the scoring at Fantasypros standard, but you could halve the scoring if you really want to reduce the impact of IDP and trial it.

Level 2: Taking The Next Step

Most questions I receive about IDP include 3-6 IDP spots using specific positions. My preferred format for this level of IDP commitment is a standard offensive roster with 1 DL, 2 LB, 1 DB, and the option of 1 IDP flex. While your offensive players will still have the most significant impact on your season, you’ll get a good feel for how IDP works, and it will add a fun extra tactical touch to your draft. You’ll also start to learn the relative importance of each IDP position (this will be covered in more detail in a future article).

Level 3: IDP With The Lot

My favorite IDP leagues do it properly, attempting to reflect an actual NFL team more accurately. For me, a normal IDP league will include 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1Flex, 2DL, 3LB, 2DB with the option of an IDP flex. As a result, there’s an even split between offensive and defensive players, and more knowledge is required. This is typically the best structure for IDP dynasty leagues as well, as there’s an increased incentive to draft IDP rookies when the waiver wire is barer. This is also the level where I’d consider breaking DL and DB into their components if your site allows it. A typical roster would usually include 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1Flex, 1DE, 1DT, 2-3LB, 1CB, 1-2S. Either approach will give fantasy players a dynamic tactical experience which keeps the season far fresher than a standard league.

Level 4: The Authentic Experience

Of course, you can always go above and beyond and take things to the extreme. I’ve experienced leagues that have taken IDP a little too far, and while they’re fun, I’d suggest a little caution before trying them:

  • IDP Only: 3DL, 4LB, 3DB, 1-2Flex. I’d only suggest doing this if you want to start a totally new league for the sake of trying something new.
  • A 32 team league: I’ve played in several 32-team IDP leagues (usually dynasty with salary caps, contracts, etc.), and they’re great fun, but I wouldn’t suggest them unless you’re a seasoned IDP expert, as the depth of knowledge required to draft over 400 IDP players isn’t something for the faint at heart (though my website does rank 600 IDP players in dynasty if you ever feel that itch).
  • True NFL rosters: Want your fantasy team to look like an actual NFL team? Here’s the roster for you: 1QB, 2WR, 1RB/WR Flex, 1R/W/T Flex, 1 WR/TE Flex, 1K, 1DST (Special Teams points only), 3DL, 2LB, 4DB, 2IDP Flex. While this format reflects how true NFL rosters operate, it doesn’t typically play too well in a fantasy format.

Where do I look for IDP advice?

FantasyPros is a great place to go for redraft, dynasty, ROS, and weekly advice, and IDP is no exception.

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If you have more IDP questions, please reach out on Instagram @TheFantasyFirstDown or on Twitter @FantasyFirstDwn and @KiwiFFD and check out our IDP rankings at www.thefantasyfirstdown.com.

Dynasty, Featured, Featured Link, IDP, NFL