How to IDP - Predraft Planning
Wanna try IDP?
All your friends are doing it.
Call me the IDP dealer, because I love getting newbies hooked on Individual Defensive Players. IDP is simply the best format of fantasy football. It embraces the most positions and challenges the best of owners. I started playing in IDP leagues five years ago and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had a set of rankings for my offensive players and another set for my defensive players, with no idea of how the two worked together. Well, have no fear, your IDP dealer is here to help with the five steps needed to attack your IDP draft.
Know your settings! I get it, this is obvious. You would be surprised at how many GMs I play with who have no idea of the settings prior to the draft.
The most important part of preparing for an IDP draft is a clear understanding of the scoring. Most leagues have similar offensive scoring with limited variance. In IDP, there is significant variance between leagues.
Standard leagues lump defensive positions into three categories: Defensive Line (DL), Linebackers (LB), and Defensive Backs (DB). Most IDP newbies start in this format and that is a great way to get your first taste. My preferred format is to split the positions and have Defensive Tackles (DT), Defensive Ends (DE), Linebackers (LB), Corners (CB), and Safeties (S). Make sure that you know which positions are being used in your league.
Check on how many starters you will have at each position, most leagues will more LBs than any other position. This will increase their value and you will want to invest more draft capital in the position.
Establish your rankings. Know what positions need to be prioritized and which positions can be drafted later. This is the most challenging step, but it is the joy of data lovers everywhere.
Previous Season Statistics
Apply the scoring to the previous season’s statistics. Most fantasy sites have this feature available, otherwise build a quick spreadsheet to compute where individual players finished last season and sort by position.
Once I have that information, I transfer it to a spreadsheet. Here is an example from a recent startup. Starting requirements were: 1xQB, 2xRB, 3xWR, 1xTE, 1xDT, 2xDE, 3xLB, 2xCB, 2xS.
I only have one column for each position, total points for the season. If you prefer, you can use points per game instead, although the results are very similar. Next, find the median for each position, I use the function =median() and let the spreadsheet do the work.
Here is a chart of the points for the median starter at each position.
The chart gives me an idea of what I need my starters at each position to score to be average. Outside of QB, the median starter at each position will score between 200-250 pts per season.
However, this is only half of the story, which I discovered last year by tanking a draft.
We need to take the next step and determine the difference between the top player at each position and the median starter. NERD ALERT!!! This is called standard deviation (StDev) and is easy to determine. I use the function =stdev(range,median). Select the range and enter the median. Drag the formula to the rest and let the spreadsheet do the work.
Last step is to enter one last formula (I promise). Just divide the StDev by the median and you will get the coefficient of variation (CV). This number allows you to compare all positions and will help you determine what positions to draft in each round.
Here is my completed spreadsheet.
Leave this open on your laptop and let your family see it. They will think you are some kind of genius and maybe start respecting your fantasy football addiction!
By comparing the CV, we can find the difference between Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen. However, more importantly, you can find the difference between Aaron Rodgers and Telvin Smith. Here are the variances of the top performers at each position compared to each other.
This shows the position with the greatest variance is RB, followed by WR. If you spend an early pick on RB, it will pay you larger rewards than picking a TE. This falls in line with the standard draft philosophy of waiting for QB and TE. Applied to IDP, you can see that you can wait until the mid-rounds before targeting LB, DE, and S, while waiting for DT and CB.
If you filter the positions by CV, you will find that there are 28 players more valuable than the first QB, including 6 LBs, 2 S, and 5 DEs. In a 1QB league, you will find that top IDP players will be picked around the same time as QBs should start to go. By utilizing this data, your first three rounds could be Zeke, Kelce, and Tyreek. If you used median value, you would have Rodgers, Hunt, and Tate. Take your time and review your data, it will become your best friend.
We need to determine playing time; how many snaps will each player see on defense.
Much like the running back, IDPs are often part of a rotation and you need to know how often your players are on the field. It is great to have a great run-defending linebacker, but if he is coming off the field on passing downs, it will eat into his production. There are many great sites to find this information online. I have found myself using the great Tom Kislingbury’s projections for my IDP leagues. As with any set of projections, use them as a base and adjust accordingly.
Watch training camp and preseason games to see how coaches are using the players. Keep an eye on rotations and which players are seeing an increase/decrease in usage. Coaches may be moving players around on the field in specific formations. This information can be used to your advantage when making your picks.
Now you just have to adjust your rankings and attack the draft.
Take the information gathered and adjust your rankings. I recommend using our soon to be released Dynasty ER’s IDP rankings. You can feel safe knowing that you have done the legwork necessary to have a solid draft.
Consider the age of players when finalizing your rankings. It is important in a dynasty format to make sure that you are considering younger players. However, someone must win the first year of a dynasty, so if you sense your opponents are ignoring older players, seize the opportunity to win the first year. Calais Campbell, Tom Brady, and Larry Fitzgerald may not be around in two years, but they will win you games immediately.
Attack the Draft
On draft day, plan your attack on your rankings. You know when to start picking each position and can maximize each pick’s value. Don’t reach for a DT, when you know that waiting two more rounds will make little difference. This is how you can pick offensive sleepers, while letting your opponents reach for positions.
In a recent draft, I used my data and picked two stud LBs at the round 7-8 turn. Having secured those players, I picked up players like Godwin, Hyde, and Lockett while others were fighting over LB scraps.
Balance the data and know when to trust your gut. This is supposed to be fun and use the later rounds to reach for your favorite rookies or 2nd year players. Did I draft Teddy Bridgewater? Absolutely. I love the guy and think he has a great opportunity. Was he the highest rated player at the time? No.
Bring home the cash and the trophy.
After you win the league and bring home the trophy, set it next to your laptop with the spreadsheet you created. Let your family again gaze upon your greatness. Post it on snapface or twitchat or whatever you crazy kids are using now. No need to use a photo on dating apps, just use this tableau and you will have everyone swiping right. Or is it left? Seriously, I had to go into public to meet people.
Unlike offensive stats, defensive stats can vary depending on the home stadium. Some stat crews are generous with tackles and assists and some are not. Dave Larkin at Football Guys does great work with stat crews and publishes annual rankings on their site. I bookmark the updated rankings yearly and it becomes my tiebreaker when I have two players that I am choosing between. For example, the Buffalo stats crew is known for being generous in awarding tackles. When drafting rookies, I bumped Buffalo LB Tremaine Edmunds above Chicago LB Roquan Smith, although I believe Roquan to be the better player. Edmunds is going to see more opportunity for solo tackles and assists because of the Buffalo stat crew. Use this information to your advantage. I guarantee 75% of your leaguemates will not know this information.
If you need help with building your spreadsheet, shoot me message on Twitter and I will be happy to assist.
IDP and Dynasty Specialist