One of the common questions I receive from the Fantasy Football Community has to do with drafting Individual Defensive Players or IDP’s. The inclusion of IDP’s on Fantasy Football rosters is one of the extremely cool developments in the last few years. For the first time, fantasy football managers field a team similar to those put on the field in real life. (Special teams are still undervalued but that’s outside the scope of this article.)
So let’s discuss the draft strategy. Although IDP’s will play a substantial role in your success, no IDP should be drafted before the 8th or 9th round. Opinions vary but my personal preference is to draft most of my IDP’s before I draft a team defense. Defenses overall can be very unpredictable. Individual defensive players tend to be more consistent – barring injury. (But that’s true of eveyone.)
My preference is to draft the defensive players in the following order:
Linebacker 1 --- LB1
Defensive Lineman 1 --- DL1
Defensive Lineman 2 --- DL2
Defensive Back 1 --- DB1
Linebacker 2 --- LB2
Defensive Back --- DB2
Of course, this will vary depending upon the draft. Please note that you do not need to draft these players consecutively. Offensive bench players and team defenses can be intermingled as appropriate. The drafting of the kicker should take place after your last IDP player selection.
Although I listed the LB1 position as the first IDP selection, the composition of your Defensive Line is the most important of the three defensive positions. Reason: DL has a much more limited selection of top players. Linebackers and Defensive Backs tend to have more volatility during the year and you can probably nab a strong player or two during the season. But getting a Justin Tuck or Jared Allen type of player during the year is tough.
Other Fantasy Players would disagree as the total point attainment by the D-Line is less than that of both the other defensive positions. Feel free to use your own strategy. But remember, a good IDP who is active on your roster is better than a good offensive player who is sitting on your bench.