Casual fantasy football fans may not use individual defensive players (IDPs) in their leagues. This is a travesty. An abomination! IDPs add a new wrinkle to the game we all know and love. It's not like adding a punter to your roster. Defensive players have merit/ Heck, defense is half the game. Once you come to understand the scoring system, making smart IDP selections is easy.
Tackles are the name of the game. There are fluke players that crop up every year, but consistency is key. You want to keep your eye on middle linebackers in 4-3 defenses and inside linebackers in 3-4 defenses. A stud cornerback might have a breakout week with two interceptions and a return for a touchdown, but there’s no predicting that. One week that corner might have 20 points, and the next he’ll have two points.
Defensive tackles aren’t any good either. Most defensive tackles are space eaters. Their role is not to make the play but instead to influence it by filling up running lanes and using their body to funnel a running back into the teeth of the defense.
Most safeties shouldn’t be on your team. Safeties aren’t close enough to the ball. A small handful are exceptions but that is because they play a large role in run support defense, which keeps them closer to the line. For example, a top defensive back is S Eric Weddle of the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers use a 3-4 defense where their outside linebackers commit to blitzing the quarterback. Weddle will fill in the gaps behind those blitzes, leaving an open area in front of him where he can make the play.
If tackles are not a part of your IDP scoring system, then it is best to target players who accumulate sacks and/or interceptions.
Unlike offensive players, you should have no strong loyalty to an IDP unless he is a very elite option like LB Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers. Each season, a whole new set of waiver wire free agents crop up that will be great options. If a player isn’t performing consistently, drop him without hesitation for a player who is producing big numbers. Even though a player may have had 100+ tackles in the previous season, a slight change in how the defense is run can funnel those tackles to another player.
Continue reading for 120 IDP rankings (Top 40 LB, DL, DB) >>
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