Home Sports 2020 Fantasy Football IDP rankings, draft tips, cheat sheet

2020 Fantasy Football IDP rankings, draft tips, cheat sheet

2020 Fantasy Football IDP rankings, draft tips, cheat sheet 1

There is a growing trend to incorporate individual defensive players (IDP) in fantasy football setups. In some formats, individual linebackers, defensive linemen, and defensive backs have supplemented the Team Defense and Defense/Special Teams roster slots, while in others the defensive players supplant the entire D/ST roster position. Either way, fantasy owners in leagues with an IDP component need rankings, draft strategy tips, sleeper targets, and a cheat sheet because it’s a whole different ballgame than standard leagues.

Having IDP slots in addition to the regular offensive positions proves to be more challenging in that it opens up a new group of additional players that have significance in your league. Most fantasy owners are already aware of the star IDPs, such as OLB Darius Leonard (IND), DE J.J. Watt (HOU), and S Landon Collins (WAS), but when you are involved in an IDP league, it is necessary to study such aspects as the defensive scheme a team employs, which will affect how valuable a lineman or linebacker will be for your fantasy team. This creates higher-scoring fantasy matchups and gives you even more aspects of football to enjoy — both of which are tough to complain about.

MORE FROM FANTASY ALARM: Draft Guide | Ultimate NFL Package

Whether you’re already an avowed IDP leaguer or you’re planning on making the switch this year, it’s always smart to be fully prepared for the upcoming season. With that in mind, let’s look at the best way to set up IDP leagues, the best strategies to employ during your draft, and the best 50 players at DL, LB, and DB for 2020. 

Fantasy Football IDP Tips

Defensive Schemes

You need to know whether a team uses 4-3 or 3-4 front. In a 3-4 scheme, a team us three DLs, so you will want to target their outside linebackers, as they’re more likely to get sacks while the DLs usually just clog up running lanes. Defensive linemen and inside linebackers in a 3-4 scheme will rack up tackles but little else. Tackles have value, but usually not as much depending on your scoring system (more on that later). 

A 4-3 team provides a boatload of IDP value with its defensive ends and middle linebacker. The DE spot will supply the most sacks while the MLB is a tackle machine. Also, in a 4-3 defensive scheme, all three linebacker spots will give you points, as there is less spreading of the tackles, interceptions, and passes defended among the three linebackers. Overall, you want to draft your IDPs from a team that runs a 4-3 scheme, as the points will flow to you better on a week-to-week basis, since you will have effectively five defensive players putting up numbers for you. A 3-4 team will provide decent numbers from the weak side linebacker, while the strong side linebacker will often be tied up by the tight end’s blocks, and, as discussed above, the three defensive linemen will provide some tackle points but little else.

Defensive Linemen

When targeting defensive linemen, you will want to go for defensive ends as opposed to defensive tackles. DEs will be the best source of sacks and tackles, although there is an occasional DT that provides value. As a general rule, however, unless your league requires a DT be started, avoid them. If all the top LBs have been snatched up when you begin to draft your IDPs, then go for one of the top-tier DEs, which will most likely still be available. Remember, look for a DE that starts in a 4-3 scheme, and in this case, you should look to last year’s stats for some guidance as far as sack totals and tackle numbers. Target at least one of the top-seven DEs for your roster, as the drop-off after the first tier is dramatic.

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Linebackers are gold in IDP leagues. They provide the best combination of tackles, interceptions, fumbles, and fumble returns, and they will also put up passes-defensed (PD) points. That being said, there are also a lot of worthwhile, so you don’t necessarily need to target your linebackers as your first IDP picks. Of course, if you have the opportunity to nab a stud LB as your first IDP pick, you should do so without question. If you can get two stud LBs, take them and don’t look back. If your other league members have drafted their initial IDPs early, however, you can afford to be patient, as value is there in the middle picks.

What was stated above about knowing what sort of scheme a team employs is essential to picking your LB crew, but you also want to populate your roster with “three-down” linebackers. It only stands to reason that the more a player is on the field, the more likely he is to provide your team with fantasy point production. Also, look for linebackers on bad teams, as they will undoubtedly have more opportunities to make tackles.

Defensive Backs

If you are not required to have both cornerbacks and safeties on your fantasy team, always go for safeties as your DBs. Safeties are the safest choices, as they will provide you with the most tackles on a weekly basis since their role is to stuff the run. Even if your league puts a high value on INTs, these players are notoriously inconsistent from week-to-week (and especially year-to-year).

Unlike in a real life, a shutdown corner isn’t a great choice in IDP leagues, as offenses will avoid passing to whatever receiver he is covering. For example, Richard Sherman (SF) and Casey Hayward (LAC) are both superb football players but lousy fantasy football contributors. In fact, if a rookie cornerback is starting for a team, he is a particularly good draft option, as offenses will test him repeatedly until he proves he can cover his man. Thus, a starting rookie cornerback will give you points for tackles and potentially, passes defended (and an occasionally interception).

But, again, safeties provide the most consistent value at DB, and you should target them when drafting.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200


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Rookie defensive players frequently have legit value. As noted above, a rookie CB will rack up points for you simply because he will be targeted until he proves himself. The learning curve for IDPs is not as steep as other positions, and on a regular basis you can find exceptional value from a rookie that is taken in the first few rounds of the NFL Draft depending on the situation he steps into. This year, look to Washington’s first-round pick Chase Edwards (DE) or new Baltimore Raven LE Patrick Queen as potential middle-round IDP picks to click.

When drafting rookies, make sure you have a backup plan in mind. Rookies are not used to the grind or length of the NFL season and can “hit the wall” later in the season, reducing their value when it’s needed most. Also, these newcomers are now facing an entirely different level of competition in the form of veteran NFL players, and this year in particular due to the pandemic, rookies will have less prep time until the season starts, which will undoubtedly have an effect on their early productivity.

Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Top 200

IDP Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

When to start drafting IDPs

You should not begin drafting IDPs until you have your starting offense set. Even then, it is suggested you grab at least one backup RB and WR and possibly wait until you have three backup offensive players. Do not rush to draft defensive players, no matter what your leaguemates are doing early on. You run the risk of missing out on the top-tier LBs, but usually DBs and DLs will be there for you to select for your initial IDP options. Except in two-QB or Superflex leagues, you should fill all your IDP starting spots before you go back to selecting backup offensive players (aside from the initial two or three mentioned above), but like all draft advice, adjust to your particular draft.

If an offensive bargain falls to you in the later rounds, you need to take advantage at the expense of grabbing an IDP. No matter how highly you may have an IDP ranked on your cheat sheet, you shouldn’t reach for him over a starting QB/RB/WR/TE. If you use a tiered cheat sheet (highly suggested), you should have a separate sheet for IDP. Even though certain players may be ranked as top-tier IDPs, do not get carried away. A tier-one IDP is a 10th selection, not a fourth-round draft choice.

It should go without saying that all IDP starters should be selected before your kicker, and if your league uses a team D/ST together with IDPs, it is suggested that you wait on that position, too. Another suggestion is to draft a D/ST in the round just before you select your kicker. You should have taken any backup offense players, as well as any valuable IDPs based on predicted production or bye-week use, before considering taking a team defense or kicker.

Scoring Setup

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Ideally your IDPs will provide point totals every week that are nearly equivalent to an offensive player. For example, a good linebacker can usually give your team 10-15 points a week, which is what you want from your running back or wide receiver. Occasionally, if a player blows up, his totals can rival those of a top-tier quarterback. Be warned that many IDP leagues follow the recommended settings found in various places around the web. Now, though, if you have any say in the IDP scoring setup, it’s suggested that you value IDP stats differently. For example, interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles, and blocked kicks as more valuable than fumbles recovered (a lucky occurrence) or passes defended.

This is because these defensive plays reverse possession (interceptions) or stop momentum (sacks and forced fumbles) and have a greater impact on the game than simply tackling a running back or stopping a reception. Sacks are of significantly more consequence in the course of a game than a tackle, and thus are assigned an appropriate importance when setting up an IDP scoring system. Here is a recommended set of scoring values for what is best described as a hybrid IDP system:

Solo Tackle (or Total Tackles): 1 point
Assisted Tackle: 0.5 points
Sack: 4 points
INT: 6 points
Pass defended: 3 points
Forced Fumble: 4 points
Recovered Fumble: 2 points
Safety: 2 points
Blocked FG/PAT/Punt: 6 points
All Defensive TDs: 6 points

Most good IDP leagues will have six-to-eight defensive spots. Typically, you’ll see two LBs, two DLs, two DBs and perhaps two flex positions. Some leagues take out the DL positions and go with four flex  spots.

Final Strategy Thoughts

Consistency is key both in standard fantasy leagues and IDP leagues That means drafting for tackles in the form of MLBs and DEs in 4-3 schemes, OLBs in a 3-4 scheme, and safeties over corners. All the other categories, with the possible exception of sacks, are too unpredictable to project when drafting.

The waiver wire will be key all season. Aside from some top-tier IDPs, fortunes fluctuate over the course of the season, based on injury, performance (or lack thereof), and matchups. Especially with DBs, do not sweat it if you do not manage to draft your top targets. All DBs, and especially CBs, are wildly inconsistent, and you can use that to your advantage, snatching up those mid-to-late-season stars to replace the underperforming players cluttering your roster.

Unless you have a stud IDP, don’t worry about dropping him on a bye week. Most likely, no one will pick him up that week, and you have a chance to slide him back onto your roster once the bye week is over. Even if you do not get him back, it is likely some other top IDP will be dropped due to bye-week worries by another owner and you can then pick up his castoff. Besides, there are plenty of good IDPs on the waiver wire or free agent market every week simply based on matchups.

If your league gives points for return yards, look for IDPs that play on special teams as kick returners. This will make these players valuable even if they do not put up a bunch of tackles or interceptions for you.

MORE FROM FANTASY ALARM: Draft Guide | Ultimate NFL Package

2020 Fantasy Football IDP Rankings

Please note that these rankings will be updated as needed throughout the preseason.

Linebacker Rankings

RankingPlayer, Position, Team/Bye
1Darius Leonard, OLB, IND/7
2Bobby Wagner, ILB, SEA/6
3Joe Schobert, ILB, JAX/7
4Blake Martinez, ILB, NYG/11
5Fred Warner, ILB, SF/11
6Cory Littleton, ILB, LV/6
7Jayon Brown, ILB, TEN/7
8Zach Cunningham, ILB, HOU/8
9C.J. Mosley, ILB, NYJ/11
10Jaylon Smith, ILB, DAL/10
11Devin Bush, ILB, PIT/8
12Christian Kirksey, OLB, GB/5
13Shaq Thompson, ILB, CAR/13
14Isaiah Simmons, ILB, ARI/8
15Jordan Hicks, ILB, ARI/8
16Devin White, ILB, TB/13
17Rashaan Evans, ILB, TEN/7
18Leighton Vander Esch, OLB, DAL/10
19Jerome Baker, OLB, MIA/11
20Lavonte David, ILB, TB/13
21Roquan Smith, ILB, CHI/11
22Danny Trevathan, ILB, CHI/11
23Patrick Queen, ILB, BAL/8
24Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, BUF/11
25Deion Jones, ILB, ATL/10
26Todd Davis, ILB, DEN/8
27A.J. Johnson, ILB, DEN/8
28T.J. Watt, OLB, PIT/8
29Eric Kendricks, ILB, MIN/7
30Logan Wilson, ILB, CIN/9
31Jamie Collins Sr., OLB, DET/5
32Bobby Okereke, ILB, IND/7
33Kenneth Murray, OLB, LAC/10
34Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB, LV/6
35Malik Harrison, ILB, BAL/8
36Micah Kiser, ILB, LAR/9
37Mack Wilson, ILB, CLE/9
38Matt Milano, OLB, BUF/11
39Willie Gay Jr., ILB, KC/10
40Germaine Pratt, OLB, CIN/9
41Dre Greenlaw, OLB, SF/11
42Vince Williams, ILB, PIT/8
43Chandler Jones, OLB, ARI/8
44Sione Takitaki, ILB, CLE/9
45Jahlani Tavai, ILB, DET/5
46Kyle Van Noy, OLB, MIA/11
47James Burgess Jr., ILB, NYJ/11
48Tahir Whitehead, OLB, CAR/13
49Jordyn Brooks, ILB, SEA/6
50Demario Davis, OLB, NO/6

Defensive Linemen Rankings

RankingPlayer, Position, Team/Bye
1Danielle Hunter, DE, MIN/7
2Myles Garrett, DE, CLE/9
3Cameron Jordan, DE, NO/6
4J.J. Watt, DE, HOU/8
5Nick Bosa, DE, SF/11
6Maxx Crosby, DE, LV/6
7Joey Bosa, DE, LAC/10
8Carlos Dunlap, DE, CIN/9
9Sam Hubbard, DE, CIN/9
10Aaron Donald, DE, LAR/9
11DeForest Buckner, DT, IND/7
12Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, TB/13
13Cameron Heyward, DE, PIT/8
14Justin Houston, DE, IND/7
15Josh Allen, DE, JAX/7
16Dante Fowler Jr., DE, ATL/10
17Yannick Ngakoue, DE, JAX/7
18Frank Clark, DE, KC/10
19Chris Jones, DT, KC/10
20Arik Armstead, DE, SF/11
21Demarcus Lawrence, DE, DAL/10
22Ryan Kerrigan, DE, WAS/8
23Akiem Hicks, DE, CHI/11
24Trey Flowers, DE, DET/5
25Chase Young, DE, WAS/8
26Melvin Ingram III, DE, LAC/10
27Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, MIN/7
28Mario Addison, DE, BUF/11
29Calais Campbell, DE, BAL/8
30Brandon Graham, DE, PHI/9
31Geno Atkins, DT, CIN/9
32Bruce Irvin, DE, SEA/6
33Kenny Clark, DT, GB/5
34Jonathan Allen, DT, WAS/8
35Clelin Ferrell, DE, LV/6
36Grady Jarrett, DT, ATL/10
37Marcus Davenport, DE, NO/6
38Olivier Vernon, DE, CLE/9
39Jarran Reed, DT, SEA/6
40Derek Barnett, DE, PHI/9
41Sheldon Richardson, DT, CLE/9
42Larry Ogunjobi, DT, CLE/9
43Brian Burns, DE, CAR/13
44Jurrell Casey, DE, DEN/8
45Fletcher Cox, DT, PHI/9
46Denico Autry, DT, IND/7
47Trent Murphy, DE, BUF/11
48Shelby Harris, DE, DEN/8
49Chase Winovich, DE, NE/6
50Jeffery Simmons, DT, TEN/7

Defensive Back Rankings

RankingPlayer, Position, Team/Bye
1Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, PIT/8
2Derwin James, S, LAC/10
3Jamal Adams, S, SEA/6
4Harrison Smith, S, MIN/7
5John Johnson III, S, LAR/9
6Budda Baker, S, ARI/8
7Keanu Neal, S, ATL/10
8Tre Flowers, CB, SEA/6
9Marcus Peters, CB, BAL/8
10Tyrann Mathieu, S, KC/10
11Jordan Poyer, S, BUF/11
12Landon Collins, S, WAS/8
13Kevin Byard, S, TEN/7
14Carlton Davis, CB, TB/13
15Jaire Alexander, CB, GB/5
16Justin Simmons, S, DEN/8
17Anthony Harris, S, MIN/7
18Janoris Jenkins, CB, NO/6
19Malcolm Jenkins, S, NO/6
20Donte Jackson, CB, CAR/13
21Marlon Humphrey, CB, BAL/8
22Adrian Amos, S, GB/5
23Eddie Jackson, S, CHI/11
24Kyle Fuller, CB, CHI/11
25James Bradberry, CB, NYG/11
26Kareem Jackson, S, DEN/8
27Ronnie Harrison, S, JAX/7
28Justin Reid, S, HOU/8
29Kevin King, CB, GB/5
30TreDavious White, CB, BUF/11
31Jabrill Peppers, S, NYG/11
32Jessie Bates, III, S CIN/9
33Quandre Diggs, S, SEA/6
34Bradley McDougald, S, SEA/6
35Taylor Rapp, S, LAR/9
36Tracy Walker, S, DET/5
37Damarious Randall, S, LV/6
38Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB, TB/13
39Denzel Ward, CB, CLE/9
40Joe Haden, CB, PIT/8
41Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, DAL/10
42Shawn Williams, S, CIN/9
43Xavier McKinney, S, NYG/11
44Grant Delpit, S, CLE/9
45Sean Davis, S, WAS/8
46Johnathan Abram, S, LV/6
47Kendall Fuller, CB, WAS/8
48Malcolm Butler, CB, TEN/7
49Chuck Clark, S, BAL/8
50Ronald Darby, CB, WAS/8
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