The IDP Roundtable Series
This summer, the Footballguys staff will discuss various topics to help you in your IDP leagues.
The IDP Rookies Series
In what round do you usually begin drafting defenders? Is your first target always a linebacker?
The fifth or sixth round is where I begin to consider defenders. Quantifying the opportunity cost between a third player at a position and one of the first linebackers off the board is essential. Understanding the league's scoring system is vital in adequately contextualizing this, but a top linebacker often outscores a third wide receiver or running back. When combining that with the positional abundance of the wide receiver position, it's usually an easy choice to choose a linebacker around that range. A linebacker will always be the first defensive position to hit my roster. The position offers much more upside than defensive linemen and defensive backs.
I usually start looking at drafting my first IDP player in the seventh- to eighth-round range. I like to build a solid offensive core before I turn my attention to my IDP squad. However, I think it's essential to have tiers in place so managers know who they are comfortable with as their LB1/LB2 and DL1/DL2. I'm a fade-defensive-backs-drafter as there is plenty of value to be had in the later rounds.
As for my first target, it depends on the situation. If I'm in leagues with sack-friendly scoring and I can secure a DL/Edge in the elite tier of Myles Garrett, Nick Bosa, or T.J. Watt (where applicable), I'll go that route. The same can be said for Aaron Donald in DT-required formats. I'll take the positional advantage. Besides those scenarios, the linebacker position will get my attention first. It's vital to draft an anchor at the linebacker position. Again, tiers are important to help managers navigate the positional runs.
I usually start drafting my defenders around the 8th round. I like to ensure I have a rock solid starting offense, two quarterbacks if Superflex, two top 10-15 running backs, and three legitimate wide receivers. Once I have those positions filled, I start to look at defenders. If offensive value drops, though, say a legitimate WR2/high-end WR3, I'd go that route. Defensive positions are much deeper when scoring consistency compared to offensive players, which is why I hammer offense early.
I almost always grab a linebacker first. They are the highest scoring IDP position and are becoming increasingly scarce, with Dime and Nickel defensive packages becoming more regular and, in many cases, the base package. In turn, this makes legitimate three-down linebackers few and far between, with teams leaning towards playing more DBs due to pass-heavy schemes.
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