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Five years ago, fantasy football platforms designated defensive players' positions based on the architecture of the schemes in which they played. An NFL defense was known as a "3-4 defense" or a "4-3 defense." For many years, the number of teams playing a 3-4 defense was roughly equal to that playing a 4-3.
The 4-3 defense largely defined IDP fantasy football for decades. Defensive ends like Michael Strahan and Julius Peppers led the position and anchored IDP rosters. Fantasy gamers were thrilled to draft Warren Sapp in leagues requiring defensive tackles.
Pass rushers featured in 3-4 defenses, like Clay Matthews, were often afterthoughts in fantasy football. Designated as linebackers, their utility to IDP gamers was minimal. As a result, IDP rosters were typically populated by defensive linemen from fewer than 20 NFL teams. The scarcity of options sent gamers scrambling for options after draft mistakes or injuries inseason.
2023 IDP Draft Strategy
Footballguy Gary Davenport explained fantasy football's transition to "true-position" designations in May. Several fantasy football platforms have dramatically increased the number of players available for 'DE' or 'DL' slots in fantasy line-ups. These platforms either adopted true-position designations or made pass rushers eligible for both lineman and linebacker slots.
Davenport explained how to address defensive line in his piece on draft strategy with input from Footballguy John Norton. The duo acknowledges a choice between spending draft capital on two stars and building out rosters with newly available depth. True-position designations make viable options for one or more pass rushers from nearly every NFL team.
Davenport noted a top tier of 18 to 20 players from which fantasy drafters might have chosen over the summer. For every gamer that missed out on top options, another selected early-season duds like Haason Reddick and Cameron Heyward.
A successful fantasy gamer transitions from drafter to manager in September. The odds that an undrafted pass rusher emerges as a reliable option early in the season are low. A linebacker or safety is much easier to find on the waiver wire.
The key to success week after week includes successful navigation of match-ups. A fantasy gamer with adequate depth but no returning All-Pro can sustain Pro-Bowl-caliber production by correctly rotating his defensive ends through his weekly line-up.
Eight quarterbacks have already taken eight or more sacks through two weeks. Certainly, the high number is partially a product of small sample size; however, this pace of four sacks allowed per game puts each on pace for 68 sacks in 17 games. No quarterback took more than 55 sacks in 2022.
Ten teams are allowing sacks on more than 10 percent of their drop-backs. While Chicago once again leads the league at a consistent 13 percent year after year, no other team exceeded 10 percent in 2022.
Eleven quarterbacks are holding the ball for more than 2.5 seconds per drop-back. While several of these players create with their feet, they also increase the likelihood of sacks taken with extended pocket times.
Several teams' offensive lines are doing their quarterbacks few favors. Nine are allowing pressure more than half the time. In other words, nine teams have pass-block win rates below 50 percent.
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