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Andy Behrens

Fantasy Football 2010: Individual Defensive Player (IDP) Ranks

Andy Behrens
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Admit your mistake.

You should have been playing IDP leagues all along, but you haven't done it. You've always considered yourself to be a defense-wins-championships sort of fan, yet you've only participated in fantasy leagues where scoring is dominated by offensive skill players. On your rosters, there's just one starting spot dedicated to defense, and it scores 5-12 points per week. Like a kicker, basically.

It's shameful. Few observers would argue that the winning formula in the NFL is one-ninth defense, eight-ninths offense. But that's how we've set up the fantasy game.

There's a better way. And you know it. Unless you're involved in an IDP league, you cannot claim to have a balanced fantasy portfolio. Most of us will acknowledge that the daily requirements of fantasy ownership — draft prep, lineup management, trade negotiation, etc. — have made us more knowledgeable fans. We're not necessarily better spouses, better parents or better employees, but we're certainly better-informed football fans. Yet if you're not playing IDP, then you can only claim expertise in a very small segment of the player pool.

You're a more committed fan than that. The fact that you clicked on this post despite its unambiguous headline suggests that you're at least IDP-curious. Give it a one-year trial, gamer. There's no cost, no obligation to continue. Below, you'll find some defensive player ranks to get you started.

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But before this thing degrades further, becoming a simple list of names, we have a few caveats. First of all, you need to understand that there's not quite an industry standard for IDP scoring. The ranks here were crafted with Yahoo! default settings in mind (pictured right); they were not designed for custom leagues where sacks and turnovers may dominate the scoring.

In most IDP formats (but not all), you want high-volume tacklers. Those points are relatively consistent and predictable. Fumble recoveries, interceptions and defensive TDs are nearly impossible to forecast season-to-season, so forget about doing it week-to-week. If your league awards points for tackles, that's where you should focus your attention. And if you're involved in a format where you simply start a collection of generic defensive players — that is, you aren't required to play a specific number of LBs, CBs, DEs — then you'll probably want to own nothing but inside linebackers.

You also need to understand that the best real-life defensive players often make terrible fantasy options. Perhaps the best example of this in today's NFL is Raiders corner Nnamdi Asomugha(notes). He's a little too good for our game. Asomugha is rarely challenged by opposing quarterbacks, so he routinely finishes with useless tackle and interception totals (34 and 1 in '09). Fantasy irrelevance can be the flip side of on-field dominance.

Unless you have a ridiculous number of bench spots available for use, you'll drop most defensive players when you hit their bye weeks. It's rare for an IDP league to be so deep that stats can't be found via free agency. Realistically, the only IDPs that I'd be willing to roster through an injury or bye would be the occupants of the top 2-3 tiers in the ranks below…

Linebackers

1. Patrick Willis(notes), SF

--- end of tier ---

2. Jon Beason(notes), CAR
3. David Harris(notes), NYJ

--- end of tier ---

4. D'Qwell Jackson(notes), CLE
5. Curtis Lofton(notes), ATL
6. James Laurinaitis(notes), STL
7. Barrett Ruud(notes), TB
8. Paul Posluszny(notes), BUF

--- end of tier ---

9. Karlos Dansby(notes), MIA
10. London Fletcher(notes), WAS
11. Rolando McClain(notes), OAK
12. DJ Williams(notes), DEN
13. DeMeco Ryans(notes), HOU
14. Ray Lewis(notes), BAL
15. Lance Briggs(notes), CHI
16. Kirk Morrison(notes), JAC
17. Clay Matthews(notes), GB
18. Jerod Mayo(notes), NE
19. Stewart Bradley(notes), PHI
20. Jonathan Vilma(notes), NO
21. Stephen Tulloch(notes), TEN

--- end of tier ---

22. Brian Orakpo(notes), WAS
23. James Harrison(notes), PIT
24. DeMarcus Ware(notes), DAL
25. DeAndre Levy(notes), DET
26. LaMarr Woodley(notes), PIT
27. Justin Durant(notes), JAC
28. Aaron Curry(notes), SEA
29. Brian Urlacher(notes), CHI
30. Lofa Tatupu(notes), SEA
31. Nick Barnett(notes), GB
32. Terrell Suggs(notes), BAL

Defensive Linemen

1. Jared Allen(notes), MIN

--- end of mullet tier ---

2. Mario Williams(notes), HOU
3. Julius Peppers(notes), CHI
4. Justin Tuck(notes), NYG
5. Trent Cole(notes), PHI

--- end of tier ---

6. Will Smith(notes), NO
7. Darnell Dockett(notes), ARI
8. Robert Mathis(notes), IND
9. Andre Carter(notes), WAS
10. Dwight Freeney(notes), IND
11. Ray Edwards(notes), MIN
12. Justin Smith(notes), SF
13. Aaron Kampman(notes), JAC

--- end of tier ---

14. Mathias Kiwanuka(notes), NYG
15. John Abraham(notes), ATL
16. Trevor Scott(notes), OAK
17. Osi Umenyiora(notes), NYG
18. Stylez G White(notes), TB
19. Kyle Vanden Bosch(notes), DET
20. Antwan Odom(notes), CIN
21. Chris Long(notes), STL
22. Alex Brown(notes), NO

--- end of tier ---

23. Calais Campbell(notes), ARI
24. Jay Ratliff(notes), DAL
25. Everette Brown(notes), CAR
26. Shaun Ellis(notes), NYJ
27. Cliff Avril(notes), DET
28. Randy Starks(notes), MIA
29. Aaron Maybin(notes), BUF
30. Derrick Harvey(notes), JAC
31. Ndamukong Suh(notes), DET
32. Charles Johnson(notes), CAR

Defensive Backs

1. Eric Weddle(notes), SD
2. Oshiomogho Atogwe(notes), STL
3. Bernard Pollard(notes), HOU
4. Tyvon Branch(notes), OAK
5. Yeremiah Bell(notes), MIA

--- end of tier ---

6. Louis Delmas(notes), DET
7. Eric Berry(notes), KC
8. Dashon Goldson(notes), SF
9. Roman Harper(notes), NO
10. Brian Dawkins(notes), DEN

--- end of tier ---

11. Adrian Wilson(notes), ARI
12. Dawan Landry(notes), BAL
13. Erik Coleman(notes), ATL
14. Troy Polamalu(notes), PIT
15. Charles Woodson(notes), GB
16. Tanard Jackson(notes), TB
17. Antoine Bethea(notes), IND
18. Richard Marshall(notes), CAR
19. Kenny Phillips(notes), NYG
20. Antoine Winfield(notes), MIN
21. Charles Tillman(notes), CHI
22. LaRon Landry(notes), WAS
23. Cortland Finnegan(notes), TEN
24. Brandon Meriweather(notes), NE

--- end of tier ---

25. Jordan Babineaux(notes), SEA
26. Antrel Rolle(notes), NYG
27. Jairus Byrd(notes), BUF
28. Leon Hall(notes), CIN
29. Danieal Manning(notes), CHI
30. Chris Hope(notes), TEN
31. Earl Thomas(notes), SEA
32. Terrell Thomas(notes), NYG

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