Simplifying IDP: Rookie Draft Strategies
As every experienced IDP player knows there are a lot more intricacies and nuances regarding defensive positions than there are on the offensive side of the ball. Things such as schemes, rotations, defensive co-coordinators, quality of a teams offense, percentage played in positive or negative game scripts, positional designation changes, and even bias stat crews. So whenever possible it's nice to try and simplify things on the defensive side to a certain degree. This can be applied to drafting defensive players as well, whether it be a startup draft or a rookie draft the simple answer is, wait on IDP's.
In my last article I discussed dynasty startup draft strategy, in this article I will be focusing on rookie drafts in regards to IDP's, As I mentioned in my previous article I feel that each defensive position has it's own importance. So I will be addressing each position individually. For the sake of this exercise I'm going to assume that you are in a 12 team league with an 8 round rookie draft (IDP Included), with a "Hybrid" or "Balanced" scoring system which uses the best of both worlds from tackle heavy scoring, and sack heavy scoring.
The first position I would like to address is defensive end, I am more than willing to draft a Myles Garrett, Joey Bosa, or possibly Bradley Chubb with a mid to late second round pick. But aside from the big name defensive ends who will undoubtedly start for their new team day one and play nearly every snap in a pass rushing role. I'm not looking to draft DE's until very late in the draft if at all. The main reason for this is, as expected the majority of quality pass rushers can take considerable time to develop. In 2017 of the top 100 scoring defensive ends only nine of them were rookies, and of them nine rookies that cracked the top 100, only four of them averaged more than 5.0 fantasy points per game. So if you aren't willing to spend a second round draft pick on a defensive end, your going to have to most likely settle for a "project" of a player. So hopefully you have a deep taxi squad because chances are you won't be staring them as a trustworthy option for several years, if ever. Just for the record Myles Garrett was drafted before Alvin Kamara and Kareem hunt on a regular basis last draft season. Enough said! Rookie capital willing to invest in DE's - Mid to late 2nd rounder for the best of the class, other than that late round dart throws rounds 7-8
As far as interior defensive lineman go there really isn't any reason to be drafting them, unless you are in a DT required league or a DT premium league. Even then there is absolutely no rush to grab a lineman, as is the case with defensive ends they generally take a year or two until they develop into an every down player. Personally I want no part of using taxi squad spots on defensive lineman, you are more as likely to acquire a veteran via waivers that will be a viable starter than drafting one. Last season of the top 50 interior defensive lineman in fantasy points only two of them were rookies and neither of them were startable at any point in the season. So once again save your draft picks when it comes to lineman and throw another dart at the runningback or wide receiver dart board instead. Rookie capital willing to invest in DT's - Very late rounds 7-8. Unless DT premium rounds 4-5.
Every year in rookie drafts a lot of mediocre to below average middle round NFL drafted linebackers seem to get drafted in rookie drafts. There is a very minuscule chance that your average linebacker drafted this late will ever be an impact for your fantasy team, so off to the taxi squad indefinitely. One thing rookie linebackers don't usually get that other rookie positional players get is playing time, unfortunately this doesn't help equates to statistical success. A whopping two rookies made the top 50 in fantasy points last season among linebackers, and only eight of the top 100. I'm not going to separate the outside linebackers because there really isn't much to be said about them, if the player pool is thin towards then end of your draft take a flier on an athletic pass rushing outside linebacker. Other than that, once again when using a value based drafting system it just doesn't make sense to draft linebackers who weren't selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. Rookie capital willing to invest in LB's - In the 3rd to 4th round usually is where I feel comfortable selecting "my guy", but always end up grabbing a bargain in the 7th or 8th round,
My method for drafting safeties in rookie drafts is the same as startup drafts, if they won't play in the box on the vast majority of their snaps I have absolutely no use for them. I will gladly stream whoever has the best match ups week to week outside of a starter or two. I will rarely draft a safety in a rookie draft unless he is being labeled as a hybrid linebacker type or has exceptional return skills. As you can see by the array of talented free agent safeties without any offers yet, the league considers the safety position easily replaceable and not worth a significant investment. Unless your the Jets and you spend you first two picks on safeties? In 2017 seven safeties made the top 50 and 12 were in the top 100 in fantasy points, problem being it wasn;t the guys anybody expected to succeed as rookies. Another prime example, people were drafting Jabrill Peppers before Ju-Ju, and Kupp last year, spending early draft capitol on a DB is insanity, but many will do it this year for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Rookie capital willing to invest in SS's - A true box safety with kick/punt return potential 5th-6th round, will not draft any other safeties.
Despite cornerbacks frequently receiving more snaps than other rookie defenders it simply does not change the fact that cornerback is easily the most streamable position in fantasy football. It was boom or bust with rookie cornerbacks last season as three of the top four and four of the top seven scoring cornerbacks were indeed rookies, but outside of that only six of the top 75 were rookies. Unless your league has a scoring premium for corners or really focuses on the position I won't invest any serious draft capitol if any into a cornerback. Rookie capital willing to invest in CB's - Round 7 or 8 but more like to be acquired as a priority free agent.
As I mentioned in my previous article I love IDP and personally beleive playing in anything but leagues that include defensive players is essentially for beginners. But when it comes to drafting IDP's in a rookie draft let others use up their early and mid round picks on what will likely be a permanent fixture on their taxi suads. Every year league winners have at least one, or possibly even more defensive players that they acquired via waivers in their week 16 championship lineup. Waivers are an absolutely invaluable resource in IDP leagues, even in the deepest leagues viable starters are plucked off waivers, so stay diligent and work the hell out of that waiver wire each and every week, because if you don't you can be assured your competition is. Use your draft picks wisely as many IDP assets are waiver wire additions.