IDP Tips

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    08/06/2008 3:18 PM - 

    They Don’t Ask How, Just How Many: IDP Tips
    Contributed by: Chris LaBarge

    One of the things I love the most about is the numerous posts each week seeking advice from the masses about who to start and who to sit. Let me correct that. What I love most is the wealth of knowledge the members of our community display in their responses to these queries. Despite the sheer quantity of these requests, the community rises to the occasion and leaves an amazingly low number of questions unanswered. But with so many types of leagues and so many formats, how can any one person, let alone a group of people, give any kind of intelligent answer? The most common way to level the playing field is to ask about the scoring system of the league in question. The answer to many questions of who to start can only be correctly answered by knowing how the players being compared are being scored. For offensive leagues, knowing whether it’s a points-per-reception (PPR) league is vital information. For IDP, leagues it’s nowhere near as simple. Even knowing whether it’s a tackle heavy or big play league doesn’t offer all of the information. Hopefully my look into the different scoring systems will give you some insight into why it is important to give as much information as possible when seeking out advice.

     Let me start by saying I know it will be impossible for me to cover every single IDP scoring system in existence. Any article about offensive scoring would be the same way. There are just far too many ways to score players in fantasy football to touch on them all. What I will discuss are the formats I’m most familiar with. I play in tackle heavy leagues as do most people I know at But I do know several people seek advice each week in leagues that are more oriented to the big plays (sacks, turnovers, etc.). The advice dispensed is largely dependent on which type of league they play in. For the purposes of this article, I’m basing my numbers on the following scoring formats:
    Tackle Heavy
    Big Play
    Now that we know the rules we’re playing by, let’s take a peek at some areas that these two formats differ. The most glaring difference is the scoring for tackles. A tackle heavy league usually scores at least double what a big play league gives for solo tackles and assists, hence the name.  Surprisingly, the scoring for the big plays isn’t all that different, however. Occasionally, you will find big play leagues that give double digit points for sacks or interceptions, but for the most part the lower scoring for tackles puts more emphasis on the big plays for scoring. So what does that mean when it comes down to guessing who to start? Let’s start by comparing a few players’ performances in both systems.
    Nothing says” tackle heavy” like Patrick Willis’ 2007 season. Regardless of format, he was a must start because of his double digit tackle numbers. But just how does he compare to the rest of the IDPers in each format? In our tackle heavy league he was the runaway top scorer, outscoring #2 LB Brian Urlacher 343.50 – 275. That’s about 25% more points than the next best player, or about four points per week. Dominant! However, in our big play league, Willis still finished first overall, but only by six points. He outscored James Harrison 202.5-196.5, only 3% higher scoring, or about 0.35 points per week. Huge difference!
    Speaking of James Harrison, what a difference a scoring system makes for him. As I pointed out, he was the second overall scorer in our big play format, but in our tackle heavy league, Harrison finished ninth overall. While it’s still a respectable finish, you have to take into consideration how far behind Patrick Willis he finished. Would you believe 89 points, which is around 5.2 points per week, when he was only 6 points behind Willis overall in our big play league.
    Looking over the numbers, it seems that most 3-4 OLBs, like Harrison, receive a little bit of a boost in the big play leagues. When you consider that what makes them unattractive in tackle heavy leagues, inconsistent tackle numbers and a heavy reliance on big plays, it makes a lot of sense. Players like DeMarcus Ware are a very good example of this. In out tackle heavy format, he finished as the 27th best LB with 218 points, about 37% fewer points than Willis, while he was the 4th best LB in our big play league with 180 points, or about 12% fewer points than Willis. How about the jump Shawne Merriman’s value takes in our big play league? He’s only the 45th best LB in our tackle heavy league with 190 points, about 44% fewer points than Willis, while he jumps to the 9th best LB in our big play league with 160 points, “only” 22% fewer points than Willis. Did you notice that the difference in scoring format actually equated to a difference in 36 places among LBs? I did. Shaun Phillips and Mike Vrabel are other fine examples of 3-4 OLBs whose finish varied greatly depending upon format.
    Just as an example going the other way, Ernie Sims has become one of the better scoring Tampa-2 WLBs in tackle heavy formats, finishing as the 11th best LB in our example with 249 points. The same player with the same stats finished 29th among LBs in our big play league, a drop of 18 spots based on the format alone.
     One of the more interesting differences in these two formats, however, is the value of linemen. In both formats, Jared Allen was the top scoring DL, but overall he jumps from 31st in our tackle heavy league to 5th in our big play league. Patrick Kerney also moves from 42nd to 6th. And there are many more examples of the same phenomenon. Our tackle heavy league boasts exactly zero DLs in the top-30(Jared Allen was the top scorer at 31st) while our big play league has nine DLs in the top-30. What that tells us is that DLs are much better options for flex positions in our big play league as they score comparably to many of the LB counterparts. Just to compare Jared Allen to Patrick Willis in each format gives us all the information we need to see the value of DLs in general.
    Scoring Format
    Patrick Willis Pts
    Jared Allen Pts
    % Difference
    Tackle Heavy
    Big Play
    The lesson here, make sure to include DLs in the thought process when it comes to selecting starters in big play leagues.
    We can’t forget about DBs in this comparison. In most tackle heavy leagues, DBs are a much safer flex option, specifically strong safeties, than DLs tend to be. But since we’ve already seen that DLs can be just as valuable as some LBs in big play leagues, where does that leave the DBs? Let’s start at the top. Chris Harris was the top scoring DB in both formats, with 22nd (tackle heavy) and 24th (big play) place finishes respectively, a remarkable similarity. Another interesting find for DBs in that in our tackle heavy league, 14 DBs finished in the top-60 overall, while ten were in the top-60 of our big play league, only a slight drop off.
    Before we wrap this up, here’s a breakdown of the formats by position:
    Tackle Heavy
    Big Play
    Defensive Linemen
    Defensive Backs
    OK, so we looked at the numbers and crunched the data and now we have to figure out what we’ve learned from all of this. The most glaring discovery is the relative difference in value for DLs in each format. In our big play league, they are every bit as valuable as any LB while only the elite DLs can even be considered on par with LB3s in our tackle heavy league. As far as LBs are concerned, they are still the RBs of the IDP world. The difference is in the specific positions of importance. In tackle heavy leagues, 4-3 MLBs and cover-2 WLBs are the kings while 3-4 OLBs jump into the driver’s seat in big play leagues. IN all of this, it seems like the DBs are the ones hit the hardest. They still hold their ground when you look at the rankings, but get passed by the DLs in great numbers and still remain a step behind many LBs.
    I think the bottom line here is that using’s message boards and LIVE ADVICE are a great way to get the right advice to help you in your IDP endeavors, but knowing as much as we can about your league and its set up is the only way to give you the best advice possible. As you can see, there can be a big difference based on scoring.

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