Draft Carolina Panthers LB Luke Kuechly or your RB2 next? Gary gives some guidelines when to pull the trigger on your IDP picks.
If there’s one question I get asked more than any other (except maybe, “are you Brad Pitt?”) it has to be, “when should I start drafting IDPs?”
It’s a loaded question, and one that can have very different answers depending on a particular league’s scoring and lineup requirements. However, for those of you planning to incorporate individual defensive players into your Fantasy Throwdown games, here’s a general rule of thumb.
The same fantasy points scoring used for Fantasy Throwdown is used for the player stats at DraftBuddy.com. This allowed me to examine last year’s top fantasy options in this scoring.
The top scoring defensive player of 2013, Karlos Dansby (then of the Arizona Cardinals), tallied 196.5 fantasy points. That would have ranked Dansby just inside the top 20 at running back using PPR scoring.
So, you can guesstimate that the fantasy value of an elite linebacker (such as Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers) in this scoring is that of a mid-level fantasy RB2. Players a bit farther down the list (such as St. Louis Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree) would have value comparable to a “flex” option.
There are, of course, exceptions. For instance, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt ranked as the top overall IDP two years ago, and ranks number one in point per game this year (minimum two games). His overall production is similar to Dansby’s.
But, much like Jimmy Graham‘s dominance of tight ends, the gap between Watt and the number two ranked defensive lineman is staggering. That added edge at his position bumps his value, to the point that Watt merits a look early in Throwdown drafts, perhaps even in the first two rounds.
Defensive backs, on the other hand, should be waited on. It’s a ridiculously deep and unpredictable position in fantasy football. Play your cards right and identify the proper matchup plays, and you can wait until the end of your Throwdown draft and still acquire defensive backs capable of generating a solid box score.
With that said, the point of all this is simple – don’t overpay for your IDPs. You can wait, grab running backs and receivers (and maybe even a quarterback) and then hit the defense without digging a hole. It’s partly to do with a solid amount of depth at the linebacker and defensive back spots, and partly a function of knowing how IDPs compare to their offensive brethren.
Now that you know (in a very broad-strokes sense) when to draft your IDPs, let’s look at which games and players to target in Fantasy Throwdown for Week 7.
Games of the Week
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
Granted, this game would be quite a bit more appetizing if Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner wasn’t battling turf toe, but even if Wagner misses the game there’s plenty to like IDP-wise. Not only do both of these teams feature more than a little fantasy-relevant talent, but both teams have also been kind to opposing individual defensive players. Both the Rams and Seahawks rank inside the top 10 in fantasy points per game allowed to linebackers, and no team has allowed more fantasy points per game to IDPs overall in Fantasy Throwdown scoring in 2014 than the Rams.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Admittedly, this game is a little light on the pass-rushers, with New York’s Jason Pierre-Paul easily the top option available. However, the Giants and Cowboys are top 12 fantasy matchups for both linebackers and defensive backs in 2014. Even better, in players such as linebackers Jon Beason of the Giants and Rolando McClain of the Cowboys, and safeties like New York’s Antrel Rolle and Dallas’ Barry Church, the teams have talent capable of taking advantage of those favorable matchups.
Now that we’ve hit the when and the where of Fantasy Throwdown IDP drafts in Week 7, let’s put some lipstick on this pig with a look at some under-the-radar players who are set for big things this week.
Everson Griffen – DE, Minnesota Vikings (at BUF)
Griffen’s been riding something of a hot streak of late, with eight total tackles and a pair of sacks over his last two games. The 26-year-old has an excellent shot at keeping that positive momentum going this week, as the Bills have allowed the most fantasy points per game to defensive linemen this year in the NFL.
Vincent Rey – OLB, Cincinnati Bengals (at IND)
This is something of a conditional add, but if both Emmanuel Lamur and Rey Maualuga miss Sunday’s big game in Indy (a real possibility) then that means a three-down role at middle linebacker for Rey in a top five IDP matchup with the Colts. The last time Rey had that gig, over a three-game stretch in 2013, he was the top scoring linebacker in all of fantasy football.
Quintin Demps – SS, New York Giants (at DAL)
Demps has played well since taking over for the ineffective Stevie Brown, with the 29-year-old telling Dan Graziano of ESPN, “It’s an opportunity for me, so I just take advantage of the chance to be the best I can be for this team and go from there.” This week, Demps represents an excellent opportunity for IDP owners as well, as the Cowboys have been very generous to opposing defensive backs in 2014.
K.J. Wright – OLB, Seattle Seahawks (at STL)
As we stated earlier, Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is questionable for Sunday’s matchup with the Rams after injuring his toe last week against the Cowboys. If Wagner can’t go, Wright will kick inside against a Rams team allowing the most fantasy points per game to linebackers this year. Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton told Clare Farnsworth of the team’s website he trusts Wright to get the job done. “K.J. is a guy that we know is very capable of stepping in and doing a fantastic job,” Norton said. Should Wagner miss the game, IDP owners should trust Wright in Week 7 as well.
Have a question regarding a specific player or game? Hit me up on Twitter and I’ll do my best to help!
Gary Davenport is a Senior Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks, an NFL and Fantasy Football Analyst at Bleacher Report, a Contributing Author and Associate Editor at Football Diehards and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America. Gary’s work has been featured in a number of national print publications and on both satellite and terrestrial radio, and he was a finalist for the FSWA Web Article of the Year in 2013.