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IDP Drafting Strategy
by Dave Foral
August 1, 2003
 

As draft day nears, it is imperative that you have a strategy in place and ready to execute. Perhaps you've created values for your offensive and defensive players based on their projected stats, the number of teams in your league, draft location, and (see the IDP pre-rankings) other intangibles that will have an impact on the production of each player. Based on this analysis, you have likely created a realistic scenario for what players should be available in each round's pick. If so, great job. you're ahead of 90% of rest of the folks in your league and should field a competitive team.

Still, there is an old saying that the folks at NASA use: Plans are meaningless. planning is everything. What does this mean? Well, in preparing for a space shuttle flight, plans are nailed down by some of the most brilliant minds in the civilized world. Flights are simulated. equipment is checked and double-checked. Everything is rehearsed and prepared for so that each launch goes off without a hitch. However, in each and every space shuttle flight, astronauts have had to react to something that was not planned for or for mistakes made. All of the months' training, excruciating project management and engineering were rendered obsolete. Instead, it was the astronauts' ability to adapt, anticipate. change direction while in the midst of intense pressure, that allowed for successful missions to be completed.

Where am I going with this, you ask? The analogy is simple. You may have a plan that says you will end up with a stud RB in round one, a stud WR in round 2, and a solid LB in round 3. But in the midst of the draft, when competition is fierce and intensity is flowing, you may find yourself in situations you hadn't planned for. You may have landed your stud RB in round one, but find in round two that the stud WR and LB you thought would be there in subsequent rounds are not. Are you prepared to think on your feet and make a strong, calculated draft selection, even if you find yourself in unchartered waters? Well, we at The Huddle are here to help, and I would like to really focus on drafting strategy for defensive players.

Now, I've made my projections for every starting offensive and defensive player. I've tried to anticipate how intangibles, such as health, contract year, teammates and strength of schedule, will effect how each player produces. And I've created a value for each player based on the number of teams that are in my league. In utilizing these values, everything should fall into place if I believe in the values I've assigned. Just select the player with the highest value left on the board, and I should be golden with a rockin' line up, right? Not necessarily. Four factors must be accounted for prior to draft day:

Roster Allocation and Projections

QB Jeff Garcia
QB Kerry Collins
QB Jake Plummer
RB Edgerrin James
RB James Stewart
RB Mike Alstott
RB Antowain Smith
RB Garrison Hearst
WR Eric Moulds
WR Donald Driver
WR Jeremy Shockey
WR Keenan McCardell
WR Ashlie Lehlie
WR Johnnie Morton
DL Jason Taylor
LB Dexter Coakley
LB London Fletcher
LB Randall Godfrey
LB Matt Stewart
LB Napoleon Harris
LB Derrick Rodgers
DB Mike Brown
DB Darren Sharper
Based on your roster size and the number of players you can start in each game, determine the ideal distribution by position you would like to see in your line up. In my league, we have 24 rounds and start 1 QB, 1 RB, 3 WR, 1 flex RB/WR/TE, 1 K, 1 DE, 1 DB, 3 LB, and 1 flex LB/DB/DL. I like to start 2 RBs and 4 LBs, so my ideal line up is composed of:

2-3 QBs - would lean towards 2, but would take 3 if a legitimate QB could be had late.
4-5 RBs - 5 is ideal. the deeper the better at RB, and pick team backups for studs.
6-7 WRs - I typically end up with 6, and like to pick them up in the early-mid rounds.
1 K
1-2 DLs - difference in value at DL is minimal, so I tend to stick with only 1.
2-3 DBs - getting a stud DB is imperative, and I tend to focus on strong safeties.
6-7 LBs - I load up on LBs. the RBs of IDP, with regard to value.

Once you have an ideal roster distribution determined, you can project -- based on your draft location -- the caliber of player you will end up with in each round. In the 11th position, to the right you will see the projected lineup I ended up with based on values and desired roster allocation (I left out kickers, as I always use my last pick in the draft anyway).

A respectable line up, if the draft goes like clockwork. but it never does.

Tiering

Tier One Pos Team Bye Pts/Gm Value
Jason Taylor DE MIA 4 16.56 4.1
Julius Peppers DE CAR 3 14.92 2.5
Simeon Rice DE TB 4 14.38 1.9
Hugh Douglas DE JAC 7 13.50 1.1
Tier Two Pos Team Bye Pts/Gm Value
Eric Hicks DE KC 9 13.31 0.9
Andre Carter DE SF 10 13.31 0.9
Greg Ellis DE DAL 3 13.27 0.8
Mike Rucker DE CAR 3 13.13 0.7
Warren Sapp DT TB 4 12.94 0.5
Patrick Kerney DE ATL 8 12.88 0.4
John Abraham DE NYJ 5 12.63 0.2
Tier Three Pos Team Bye Pts/Gm Value
Trevor Pryce DE DEN 10 12.44 0.0
John Henderson DT JAC 7 11.75 -0.7
Vonnie Holliday DE KC 9 11.53 -0.9
Leonard Little DE STL 5 11.50 -0.9
Jevon Kearse DE TEN 9 11.50 -0.9
Daryl Gardner DT DEN 10 11.20 -1.2
Michael Strahan DE NYG 4 11.13 -1.3
Phillip Daniels DE CHI 3 11.08 -1.4
Dwight Freeney DE IND 7 11.00 -1.4
Adewale Ogunleye DE MIA 4 10.94 -1.5
La'Roi Glover DT DAL 3 10.69 -1.8
Bertrand Berry DE DEN 10 10.69 -1.8
John Browning DT KC 9 10.69 -1.8
You cannot draft by value alone. the odds of meeting your roster allocation goals would be too great. Take it one step further. Based on the values assigned, create tiers of players at every position. I typically have 4-5 tiers based on value at the position, and what this does is give you a smaller field to analyze when you know you need to fill a roster spot. As you progress through your draft and players are chosen by the opposition, simply remove them from their respective tier. When your selection comes up and you know you need to fill a position, you will be prepared to select the best player tiered at that position. This is one of the easiest ways to prepare for the draft - do it, because your best competitors will. To the right is an example of how I've tiered my Defensive Linemen.

Because there are 12 teams in the league, I am fairly certain there will be no more than 24 DLs drafted, as teams will typically only start one and may keep one on the bench. I will typically draft DLs fairly late in the draft, so I will diligently track who's been selected prior to when I am comfortable picking my player. Once I reach my threshold, and I see that all of the tier one and tier of the tier two DLs have been selected, it is simply a matter of selecting the highest value player in tier two. In late rounds, if you want to draft a backup, select your next highest value player while paying attention to the bye week.

Drafting within the Position

In my overall ranking based on value, 6 of the top 20 players are linebackers. Does this mean that I ought to draft 3 linebackers during the first 4-5 rounds? Absolutely not. Rather, I am fairly confident that I will be drafting two RBs with my first two picks. Why? Because the drop off in talent and value after the first 12-15 RBs is mind-bogglingly huge. While LBs definitely rate high in my overall rankings, I am fairly confident that even if I don't land Urlacher or Lewis, I will be able to land 4-5 very good LBs and do not have to sacrifice a top 5 round pick to do so. Of the top 48 LBs, only 8.4 points per game separate Brian Urlacher and Raynoch Thompson. Of the top 24 RBs (half the number of LBs), a considerable 10.6 points per game separate the field. So, while it is definitely important to secure a solid core of LBs (DBs and DLs, as well), you can be intelligent about when over the course of the draft to select your players.

Understanding the Competition

I play in a fairly sophisticated and competitive league when it comes to IDP. Having used IDP for several years now, the owners understand that it is just as important to field a competent defensive roster as on offense. That is why LBs typically start flying off the board in the 2nd or 3rd round. As a result, I anticipate making my defensive moves shortly thereafter, perhaps selecting my first linebacker in the 4th or 5th round. Your league may be different, and it certainly pays great dividends finding out the caliber of competition you will be facing on draft day before hand. If you are fairly confident that over half of the other owners either haven't prepared or aren't experienced in IDP, you can be fairly certain that an excellent defensive roster can be had in later rounds. Understanding this allows you to establish a superior offensive, while not having to sacrifice anything on defense. To recap, find out who your fellow owners are and determine their level of IDP expertise. it could make draft day that much more fun!

The bottom line is that you cannot be over-prepared for draft day, especially if your league utilizes IDP. By taking all of the precautionary measures: assign values to each offensive and defensive player; plan your roster allocation and projected caliber of player; sort each position into tiers based on how many players you believe will be drafted; understand the dynamics within each position - a high value doesn't necessarily dictate a high round pick; and, lastly, understanding the level of competition before draft day can result in stronger fantasy personnel on both sides of the ball.