Fantasy Football Picks

We continue work our discussion on how to make fantasy football picks with a look at some of the major alternate fantasy football rules on the landscape. On this page, we'll be discussing IDP rankings, how to make IDP picks when on the clock, and preparing a draft list for individual defenders. Usually, individual defensive players or "IDPs" are started in league that don't want to have Team Defenses, though I have seen leagues where you start a Defense/Special Teams unit and an IDP.

If you're never played fantasy football using IDPs rules, you stand in danger of making bad draft selections throughout your draft, selecting famous players way too high based on the NFL reputations, or drafting positions in the middle rounds, when you're better off adding mid-level offensive stars and worrying about those defenders later. Because some of the best IDPs at one or two positions inevitably slide into free agency, you're much better off waiting as late in your draft to select certain defensive positions, much like you would a field goal kicker.

We'll discuss how to choose which defensive positions to target, and which fantasy football IDP picks to wait on. Let's start with the basics of selecting IDPs on draft day.

IDP League Picks

I've played in countless IDP leagues over the years, and despite playing in a lot more leagues with Def/ST rules, I've always preferred the individual defenders. One, selecting single defensive stars is more like picking fantasy players on offense: you never hear someone who wants to draft "Team Offense". Two, IDPs add a whole other level of player evaluation, which is what fantasy football is supposed to be about. IDP scoring systems tend to make a fantasy league a lot more interesting and challenging.

There are tricks to finding good IDP players, though. Over the last several years, my main league has become a 36-man dynasty league where you must start 7 defensive players every week. The idea of this league is to make defense as important as offense, so you have balance on either side of the ball: 7 offensive players, 7 IDPs, a field goal kicker and a head coach. With that kind of intensive idp experience, I've developed my own theories about starting defensive players.

IDPs Are Counter-Intuitive

So much of the logic of IDP players runs counter to what you expect. The way you evaluate offensive fantasy football players is not the way you evaluate defensive fantasy football players. So before you starting building an IDP draft list, throw out everything you've learned about drafting fantasy football skill position players on offense. That logic doesn't apply.

Players on Losing Teams Help

When drafting certain defensive positions, you want to draft guys off of the worst NFL teams. Fantasy football owners are used to focusing on the best offensive teams in the NFL: the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys of the world. You know the usual suspects. But in IDP leagues, it's often better to focus on players from the list of losing teams: the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions.

That doesn't sound like it makes sense at first, but it actually makes perfect sense. It's all about opportunities to produce numbers, and you need to be on the field to do that. Since the defenses on bad teams tend to give up long scoring drives and lose time of possession battles, those defensive players are going to be on the field for more plays and more minutes. That adds up to extra chances to adds IDP totals, especially tackles.

Tackles Are King in IDP Leagues

Let's assume your IDP league gives points for tackle statistics. If your league does, then focus in on the players who get a lot of tackles. That's usually going to be linebackers and safeties, especially middle linebackers and strong safeties. These are the people who protect the center of the field and roam from sideline to sideline, soaking up tackles. But why are tackles king in IDP formats?

Other stats you usually get points for in IDP leagues are sacks, fumble recoveries and interceptions. But think about it: those defensive stats are going to be relatively infrequent, and extremely inconsistent. Your NFL sacks leaders are going to have 15 to 20 sacks on the season. You might see a defender collect 5 to 10 combined fumble recovering or forced fumbles per year, if they're really lucky (or good). The NFL leader in interceptions might have 8 to 10 picks per year.

Meanwhile, the leading tacklers in the NFL post upwards of 150 tackles. Patrick Willis had 152 tackles in 2009. Seven other linebackers had over 130 tackles on the years. Even if you get double the points for sacks and turnovers, the person getting the biggest tackle totals are going to accumulate a lot more points - and be a lot more consistent from week to week.

Turnovers and Sacks are Hard to Predict

Sure, you want guys who get a lot of tackles, while mixing in your occasional sack and turnover. But sacks come in bunches, and turnovers are hard to predict. Try picking up free agents with big sacks, INTs and FRs any given week, and you're going to end up chasing points, getting a big fat zero a lot of times. That point was driven home two years ago, when Antonio Cromartie got 29, 0, 31 and 0 fantasy points in my main league in a matter of four consecutive weeks - these things are hard to nail down.

I think you see where this is leading, then, you want guys on bad teams and you want guys who get a lot of tackles. So you want to draft middle linebackers and safeties on bad teams.

Don't Worry About the Big Name

This strategy means you aren't going to always draft the big name on defense. In every format I've seen in IDP leagues, Troy Polamalu has been a marginal starter, even in his bests years (finishing an average of 31st among DBs over the past 3 years). Ed Reed and Bob Sanders have been good, but only when they've been healthy enough to compete. This goes back to my original point: the Steelers, Ravens and Colts offenses tend to keep those star defensive players off the field, so their fantasy football production is inconsistent, if spectacular at times.

You know what it's like starting inconsistent running backs and receivers. They drive you crazy, scoring almost nothing when you need them the most. And as soon as you bench them, that's when they explode for huge numbers. Generally speaking, you can find a lot better producers if you expand your draft list to lesser-known players, so looks at the numbers, not the names.

Start as Many MLBs as Possible

Many leagues require you to start 1 defensive lineman, 1 linebacker and 1 defensive back. Some leagues only require you to start 3 defensive players of any type. If that's the case, start only middle linebackers, with a few inside linebackers on 3-4 defenses thrown in. If you have a "defensive flex" player, always make that an MLB. It's as simple as that.

If you do need to start at least one defensive lineman, follow the two defensive lineman IDP tips below.

Forget about Defensive Tackles

NFL defensive tackles are often schemed to soak up blockers and double-teams, so the linebackers can make the tackle. You don't want that kind of player on your team. It's somewhat like drafting a blocking tight end or a fullback on offense. Sure, they'll have their games with a sack and a few tackles, but most DLs are just not consistent IDP performers. You'll find a couple every year who buck the trend, but as a general rule, I would ignore the defensive tackles and draft defensive ends exclusively.

Draft Star Defensive Ends

Defensive ends are the one exception to everything I've said above. If you have to draft and start defensive linemen, draft star defensive ends who accumulate sack totals. Defensive lineman are like tight ends on the offensive side of the ball: they are never going to be as consistent as the other positions. But the star DEs are like star TEs: they are going to be the most consistent of an inconsistent lot. Even more, pass rushers are the players with the best chance of having that one breakout game, giving you a key edge in a key match-up and being a difference maker.

DEs are an exception to the rule, so you should treat them more like you would an offensive fantasy football star, grabbing guys on consistently winning NFL teams. Pass rushers perform best when they know the offense has to throw the ball, so they are at their best when their team is ahead. Look at the list of 2009 top defensive ends and it's going to be full of stars on winning teams: names like Jared Allen, Will Smith and Trent Cole.

In fact, defensive ends have the biggest dropoff of all IDP positions, because you have the NFL sacks leaders and then everyone else. So if you want to have a chance at production at this position, target the top defensive ends in the NFL, before these players get picked over. (I understand if you want to draft Patrick Willis instead, because he's such a consistent stud and difference maker, but good linebackers can be found in free agency every year. Once the DEs are gone, they're gone.)

Defensive Line Picks - IDP Rankings for DL

This is the IDP list that's going to look most like what you'll see on other websites and in fantasy magazines. You can either rush the passer or you can't, and drafting IDP linemen is about finding the guys who rush the passer a lot. So picking fantasy football defensive linemen is a pretty straightforward evaluation process.

  1. Jared Allen - Minnesota Vikings (4)
  2. Trent Cole - Philadelphia Eagles (8)
  3. Will Smith - New Orleans Saints (10)
  4. Mario Williams - Houston Texans (7)
  5. Justin Tuck - New York Giants (8)
  6. Julius Peppers - Chicago Bears (8)
  7. Terrell Suggs - Baltimore Ravens (8) - See Below
  8. Andre Carter - Washington Redskins (9) - See Below
  9. Ray Edwards - Minnesota Vikings (4)
  10. Robert Mathis - Indianapolis Colts (7)
  11. Dwight Freeney - Indianapolis Colts (7)
  12. Osi Umenyiora - New York Giants (8)
  13. Aaron Kampman - Jacksonville Jaguars (9)
  14. John Abraham - Atlanta Falcons (8)
  15. Antwan Odom - Cincinnati Bengals (6) - Monitor Return from Season-Ending Injury
  16. Shaun Ellis - New York Jets (7)
  17. Chris Long - St. Louis Rams (9)
  18. Kyle Vanden Bosch - Detroit Lions (7)
  19. Justin Smith - San Francisco 49ers (9)
  20. Calais Campbell - Arizona Cardinals (6)
  21. Stylez White - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)
  22. Trevor Scott - Oakland Raiders (10)
  23. Everette Browns - Carolina Panthers (4)
  24. Darnell Dockett - Arizona Cardinals (6)
  25. Derrick Harvey - Jacksonville Jaguars (9)
  26. Mathias Kiwanuka - New York Giants (8)
  27. Jay Ratliff - Dallas Cowboys (4)
  28. Kevin Williams - Minnesota Vikings (4)
  29. Randy Starks - Miami Dolphins (5)
  30. Cliff Avril - Detroit Lions (7)
  31. Tyler Brayton - Carolina Panthers (4)
  32. Brandon Graham - Philadelphia Eagles (8)
  33. Lawrence Jackson - Seattle Seahawks (5)
  34. Kroy Biermann - Atlanta Falcons (8)
  35. William Hayes - Tennessee Titans (9)
  36. Chris Kelsay - Buffalo Bills (6)
  37. Alex Brown - New Orleans Saints (10)
  38. Connor Barwin - Houston Texans (7)
  39. Richard Seymour - Oakland Raiders (10)
  40. Kelly Greg - Baltimore Ravens (8)
  41. Haloti Ngata - Houston Texans (7)
  42. Jerry Hughes - Indianapolis Colts (7) - But Only if Mathis or Freeney Miss Significant Time

You'll note there are some teams that aren't represented on this list. That's because these teams (Patriots, Chargers, etc) employ the 3-4 most of the time, and their defensive ends are mainly schemed to stop the run and set up the outside linebackers to get sacks/blitz from the outside. This is one reason that, if you decide to draft IDPs high, I suggest going after the top defensive linemen, because the 3-4 defense makes the good DLs list one of the thinnest in fantasy football.

I added a few defensive tackles further down the list. While I advise against drafting these guys, sometimes a 1st-tier DT is better than a 3rd-tier DE. So I placed these guys far enough down the last (past 24) that you'll only be drafting them as backups, bye week fill-ins and emergency starters in case of injury. That's the strategy I suggest you employ with these guys - only in case of emergency.

Keep in mind that 1 or 2 star players can emerge in the middle of the season, due to injuries. Scour the waiver wire for those mid-season replacements, but know that it's pretty sparse on the waiver wire for DEs, once the season is started. So much of the pass rushing talent comes from the 3-4 OLB, like Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer with the Cowboys, that the position is thin.

Defensive End or Outside Linebacker? - An IDP Quandary

There are some IDP players that are tweeners: classified as either defensive ends or OLBs. That's because many teams switch between the 4-3 and 3-4 defense from one play to the next, and the DEs in the 4-3 often move to outside linebacker in the 3-4. Greg Ellis did this with the Dallas Cowboys in recent seasons, while Aaron Kampman did this with the Green Bay Packers last year (sort of - the change was more drastic to a 3-4). The most famous example these days is Terrell Suggs with the Baltimore Ravens, who plays significant time as a 3-4 linebacker, but is often listed as a defensive end by fantasy football league sites.

When you see one of these hybrid players listed as a defensive end in a league where you have to start a DL, grab that player. Terrell Suggs is pretty average (fantasy football stats wise) if he's listed as an OLB in your league, hardly worth a roster spot. But if you can play him as a defensive end, he becomes one the best 5-8 picks on that list. He's just the starkest example. While the other defensive linemen have to rely on superior sack totals, Terrell Suggs collects sacks, but also collects the tackle totals of an average outside linebacker. If you player in a league where you have to start 1 DL and 1 LB, if you draft Suggs, it's like you're starting 2 LBs.

Keep an eye in preseason on players like Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter with the Washington Redskins. Their team's switch to the 3-4 makes them hard to evaluate, or decide which list they go on. Check your league's classificiations. Andre Carter was a Top 5 DE last year, but I'm not sure whether he plays most of his time at 3-4 DE or OLB. If defensive end, he'll have less sacks and should be downgraded. If outside linebacker, watch out to make sure he's still listed as a DL candidate. If he's listed as a LB, he might be useless.

As you'll note from my list, there are still a handful of defensive ends I'd rather have than Terrell Suggs, but these are the elite players at their position.

Rookie and No-Name LBs are Good Picks

The linebacker position is a lot like the running back position on the offensive side of the ball, based on athleticism and physical ability. Young players with superior physical talents can come in and make an immediate impact, while wide receivers and defensive backs have a learning curve figuring out complicated schemes and techniques. Pass rushers and pass blockers are the same way, often learning techniques to better compete at the pro level, after a lifetime of easy physical dominance without proper techniques. We all know the growing pains of rookie quarterbacks.

But linebackers hit the ground running, if they're good enough. Patrick Willis, Demeco Ryans and Brian Cushing were defensive rookies of the year. James Laurinaitis put together a solid fantasy year last year. Every year, one or two rookie LBs make a big impact for their team, and are steals in fantasy football idp drafts.

Drafting Rookie IDPs

Rookie defenders are linebacker and cornerback should be drafted as immediate contributors. Expect to never get production from a rookie defensive end or DT, while safeties seem to take a while to learn the game. Cornerbacks also take a while to adjust to the NFL game, but they get tested by every opponent, so rookie DBs on the corner (as long as they're starters) are going to get production from tackles after the catch. Rookie linebackers, as long as they are the opening day starter, are every bit as viable of a fantasy starter as a veteran.

One perfect storm hits this year with Rolando McClain. Let me mention that I'm not fan of the University of Alabama and I wouldn't be picking this kid as an immediate impact player, if he were starting for the Colts or Patriots. But I am a fan of Oakland Raiders linebackers, and the consistent numbers of Kirk Morrison as the Raiders' starting MLB the past four years shows that the Raiders are IDP-tackle gold.

Roland McClain fits every stipulation we've had. You can depend on the Raiders to be among the worst teams in the NFL every year, and even with a good 2010 NFL Draft and a new QB, it's hard to see the Raiders rising anywhere above the .500 range - and that's being optimistic. The Raiders shipped out Kirk Morrison to Jacksonville shortly after drafting Rolando McClain, so the rookie is already the Raiders starting MLB. Combine that with natural talent at a position that favors quick assimilation to the NFL level, and I have no trouble saying Rolando McClain should be a Top 10 IDP linebacker in 2010.

I said the same thing last year with James Laurinaitis, because he was with the stinking Rams. I said the same thing with Patrick Willis in his rookie season, because he was with the lousy 49ers. If you do it right, you can draft a solid veteran, then turn around and grab Rolando McClain as your #2 LB, which is what I recommend.

Draft Comeback Players

Look back two years ago at the final Top 10 and Top 25 lists. Make a note of all the players who were on that list in 2008, but didn't appear on the same lists in 2009. Investigate why these players didn't follow up their 2008 success with another productive fantasy year.

Did they get injured? Are they healthy again? Did they lose their starting position? Are they with another team where they are less likely to be productive? Are they splitting time, or did they move to a less productive position?

Eliminate those players whose lack of production can be tied to position changes, team changes where they don't have the same opportunities, replacement by a talented younger player, and the like. These guys aren't likely to make good comeback candidates, while other players might.

With those players who simply got injured, you have some nice potential comeback players as sleeper picks. The volatility among IDP picks is often attributed to the violent nature of football, and injury issues. Sometimes, a player who played through injuries that probably should have benched him is likely to have a bounceback year.

IDP Pick Example - Demeco Ryans

Also remember the overall seasons these player's NFL teams had in 2008 and 2009. A player like Demeco Ryans was fantasy gold in 2006-2008, because he was the middle linebacker on a pretty bad Houston Texans team. The linebacking corps around him was sub-par by NFL standards, so Ryans was forced to make the lion's share of the tackles. In 2009, the Houston Texans climbed closer to the ranks of the playoff contenders, while Brian Cushing soaked up a lot of the tackle totals.

If you expect the Texans to continue to improve, and Brian Cushing to continue to stand out, you might decide that Demeco Ryans is likely to remain a solid 2nd-tier, but not Top 3 linebacker (as he was before), in 2010. But if you think Brian Cushing's 4-game suspension is going to hurt the Texans on defense and overall, and if you think the team is likely to regress in this late stage of Gary Kubiak's tenure with the team, then maybe Demeco Ryans rises back into the absolute highest ranks of fantasy MLBs, alongside Patrick Willis and Jon Beason.

I assume Demeco Ryans might have a top 10-15 year and should be a great 2nd LB selection, if you can start a second linebacker. But that's your decision. Instead of giving you my dry picks of individual defensive players, I want to go through my thought process in evaluating IDP talent, so you can reproduce these thought processes in future years.

Linebacker IDP Picks - IDP Rankings for LB

My linebacker list is going to look a little different than what you'll see in many places. That's because I have a philosophy of drafting linebackers off the worst teams in pro football - and weighting my draft philosophy towards inside linebackers and, especially, middle linebackers in the 4-3 defense. This has been a successful philosophy for me, and if you stack the odds in your favor by drafting the guys most likely to get a lot of tackles, it should be successful for you.

  1. Patrick Willis - San Francisco 49ers (9)
  2. Jon Beason - Carolina Panthers (6)
  3. David Harris - New York Jets (7)
  4. James Laurinaitis - St. Louis Rams (9)
  5. Barrett Ruud - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)
  6. Curtis Lofton - Atlanta Falcons (8)
  7. Kirk Morrison - Jacksonville Jaguars (9)
  8. Rolando McClain - Oakland Raiders (10)
  9. Paul Posluszny - Buffalo Bills (6)
  10. London Fletcher - Washington Redskins (9)
  11. Jonathan Vilma - New Orleans Saints (10) - He was better last year, but playing on a Superbowl team may eventually hurt his tackle totals.
  12. Ray Lewis - Baltimore Ravens (8)
  13. D'Qwell Jackson - Cleveland Browns (8) - Top 3 two years ago, and was Top 6 until he went on I.R. last year.
  14. D.J. Williams - Denver Broncos (9)
  15. Demeco Ryans - Houston Texans (7)
  16. Karlos Dansby - Miami Dolphins (5)
  17. Stephen Tulloch - Tennessee Titans (9)
  18. Demorrio Williams - Kansas City Chiefs (4)
  19. Lofa Tatupu - Seattle Seahawks (5) - Went on IR last year. Add his stats together with David Hawthorne's to get a true indication of the Seahawks MLB's value.
  20. Brian Cushing - Houston Texans (7) - He'd be higher, but the 4-game suspension is looming.
  21. Clint Session - Indianapolis Colts (7)
  22. Stewart Bradley - Philadelphia Eagles (8)
  23. Gary Brackett - Indianapolis Colts (7)
  24. Chad Greenway - Minnesota Vikings (4)
  25. Lance Briggs - Chicago Briggs (8)
  26. Mike Peterson - Atlanta Falcons (8)
  27. Jerod Mayo - New England Patriots (5)
  28. Daryl Smith - Jacksonville Jaguars (9)
  29. Bradie James - Dallas Cowboys (4)
  30. Demarcus Ware - Dallas Cowboys (4) - A sign of the messed-up nature of IDP stats, that one of the best in the NFL is rated #30.
  31. Lamaar Woodley - Pittsburgh Steelers (5)
  32. James Harrison - Pittsburgh Steelers (5)
  33. Geno Hayes - Arizona Cardinals (5)
  34. Dhani Jones - Cincinnati Bengals (5)
  35. Nick Barnett - Green Bay Packers (10)
  36. Stephen Cooper - San Diego Chargers (10)
  37. Brian Orakpo - Washington Redskins (9)
  38. James Farrior - Pittsburgh Steelers (5)
  39. Elvis Dumervil - Denver Broncos (9)
  40. Aaron Curry - Seattle Seahawks (5)
  41. Ernie Sims - Detroit Lions (7)
  42. Clay Matthews - Green Bay Packers (10)
  43. Anthony Spencer - Dallas Cowboys (4)
  44. Brian Urlacher - Chicago Bears (8)
  45. Keith Brooking - Dallas Cowboys (4)
  46. Rey Malauagua - Cincinnati Bengals (5) - Some take a year to figure out the game.
  47. Sean Weatherspoon - Atlanta Falcons (8)
  48. Clint Sintim - New York Giants (8)
  49. Sean Lee - Dallas Cowboys (4) - But only draft him late in keeper or dynasty leagues. Lee should sit behind Bradie James and Keith Brooking this year.
  50. Pat Angerer - Indianapolis Colts (7) - Same as Sean Lee. If Brackett or Sessions get injured. Angerer is said to have skills similar to Gary Brackett.

I added a few fliers from 47 to 52, in case you were in a keeper league or wanted to take a shot at a young guys. These are all 1st or 2nd round guys who were drafted in the top 2-3 rounds of the NFL Draft in 2009 or 2010. Sintim appears to be the Giants WLB starter at the moment, while Weatherspoon should start on the outside for the Falcons. Malauagua was only so-so with the Bengals, before he went on IR with a Week 15 injury. That doesn't mean he can't figure it out in year 2.

But lets move on to the fantasy football DB picks.

Don't Worry about Defensive Backs

Don't stress about grabbing a defensive back high. Don't stress when all the big point getters from 2009 are drafted in the middle rounds. Just keep drafting the other positions and worry about the DBs later. That sounds cavalier to say, but there are very good reasons to follow this advice.

That's because defensive backs in IDP format are incredibly inconsistent, with a high rate of volatility from one year to the next. For instance, of the Top 10 DBs in 2007 fantasy leagues, only 1 was a Top 10 player in 2008, and only 5 of the 10 were in the Top 30 in 2008. From 2008 to 2009, only 2 of the Top 10 finished in the Top 10 the next year, while again, only 5 of the 10 finished in the Top 30.

Defensive backs are the field goal kickers on the defensive side of the ball. Their numbers fluctuate wildly from one year to the next, so there's no reason to waste high and mid-round draft picks on these guys. You're going against the numbers doing so. And even moreso than field goal kickers, you'll find the waiver wire stocked with DBs who are just as productive, if not more, once the season starts. They are just that unpredictable.

Draft Strong Safeties

When it does come time to draft a defensive backs, do yourself a favor and draft safeties, especially strong safeties. While the distinction in the "free safety" and "strong safety" positions have shrunk somewhat in the past few years, the strong safety is still the one most likely to play near the line of scrimmage. When defenses can't stop the run with a 7-man front, the strong safety is the player most likely to be moved up to stop the run.

Even if his defense doesn't play 8-men-in-the-box, a strong safety is likely to clean up any tackling mistakes, when an RB breaks through the line of scrimmage. Both safeties are going to make tackles on wide receivers and tight ends catching the ball, especially when they catch the ball down the center of the field. So safeties make the second-most number of tackles among IDPs, with strong safeties likelier to pick up a few more tackles.

Once again, you'll be tempted to draft Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed and Bob Sanders. Draft the strong safeties on the bad teams, because they're going to be on the field for more plays in 2010 than those other guys. Find talents on those teams, but don't try to draft names. Guys like Dashon Goldson of the Niners and Tyvon Branch of the Raiders are going to be getting plenty of chances. Louis Delmas of the Detroit Lions may not sound like a sexy pick, but he's a 2nd year talent on a consistently losing team, so grab Delmas, if he slides in the draft.

Cornerbacks in Shootouts

Cornerbacks are harder to figure out, because sometimes it's best to draft corners on bad teams, and sometimes it's better to draft corners on winning teams where the opponent is consistently throwing it to catch up every week. Meanwhile, it's often better to draft the lesser cornerback opposite a start cornerback like Darrelle Revis and Nmadi Asomugha, instead of drafting those players.

Darrelle Revis was a bit of an anomaly last year. Despite having a great year with a lot of picks, opponents seemed to throw at Revis consistently enough, that he was a fantasy football standout. That means Revis is likely to be a high draft pick in IDP drafts this year, and I bet he ends up a disappointment to those who draft him. Darrelle Revis won't disappoint because he sucks, but because offensive coordinators are going to watch films of him all offseason, have recurring nightmares of the turnovers this guy can create, and find ways to avoid throwing at Revis in 2010. He won't have the opportunity to be dominant (in fantasy stats).

Instead, I would draft Antonio Cromartie, because opposing offenses have to throw the ball somewhere. He's a talented cornerback on a team that pressures the QB and playing opposite a shutdown corner, so he should have the opportunity and the talent to put up big fantasy numbers, even if he gives up his share of big plays in 2010.

Avoid Corners, If You Can

That being said, it's better to avoid cornerbacks in lieu of safeties, if you have the choice. There will be a few corners who put up numbers worthy of the draft pick in 2010, but figuring out who that's going to be is unlikely, especially before the season starts. For instance, the Tennessee Titans' corners have been fantasy gold the past couple of seasons, because teams couldn't run against their defense and had to pass the ball. Since the Titans pass rush has been anemic (as opposed to the Vikings, who also stuff the run), Tennessee cornerbacks like Courtland Finnegan, Nick Harper and their many backups have put up big numbers.

In 2007, the Cleveland Browns cornerbacks were Top 10 IDP producers. Derrick Anderson was slinging the ball around the team was getting into shootouts, so teams felt the need to throw it against the Browns to stay in the game (and win half the time). With a rookie at one corner (Eric Wright) and a journeyman at the other (Leigh Bodden), they accumulated huge numbers. But that pattern didn't really continue into subsequent seasons. The point being: it's near-impossible to figure out who is going to produce, so don't pretend you can and just wait to fill out your roster with the requisite DBs. If they don't work out, I guarantee you'll be able to address the situation in free agency.

Be Aggressive in Free Agency

Pay attention to the waiver wire possibilities in the IDP league, because some of the best players won't even go drafted, especially at the defensive back position (and, to a lesser extent, at the linebacker position).

Picking Fantasy Football IDPs

I'm hoping this should help you with your IDP fantasy football picks for the 2010 season and beyond. The great thing about selecting IDPs is, if you mess up some of your selections at the draft on 2 of these 3 positions, you can still make up for it by adding and dropping players off the free agent waiver wire. If you need some IDP tips once the season begins, check back with Fantasy Football Tips Dotorg once the season begins and we'll have some fantasy football picks for individual defensive players.

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