The much awaited and as promised series final for the 2010 year in review is here, and it is an Individual Defense Player smorgasbord. Plenty of surprises and quite a few players returned to form.
Scoring System:This is the scoring system I use in my current IDP league:
|Each Sack (SK)||3||Total Tackles (TK)||1|
|Interception Return TD (INTTD)||6||Fumble Return TD (FRTD)||6|
|Blocked Punt or FG return for TD (BLKKRTD)||6||Blocked Punt, PAT or FG (BLKK)||3|
|Each Interception (INT)||3||Each Fumble Recovered (FR)||2|
|Each Fumble Forced (FF)||1||Each Safety (SF)||3|
|Stuffs (SF)||2||Passes Defensed (PD)||1|
Linebackers: I look at Linebackers as the running backs and quarterbacks of the IDP portion of fantasy football all rolled into one. You can never have enough good ones. Consider that by my system above, linebackers have the top 13 scoring positions in fantasy football for 2010. With that in mind, despite the value in real football of pass rushing LBs, its the tacklers in fantasy football that usually matter, and that usually means Middle Linebackers finish tops. Jerod Mayo finished #1 overall, with no interceptions, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble, and boy was a fantasy football surprise. 175 tackles, are you kidding me? Other top 5 linebackers include Lawrence Timmons, Chad Greenway, Brian Urlacher (That's right!), and Stephen Tullock. Its worth noting none of them had 5 sacks. The other 8 of the top 13 scorers were:
Ray Lewis, James Anderson, London Fletcher, Derrick Johnson, Paul Posluszny, Paris Lenon, Patrick Willis (Big disappointment, all things considered), and James Harrison. Only Harrison and Willis had 5+ sacks on this list. The lesson should be clear: Fanfare aside, middle linebackers are tops, and its the tacklers, not the pass rushers, that get the big fantasy stats here.
Defensive Backs: When the LBs finally step down, its DBs who step up, and boy are these guys just like WRs. Inconsistency is usually the word of the day with corners, partly because they get less opportunities. The top 2 DB scorers for 2010 were Corners (DeAngelo Hall, thanks to a horrible Jay Day) and Terrell Thomas. After that, however, 10 of the next 11 are Safeties. Safeties get to tackle more, and it is as simple as that. CBs are volatile, Safeties are a bit more consistent. S Pat Chung got off to a good start but cooled off as the season went, and in the end the top 5 safeties went as follows: Donte Whitner, T.J. Ward, Michael Griffin, Tyvon Branch, and Kerry Rhodes. None of the five had a great defensive line, and I think that has a big impact on their opportunities to make tackles. None of them are thought of as stud Safeties, and I think that is a good learning point - when it comes to safeties, you want the tackler not the ballhawk. Keep that in mind for 2011. If you were curious, the next 3 CBs after Hall and Thomas were Charles Woodson, Cortland Finnegan, and McCourty. I hate to admit it, but the Patriots defense is back...In fantasy football at least. Between McCourty, Chung, and Mayo, they have a good thing going.
Defensive Line: This is where you find balance, but its also the easiest position(s) to fill off of free agent or waive wire acquisitions. There isn't a huge difference between the top Defensive Ends (Justin Tuck 146pts, Jared Allen 128 pts) and the top Defensive Tackles (Ndamukong Suh 122 pts, Kyle Williams 120 pts). Julius Peppers finished 8th out of all DL players (a testament to his run stopping prowess this past season) but the difference between #10 Charles Johnson and #20 Chris Clemons is 11.5 points on the entire season...or less than 1 point a game., Its nice if you get the one guy who exceeds the averages (Justin Tuck this year, 146 pts).
Conclusions: Big names don't mean big players in fantasy, and that is even more true in Fantasy Football IDP style. When looking at the positions, taking for granted that every season has too many variables to predict, look for tacklers at Safety and Linebacker, and you will get a solid, if not elite, squad to build around. You may not have the #1 scoring DB, but top tackling Safeties finished #3-#6, so its still a safe bet. Middle Linebackers are a source of gold, 3-4 or 4-3 alike. When it comes to D-Line...go with your heart. No harm in following a favorite in a position that yields 1 less point per game dropping from #10 to #20...But if you are going DE, get a pass rusher. The top pass rushers finished tops at the DE position (Tuck, Allen, Peppers, Johnson, Umeniyora, Mathis).
Things still to come: Post-Draft Fantasy Update, Fantasy Football Team Reports (8 part series, by division).
Final Thought: I could sure use some recommendations for how to fill out what's left of our time pre-draft. Its a couple more weeks, but 2010 is running a bit dry, so toss some questions or thoughts below and I will probably get to them.