As we await the dénouement of the 2020 NFL draft, let us take some time to reflect on the Individual Defensive Players (IDP) that already situated on pro teams, with an eye toward making some early determinations about just who you as a fantasy owner can employ to compete for your league(s) championship. If you are reading this article, there is a great chance that you are already playing in an IDP league. Congratulations! The writer of this article commends your wise decision. You can enjoy action on both sides of the line of scrimmage while sweating out your weekly contests. If you simply stumbled onto this article, hoping to get some insight into that IDP thing your league mates have begun to discuss as a way to shake up your league, read on, my droogies, and perhaps you, too, will be converted to the full fantasy football experience. 

This article is intended to discuss a proposed means of maximizing your draft experience, and to a lesser extent, in-season roster moves necessitated by injury or poor performance. What follows are simply suggestions as to how to proceed. There are no hard and fast rules that work in every league every season, but there are methods to increase your comfort level in managing your draft and putting together a competitive fantasy squad.

First of all, you need to examine your league settings meticulously, with an eye to comprehending how to take full advantage of any idiosyncrasies that your commissioner or the platform your league plays within have established. Once you have studied the settings, you should be able to determine what on-field results are most valuable for defensive players. Essentially, there are three types of IDP leagues: tackle-oriented, big-play or hybrid schemes. Those three league formats are fairly self-explanatory, but in short, tackle-oriented leagues reward heavily for tackles collected, while big-play leagues compensate for interceptions (INT), sacks, fumbles forced (FF) and fumbles recovered (FR). Hybrid IDP leagues combine both those systems, remunerating in an even-handed manner for IDP that either tackle a ton or shake things up on the field by generating turnovers or loss of yardage. For an example of a hybrid scoring system, the following point structure is one used in certain leagues that I have participated in over the years:

Scoring Category

Points Awarded

Solo Tackle (or Total Tackles)

1 point

Assisted tackle

1/2 point


4 points


6 points

Pass defended

1 point

Fumble forced

4 point

Fumble recovered

2 points


2 points

Blocked FG/PAT/Punt

6 points

All defensive TDs

6 points

One additional proposition is that touchdowns are generally set at a standard six points, no matter how achieved.

The second suggestion is not to get caught up in any one player that will make or break your draft. There will (almost) always be another player that can provide the same or nearly the same results as that player that your opponent drafted before you had the opportunity to select him. Instead, you can improve your confidence and provide yourself with some peace of mind by grouping your IDP into tiers as part of your draft preparation. Figure out, based upon whatever projections you gather from the experts or that you compile yourself, which players are relatively comparable in the overall fantasy production they will provide you over the course of the NFL season. Then, when you are in the middle of your draft, you can keep track of when the set of IDP in a particular category (LB/DL/DB) is being diminished to a point where you will have to settle for lesser value if you do not jump into the pool this round.

To aid in your drafting efforts, and understanding that no rookies are included in the tables below, and further realizing that these projections are subject to adjustment over the next few months, below are tables that set forth the top 25 linebackers for tackle-oriented, big-play and hybrid leagues, with rough tiers (1/2/3 and in one set, 4) within the groups. 

In the coming weeks, we will cover defensive linemen and defensive backs in the same fashion. Once the draft takes place, rookies as appropriate will be included in the tables.

Tackle-Oriented LBs

Big-Play LBs

Hybrid-League LBs

As ever, godspeed and best of luck in your fantasy endeavors. If you have any questions regarding IDP, or fantasy football in general, you can send an inquiry to for a personalized suggestion (or two, if the spirit moves).