Editor’s Note: This 2QB/IDP strategy guest post was written by Joe Redemman. You can follow him on Twitter @JayArrNFL and read his work on numberFire. …
I might seem like an odd candidate to be writing a strategy article on a website called “TwoQBs.com”. I don’t join a Dynasty league these days unless it has an Individual Defensive Player (IDP) component to it. So why are you reading my work right here, right now?
The beauty of the IDP format is that it allows so many more roster building strategies; like a real NFL franchise, you can focus your team on the offense, on the defense, or a mix of the two. When we add superflex and two-quarterback settings into an IDP league, this opens up exponentially more doors for fantasy players to shape their rosters and find value.
I joined a superflex IDP Dynasty league for the first time ever this year, and my eyes were opened to just how much more expansive the Dynasty universe is now than ever before. I’d like to share that experience with you.
Hacking the Code
The “standard” single-season fantasy football draft is what we’d call “linear” in nature — there are very limited ways to attack your draft and maneuver or respond to other owners’ selections. Most of you reading this piece on this site are well aware of the straightforward nature of the “standard” league.
When we start adding in nuanced elements, more strategies become available. Make it Dynasty instead of single-season, and you can choose to sell out for a title early, or punt winning and hope to assemble a young juggernaut down the road. Make the league a PPR league and you get much more equality of value between the skill positions. You are also likely aware of how interesting valuation becomes when you can (or have to) start two quarterbacks; they instantly rise up in value.
When you add IDP into this mix to boot, you get the perfect open-ended opportunity to do whatever you want when building your team, and it’s glorious.
My personal preference is to play with full IDP rosters. This means each team starts 11 IDP each week, and I prefer to use separate “DT” and “DE” designations, as well as separating out “CB” and “S”. This allows teams to play realistic scheme packages (be it 3-4, 4-3, nickel, etc.) — and to create scoring that equalizes the IDP positions with the offensive ones. By allowing equal value across all positions, a team can prefer to take Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald with their first round pick, instead of being forced to select an offensive stud.
With this much flexibility due to adding IDP into two-quarterback Dynasty leagues, the world is your oyster. However, this much openness may be daunting or intimidating.
Kicking it Off
I go into startup drafts with the same principle in mind every time, regardless of format: acquire more value at each draft slot than my leaguemates. I use Value Over Replacement (VORP) as a guideline — that is, the amount of points more than the last startable option at the position — to help me zig while my leaguemates zag.
In the 70-deep, 12-team superflex, IDP Dynasty startup draft I did this summer. I received the third overall pick, and definitely took full advantage of the balance and open opportunities of this format with my selections.
Let’s start with the big question: how do you handle quarterback in a startup like this?
By the end of the seventh round, 19 quarterbacks had gone off the board. I selected Matthew Stafford — and my only quarterback in this span — in the fifth round of the draft. Since quarterbacks almost always put up a relatively similar VORP, I could wait to be the last one to get a quarterback and instead stockpile other positions. In this scoring format, the QB8 to the QB16 all scored within two points of each other per week, so it didn’t matter to me whether I landed Stafford or Alex Smith — they scored around the same value.
I passed on my second quarterback until Round 10, and my third until Round 20. By not selecting Teddy Bridgewater or Joe Flacco, for instance, I may have missed out on a 15-18 point quarterback to start in my flex spot instead of my 10-12 point wide receiver, Sterling Shepard. But by selecting players like Deone Bucannon, Ryan Shazier, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Danielle Hunter in those middle slots, I have much more startability at multiple starting positions that my leaguemates had to play catch-up on. That five-to-six point deficit in the superflex is more than made up for by the one-to-three point advantages I gained over my leaguemates at each of my fifth wide receiver, second through fourth linebacker, and second and third defensive end slots. Sometimes you lose a battle to win the war.
I didn’t go “Stafford or Bust”, though. The remaining quarterbacks I approached from a developmental perspective. As this is a dynasty league, I was fine avoiding the low-ceiling back-end current starters, and I instead took upside options like Paxton Lynch in the 10th round, Christian Hackenberg in the 20th, A.J. McCarron in the 44th, and Trevone Boykin in the 55th. The former two were highly-drafted prospects who could develop into strong starting options in a few seasons. McCarron has showed well enough where if he is traded, or leaves the Bengals when his contract expires in 2018, he will be just as good as the later options for a startable second quarterback. Boykin I viewed as an upside flier who may land somewhere in the pros in the future.
In The Thick of It
Back to the non-QB portion of the draft… My third overall pick was spent on defensive end J.J. Watt. We know Watt is struggling with offseason back and groin injuries, but he’s annually the best defensive end, which is an extremely scarce position. Consider that Watt has a VORP of 14.47 per week — the only player with a higher amount is quarterback Cam Newton. Again, we find out through this analysis that the QB3 last year had just one point more VORP per week than the next option; Watt scored seven points more on a per-game basis. He and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, however, are the only two defensive players that I would consider taking with this high of a pick, though. They are the only true elite IDP that outpace their peers by leaps and bounds.
In the early rounds I take advantage of the format by waiting on my first quarterback, and avoiding IDP unless they’re the truly elite players like Watt or Donald. In my startup, this allowed me to select Ezekiel Elliott, Alshon Jeffery, Randall Cobb, and Kelvin Benjamin with my selections in between Watt and Stafford, and really create a strong offensive foundation.
Again, since Watt is so exceptional as a defensive end, I aim to take a Gronk-esque strategy for the defensive line: get the top guy, or punt the position (and don’t get sucked in on your second one too early). I selected troubled off-field player, but high-upside pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence and rising stud Danielle Hunter in the 17th and 18th rounds of the draft, respectively.
This goes double for the inconsistent defensive tackle position: it’s Donald or bust. I went for “bust”, selecting Malcom Brown as my DT1 in the 26th round of the draft, and then loaded up on steady players at this position as the draft went on: Michael Brockers, Grady Jarrett, and Vincent Valentine.
Linebackers are the bread-and-butter of the IDP world, the most consistent weekly players on defense, but also one of the more tightly-grouped scoring positions. Last year, the only LB options who had a weekly VORP of 9.00 or above in this format were Lavonte David, Deone Bucannon, and Telvin Smith. Since a full IDP starting lineup usually allows you to start four linebackers, there are 48 startable options, and at least 12 more who won’t detract too much if you’re forced to start them. For that reason, I usually wait on linebackers until the latter part of the single-digit rounds of a startup, and then draft one every few rounds or so. This is the position you want to take the most dart throws at, but one you don’t have to spend a ton of early draft capital on. I procured Bucannon in the 7th round, Ryan Shazier in the 11th, Avery Williamson in the 19th, and Deion Jones in the 21st. I selected 14 linebackers in all.
Only safeties tend to be the prized options at defensive back positions. Because of the usually stable production of tackles on a week-to-week basis for a strong safety, they are reliable options that you don’t always want to stream. They still don’t have truly elite players like the offensive positions, or Watt or Donald, however; Reshad Jones was the only safety to score double-digit VORP last year. I typically select one or two solid safety options in the middle rounds, and then grab interesting upside players late. Kurt Coleman and Earl Thomas were my gets in the 27th and 30th rounds, respectively.
Cornerbacks, like safeties, don’t have high VORP scores. Only Tyrann Mathieu had a VORP last year over 6.00. They also usually have matchup-dependent scoring on a per-game basis; if a team doesn’t pass a ton, it’s not likely your cornerbacks will see many tackle opportunities (since they play on wide receivers), passes defended, or interception chances. For this reason, I almost always wait to draft my cornerbacks until the late rounds. I selected one premier cornerback, Ronald Darby, in the 24th round of this startup, and then grabbed four more from the 54th round to the end of the draft.
The biggest thing I can recommend with a two-quarterback, IDP Dynasty startup is that you don’t become wedded to one particular strategy or plan. The brilliance of this format is that there are so many winding paths to take in building your roster that the more you can keep yourself open to a variety of strategies, the better. Using strategies like VORP that allow you to keep track of relating different positions and finding values on the board really help to filter out the noise from the signal in a league with this many possibilities.
I’m not the most conventional drafter or roster builder, but in a two-quarterback, IDP Dynasty league, that kind of tendency shines; you get to make things your own. Embrace that ability to play like a real NFL general manager and enjoy it. It’s an experience unlike any other.
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