10 Rules to Live by in IDP Dynasty Leagues

With dynasty start-up drafts and rookie drafts in full swing, Dave Larkin shares some nuggets of wisdom from his experience in IDP dynasty formats.

When you routinely participate in as many dynasty IDP leagues as I do, you can’t help but pick up a few tidbits along the way. Though every league has its own rules and intricacies – with salary cap formats, contracts, restricted free agency, and so on – ultimately the rules of team building can be applied in the context of the league’s set-up.

As we enter the dog days of summer, many owners are only dipping their reluctant toes in the deep pool that is dynasty IDP fantasy football. Many will shy away from these formats due to the amount of time necessary to succeed, but believe me when I say that this is by far the most enjoyable and enriching experience in the fantasy landscape.

If you’ve never played IDP fantasy football, I would recommend starting with a redraft league just to get your feet wet – but don’t let me discourage you from diving in at the deep end with dynasty.

Now, with that plethora of water metaphors behind me, let me take you through the nuggets I have picked up over my years of playing dynasty IDP fantasy football. My hope is that this piece will inspire those of you who aren’t playing yet to take it up and that it will reignite the passion among owners who are already going steady with a team.

1. Surround yourself with the right people and you can’t go wrong

No, this is not a psychology lesson, but its place atop the list should speak to how important it can ultimately be to pick the right group of people in fantasy football. I’ve been involved in leagues where a handful of owners, like a heavy anchor that won’t shift, drag the league’s entertainment quotient down several notches. This kills the fun and the rest of the owners are left to pick up the slack while the panicky commissioner fumbles around for answers.

Don’t let this be your league.

If you are starting a league from scratch, take your time to visit the places where dynasty fantasy football players are most likely to hang out. The forums here at Footballguys.com are a terrific place to start your journey, but look further afield if needed and you will be able to meet experienced owners. Go with your gut and ask these guys or gals about their background to get a gauge of how much time they will realistically be able to pour into this hobby.

Trust me, when your league is still going strong in a decade, you’ll thank me. Well, probably not, but you’ll pat yourself on the back for getting the right mix.

2. Collect linebackers

On to the football stuff now, the real reason we’re here, I presume? On the surface, it seems obvious that linebackers should be the priority in IDP dynasty leagues. They are the lifeblood of the defensive side of the ball, most likely to be involved on a play-by-play basis and rack up tackles and assists – and if you’re lucky a few sacks as well.

Schemes play a big part in how valuable linebackers are, which can make them notoriously difficult to parse out when formulating rankings, for example. A stud weak inside linebacker in a 3-4 compares favorably to a 4-3 middle linebacker in terms of overall tackle upside, but consideration must be made for the players around them.

Are they magnets for tackle production? Is there a player in the secondary who is a sure tackler and is likely to affect the linebackers’ value? Does the defensive line talent in front of them limit their upside?

These are all questions that must be asked, regardless of the player, but the lesson is to familiarize yourself with the schemes just for this season – 2020 – and make moves accordingly. One good example of a scheme change that could dramatically shift the value of players is in Carolina, where the new regime under Matt Rhule and longtime defensive coordinator Phil Snow will revert to a 4-3 after last year’s 3-4 debacle. This will boost the value of Brian Burns, who moves from an outside linebacker designation to a defensive end. The same goes for interior defender Kawann Short, who will slide back in his familiar role as a three-technique disruptor, reviving his flagging fantasy stock of 2019. This is the nature of IDP leagues at times; the in-the-know owners can exploit such shifts.

In a start-up, be the owner who knows these scheme changes like the back of your hand; snatch up the linebacker no-one is talking about in the later rounds. In an established league, scour the waiver wire (which we will discuss more later) and get a leg up on the pile with a shrewd pick-up.

Free agency shuffles the NFL deck; it is now up to you, the players, to draw the right cards and play your hand.

Most importantly, make acquiring linebackers your hobby in IDP dynasty formats. They have the highest upside and can often turn from waiver wire fodder to entrenched starter overnight.

3. Fade defensive backs

Have you ever been to one of those parties where there’s always one group of guys who just keep their own counsel in the corner, sipping their beers and engaging in quiet conversation that no-one else is privy to? Sure, you want to talk to them, but you wonder where the value is in it.

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