If you are playing in a college fantasy football (CFF) or a Campus2Canton (C2C) league with individual defensive players (IDP), then there are some things you need to be aware of when preparing for your drafts this upcoming season. First and foremost, you need to know if your league will use Fantrax for IDP scoring or if your commissioner will manually score the IDP. This is extremely important for this upcoming season as Fantrax is no longer scoring tackles (assisted or solo) for college IDP, which is a huge blow for college leagues with IDP.  

The second concern with using Fantrax IDP scoring is, based on my experience last season, all IDP stats for Fantrax were unreliable (not just tackles). It seemed to affect the smaller schools more, but some big school IDP stats had issues too. It was not uncommon for the total IDP scores for a single team in my leagues to be off from 100 plus points to 30 points or so. The bottom line for leagues using Fantrax IDP scoring is to expect it to be unreliable.  

The next question to help you develop your strategy is the scoring parameters in your league. Does it favor tackles? Sacks? Interceptions? Most leagues I am in tend to favor tackles, which is a good thing as they are the most consistent and predictable statistic for IDP players. Here is a sample scoring of the leagues I am in:

Scoring CategoryPoints
Solo Tackles2 points
Assisted Tackles1 point
Sacks4 points
Interceptions4 points
Interception Yards0.1 points per yard
Safety4 points
Forced Fumble2 points
Recovered Fumble2 points
Blocked Field Goal6 points
Blocked Kicks4 points
Touchdowns (all)6 points

The third question that you need to answer is, what are your IDP positional requirements? Do you start defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs? Or do you start defensive end, defensive tackle, linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties? And how many IDP players do you start at each position?

The last question before formulating a strategy is how positional eligibility is handled for IDP. Do you use whatever Fantrax says or go by the school’s official roster?

Once you have figured out those four questions, you can begin formulating your strategy. Part 1 will focus on strategies to take advantage of the Scoring Settings for your league. Part 2 will focus on the following two questions about taking advantage of your league’s Positional Settings.

Strategy

Using Fantrax IDP Scoring

Let’s discuss how your answers to the first question affect your IDP strategy. If you are in a league that is using Fantrax for IDP scoring, then IDP play will likely not move the needle too much in terms of winning. I would not use high draft picks if I was in a CFF-only IDP league on Fantrax.   Without scoring tackles, you are left with sacks, fumbles, and interceptions, which are generally inconsistent weekly

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

The player I would make an exception for in this case is linebacker Will Anderson of Alabama if you believe he can repeat his sack numbers from the 2021 season. Because if he does, I expect he to be the #1 scoring IDP player by a good margin. Other than Anderson, my strategy would be to punt defense until towards the end of the draft to focus on my offensive players. They are likely to have a more significant impact on the league winner. 

I also would use very few reserve spots on defensive players in a CFF league using Fantrax IDP scoring. Instead, simply streaming or using the waiver wire to fill in for bye weeks or injuries would be a better use of roster spots. If you are in a C2C league that uses Fantrax IDP scoring, my strategy would be to take the pro potential guys only and not bother with the college-only producers. Perhaps I would look at the pro potential guys in heavy college rotations who may be available in later rounds. The Texas A&M defensive line would be a great example of this. They have a lot of talented and highly regarded players, and you don’t need to be concerned with college production, given the inadequacies of Fantrax IDP scoring. The Alabama and Georgia linebacker corps are others that come to mind. 

How early you want to take the IDP players in a C2C Fantrax IDP scoring league for me would depend on your comfort level with IDP players and your knowledge of them. If I didn’t have a long list of players I liked, I might start targeting the elite guys in the Round 8 to 10 range in a 16-team league startup draft. In a supplemental campus draft, the IDP players start going in Round 2/3, in my experience. There is no fail-safe way to predict pro potential. Using a combination of recruiting rankings, college team, past production, NFL mock drafts, and NFL draft expert thoughts can all be good indicators that you should use to formulate your thoughts. Doing the research and homework can certainly help you find guys in the later rounds of drafts that can help your future NFL roster.

Scoring System

My strategy regarding the second question about the scoring system dictates what position groups and type of players I target. Tackles are typically the stat that most heavily dictates the points, so I am looking for middle linebackers and safeties that play in the box. Fantrax has a lot of cheat code-type players that could be very helpful in a tackle-heavy scoring system. 

LB DeMarvion Overshown of Texas is a great example, as he plays in a linebacker spot for Texas but has cornerback and safety eligibility on Fantrax. Even in leagues where the scoring may be more balanced between tackles and the rest of the defensive stats, I still favor the high tackle guys. As mentioned previously, tackles are the most consistent statistic for IDP players. 

Sack-heavy scoring pushes up the elite edge/pass rushers for me. And if you are using Fantrax scoring that does not count tackles, you are banking on sacks to drive the scoring. The tricky part of spending high draft capital on an edge rusher in the college ranks of a C2C league is what position designation he will get in the NFL, whether it be a linebacker or defensive end. Suppose you are left to the mercy of MFL player designation for positions. In that case, that can be a hard road to navigate, as impact players seemingly move from defensive end to linebacker every season. Their value can often take a big hit as a result. To remedy this problem, I would lobby your league to switch to true position for IDP. In my opinion, this is currently the best solution to the issue, as almost all edge guys will be classified as defensive ends.

If you are looking to switch a league to true position for IDP, Adam Tzikas, aka Sticky Z of Dynasty League Football (@Adamtz on Twitter), has an app/converter that he has built for MFL (https://stickyposition.herokuapp.com/). It has worked well in the leagues I have used it. I have heard some folks say they have had to run it two or three times to convert all the players, but I have not personally experienced that. Regardless it is simple to use and easy to run.

Check out Part 2 for different strategies for how to take advantage of your league’s Positional Settings.

~ Justice

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