Rum Raison – Or, taking top LBs in dynasty IDP

In IDP articles and podcasts (frankly in all fantasy articles and podcasts) there is a tendency for analysts to speak of player valuation and draft position as if there was a clear and (mostly) correct consensus.  As you get to a format like IDP with fewer players, fewer analysts, and scoring systems that make player values even less certain than normal, take what everyone says with an above-average grain of salt.  When I hear too much certainty from any fantasy analyst, I often think of this scene from the movie City Slickers (which is worth a rewatch).  If you’re going to have a take, that’s OK.  If you’re listening to someone else’s take, listen to their evidence.  There’s a whole lot of Rum Raisin over-certainty out there.

720full-city-slickers----------------------------------(1991)-screenshot

source: listal.com

You know, sometimes it’s OK to take a linebacker first.  The strategy I frequently hear is that you should build your offense for the first few rounds (just like everyone else), then draft a DE, then wait and maybe get a stud LB, and DBs last.  Frequently, this comes with a refrain of “I know I can get really good LBs late.”  I remember fifteen years ago taking a QB in the first round of a fantasy football draft.  Long-timers have all been through RB in the top rounds, Zero RB, elite TE early, punt QB, draft starters first, and pile up RBs and wait to fill out your starters.  These strategies generally changed because people were getting more savvy.  Strategy evolves to stay ahead, or to keep up.

The math doesn’t really back up skipping the elite LBs.  When I run my annual projections (adjusted from three year performance), I find that the top few defensive players in terms of their value over a replacement player are LBs.  These include your Luke Keuchly, Bobby Wagner, Deion Jones, Lavonte David, and CJ Mosley types.  Yes, there are many LBs who get a prominent role and come into relevance every year, but the top ones are still a major upgrade over most of what is available off the wire.  It is true that being the most aggressive watcher of the waiver wire helps pick up LBs (or any other position).  Taking advantage of the lack of depth in coverage means a strong player also has the significant advantage over a casual player today.

It’s not just the math.  In dynasty, it’s also the aging curve.  Different IDP positions age differently.  I wrote at another site several years ago about the difference in aging between different fantasy positions.  RBs flame out early and good QBs seem to survive forever. Meanwhile, all three IDP positions peak around the same age as wide receivers.  They don’t last forever, but the top ones are as likely to spend multiple years as viable starters as players in other positions.

The bottom line: take the players who you believe in for the long term and who will make the most impact on your roster.  Don’t let anyone sell you on IDP groupthink.  Eat the ice cream you want to eat.

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