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The IDP Primer: Points

Interested in IDP but don’t know where to start? Our IDP guru Duncan Smith shows that you don’t need a degree in statistics to join the fun!

By: Duncan Smith

Individual Defensive Positions or IDP is pretty scary huh? Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not. I’ve already broken down the top rookies in this year’s draft here, with this article I’m going to explain scoring in simple, understandable terms.

The chances are you are not here because you already play IDP but because you’re curious about it, either you want it introduced or a league mate is pestering you to vote it in for this season.

With this article, I am going to introduce IDP scoring and explain why it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think it’s going to be. There will then be a follow-up article discussing how many starters you should have, positional breakdown, bench requirements, and general roster construction.

By the end of this series I hope to have shown, in simple terms, why you are more than capable of playing IDP and hopefully persuaded you why you should be.


In this article’s planning phase, I had intended to lay out an argument that offensive fantasy scoring has become increasingly complex in recent years, therefore the idea that defensive scoring is too complex doesn’t apply anymore.

Then I started researching IDP scoring and well, yeah the forefathers of IDP pretty much went out of their way to make the scoring system as complicated as possible. In some extreme cases, IDP scoring was seemingly invented as a way to test Excel spreadsheet capabilities to their limits. Players would have scoring multipliers added to their scores based on their position and likelihood of recording that particular metric.

Things like linebackers score 1 point for a tackle unless it’s the third quarter of a Monday night game against a divisional rival +- 3 days of a full moon, in which event they score 2 points a tackle, but that can be overruled if it’s the third Monday after Michaelmas. Defensive tackles score the same as linebackers except if they had tacos for lunch and other such nonsense*.

*I’m exaggerating for comic effect, DT’s don’t eat tacos, they eat pizza.

The excuse for this was that scoring needed to be weighted so that each position could score the same as each other across the board because this is how offensive fantasy works!

Huh, excuse me? Yes, a running back will score the same as a quarterback if he ends up throwing an 80-yard touchdown pass, but no he won’t get it weighted by x5 to even him out with a quarterback who scores multiple a game. 

So why would you weigh defensive scoring? Generally, defensive tackles don’t score a lot, they rely on sacks and tackles for a loss to score, that’s ok, that’s fine. The way to get around that is to create positional scarcity, not require league participants to hold a master’s in advanced calculus (that’s a thing isn’t it? We just call it Mathematics here).

Thankfully modern IDP has all but moved away from this type of scoring, so if someone tells you it’s too complicated, they’re still thinking about these scare stories from the bygone days of dial-up internet, Kangol hats, and Stifler’s mom.

That’s not to say there aren’t differences to know, there are. In the main, there are three different groups of IDP scoring. These are Tackle Heavy, Balanced, and Big Play.

Tackle heavy naturally reduces the point value attributed to the big plays (i.e. sacks and interceptions) and relies on players racking up tackles to score big points. Big play is the opposite and ramps up the value of sacks and interceptions, meaning that a couple of fluke plays can have a huge impact on the scoring. Balanced tries to find a middle ground between the two.

I will mention at this point that I haven’t included touchdowns in my big play examples, the reason being that they should be scored the same as on the offensive side of the game. So if you’re in a 4 point TD league then defense TD’s should be 4 points. The same goes for 6 point leagues.

A more recent way of scoring IDP is the IDP123 format. This format groups certain defensive actions into scoring groups valued at 1, 2, or 3 points. 

I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail regarding that scoring format as it is easily found on the internet, try AskJeeves or other appropriate search engines.

Stacked Scoring

The format I want to discuss first is stacked scoring. This is the format used in my main IDP league. To explain what it is first let me show you how we score for defense.

Touchdown – 6 points

Sack – 1 point

QB Hit – 1 point

Tackle for a Loss – 2 points

Interception – 5 points

Fumble Recovery – 1 point

Forced Fumble – 1 point

Safety – 2 points

Assisted Tackle – 0.5 points

Solo Tackle – 1 point

Pass defended – 1 point

Blocked Punt/PAT/FG – 4 points.

The premise is simple enough, defensive plays rarely happen in isolation and shouldn’t be scored as if they do. What do I mean by that? Well, let me give you an example.

A sack, pretty straightforward right? Defensive edge tackles the quarterback while he’s trying to figure out if his first read is open or if he should perhaps have a look at his second, quarterback hits the turf, edge does sack dance celebration. But let’s consider what it actually is; a tackle, a tackle for a loss, a QB hit, a sack, a sack dance celebration… maybe.

By stacking the scoring you can still build up big point totals for big games but you also allow for the nuances of a game not played in black and white. It keeps the points awarded for each individual scoring play small and easily remembered, while still allowing for big plays. 

As previously discussed a touchdown scores the same as it does on offense. An interception only scores 5 because it stacks with a pass defended. A safety only scores 2 because it will also stack with a tackle and a tackle for a loss, potentially a QB hit and sack.

This is a simple system that doesn’t require a wealth of spreadsheets to calculate, you don’t even need to take the points I’ve given as gospel, the system can be easily tinkered with to suit your league. There are things I would like to change in this league. For example, I think forced fumbles and fumble recoveries could score more, the risk, however, would be that it could lead to some wild stacked scoring, for example, a sack, QB hit, tackle, forced fumble, fumble recovery, and a touchdown plus yardage could lead to a pretty unbalanced score. 

In addition, I would like to increase tackles to 1.5 and 0.75 points respectively, but the league likes this scoring and I’m just one man, not even a particularly powerful one at that, sob.

One note of caution regarding stacked scoring is to be very sure of how everything stacks, for example on our platform there is an option to score general tackling. If this option isn’t disabled it will stack with your solo and assisted tackles boosting the points scored in a way you might not expect.

Hopefully, I’ve made a successful case for the simplicity of IDP scoring, even if you don’t like the idea of stacked scoring I’ve given you some other options to look at.

Next time out I’m going to break down rosters, particularly starters and bench sizes. In the meantime be sure to check out Matthew’s rookie tiers and The Social Media Sasquatch’s Mock Draft 3.0 as we build up to draft day.

Until next time.

Duncan Smith – IDP Writer
Ride or Dynasty

Twitter: @duncafc

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