15 IDP studs to target

IDP (individual defensive players) is becoming more and more popular in the world of fantasy football with each passing year. And why not? It’s a great way to incorporate more of the NFL into your fantasy leagues.

Rather than go grab another beer while your offensive players stand on the sidelines (you should be double-fisting, by the way) IDP gives you the opportunity to evaluate and track defensive players when they get their chance to make it rain on Sundays.

Today we’re going to take a look at the National Football Post’s top-five players at each IDP position (defensive line, linebacker and defensive back). For those of you unfamiliar with how this works, IDP roster spots are awarded points for tackles, interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles and just about any other defensive statistic you can imagine.

On a side note, the NFP fantasy team has been asked to participate in BFL 2010.

What’s BFL 2010, you ask? Why don’t you click HERE and find out!

To check out our complete IDP rankings as well as our sleepers, busts, comeback players, projections and more, CLICK HERE to purchase the 2010 NFP Fantasy Draft Guide!

Side Note: The ADP data for today's article is provided by Fantasy Football Toolbox.

NFP Top-Five Linebackers

Keep in mind: Over the past three years (2007-2009) inside (3-4) or middle (4-3) linebackers have ranked in the top-20 in tackles 49 times (49/60, 81.6%), while outside linebackers have cracked the top-20 just 11 times (11/60, 18.33%).

Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers
Position:
RILB
Scheme: 3-4
ADP: 40.54

Analysis: Arguably the most freakishly gifted athlete on the defensive side of the football, no player has amassed more tackles (467) from 2007-2009 than Willis. The former Ole Miss standout hasn’t missed a start in his three professional seasons and has scored a touchdown in each of the last two years. This guy can flat out play and should be the first defensive player off the board this summer.

Jon Beason, Carolina Panthers
Position:
WLB
Scheme: 4-3
ADP: 54.44

Analysis: Outside of Willis, no linebacker has been more active over the last three seasons than Beason, who ranks second during that time span in tackles (417). The three-year veteran finished fourth in passes defensed (10) and second in interceptions (3) among linebackers in 2009. Be advised that he is being moved from MIKE to WILL this season to replace the injured Thomas Davis.

Barrett RuudICONRuud has been a tackling machine over the past three years.

Barrett Ruud, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Position:
MLB
Scheme: 4-3
ADP: 86.59

Analysis: Since 2007, the heart and soul of the Buccaneers defense ranks fourth in the NFL in tackles (392), which includes top-four finishes in each of the past two years. Ruud won’t get you a ton of sacks or interceptions, but he did rank 7th in passes defensed (8) last year. In addition, with an improved defensive line featuring rookies Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, Ruud will be cleaner than ever to fly to the football and make plays.

Curtis Lofton, Atlanta Falcons
Position:
MLB
Scheme: 4-3
ADP: 95.10

Analysis: Lofton burst onto the fantasy scene in just his second NFL season by finishing 2009 ranked sixth in tackles among linebackers (133). The problem here is that outside of a solid tackle total, Lofton will struggle to produce in some of the other key fantasy categories. He racked up a grand total of zero sacks, passes defensed and interceptions last season. However, despite the lack of statistical output in some important areas, Lofton will make enough plays in 2010 to warrant a spot in your starting lineup.

David Harris, New York Jets
Position:
RILB
Scheme: 3-4
ADP: 100.51

Analysis: A versatile linebacker on a very aggressive defense, Harris is the type of guy that can deliver week in and week out. The three-year veteran ranked ninth among linebackers in tackles (127), 21st in sacks (5.5), 10th in interceptions (2) and 23rd in forced fumbles (2) last season. In addition, Harris posted eight games with nine or more tackles in 2009. As the Jets continue to blitz the hell out of the opposition, expect Harris to keep racking up the numbers.

Others to watch for: James Laurinaitis (St. Louis Rams), Paul Posluszny (Buffalo Bills), Jerod Mayo (New England Patriots)

NFP Top-Five Defensive Linemen

Keep in mind: Over the past three years (2007-2009), defensive ends have ranked in the top-20 in sacks 55 times (55/60, 91.6%), while defensive tackles and nose tackles have cracked the top-20 just five times (5/60, 8.33%).

In addition, defensive ends have ranked in the top-20 in tackles 39 times (39/60, 65%), while defensive tackles and nose tackles have cracked the top-20 21 times (21/60, 35%).

Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings
Position:
DE
Scheme: 4-3
ADP: 68.35

Analysis: It’s hard to find another player that has struck more fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks since 2007 than Allen. Over the past three seasons, the 28-year old ranks second in the NFL in sacks (44.5) and has cracked the top-21 in tackles among defensive linemen each year since 2006. The biggest luxury for Allen is the advantage he gains playing at home in the Metrodome. The crowd noise in Minnesota makes it difficult for offensive linemen to hear the quarterback’s snap count, giving the defensive line an extra step in rushing the passer. Over the last two years, 18 of Allen’s 29 sacks have come at home.

Trent ColeICONCole's looking to get the Birds back to the playoffs.

Trent Cole, Philadelphia Eagles
Position:
DE
Scheme: 4-3
ADP: 101.45

Analysis: One of the fastest edge rushers in the game today, Cole could be in line for a big season in Philadelphia now that the Eagles have upgraded the defensive end position opposite the 27-year old Pro Bowler. In addition to veteran Juqua Parker, Philly drafted Michigan standout Brandon Graham in the first round and traded for former Seattle pass rusher Darryl Tapp. Since 2007, Cole ranks second in the NFL in tackles among defensive linemen (203) and sixth in sacks (34).

Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears
Position:
DE
Scheme: 4-3
ADP: 116.02

Analysis: If Peppers plays the way the Bears paid him to this past offseason (six years, $91.5 million), Chicago’s defense could be in for a big turnaround. One of the most physically imposing players in the NFL, Peppers has posted double-digit sack totals in five of the last six years. In addition, the 6-7, 283-pound beast from North Carolina has forced ten fumbles over the last two seasons. Since he entered the league in 2002, only Jason Taylor (88) and Dwight Freeney (84) have recorded more sacks than Peppers (81).

Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens
Position:
DE
Scheme: 3-4
ADP: 126.57

Analysis: Suggs may not be a sack machine like some of the other defensive ends on this list (35 sacks since 2005, 26th in NFL), but he’ll make up for it in the tackles department, where the 27-year old has amassed 207 stops over the last three years (first in NFL among defensive linemen). In addition, the seven-year veteran has ranked in the top-seven in passes defensed in each of the past three seasons.

Justin Tuck, New York Giants
Position:
DE
Scheme: 4-3
ADP: 112.51

Analysis: Tuck tends to fly below the radar in New York due to the presence of big name defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka, but don’t be fooled because this guy can flat out play. The 27-year old has posted double-digit sack totals and topped the 60-tackle mark in two of the past three seasons. With new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell calling the shots in the Big Apple this year, expect Tuck to be a fantasy force in 2010.

Others to watch for: Aaron Kampman (Jacksonville Jaguars), Justin Smith (San Francisco 49ers), Ray Edwards (Minnesota Vikings)

NFP Top-Five Defensive Backs

Keep in mind: Over the past three years (2007-2009), safeties have ranked in the top-20 in tackles 47 times (47/60, 78.3%), while cornerbacks have cracked the top-20 just 13 times (21.66%).

Bernard Pollard, Houston Texans
Position:
SS
Scheme: 4-3
ADP: 115.09

Analysis: Pollard will make mistakes in coverage, but the good news is you won’t be penalized for that in the world of fantasy football. The four-year veteran ranked eighth in the NFL among defensive backs in tackles last season (102) despite appearing in only 13 games. In addition, Pollard ranked first in fumble recoveries (3) and 23rd in interceptions (4) en route to a fantasy season that has led many publications (including us) to rank him as the top defensive back entering 2010.

Tyvon BranchICONBranch burst onto the fantasy scene in 2009.

Tyvon Branch, Oakland Raiders
Position:
SS
Scheme: 4-3
ADP: 132.61

Analysis: After a 2008 rookie season that included appearances in only eight games with no starts, Branch busted out in a big way last year by recording more tackles (124) than any other defensive back in the NFL. However, owners need to be cautious here and remember that Branch didn’t record a single INT or fumble recovery last season. The Raiders love to bring the 23-year old up into the box to help stop the run, so if Branch isn’t amassing a large amount of tackles, he could end up hurting your fantasy team.

Yeremiah Bell, Miami Dolphins
Position:
SS
Scheme: 3-4
ADP: 147.42

Analysis: No defensive back in the NFL has recorded more tackles over the past two years (234) than Bell. The 32-year old is coming off a career year that featured a personal best three interceptions for a Miami secondary that was very young at the cornerback position. In 15 starts last season, Bell didn’t post a single game with less than five tackles.

Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers
Position:
FS
Scheme: 3-4
ADP: 147.04

Analysis: Weddle missed three games last year due to an injury that put a dent in his statistical output. However, the good news entering 2010 is that he can be had for a solid value on draft day. Remember, the three-year veteran out of Utah is just one year removed from a 127-tackle season, which ranked second in the NFL among defensive backs. Weddle’s recorded at least one sack in each of the last three years and posted a career-high seven passes defensed in 2009.

Brian DawkinsICONThe ageless Dawkins is coming off a career year.

Brian Dawkins, Denver Broncos
Position:
FS
Scheme: 3-4
ADP: 196.68

Analysis: The future Hall of Famer proved the haters wrong in 2009 by posting one of the best statistical seasons of his 14-year career. Dawkins recorded a career-high 116 tackles (t-2nd in NFL among defensive backs) and brought leadership, intensity and experience to a Denver defense that was in need of all three of those ingredients. Now approaching the ripe old age of 37, don’t be shocked to see Dawkins finish the 2010 season as one of the fantasy world’s top defensive backs. He’s only missed seven starts over the past six years, which is impressive for a guy who hits like a Mack truck.

Others to watch for: O.J. Atogwe (St. Louis Rams), Adrian Wilson (Arizona Cardinals), LaRon Landry (Washington Redskins)

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