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Top 15 Fantasy Football IDP Rankings

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Top 15 Fantasy Football IDP Rankings

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football has been dominated by offensive players for as long as it has existed. You always won your league by having the best skill position players — defense was an afterthought.

Not anymore. Today there’s a new way to play fantasy football that makes defense just as important of a part to winning and losing as it is on real NFL fields.

IDP, or Individual Defensive Player, is one of the fastest-growing wrinkles that you can throw in your league. It takes into account how much influence dominating defensive players can have on the game.

There are many different ways to score defensive play. The standard way is to give points for tackles, sacks and interceptions, plus the standard points if one of the defensive guys scores a touchdown.

That means you’re looking for guys who excel at any one of those skill sets. It’s rare if you can get someone who is at the top of the league in any two at the same time. If you can get a sack-master who puts up even decent tackle numbers, that’s a fantasy home run.

So, when we look at IDP options, we’re looking for league leaders in either tackles or sacks. Interceptions are nice, but it’s hard to forecast which players are going to get them. They tend to be hit or miss, and in most cases the best pass defenders don’t get them because opposing quarterbacks make it a point to stay away from them.

These 15 defenders are going to be the ones who put up the most fantasy points for you this year.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.


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15. Cameron Wake

Cameron Wake
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Wake has been one of the most productive sack specialists in the league the last few years. With 43 total sacks in his first four seasons, you know he’s going to get after the quarterback.

He doesn’t make enough tackles in the running game to get him higher on this list, but if your league gives more points for sacks then move him up your board.

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14. Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo is primed for another big year. A tackling machine with a good defensive line in front of him, Mayo is going to get plenty of tackles this year.

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13. Jared Allen

Jared Allen
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Allen has been at the top of IDP lists since IDP lists started.

Allen constantly gets double or even tripled-teamed these days, taking away from his ability to put up league-leading sack numbers anymore. Despite that, he’s still likely to get double digits again this year.

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12. D'Qwell Jackson

D'Qwell Jackson
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a down year last season, Cleveland Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson still had 118 tackles. That number is likely to go up again this year, giving him closer to the 158 takedowns he posted in 2011.

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11. Patrick Willis

Patrick Willis
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best linebackers in the game, Patrick Willis makes plays all over the field. Injuries could be a concern this year, though. He’s already missed time this summer after surgery on his hand. If he stays healthy he’ll be a top-10 IDP player again, but that’s starting to be a real concern for Willis.

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10. Lavonte David

Lavonte David
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Talented second-year linebacker Lavonte David is primed to build on the success he had as a rookie last year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

David racked up 139 tackles last season. If he can be that productive as a first-year player, expect big things from him in his second season.

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9. DeMarcus Ware

DeMarcus Ware
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys now defensive end DeMarcus Ware has been one of the most dominant edge rushers in the league for several years now. With double-digit sack totals every year of his career since his rookie campaign, Ware is as reliable as it gets to post sack numbers.

This year Ware makes the move from a stand-up outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense to a defensive end in a 4-3. Ware, who’s made a career out of being more athletic on the outside than the offensive linemen tasked with stopping him, should have a smooth transition to the new position.

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8. Navorro Bowman

Navorrow Bowman
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Quickly joining teammate Patrick Willis as a top linebacker in the game, fourth-year man Navorro Bowman has put up monster tackle number the last two years. With 143 and 148 takedowns in those two seasons, this could be the year that Bowman breaks the magical 150 tackle mark.

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7. Bobby Wagner

Bobby Wagner
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Wagner was a member of the impressive group of rookie linebackers that took the NFL, and fantasy leagues, by storm last year. A second-round pick just one year ago, Wagner posted 140 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions in his rookie campaign.

The Seattle Seahawks will once again have one of the most aggressive, dominating defenses in the league this year, and Wagner will be a big part of that.

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6. Paul Posluszny

Paul Posluszny
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Hard-hitting inside linebacker Paul Posluszny may not have the notoriety that some of the other defenders on this list do, but he is dependable in fantasy football. With 139 tackles and two sacks last year, Posluszny has the kind of numbers you’re looking for.

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5. Sean Lee

Sean Lee
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Lee is quietly becoming one of the better linebackers in the NFL. He had 58 tackles in only six games last year. He also gets you points with interceptions, grabbing seven picks in his first three years in the league.

Lee will make the move to the 4-3 with the rest of the Dallas Cowboys defense this year, a move that should get him more opportunities to be around the ball and increase his stats.

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4. Derrick Johnson

Derrick Johnson
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

As reliable a commodity as it gets among IDP players, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson has posted between 121 and 131 tackles each of the last three seasons. You know what you’re going to get from him, and that is invaluable in the fickle world of fantasy football.

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3. James Laurinaitis

James Laurinaitis
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

James Laurinaitis finished 6th in the league in tackles last year and also grabbed two interceptions. An every-down linebacker, Laurinaitis makes plays all over the field for the St. Louis Rams.

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2. Luke Kuechly

Luke Kuechly
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Kuechly has been the darling of the preseason, especially after his dominating performance in Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Kuechly may end the year as the consensus best inside linebacker in the game this year, especially if he can lead the Carolina Panthers to a surprise playoff berth.

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1. J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. Watt had one of the best — if not the best — statistical seasons ever out of a defensive player last season. With 20.5 sacks and 81 tackles, Watt got the job done in all aspects of the defensive game.

This year should be much of the same out of Watt. He’s as dominant a defensive lineman as we’ve seen in a long time. It’s unlikely he’ll match the amazing year he had in 2012, but even if he’s almost as good this time around he’ll still be the top IDP option.