Inside My Strategy for IDP Madness
Josh takes you inside his thought process for the $500 best ball build.
As I’ve come to learn this offseason, IDP best ball is a unique beast. It has its own list of players who are being overdrafted (Shaq “My Back!” Leonard) and players who are being faded to the point of insanity (Divine “Fighting Chicken” Deablo). It has its own set of rules, like punt DB to the very end and swing on high-upside guys because you don’t have to deal with their bust games. Do enough drafts and you can begin to spot the patterns as they’re starting, which gives you a leg up over newcomers.
And yet, every draft is unique. Especially an IDP Madness draft, which is 24 rounds with a lineup of 4 DL, 4 LB, 4 DB, 2 FLEX, and 10 bench spots. Beyond the unique lineup settings (our previous drafts were either 22 or 31 rounds), you’re competing against 143 other teams to claim the $500 grand prize. If you were swinging for the fences in a normal best ball draft, you’re swinging for the moon in this one.
Given the stakes and the unique nature of this contest, I did a ton of prep for IDP Madness. Way more than I usually do for a typical best ball draft. In this article, I’m going to take you inside my thought process for each round of my IDP Madness draft, which is still ongoing, but I’m simply filling out my roster with DBs at this point, so there’s no risk of my leaguemates sniping me on a sneaky LB or DL pick.
This was by no means the “best” or “right” way to approach this special draft. It’s simply my attempt to apply the lessons I’ve learned from doing a dozen or so drafts this offseason while balancing my draft board with the values that fell to me.
I received the 1.06 selection, which is probably my least favorite spot to draft from (as I’ll explain). Without further ado, let’s jump into my draft, starting with pick #1.
Round 1, Pick 6: Myles Garrett
Here’s why I mentioned hating the 1.06: there’s a clear top 5 DL in these best ball drafts. In some order, it’s Micah Parsons, Nick Bosa, Maxx Crosby, TJ Watt, and Myles Garrett. I did NOT want to pick an LB in round 1 because there’s so much LB value late in these drafts, so I was really hoping Garrett would slide to me here.
Thankfully, he did, and I secured my stud EDGE. If Garrett had been selected, I was going to reach (at least by ADP) and select Jaelan Phillips here, who gets a bump because: A) he’s built like a Greek god B) he has dual designation in Sleeper.
Round 2, Pick 7: Aaron Donald
My most-drafted player in IDP best ball this offseason makes another appearance on this roster. After a “down” year due to injury in 2022, I’m expecting another monster, DPOY-worthy campaign from Donald in 2023. If people weren’t so horny for the young stud edge rushers at the end of the 1st round (which, look, I get it), I think Donald would be going there rather than at pick 20. If you need a reminder of how dominant Donald can be, just look at his log from 2021:
Eyeball emoji, amirite? And if you needed another good excuse to be into Donald this season, look at the Rams depth chart on the D-line. Yeah… it’s GRIM. If Donald isn’t getting sacks, ain’t nobody getting sacks on this Rams defense.
Round 3, Pick 6: Jeffery Simmons
Based on the ADP, I knew going into this draft that the best selections in the middle of each round (at least early on) were going to be stud interior defensive linemen. Our draft followed the ADP pretty closely, leaving me with Simmons as the clear choice after Uchenna Nwosu went 3.03 and a run on LBs started. Now, I would’ve taken Bobby Wagner here (another favorite of mine), but he went right before me.
Simmons has recorded four 30+ point games in the past 2 seasons (including playoffs). The Titans just backed the Brinx truck up this house. Harold Landry is coming back. Arden Key is in the building now. Simmons finished as the DL34 in 2022. I’m thinking he cracks the top 24 in 2023 and has a few boom weeks to help him get there.
Round 4, Pick 7: Harold Landry
Speaking of Landry, he was my pick in the 4th round. I was leaning toward either Jonathan Allen or Javon Hargrave, but after chatting with Jon Macri, he reminded me that if Landry is healthy (he appears ready for camp and will avoid the PUP), he’s a snap volume monster in the tier under Maxx Crosby. In 2021 (his last fully healthy season), Landry played an eye-popping 981 snaps (89.51%) and was the DL9.
After his knee injury on September 1, 2022, Landry will be set to take the field on September 10, a full year later. I’ll take a swing on a potential top-10 guy here.
Round 5, Pick 6: Javon Hargrave
Lucky for me, Hargrave made it back around to my pick in the 5th round, and I smashed the button to add “Gravedigger” to my squad. Hargrave was a top 24 DL by Big 3 Scoring in 2022 and arguably upgraded his surroundings in San Francisco.
If it’s not clear by now, the reason to draft DL early in this tournament is because we’re chasing sacks. Yes, I know that’s a fool’s errand, as sacks aren’t predictable, but if you’re going to have the best team out of 144 entries in a league with big play scoring, you’re going to need a ton of big plays. I would be shocked if the winning team was loaded up with tackle-machine LBs. Gravedigger had 11 sacks in 2022, so in my mind, he’s a lock for 8-12 sacks given his supporting cast in San Francisco.
Round 6, Pick 7: De’Vondre Campbell
Aaron Donald, Bobby Wagner, and… De’Vondre Campbell. That’s been the formula for me this offseason in drafts, so I was delighted to see Campbell available here as my first LB. And let me tell you, I feel GREAT with Campbell as my LB1.
I think the market has his ADP (LB29) flipped with Quay Walker, who is LB6. Macri agrees and discussed the topic on his most recent episode of The Big Nickel IDP Podcast with Dynasty Tripp. Rather than restating the case, I’ll point you in the direction of that conversation, which helps explain why I love DC this year.
Round 7, Pick 6: Khalil Mack
Another theme you’ll see with this draft: targeting players with dual designation. It’s a cheat code in Sleeper when you can have a player slot into your lineup at more than one position. I won’t reach for “dual desi” guys just to snag this advantage, but I do use it as a tiebreaker when I’m torn on which player to select.
That was the case in this round, as my top choices, DeMarcus Lawrence and Montez Sweat, were selected right before my pick. (I wanted to launch my phone into orbit after that brutal double snipe.) I went with Mack rather than another DT in Dexter Lawrence, an EDGE I don’t love in Sam Hubbard, or another LB.
Round 8, Pick 7: George Karlaftis
This was the pick I wish I could have back. Don’t get me wrong: I love Karlaftis for this season, especially given the mass exodus of older edge-rushing talent in Kansas City. But I was playing the “fade LB” game, thinking one of my top choices would make it back to me. But there was a huge run on LBs right after this pick.
Troy Andersen, Azeez Al-Shaair, Demario Davis, Jamin Davis, and Kaden Elliss all went between my picks, leaving me with my last choice from the LB group I’d circled: Denzel Perryman, who I’ll talk about next. If Karlaftis can take the step Kansas City is expecting him to as their #1 edge rusher AND Perryman can hold off the other contenders for Houston’s LB1 belt, I’ll be OK. But I don’t feel great about it.
Round 9, Pick 6: Denzel Perryman
I know folks like Adam and Macri are high on Perryman in Houston, but it didn’t feel great adding him as my second off-ball LB. I think he holds off the Christian Bros (Kirksey and Harris) to win that LB1 job in Demeco Ryans’ defense, but it’s a pretty big question mark for a 9th-round pick. If I could go back, I’d take Andersen or Al-Shaair with my 8.07 and snag an EDGE like Preston Smith or Zach Allen here.
But I do like Karlaftis better in 2023 than either of those other edge rushers, and all the LBs I had in Perryman’s range have their own question marks. So we’ll see.
Round 10, Pick 7: Carl Granderson
I reached on Granderson a bit according to ADP, where he’s going as an early 11th-round pick (123 overall). But he’s dual desi and I had a hunch he’d be gone by my next pick because he’s a favorite this year of a lot of folks whose opinion I respect (Joey the Tooth, Macri, Adam), meaning he’d be a top target in this range of the draft.
I see Granderson slotting into the role Marcus Davenport vacated opposite Cameron Jordan. He’ll have to hold off 1st round pick Payton Turner and 2nd round pick Isaiah Foskey, both guys I like better for dynasty. But for 2023, I like Granderson to emerge as the clear 2nd option beside Jordan in Dennis Allen’s defense.
Round 11, Pick 6: Von Miller
As far as edge rushers go, Miller was fairly reliable last season before he got injured during the Thanksgiving game against the Lions. Through his first 11 games, he was averaging 12.3 PPG and had 6 double-digit outputs, including 2 games above 20 points. Unlike Landry, it seems like Miller might start 2023 on the PUP list.
Given his questionable availability, I made this pick for three reasons. First, he has DL/LB eligibility. Second, he’s a highly-paid superstar on a Super Bowl contender. When he returns, he’s going to play. And that leads to the third reason: we’ve seen Miller play. This is not speculation. When he’s on the field, he is a solid contributor to your IDP lineups and has the potential to pop off for a 20 or 30-point game.
Round 12, Pick 7: Nicholas Morrow
Another “meh” linebacker pick that was set in motion by punting the position in a prior round to go with a DL pick and chase sacks. Taking Granderson in the 10th, I missed out on the LBs I had circled for the 11th round: David Long, Brian Asamoah, Kyzir White, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Even Porn Thor, Alex Anzalone, disappeared from my queue like the Bifrost was returning him to Midgard.
So I went with Von Miller in the 11th round (who can slot into one of my LB spots), knowing I could snag either Leighton Vander Esch or Nicholas Morrow here, two unsexy veterans who aren’t quickening anyone’s pulse but will be on the field and have clearly defined roles. Along with Perryman, Morrow was a “safe floor” pick to balance out the weeks when my stable of dual desi babies doesn’t record a sack.
Round 13, Pick 6: Germaine Pratt
If only we could’ve seen Pratt get a starting gig somewhere else this offseason via free agency. Alas, he could be the LB1 in Cincinnati next year depending on how things shake out with new contracts for Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins. File that away for later this year in your dynasty leagues as you prep for 2024.
While he’s nobody’s LB1 for 2023, Cincinnati did like Pratt enough to bring him back on a 3-year, $21 million deal. Looking at some of the other LB contracts thrown around this offseason, that’s significant money! I expect him to be the LB2 for the Bengals in 2023 and play around 70-75% of the snaps. And if Logan Wilson goes down, I have full confidence Pratt will slide right into the 90% snap role.
Round 14, Pick 7: Samson Ebukam
Call me a homer if you want, but Ebukam is going to see some action in this Gus Bradley defense. He was signed to replace Yannick Ngakoue, who actually led all Colts edge rushers in snaps in 2022 (64%). The money (3 years, $27 million) tells me he’ll be starting opposite Kwity Paye, who I like, but I’ll take the discount on Ebukam at EDGE60 compared to EDGE28 (around where I took Karlaftis).
I was debating a few LBs here that I liked (most notably Drue Tranquill) but I decided to go Ebukam in order to chase sacks and get a final dual designation player.
Round 15, Pick 6: Dorian Williams
In what’s probably my favorite YouTube Short we’ve published this offseason, Adam summed up the Bills’ selection this way: “Dorian Williams… all aboard, baby.” It’s still to be determined who will win the LB2 job in Buffalo opposite the insanely handsome Matt Milano. I’m pushing my chips in on Williams over Terrel Bernard or Tyrel Dodson. And if he does win that role, the recently-departed Tremaine Edmunds showed us it can be a profitable (if not extravagant) role for IDP purposes.
Along with the next pick, selecting Williams was also done to add a little more upside to my LB group after taking low-sizzle vets Perryman, Morrow, and Pratt.
Round 16, Pick 7: Daiyan Henley
I was debating Chad Muma, Rashaan Evans, and Henley here, three LBs with a path to significant snaps assuming a major injury. For Muma, it was either Foyesade Oluokun or Devin Lloyd going down. For Evans, it was some team’s starting LB going down in training camp with an ACL or Achilles injury. I ultimately picked Henley because I think he’ll have a role even without Eric Kendricks going down.
I certainly don’t see Kenneth Murray stealing snaps from Henley unless the rookie is really bad in training camp and preseason action. But assuming he adjusts well to the NFL game, I think he could have some boom games given his background as a converted wide receiver and his penchant for big plays in college.
Rounds 17-24: Defensive Backs
I really wanted to end my IDP Madness draft with eight straight defensive back selections, but I wondered if I’d cave given that my usual strategy is to sprinkle them in around the 8th/9th round and the 12th/13 rounds. I’m so glad I waited.
There’s some really nice talent still on the board as I sit here waiting for my Round 17 selection. We’ll see which of my targets make it to me as I wrap up the draft, but waiting was definitely the right call. I love the guys I was able to get in place of DBs and I love the options I have available to round out the rest of my roster.
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The biggest lesson I learned from this first year of IDP Madness is that DL love is good… up to a certain point. There is nice LB value late but you don’t want to wait until too late in the draft to grab your 2nd and 3rd LBs. I’d feel much better about my draft if Karlaftis and Granderson were solidified 3-down LBs, and if I’d taken comparable edge rushers where I took Perryman and Morrow.
I do think it’s important to swing for upside (like, really swing) and go against ADP slightly in order to have a unique build. Because I think the team that wins the $500 grand prize is going to hit on some late picks that none of us saw coming. They’re also going to get some injury luck and hit on some rookies who turn into studs.
Is this roster the #1 build out of 144 entries? Probably not.
But we’ll see how the chips land in 2023, and even if I don’t win the grand prize, this draft was a ton of fun. It felt awesome being part of something that the whole IDP community was talking about. We’ll do IDP Madness again in 2024 and you best believe it’ll be bigger and better than it was this year. Thanks for reading this article, and if you drafted a team too, thanks for participating. And good luck!
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