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Buffalo Bills fantasy football primer: individual defensive players

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It’s a rare league that plays IDPs, but there are some Bills’ players worth having in those leagues

I’ll admit it right off the bat—I haven’t played in a league that employs individual defensive players, or IDPs, since I was in high school. I find it to be a little cumbersome, and it takes a certain bit of neurosis to compile a strong set of defensive players from around the league. With that being said, there are some Buffalo Bills defensive players who can really help out in an IDP league, and most of them can be had at a fairly good rate.

IDP scoring often varies wildly, but one of the lists of rankings I found during my research used the following scoring system:

  • 1.5 points for a solo tackle
  • .75 points for an assisted tackle
  • 2 points for a tackle for loss
  • 4 points for a sack
  • 5 points for an interception
  • 4 points for a forced fumble
  • 4 points for a recovered fumble
  • 6 points for a defensive touchdown
  • 2 points for a safety
  • 1.5 points for a pass defensed

A scoring system such as this one makes 3-down players far more valuable than specialists. Interestingly enough, ESPN ranks Lorenzo Alexander as Buffalo’s highest-ranked player at any position. They have him as the 5th overall defensive lineman among IDPs.

Wait...the Lorax isn’t a defensive lineman...so how is he ranked as one? This may be one of the only things for which we can thank Rex Ryan with regard to the 2017 Buffalo Bills. Since Alexander played as an “edge” defender in Ryan’s 3-4 scheme last season, he maintains eligibility as both a linebacker and a defensive lineman in some leagues. It’s similar to picking a guy who used to be a catcher in your fantasy baseball league who has since been moved to another position (Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians comes to mind). It’s a little like cheating, but not really. Since Alexander will line up as a linebacker for most of the season, he will presumably have better opportunities to accrue passes defensed, tackles, and interceptions, while also having the ability to rush the passer. Regression to career norms is almost a certainty with Alexander, but he could be a valuable pickup in IDP fantasy leagues due to his versatility.

Also ranking highly among Bills’ defenders are Marcell Dareus (ESPN’s 22nd ranked defensive lineman), Jerry Hughes (35th), and Kyle Williams (47th). Note the absence of training camp stud Shaq Lawson, who could be a nice under-the-radar selection as a result. Reggie Ragland is Buffalo’s highest ranking linebacker, which seems to show a serious lack of understanding of how camp has gone for the second-year man. Buffalo’s highest-ranking defensive back, interestingly enough, is safety Jordan Poyer (27th). Poyer has never made more than 37 combined tackles in a season, nor has he intercepted more than 2 passes or defensed more than 4. ESPN thinks that he’ll shine as the team’s free safety, however, even more so than fellow free agent signing Micah Hyde, who is ranked 41st. Tre’Davious White is unranked, while Ronald Darby comes in at number 35.

After watching some preseason games, we’ll have a bit of a better feel for what Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier want to do defensively. We’ll come up with some rankings then, and even throw out a few projections for individual players’ performances this season.

This is the final installment of our Bills-centric fantasy football preview. We previously examined the quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, kicker, and team defense/special teams.