The PFF IDP Scoring System Revisited

Jeff Ratcliffe looks back at the PFF IDP scoring system and gives his recommendations for improvements.

| 3 years ago

The PFF IDP Scoring System Revisited

It’s been over two years since Ross Miles and I collaborated on a project designed to produce an IDP scoring system grounded in statistical analysis and reflective of actual on-the-field value. With no “standard” individual defensive player (IDP) scoring system in existence, we found that many leagues used settings that tended to inflate the fantasy value of linebackers, while deflating defensive linemen and defensive backs.

While our work was certainly eye opening and represented a step in the right direction, I look back in hindsight and see flaws in what we recommended. With countless IDP leagues under my belt and far too many fantasy hours logged over the last two seasons, I’d like to revisit our recommendations and suggest revisions where necessary.

Solo Tackles – 1 point; Assisted Tackles – 0.5 points

This one sticks out like a sore thumb. One point per solo tackle and a half point per assist is just too low. James Laurinaitis led all tacklers with 117 solos last season. Yet with this scoring setting, he ranks well outside the Top 50 combined scorers, placing him in a tier alongside WR2s and RB2s. One of the league’s elite fantasy options at his respective position should not rank so far down the list.

Revised Recommendation: Solo Tackles – 1.5 points; Assisted Tackles – 0.75 points – Not a huge bump, but it’s more reflective of actual value. With this increase, the top linebacker scorers are now comparable with the top scorers on the offensive side of the ball.

Sacks – 4 points

I’m still comfortable with this recommendation. This puts sacks at a little over 2.5 times the value of solo tackles. That ratio is perfect for a balanced-scoring format that equally weights tackles to big plays. If you’re in a league that wants to weight tackles more heavily, reduce the value of sacks by a point or two. Those who want a big-play scoring format should increase sacks to at least four times the value of solo tackles.

Tackles for a Loss – 3 points

We have a bit of a challenge with tackles for a loss. Technically speaking, the NFL defines a tackle for a loss as any tackle behind the line of scrimmage, including sacks. While some fantasy commissioner sites follow this definition, others actually subtract sacks from the tackles for a loss total. This is sometimes called a “stuff” and is significant in terms of fantasy scoring. You’ll need to figure out how your commissioner site scores this stat.

Revised Recommendation: Tackles for a Loss – 2 points IF sacks are included; 3 points if sacks are separated – I don’t enjoy the conditional stipulation, but it’s a necessary consideration. If the host site includes sacks, 3 points inflates the value of a sack so that your league becomes a borderline big-play scoring system. Make sure you do your homework here.

Interceptions – 6 points

As we outlined in our original piece, interceptions occur much less frequently than sacks. Thus, it’s not fair to place the same fantasy value on them. Last season, J.J. Watt’s sack total of 20.5 was more than double Tim Jennings’ league-leading nine interceptions. I’m fine with this recommendation, and would not go any lower than 5 points per interception.

Passes Defensed – 1 point

Here’s another place where I feel we were a bit low. One of our original goals was to produce a scoring system that better reflected actual football value. While scoring passes defensed was a step toward this goal, defensive backs still fell too far back in the pack.

Revised Recommendation: Passes Defensed – 1.5 points – A corresponding increase with solo tackles that gives a slight boost in fantasy value to corners and safeties who excel in coverage.

Forced Fumbles – 4 points; Fumble Recoveries – 2 points

We separated the two based on statistical analysis that suggested forcing fumbles is a predictive skill, while recovering fumbles is more random. With that being said, I don’t have a huge problem with scoring them equally as long as they’re worth at least double the value of solo tackles.

Revised Recommendation: Fumble Recoveries – 4 points – While our initial analysis found recoveries to be more random, they are still game changers and should be scored accordingly.

Safeties – 10 points; Blocked Kicks – 6 points; Touchdowns – 6 points

Yes, that’s right. We did not suggest two points for a safety. Think about it. How often do you see a safety? Should they really be worth just slightly more than a solo tackle give how rare safeties actually are? The same can be said for blocked kicks, though they are slightly more likely to occur. I’m fine with these recommendations.

So this gives us the following balanced scoring format:

Solo Tackles – 1.5 point

Assisted Tackles – .75 points

Sacks – 4 points

Tackles for a Loss – 2 points*

Interceptions – 6 points

Passes Defensed – 1.5 points

Forced Fumbles – 4 points

Fumble Recoveries – 4 points

Safeties – 10 points

Blocked Kicks – 6 points

Touchdowns – 6 points


As I mentioned earlier, you can tinker with this system to give a desired outcome, though I would leave the tackle values alone. For a more tackle-heavy system that favors tackle-producing linebackers, reduce the value of sacks and interceptions relative to solo tackles. If you’d prefer a big-play scoring system that inflates the value of defensive linemen, rush outside linebackers, and ball-hawking defensive backs, bump the value of sacks and interceptions up relative to solo tackles.

However, one thing you may notice is that despite your efforts, the IDP positional values relative to each other isn’t quite where you’d like it to be. For example, regardless of what you do, most defensive tackles simply will not score enough points to be fantasy relevant. So what can you do if you face this dilemma? 

One method that can be successful is actually using different scoring settings by position. I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in the FPL IOP Invitational league over the last two seasons. This uniquely formatted league actually has different positional scoring settings. For example, linebackers score 2 points per solo tackle, while defensive linemen score 2.5 points per solo tackle. This and many other positional differences in scoring level the playing field between the IDP positions. 

Now, I do have a few words of warning if this is something you’re considering. First, this is certainly not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to carefully test out your numbers so that you don’t end up making a colossal blunder on any stat category. Second, not all fantasy commissioner sites allow this level of customization. You’ll need to do your research here to find the sites that allow you to set scoring by position instead of just general scoring settings for all IDPs.

Ultimately, the moral of the story for all fantasy sports is having fun. There’s no better way to have fun than giving IDP-appropriate fantasy value. This revised balanced scoring system does just that, though the advanced players may find the need to add a little more customization.


Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twitter – @JeffRatcliffe

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

  • CeLo

    8.5 points for a sack? Huh?

    • Jeff Ratcliffe

      It’s 4 points for a sack.

  • Greatness

    My 8 year old PPR/IDP league uses a similar scoring system developed using trial and error in an attempt to create parity with the offense –

    Solo Tackles – 1.5 point

    Assisted Tackles – .50 points

    Sacks – 5 points

    Tackles for a Loss – 4 points

    Interceptions – 7 points

    Passes Defensed – 3 points

    Forced Fumbles – 5 points

    Fumble Recoveries – 2 points

    Safeties – 10 points

    Blocked Kicks – 6 points

    Touchdowns – 6 points

    Turnover Return Yards – 1 point per 20 yards

    The top scorer last year was JJ Watt with 299.85 points. Luke Kuechly came in second with 256.05 which is around where the top IDP player scores every year. IT’s been a very fun system.

  • Marc Salazar

    Jeff, are you recommending .75 or .5 for an assist? Article says Revised .50 but Summary says .75. Not a huge deal but I am using your system on my IDP dynasty startup.

    • Jeff Ratcliffe

      That was a mistake, Marc. It should be .75 per assist.

  • Aaron Stafford

    Thanks for this article, and the previous one I use it as a baseline in my cbs league. I’ve tried for the last 3 years to get them to add tackles for loss but they say they’ll just forward it for recommendation. UGH!!

  • Héctor Montes

    Iam in a 14 team IDP league,7 offensive starters and 7 defensive starters (2LB 1DL 2 DB 2IDP), the scoring system looks like this

    All offensive TD 6pts
    1 Pass compl 1pt
    50 passing YDS 1 pt
    Pass reception 2 pts
    Rush att .5 pt
    10 Rec. yards 1 pt
    10 rush yard 1 pt

    Tackle Solo 3 pts
    Tackle Assist 2 pts
    Sack 10 pts
    Interception 10 pts
    Fumble Force 6 pts
    Fumble Recovery 2 pts
    Defensive Touchdown 14 pts
    Safety 6 pts
    Pass Defended 2 pts
    Block Kick 6 pts
    Tackles for Loss 4 pts
    Turnover Return Yards 20 yards per point

    I own the 1st pick, im thinking selecting L. Bell and with my 2nd pick select JJ. Watt. is it worth spend a 2nd rond on an IDP?