Punch Drunk Wonderland

In search of the perfect IDP scoring system


Please see the follow up to this article and also the 2014 IDP Scoring System.

I am a huge fantasy football IDP junky. I like to think if I can be just a little bit more nerdy about more obscure elements like the intricacies of IDPs in fantasy then maybe that means I’ll be more dominant in all of my fantasy football endeavors. Ok, so it’s a dream. Regardless, running IDP league mock drafts and playing with Average Draft Position numbers is a good band-aid for the fantasy football doldrums that is this part of the offseason. It also gives me numbers to play with for our Getting Defensive ALL IDP league.

There are a million different theories on scoring for all IDP leagues.  Many like the “Big Play” approach that gives huge rewards to game changer plays like interceptions. Others prefer graduated systems that incorporate different scoring values per event per player position (e.g. Defensive tackles get more points for an interception than cornerbacks because it is much more rare for them to pull off an INT). I’ve found that a hybrid approach is something that feels right to me.

In 2011 Jeff Ratcliffe and Ross Miles published Fantasy: House Rules – The Quest for an IDP Scoring System, The Findings. This excellent bit of analysis and proposed scoring system was part of an effort to create a Pro Football Focus “Ultimate IDP Scoring System”. Their’s is an excellent system; however, recent insight into inconsistencies with NFL stat crews related to how tackles are tallied per game suggest there should be some slight modifications to the system (See Home Cookin’ – How NFL Stat Crews Affect IDP Scoring, Pt. 1 & Pt. 2).

My proposed slight variation on Jeff and Ross’s PFF system is explained below with some detail on key categories and suggested changes. (Please keep in mind this is in the spirit of finding a balanced IDP scoring system and continuing the conversation; I’m not trying to “one up” or discredit Jeff, Ross, or PFF)

Tackles (Solo, Assists, & Tackles for Loss)

Many IDP scoring systems wind up being tackle heavy in terms of scoring.  Even if tackles aren’t valued very highly, they are the defensive stat that sees both the greatest numbers and greatest scoring inconsistency. For the system I’m proposing the scoring value attributed to tackles is the key factor for determining some of the other scoring rules.

It’s typical to see IDP scoring that sets assisted tackles to half of the scoring value of solo tackles.  Since we now know of the inconsistency on the part of NFL stat crews when scoring tackles I feel like there should be a bit less of a gap. I suggest making an assisted tackle equal to two-thirds that of a solo.

Tackles for a loss are a good scoring stat to award those defensive players that can get push and become a presence in the backfield. It’s more or less a sack that doesn’t hit the QB. Attributing too high of a value to this stat is dangerous because the player will also be getting points for the tackle on the play. However, it’s a stat worth respecting. As you’ll see for many of these rules, I’m basing the TFL scoring value on the tackle value. In this case, valuing it as double the score of a tackle.

Each Solo Tackle 1.5 pts.
Each Assisted Tackle 1 pt.
Each Tackle for a Loss 3 pts.


Passes Defensed

Passes Defensed is a key category for both defensive lineman who are adept at swatting the ball down and defensive backs that are good at breaking up receptions. They are the third most frequently tallied defensive stat behind solo and assisted tackles.  Jeff noted in the PFF piece that many fantasy league platforms didn’t have passes defensed as an available scoring stat in 2011, and the suggestion from compromise that him and Ross landed on was based on that fact and fairness. Nowadays, most platforms have the stat available, so there is no need for special consideration for cross-platform fairness.  In my proposed system, I value passes defensed as one-third greater than that of a solo tackle.  Again, this is in an effort to respect the value of the CB in our IDP leagues.

Each Pass Defensed 2 pts.



Sacks are one of the big IDP categories that represent big real game events. They are another special case in which they carry their own IDP scoring value in addition to often resulting in a tackle scored. This stat category is the bread and butter stat for making sure defensive ends in your league are adequately valued. I’m sticking with the relational system that I’ve been using, and I propose a sack value of 3 times that of a tackle. In this case, 4.5 points.

Each Sack 4.5 pts.



Another game changer, interceptions should be regarded as a vital scoring stat because it results in a turnover. INTs are big plays that occur with less frequency than other big scoring plays such as sacks (approximately half as frequent), and for that reason their value should be slightly higher. For my system I am calculating interceptions’ value as 4 times that of a solo tackle.  Therefore, 6 points….this is the same as in Jeff and Ross’s system.

Each Interception 6 pts.



This is the granddaddy of all rarities in football.  It doesn’t happen very often, and it is a huge game changer.  For that reason it should be valued very highly in scoring.  I’m sticking with the 10 points suggestion from Jeff and Ross though there could be an argument made to give a safety even more value.

Each Safety 10 pts.


Kick/Punt Return Scoring

Scoring for kick and punt return yards and touchdowns are often left out of IDP scoring. That’s certainly understandable since there is often no application. However, there are return men that are defensive players and I feel like in your IDP leagues they should get credit for their versatility just as offensive players in standard leagues should get credit for their return abilities. Also, this is another way to boost the value of defensive backs since those are the players that will be involved in the return game.

KR/PR Return TD 6 pts.
Every 10 Kick Return Yards 0.8 pts.
Every 10 Punt Return Yards 0.8 pts.


Other scoring points

Below are other scoring stats associated with the system.

 Fumble Recovered for TD  6
 Each Fumble Lost (on defense)  -2
 Each Forced Fumble  4
 Each Fumble Recovery  2
 Each Blocked Punt, FG, PAT  6
 Blocked Punt or FG Return for TD  6
 Interception Return TD  6
 Fumble Return TD  6


You’ll notice that my variations from the PFF system from 2011 are only slight, and a key element is using the scoring stat for solo tackles as the common denominator for calculating other stats.  Doing this can allow you to play with your league settings a bit.  For example, maybe I want to use this system but I want higher scores.  I could set solo tackles to 3 points and from there determine the values of assists, TFL, passes defensed, sacks, and interceptions accordingly.

Below you’ll find a comparison between my proposed system and the PFF system.  Of course, J.J. Watt was a statistical freak in 2012. There isn’t a reasonable way to manipulate the scoring in a way in which he doesn’t blow the roof off.  It would probably be more realistic to throw Watt’s numbers out for 2012 when doing comparisons or look at a more standard year such as 2011.  Throw Watt’s numbers out and the score gap between the #2 scorer for 2012 and the #50 is 115.8 in my proposed system versus 123.5 in the previous system (margin of 108.8 to 126.5 using stats from 2011). The lower gap in scoring suggests greater parity at least amongst top scorers. Additionally, for 2012 there are 14 defensive backs in the top 50 in my proposed system versus 7 in the older system. Certainly linebackers will dominate the field, but finding other positions creeping up the list is a plus for finding a balanced scoring system.

2012 Player Stats using the 2011 PFF Scoring System

2012 Player Stats using my slightly modified 2013 Scoring System

I hope you’ve enjoyed this write-up and I welcome criticism and suggestions.  As I mentioned above, this is an attempt to keep the conversation going and to further refine IDP scoring systems.  There’s certainly time for improvement before the season starts. For those interested in taking a test drive using this system in the 2013 season, please check out Getting Defensive (all IDP league). The league isn’t quite full yet, and we welcome newcomers.


K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...