Salary Cap Drafting Strategy Guide
Making the jump from regular fantasy football to salary cap leagues can be an intimidating one. Your competition is stiffer, your mistakes are magnified and that casual hobby takes up enough time to get rid of the word casual and maybe the word hobby as well.
As with any type of fantasy football, there are a wide range of salary leagues-- ranging from simply picking ten players who fit under the cap for one season to virtually managing the entire front office for years to come. In the simplest of leagues, salary cap fantasy football is relatively self explanatory; you must pick your players who have a predetermined value and stay underneath the stated salary cap.
For example, imagine we need to fill a ten man roster (2 QB, 3 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Defense/Team) and we have 100 units to work with. Obviously, we need to average ten units per player. If we want to pick up Peyton Manning as one of our quarterbacks, it will cost us around 20 units and we will be limited to 80 units for the rest of our team.
In those non-keeper leagues, the key is renegotiating contracts on a weekly basis. The host of the league will change the value of players as the season progresses. If we bought Peyton Manning for 20 units before the season and he gets off to a horrible start, his value will go down. After a couple of weeks of poor performances, Manning's value drops to 19.2. After a quick renegotiating of the contract, we have 0.8 units to use elsewhere. If a player's value increases, their salary will not increase for the fantasy owner. Thus (straight out of Wall Street), the idea is to find players who have good value for their performance.
Even in leagues that do not have benches, it is important to check on your team weekly. If a player's value goes down, you will want to renegotiate and pay the least possible for that player. Those extra units will come in handy when somebody gets hurt and you have to hunt the market for a replacement.
Like with any fantasy football league, the owner needs to be prepared. Even without a draft, research is necessary for success. There are a lot of leagues out there and you should use them all for research. Compare their salary prices with the salary prices for your league. If Drew Brees is the second most valuable quarterback in every league, but he is fourth most valuable in your league, there may be a bargain price for you. Keep in mind the scoring for the various leagues when using this method.
There are a few strategies to use in salary leagues. Do you take the consistent, usually expensive performers or search far and wide for those cheap players that are full of high risk and high reward? The best is usually somewhere inbetween. If you pay big money for two big time performers, you will live and die with them. One injury to Peyton Manning and your team is in trouble. If you focus too much on cheap, high risk players, balancing the cap becomes more difficult. In our 100 unit example league, if our third string running back cost 4.5 units and never plays, we have a problem. A couple weeks into the season everybody's value will be adjusted accordingly and cutting that third string running back will only put 4.5 units in our account for a replacement. And by that time, it will be impossible to find a decent running back for that price.
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