Salary Cap Drafting Strategy Guide
After dabbling in re-draft salary leagues, it may be time to move to the keeper leagues. This is where it gets really interesting. The owner not only needs to balance production and salary, but keep that in mind for the long haul. Unlike the general salary leagues, the keeper leagues usually start with a draft and owners in the league generally cannot have the same player on their rosters. After each season there is a smaller draft for rookies.
Keeper salary leagues tend to vary greatly and it is important to know how the free agent market and cutting players works in your league. The most important thing is assigning contracts to your players. If your league has cap penalties for releasing players with contract years remaining, it becomes even more important to properly assign contract years to your players. Of course, just like in the NFL, it can get very risky signing a long term contract to an unproven rookie.
There is generally little reason to keep much money in these leagues. It is nice to have a little wiggle room under the cap to pick up the hot free agent, but most leagues do not allow unspent salary cap money to move to the next season.
Many owners will get caught up in building too much for the future. Tying up JaMarcus Russell with a long term contract is not a good idea. Who would really want Joey Harrington as the highest paid player on their team for four years? It did not work for the Detroit Lions and it will not work for you either. Taking risks on young players is alright, but getting caught up on building for the future will rarely pay off. If the rest of the owners are building for the future, you can get great value on proven players and win right now.
Being aggressive in the market is necessary in keeper leagues that bid on free agents. Even if you do not win the player, you want your competition to pay as much as possible for them. If you end up with a player you do not really need, it is never a bad thing to have some extra trade bait -- as long as you got them for a good price.
Once you spend some time in a league, you will begin to know the tendencies of your competition. It is a good idea to use your knowledge of your fellow owners against them. Some owners may be a fan of a certain NFL or college team and prefer to acquire players from that squad. Take a player you know they want and hang out your new trade bait with good natured joy; or at least make them overpay for the player. Come draft time, knowing who an individual owner may draft will help you prepare your own draft. In fantasy football, knowledge separates the winners from the losers.
Most owners who move into a keeper salary league never go back to re-draft leagues again. If the league has good, involved owners, the world of fantasy football does not get any more exciting, stressful or rewarding.
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