Salary Cap content is part of the ELITE package for Footballguys Premium Subscriptions. We're making this preview available so you can see the edge these subscribers are getting. Sign up here.
Note: This series is designed to take salary cap drafters of any ability and refine their skills to that of a seasoned veteran. The articles will go from basic concepts to the most advanced salary cap draft theories. Each article is designed to build on the previous articles in the series. For best results, read each article before proceeding to the concepts in the next article.
After Part I, you know some common problems for beginning salary cap drafters. Now you can focus on how to attack a room where you see these mistakes from drafters new to the format.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF EMOTION
Part I talked about your emotions and how not to let them get the best of you. Taking the next step in developing your salary cap draft skills means focusing on others and how their emotions affect their actions.
In beginner salary cap rooms, emotion can greatly impact how the draft goes. It can either make things wild where overspending is happening, or it can make things tight where managers are timid and unwilling to spend money. You can only take advantage of either situation if you’re watching for it.
Capitalizing on what happens requires a grasp on the prices players might go for ahead of time. Prices fluctuate depending on the room, but you can still have an idea in your head that can guide you as the draft starts. For example, if the draft starts and the bidding slows down on Jonathan Taylor at $51 ($200 cap, 12-team league), you know that the beginners in the room are unsure of themselves, and you need to act fast. This timidity can endure for large parts of the draft in rooms with a lot of green drafters. Before they realize that they have way too much money left and not enough players to roster, you will have hopefully scooped up a bunch of top talent for deep discounts. The key here is not to hesitate and start spending while the rest of the room is asleep at the wheel.
On the other hand, in some beginner rooms, the emotion coursing through new drafters makes them spend indiscriminately. Taking the Taylor example to the other extreme, if a manager has $70 allocated to land this year’s consensus top pick, when the bidding gets to $74, the alarm bells should go off that things are getting too hot. At that point, backing off and waiting for the spending to settle down is the right play. The golden rule of salary cap drafting is that bargains will always come when spending is higher than it should be. The question for you to decide in the room is: Can you continue to pass and wait for prices to come down as the elite talent flies off the board? You may need to jump in and overpay for a player or two to avoid being shut out of top talent. But otherwise, patience is the name of the game in a room full of excited beginners spending wildly. When prices come back to earth, you will be positioned to take advantage and run off a bunch of bargain purchases.
POOR SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
Beginning salary cap drafters are notoriously poor at keeping track of what is happening around them. They almost certainly won’t know what money the other managers in the room have left, they won’t be keeping track of everyone’s rosters, and they might not even know how much money they have left for their team. You should be aware of what managers have access to this information because they’re using a computer program like the Draft Dominator or an Excel spreadsheet, and which ones are consistently unaware of what is happening around them. You can do a couple of things to take advantage of players like this.
- Clog their roster – Teams that don’t have a strong grasp of what is happening will often draft too many players at a position before they realize what they’re doing. For example, they can’t pass up a deal on Aaron Rodgers (it’s Aaron Rodgers! And he’s only $6!), so they draft a third quarterback. If you notice them bidding on Rodgers when they already have two quarterbacks or a high-priced starter, let them have him and waste a roster spot. Or perhaps they can’t pass up a deal on Tyler Boyd, so they fill their last bench spot when they have a bunch of money left. It is a good strategy to target nominations at those managers, or better yet, let them land a player too cheaply to kill a roster spot. Sometimes this can take them out of contention at a certain position or handicap their overall chances to compete with you in the latter stages of the draft.
- Box them in – Later in a draft, the managers who don’t keep track of the money in a room are at a disadvantage that continues to increase as the draft continues. When money gets tight and the player pool is drying up, each dollar and each decision becomes more critical. You can often find situations where they will be bidding near their maximum bid and don’t know it. Know when to stop and let them spend their money. Or, when the end of the draft is near, you’ll save precious dollars by watching their max bid, and if they can only bid $4, don’t ever say “3”. Then you end up paying $5 instead of $4. Be acutely aware of what they have left. Craft your bids to take them out or box them in.
There is also a tendency for inexperienced salary cap drafters to make impulsive decisions that can massively impact their draft. They can get upset when they can’t bid because they’re out of money and a player is about to go too cheaply, or they can attempt to price enforce on a top player because they paid market value and a deal is about to happen. Here’s an example.
Travis Kelce is up for nomination. The bidding is down to Teams A and B. Teams A and B have no tight ends on their team. Team C already has Mark Andrews for $29 and only has $51 left while still needing an RB2, WR2, and the rest of their backups. Team C is not in on the bidding. The back-and-forth between A and B slows at $27 for Kelce. Team C is upset that he isn’t going for more money and jumps into the bidding by yelling, “$30!”. Team C made an impulsive, unwise bid. All that manager knows is that they feel Kelce should be going for more than Andrews and are petulantly making a snap decision without understanding the consequences. Team A is keeping salary stats meticulously and realizes instantly that if he stops bidding, he will stick Team C with two high-priced tight ends and effectively take him out of the draft because he’ll only have $21 left to fill most of his team. But Team B is not keeping track of the money. Instead, he just knows he wants Kelce and bids $31, thereby letting Team C off the hook.
In this scenario which team do you want to be? Team A, right? It’s forgivable to be Team B but not desirable. And being Team C? You’re not in control of anything happening to you, and you’ll likely end up with a poor team. Beginners lack situational awareness at all points during the draft; if you’re watching for it, you can use it to help make the draft come to you.
Continue reading this content with a 100% free Insider subscription.
"Footballguys is the best premium
fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, ESPN