The Salary Cap Roundtable Series
Joining a salary cap league can be intimidating for even a seasoned fantasy football player. Fortunately, the Footballguys staff has experience in this format and will help you. Over the summer, we'll cover various topics ranging from basic to advanced strategies.
A common approach to Salary Cap leagues is that you should always start a draft by nominating high-priced players you don't want. What do you think about this strategy? Do you have a typical approach to nominations?
I don't think it's a poor strategy to try to drain some money from other teams in the room if you are out on a player, but I think the move tends to be overplayed. You have to forget the notion that waiting on any of the top players will get you a deal. Just because some money has been drained from the room doesn't mean you are getting a deal on Stefon Diggs when he is nominated. In fact, waiting on the top players will often have the opposite effect in that scarcity will drive the price up on those guys the longer they take to come up for bid. Rather, get over the idea that you'll be getting a deal on those guys and instead focus on who you need to nominate to figure out YOUR plan.
More than anything, I want to start the draft off by trying to define which way my draft is going to go. Are you after Travis Kelce? Get him out there as quick as you can to see if you get him. If you wait until Round 5 and then don't land him, it is much harder to adjust and a lot of the top talent may be gone. Are you after Austin Ekeler? I might not nominate him in Round 1, but Round 2 and beyond is the sweet spot. Get your guys nominated early on so you can adjust to whether you land them or not. Nominating them in the immediate frenzy at the beginning of the draft may not be optimal, but soon thereafter is a smart move.
This is one of the first pieces of advice I give when asked about salary cap leagues, actually! Patience is key in this format, and letting others run out of cap space will allow for you to snag some fantastic value players down the stretch. I always find a player that I would be comfortable taking at their exact value and start the bidding at that value. With this strategy, you aren't hamstrung into selecting a player you absolutely didn't want, but rather introducing an opportunity to get a value play if no one else bids on the nominated player.
I agree with flushing out money on players you do not have an interest in. A clarification I have made over the years is to squeeze money out of the market at a position you hope to find values in the middle or later portion of the auction. If a cornerstone team-building aspect is finding value at running back, try to nominate non-target running backs early.
I stop at the word "always." You have to be flexible in a salary cap draft, and there are many ways to construct a roster including going out aggressively early or hanging back and ensuring you have the most money left to ensure you have your pick of end-game options. But generally speaking, I think it's sound advice to nominate players who are going to fetch high prices but you see as overvalued or an unlikely part of your roster design.
I do think you need to pay attention to value tiers and be realistic about your own roster plans. If I have six quarterbacks in the elite tier, and four are already off the board, I may consider nominating one of the remaining two at a low price and see if I can acquire at fair value because if enough people know there's only one elite player left in a tier, they'll likely get bid up. I've seen many people scoff at paying a few dollars over projected value for their No. 1 ranked running back and then haphazardly feel pressured into paying a similar overpay for their No. 8 ranked running back because it's the last starter they feel good about.
I am fine with this strategy but you also don't want to get burned by a bid that lands you a player that you don't want. Usually, I will nominate a player I don't intend to win, however, there are some exceptions at the tail end of the draft if you have a budget advantage over the other participants. I will also look to target a less-than-elite defense and kicker that won't exceed a $1 opening bid.
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