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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.
Plenty of salary cap drafters go into a draft thinking they will get the top overall running back. Last year that was Christian McCaffrey. This year it is Jonathan Taylor. But that price can easily exceed $60 in some drafts. Do you chase the top guy or even the top five running backs? If so, how do you treat your RB2 after spending up for one of the top guys? Lastly, how deep will you try to be at running back?
I usually go into a salary cap draft knowing I will not pursue the top running back. I want to acquire at least two every-week starter caliber backs in the $20-40 range and then add additional pieces, preferably those with unknown potential where I am hoping to find a hidden gem or those who tend to rack up receiving numbers. If I am lucky, both. My budget for running backs is between $80-90 of my $200 budget. I aim to have five running backs spending approximately this much on each. ($38, $20, $12, $7, $3).
Spending big at running back - specifically with one of the top options - has not been a common tactic of mine. They are typically the highest-priced players off the salary cap board, and you can save big by downshifting at RB1 to even a few spots lower in the positional hierarchy. The profile I see is clarity of a quality starting workload and (ideally) a connection to a stable quarterback and offense. Names like Leonard Fournette and James Conner qualify as examples in 2022 but without the full sticker price of the RB1 or even the top few. The overall salary cap build would be more RB1A and RB1B and then populating my bench spots with primarily running backs instead of excessive wide receivers or tight ends.
Salary cap drafts are all about Hero Running Back in my builds. The depth at the top of the position currently opens you to multiple directions, but in our Footballguys rankings, a player like Aaron Jones is the low end of this tier. In a 12-team league, I stress the RB2 position less; I may target a player like Damien Harris, who has some negative narratives attached to him, given New England’s seemingly unpredictable backfield. Most importantly, I look to fill the back of my draft with clear high-upside backup running backs who would soar in value if presented with an injury on their depth chart.
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