caseStudy lg 450x203 Rebuilding: A Case Study

 

This column is intended to engage readers who are playing in or considering joining an IDP dynasty with a salary cap. Dynasty Football Warehouse put together a pretty nifty Dynasty 101 series very recently, which I recommend to all dynasty novices. This column is in no way meant to confirm, correct, or interrogate the series, and I’ll do my best not to repeat its insights. Some of the material in this column is similar to the content that appeared in the 101 series, but keep in mind that the column’s aim is to speak directly to the challenges that arise from playing in a salary capped IDP dynasty.

 

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You’re ready to take it to a whole new level—you outgrew the family-league redraft format season ago, you’ve been dominating offense-only dynasty leagues for a few years, you did pretty well in some IDP dynasties the last two years—you’re ready to take the leap… welcome to salary cap, IDP, dynasty league fantasy football, where men are men, and sheep are… never mind.

Salary capped, IDP, dynasty fantasy football: it’s the bomb diggity.

In order to prevent the onset of boredom that usually follows extended presentations of theory, I’m going to use one of the teams I play against as a case study as we engage and consider aspects of salary capped dynasty football. The team we’ll be looking at was taken over by a new owner very recently after several years of being sorely mishandled, and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. My intention for the next few weeks is to create a three-year plan for rehabilitating the team in conjunction with the comments and suggestions submitted by readers. My hope is that, in analyzing the team and designing a plan for its rebuilding together, we’ll learn something about the challenges, strategy, and thrills endemic to salary cap, IDP, dynasty-format fantasy football.

 

First Things First!

A couple of recommendations:

1) If this is your first rodeo, join an existing league, preferably one with experienced owners as opposed to a start-up league.

Salary-capped IDP dynasties are complicated. You’ve not only got the usual details such as scoring rules, tie-breakers, IR restrictions, taxi-squad rules, and roster limits to consider, which are tricky enough in their own right, but also a necessarily extensive set of bylaws governing such intricacies as blind bidding procedure, salary cap maintenance and adjustment, transition tags, extensions, franchise tags, rookie renewals, penalties for dropping a player, etc. Granted, start-up leagues are fun and exciting—there’s a unique thrill that comes with building a team from scratch—however, things rarely run smoothly during the first few years. You’ll save yourself a tremendous amount of hassle, and streamline your learning process if you join a league that’s been running long enough to work out the kinks.

2) If you’re offered a chance to be a co-owner in a solid league, jump at it.

3) Frequent your league thread, and ask a ton of questions.

Asking questions and listening carefully to people’s answers is a huge part of how we learn, so ask, ask, ask. Remember: there is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid people.

4) Know your league’s scoring rules.

Who cares about punters, right? Always take the top RB with the 1.01? Not so fast! Every league is different, with idiosyncrasies that make it unique, and which affect the relative value of players at different positions, and as such, should affect the draft/trade strategy you develop.

5) Read, re-read, and re-re-read your league’s bylaws.

This is huge, and will come up again and again as we analyze specific concerns. Suffice to say that one of the ways in which you succeed in a salary cap league is by knowing the rules well enough to recognize “loopholes” that you can exploit in order to maximize your cap space, options, and control over players.

Some examples:

 

            Maximizing Cap Space

Team X and Team Y are involved in a trade. Team X is sending a WR by the name of Quinn Rocks to Team Y for a WR named Really Hard. Each WR is extremely expensive, costing $25 in a theoretical league with a cap of $100, HOWEVER, upon careful examination of the league bylaws, each owner realizes that he is permitted to transfer salary from one player to another during a trade. Consequently, each owner picks one of the scrubs on his roster, and includes the scrub in the trade so that the other owner can shunt the majority of the $25 stud he’s acquiring onto the scrub he’s acquiring, and then cut him. Assuming each of the scrubs’ salaries is $1, the trade/math works out as such:

Step 1. Team X receives WR Really Hard ($25) and K Jeffy Mini-skirt ($1)

Step 2. Team X transfers $24.50 of Really Hard’s salary to Jeffy Mini-skirt, so that Really Hard’s salary is $.50, and Jeffy Mini-skirt’s salary is $25.50

Step 3. Team X cuts Jeffy Mini-skirt ($25.50) taking the 20% cap hit stipulated in the league bylaws ($5).

Result: Team X now has WR Really Hard for $.50/year as opposed to $25/year, that’s a savings of $19.5 after you deduct the penalty.

 

Controlling The Maximum Number of Players Possible

So your fantasy team lost in the first round of the playoffs. True, Bruce Carter is on your roster, and true, he got hurt late in 2012 and is eligible to be put on IR, but your season is over—why would you, right?  Wrong! Players on the IR don’t count against your roster limit, which means that putting Carter on IR would allow you to pick up a free agent.

Why would you do that, you may ask, seeing as the player you acquire won’t be under contract next season. Won’t you just lose the player at next season’s auction?

Maybe, but not necessarily.

There are several reasons for an owner to want to control as many players as possible, not the least of which is that football is fraught with uncertainty. A player stashed on IR or the taxi squad can provide an owner with insurance should one of his players suffer an off-season injury, shoot himself in the leg in a NYC nightclub, violate his parole, or quit football to become a massage therapist.

Is Jarrett Boykin going to step into Greg Jennings’ role after Jennings leaves the Packers? Will Titus Young return to the Lions and become the Robin to Megatron’s Batman?

Who knows, but if you stash them on IR or my taxi, the following will be true: 1. If it comes out in the off-season that either of them is the love child of Zeus and Wonder Woman and has latent superpowers, you’ll have first dibs on him, meaning that you can tag/renew/extend him without him ever hitting the open market. 2. Anyone who wants either of them will have to bid on them at auction, where they’ll likely be more expensive. 3. If anything happens to either of them, if one of them gets hurt, traded, or has a near-death experience and decides to devote the rest of his natural life Zassenfult, the chrystal god of good juju and knockwurst, you can cut him without penalty.

Example: Jahvid Best. He’s sitting on my IR in one league right now. Sure it’s a long shot, but if he makes miracle recovery and returns to the field, his electric talent and crazy moves will be scoring points for my team.

It goes without saying that the specific “loopholes” mentioned above don’t exist in all leagues, but I’ve yet to encounter a league without any “loopholes.” Keep in mind that I’m using scare quotes around the word ‘loophole’ for a reason. Part of playing in a dynasty is discovering how best to maneuver within a given set of rules, and as such, exploiting a “loophole” isn’t cheating, but rather the result of knowing the rules of the league well enough to maximize your opportunities.

My point in all this is simply that salary cap leagues take fantasy football a few steps beyond normal dynasty leagues by forcing owners to account for factors that don’t show up on NFL stat sheets, and to seek advantage and opportunity beyond player production. Considerations in areas such as basic economic theory, cost/benefit analysis, human psychology, and social theory can be of great help to owners, but only if they know the league rules well enough to understand where, why, and how such insight can help them build depth, create cap relief, and accrue the capital that will allow them to acquire the players they covet.

I’ll spend a full column developing what I mean when I say that considerations in each of the above areas can help you down the road, so you’ll have something to look forward to down the road, but for now, I want to give you the roster of the team we’ll be using as our case study, and the scoring format and basic roster and contract restrictions of the league the team is in.

 

The Roster

Starting line-ups will consist of the following:

• 1 x QB

• 2 x RBs

• 3 x WRs

• 1 x TE

• 1 x PK

• 1 x PN

• 1 x DE

• 1 x DT

• 3 x LBs

• 1 x CB

• 1 x S

Player

YTD Pts

Bye

Salary

Year

Contract

Trade?

Cutler, Jay CHI QB

256.6

6

$10.60

5

Trade
Rivers, Philip SDC QB

299.9

7

$9.30

4

Extended til 15 Trade
Brown, Donald IND RB (I)

68.0

4

$3.00

1

Ineligible for rookie extension Trade
Dwyer, Jonathan PIT RB

102.9

4

$0.50

1

Trade
Green, Alex GBP RB (P)

76.9

10

$16.70

1

Trade
Greene, Shonn NYJ RB

186.4

9

$3.20

5

Trade
Sproles, Darren NOS RB

236.1

6

$5.00

1

Trade
Britt, Kenny TEN WR

135.9

11

$3.38

1

Ineligible for rookie extension Trade
Brown, Antonio PIT WR

180.1

4

$1.13

1

rookie exemp til ’13 Trade
Gibson, Brandon STL WR

150.1

9

$1.20

1

Trade
Jeffery, Alshon CHI WR (R)

78.7

6

$1.50

2

Rookie exempt til 15 Trade
Manningham, Mario SFO WR (I)

99.3

9

$1.60

5

Trade
Robinson, Aldrick WAS WR

56.1

10

$0.70

1

Trade
Gresham, Jermaine CIN TE

167.7

8

$1.13

1

rookie exemp til ’13 Trade
Myers, Brandon OAK TE

187.6

5

$3.60

1

Trade
Janikowski, Sebastian OAK PK

135.0

5

$1.10

1

Trade
Lechler, Shane OAK PN

147.5

5

$0.50

1

Trade
Alualu, Tyson JAC DT

102.0

6

$4.20

5

Trade
McCoy, Gerald TBB DT

91.5

5

$3.00

5

Trade
Peppers, Julius CHI DE

152.5

6

$2.40

3

extention til ’14 Trade
Wake, Cameron MIA DE

179.5

7

$1.20

5

Trade
Ayers, Akeem TEN LB

217.0

11

$0.75

1

rookie exempt til ’14 Trade
Durant, Justin DET LB

198.0

5

$2.20

1

Trade
Henderson, Erin MIN LB

154.5

11

$2.20

1

Trade
Roach, Nick CHI LB

139.0

6

$0.50

1

Trade
Spencer, Anthony DAL LB

223.5

5

$1.20

1

Trade
Worilds, Jason PIT LB

75.0

4

$1.20

1

Trade
Gilmore, Stephon BUF CB (R)

143.0

8

$0.50

1

Trade
Wilson, Josh WAS CB

175.5

10

$0.50

1

Trade
Harper, Roman NOS S

229.5

6

$1.67

2

Trade
Weddle, Eric SDC S

221.5

7

$3.00

5

Trade

31 Total Players

Salary Adjustments:

$25.13

Injured Reserve

Brown, Andre NYG RB (I)

114.1

11

$0.50

1

Trade
Jackson, DeSean PHI WR (I)

128.3

7

$10.40

5

Extended til 16 Trade

2 Total Players

Total Salary:

$124.69

72

 

 

Salary Cap:

$159.54

 

 

 

Cap Room Available:

$34.85

 

 

 

Taxi Squad

Bolden, Brandon NEP RB (R)

52.5

9

$0.50

1

Trade
Smith, Michael TBB RB (R)

2.0

5

$0.50

1

Rookie exempt til 15 Trade
Turbin, Robert SEA RB (R)

76.5

11

$1.00

2

Rookie exempt til 15 Trade
Martin, Keshawn HOU WR (R)

62.8

8

$2.10

1

Trade
Green, Ladarius SDC TE (R)

9.6

7

$1.00

2

Rookie exempt til 15 Trade
Thomas, Julius DEN TE

0.0

7

$0.75

1

rookie exempt til ’14 Trade
Johnson, James-Michael CLE LB (R) (I)

56.0

10

$0.50

1

Rookie exempt til 15 Trade

7 Total Players

Total Salary:

$131.04

81

 

 

Salary Cap:

$159.54

 

 

 

Cap Room Available:

$28.50

 

 

 

The Scoring

Event

Range (Low-High)

Points

Test?

Number of Passing TDs

0-99

6 points each

Test
Passing Yards

-50-999

.1 point for every 2

Test
Pass Interceptions Thrown

0-10

-2 points each

Test
Passing 2 Pointers

0-10

2 points each

Test
Number of Rushing TDs

0-10

6 points each

Test
Rushing Yards

-50-999

.1 point for every 1

Test
Rushing 2 Pointers

0-10

2 points each

Test
Number of Receiving TDs

0-10

6 points each

Test
Receiving Yards

-50-999

.1 point for every 1

Test
Receptions

0-99

1 point each

Test
Receiving 2 Pointers

0-10

2 points each

Test
Length of Field Goal Made

0-39

3

Test
Length of Field Goal Made

40-49

4

Test
Length of Field Goal Made

50-59

5

Test
Length of Field Goal Made

60-99

6

Test
Extra Points

0-10

1 point each

Test
Punt Yards

0-999

.033 point for every 1

Test
Punts Inside 20

0-20

1 point each

Test
Punts Had Blocked

0-10

-2 points each

Test
Punt Return Yards

-50-999

1 point for every 25

Test
Kickoff Return Yards

-50-999

1 point for every 25

Test
Fumbles Lost (to Opponent)

0-10

-2 points each

Test
Fumble Recoveries (from Opponent)

0-10

3 points each

Test
Forced Fumbles

0-10

3 points each

Test
Interceptions Caught

0-10

4 points each

Test
Passes Defensed

0-99

1 point each

Test
Blocked Field Goals

0-10

5 points each

Test
Blocked Punts

0-10

5 points each

Test
Blocked Extra Points

0-10

5 points each

Test
Tackles

0-99

2 points each

Test
Assists

0-99

1 point each

Test
Sacked a QB

0-10

4 points each

Test (Warning!)
Tackles for a Loss

0-25

1 point each

Test
Safeties

0-10

5 points each

Test
Number of Defensive & Special Teams TDs

0-10

6 points each

Test

Rules for QB, RB, WR, TE, PK, PN, DT, DE, LB, CB, S

Event

Range (Low-High)

Points

Test?

Number of Punt Return TDs

0-10

6 points each

Test
Punt Return Yards

-50-999

1 point for every 25

Test
Number of Kickoff Return TDs

0-10

6 points each

Test
Kickoff Return Yards

-50-999

1 point for every 25

Rules for KR


Total Number of Divisions:

3

Number of Franchises:

12

Number of Roster Spots:

34

Number of Injured Reserve Spots:

7

Number of Taxi Squad Spots:

7

Head-To-Head Matchups:

Yes

Each Player can be on:

1 rosters per League

Track Player Salaries and/or Contracts:

Yes

At the start of the season, rosters are determined by:

On-line, live draft that happens all at once, taking a matter of hours to complete.

The Contracts

Rosters

 

There is a maximum of 34 players on the active roster, owners must also comply with the positional roster limits below:

3 QBs, 5 RBs, 7 WRs, 3 TEs, 3 Ks, 4 DEs, 4 DTs, 7 LBs, 4 Cbs, 4 Ss

There are also an additional:

7 Taxi Squad places – no positional restrictions.

6 IR – Maximum.

Contract Extensions:

There are 4 Kinds of player contract extension:

Rookie Renewal: The most commonly applied. The player will be retained with the franchise with a 50% increase of his previous years salaries. This can be applied to any rookie but cannot be used as an extension path AFTER the player has been in the league for 4 years. The date of their 1st year in the league is taken as the first year they appear on the 53 man roster pre-season cuts if they were UDFAs or the year in which they were drafted in the NFL draft.

You may have as many of these extensions as you wish, provided the criteria are met. There are only a couple of exceptions (See Rookie Draft).

There is no penalty for NOT renewing a player via rookie extension. They will just be cut for no penalty pre-F.A. Auction.

Franchise Tag: This is a 1yr tag with the salary being derived from the avg of the top 5 players in the MFL HoP league at that position.

You only have 1 franchise tag per off-season. This tag can only be used once on a player before he is made available in the free agent auction.

5yr Tag: As the name implies this is a 5yr tag. It derives its salary from the top 15 salaries in the MFL HoP league at that position. Once this contract expires the player is not eligible for another extension or one of the other tags – they are an unrestricted free agent.

You have 2 of these 5yr tags per off-season.

Tranistion Tag: This tag does not – unlike the other methods of player retention – guarantee your players will be retained. It only allows you the right to MATCH the winning bid in the Free Agent Auction.

You have 3 of these tags per off-season. This tag can only be used once on a player before he is made available in the free agent auction. If a player changes teams during the transition portion of the auction they are then available to have the transition tag (and, if previously used, the franchise tag) placed on them by their new owner.

If at some point during the life of a players franchise, transition, or 5 year tag they are cut they are then eligible for all of the above tags.

 

Taxi Squad (T.S.):

You have up to a maximum of 7 places for players in their first 2yrs in the NFL ONLY.

Any player that will be entering their 3rd year in the NFL needs to be promoted onto your Main Roster or Dismissed/ Cut before the FA auction.

The same stipulations apply to the 2yrs of eligibility as they do to the rookie renewal contracts e.g. If the player was a UDFA and went to play in Canada for 3yrs (for example), then his eligibilty with regards to his rookie eiligibilty would only be from when first appeared on a 53 man pre-season roster in the NFL.

Injured Reserve (I.R.):

The maximum players you may have on I.R. At any one time is 6.

Players on I.R. do count towards your salary cap, but they do not count towards your roster or positional limits and restrictions during the season.

IR eligible -out or doubtful on friday’s official injury report -OR- declared out on game day, the penalty for having an ineligible player on IR when his game for the week starts – released back to the WW for next week’s blind bids

Any players on I.R. during the off-season will count towards roster limits and must be either promoted/ dismissed or cut – like T.S. Players – prior to the deadlines before the auction

 

Rookie Draft:

There will be a 6rnd rookie draft during the off-season started at a time to be confirmed, but before the auction. It is a slow-draft and conducted via the league site and will be announced in good time in the league thread.

Rookies drafted will be allocated a contract salary and length dependent on the round they were drafted in:

1st Rnd draft picks will be slotted a salary of $2.0m p/yr for 3yrs.

2nd Rnd draft picks will be slotted a salary of $1.5m p/yr for 2yrs.

3rd Rnd draft picks will be slotted a salary of $1.0m p/yr for for 2 yrs.

4Th – 6th Rnd draft picks will be slotted a salary of $500,000 for 1 yr.

 

Free Agency Auction/ Contracts:

The auction will be held live, on-line using AIM. The date will be predetermined during the off-season and listed clearly in the league thread

• The maximum contract length that may be issued to any player succesfully bid on in the F.A. Auction is 5yrs.

• The minimum bid is $0.50, there is no maximum – save what you can best afford. All bids after the min. opening bid must be in whole $ increments.

• The winning bid will be equally distributed over the length of the contract (1-5yrs).

 

Salary Cap/ Cap Hits:

• 2011: $151.94

• 2012: $159.93

• 2013: $159.93 (Frozen)

• 2014: $150.00 (Reduced)

• 2015: $150.00

If your team adheres to the positional restrictions (see Roster section, earlier) this is the only other limiting factor for your team.

Any owner that releases a player who is still under contract will incur a 20% penalty based on that player’s contract per year for the duration of said player’s contract.

No owner may exceed the salary cap under any circumstances.

A cap penalty of $10 million for 3yrs will applied for exceeding the salary cap at any given time (excepting the week between F.A.Auction and final off-season declarations).

All games that are played with a team having a salary figure greater than the salary cap will be forfeited.

 

Waiver Wire (W.W.):

There is a “Blind-bid” system for the waiver wire.

All waiver requests will be processed at 12:01 am Thursday each week. All contracts will be one year in duration, the highest bidding franchise will receive said player. If two equal bids are placed for the same player the team who bid first will be rewarded said player.

Waived players are ineligible to be picked up until the following week’s blind bid process

 

There’s a lot here, fellas, but I think the amount of fun we’ll have debating and discussing things, and planning our rebuilding strategy will make the time it took to read everything worthwhile.

Best,

Quinn Almighty