Is This the Year? A Dynasty Salary Cap Team Story
Is This the Year?
Salary Cap teams, like real football teams, have their years they are set-up to win and years where winning is a pipe-dream. Honestly evaluating your cap roster right before the start of the season is one of the most important things you can do for long-term success.
“Can I compete this year?…” should be the first question you ask once your RFA, Rookie Draft, and Free Agency periods are over. Do you have 30 minutes? Of course you do… you are here reading this. To figure out if you can compete THIS year I want you to forget for a moment about contract lengths, rookie potential, dead cap weight, and whatever your gut is telling you and look at each roster in your league.
But wait… before you do that, answer these questions:
If a friend asked you to join a redraft auction league where everyone had a $200 budget but you had a $220 budget, would you join? Umm… how fast can I sign up?
How about this: the same friend asks you to join a redraft auction league where you had the standard $200 but the other players had different values ranging from $220 to $150. That’s a tougher question, because some have an advantage over you out of the gate while some are ruined from the get-go.
Finally: same friend, same league, you have $160 or less entering the auction. What the heck man?! That’s a 20% hit, that doesn’t seem fair!
OK OK, maybe you get it by now. But seriously, take the time, take each roster in your league, find an auction value cheat sheet that matches your league rules and total up the value of each team. Then think… does the difference between my team’s “value” make me a favorite or an underdog?
Let’s look at one of my teams that I have been re-building. My question coming into this year is am I close enough right now to sell out to compete or do I need to wait another year? Let’s check… Using ESPN’s non-ppr $200 value chart I can see that the value of this team is as follows:
Watson- $6, Wilson- $6, Barkley- $51, Coleman- $4, Hunt- $45, Prosise- $0, White- $2, Adams- $36, Britt- $0, Henderson- $0, Jones- $50, Kupp- $6, Williams- $0, Henry- $0, Heueman- $0, McDonald- $0, Reed- $3, Seals-Jones- $0, Hauschka- $1, Broncos- $1.
So this is my year right? Well, maybe. But before I go selling future 1st round picks for a real TE and another WR I need to check all of the other teams in the league.
Here is what I found for each other team’s value in my league: $216, $212, $211, $180, $177, $161, $159, $155, $151, $137, $130, $109 (*note, the average team in a 12 team league should have a value around $170 if you are using the ESPN cheat-sheet that assumes 10 teams, as I was here).
Now I see that there clearly is a top tier of teams. I am only “out-valued” by two teams, and only by a small amount. Knowing the team I have a few expiring contracts and think that this really is a good year to go for it.
What to do next?
Find the owners (not players) to target. Now the trick is to use what you have done, and share it when it benefits you. I looked through the rosters for TE and WR’s on any of the bottom three teams that might push me over the top. Once I had identified the three owners to target the next step was to creatively target players who are on less-than-ideal dynasty contracts. I found two players of who are on their final year of their contract and on those bottom feeder teams: Gronk and Diggs. I know that Gronk is on the second worst team in the league. The owner of that $130 team knows he is not strong, but I am not sure he knows how WEAK his team really is. So I sent him the value breakdown and asked if he wanted to recoup any value for Gronk this year before he becomes a free agent.
Who eats the salary? The best trick in my bag in this situation is to slightly increase the value of the price you pay if the player is willing to eat the salary of the player they are trading (remember one of the best assets crummy teams have is their ability to eat salary space). In this situation we basically agreed that a 2019 1st was decent value for this final year of Gronk, but I told him I couldn’t pay his salary and ultimately pitched the idea of an added 2020 3rd for him to eat the salary. He accepted immediatly. And all of a sudden with Gronk’s $36 value on my roster I have a value of $246. I’d say that is good return for a 1st and a 3rd.
What if I am not in the top tier of teams?
Here is where most players will fall (where I fall most years), and, if you ask yourself honestly would you pay money to play in an auction redraft league with your salary while others have theirs… would you play? And if the answer is “no” then it is your turn to try and recoup value from your roster. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but hopefully you saw this coming, spent money on the best few free agents and put them on a one year deals, and then you can turn around and offer them to other players while eating their salary for either draft picks or players with better longer-term contracts. It’s not tanking, exactly, but it is going to one- increase future value of your team and two- increase the value of your next year’s rookie draft picks.
The most important thing is that you know where you stand, and that you make moves one way or the other if you are in that top tier or bottom tier because those who stay put and/or overvalue their teams are those guys who end up bottom feeders of the league every single year. Not you my friend, not you.