By: Steve Picciano (Twitter: @RandomGrenades)
Updated: 4/10/2017

This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of articles expressly written to address the unique issues of playing fantasy football in a salary capped league. For the most part, FF players who stick strictly to standard redraft leagues don’t have to worry about salary caps, but for those of us who have chosen to participate in a dynasty league that implements a salary cap, we know that there are additional challenges that must be worked through in order to achieve long-term success and successful team building.

Something to add from my own observation.

While Twitter provides great access to a number of quality fantasy football resources, I have noticed an abundance of “Twitter Polls” simply asking what a player’s trade value is worth based on the picks or player(s) being offered. I would estimate that 90+% of these polls do not indicate if the league is operating under a cap, and while the responses can still be useful from an overview perspective, if the person asking the question isn’t factoring in salary, contract lengths and/or potential cap hits, then the information they are receiving is incomplete.

What is a Salary Capped League?
Simply defined, a league that sets a limit to the total amount that may be used to “pay” players on a fantasy roster is said to be capped. Each $1 of fantasy salary essentially represents $1 million in NFL salary. Most times, the limit is set to that of the entry fee for playing in the league (give or take any service charges the host site may charge). For purposes of simplification, we’ll assume that all examples used in this series of articles occur in a league which has set a $100 hard salary cap.

What to pay?
Obviously, the first challenge of operating in this league is figuring out how much to allocate to each player. Could you simply divide the $100 cap limit by the number of players required to be on your roster and pay each player equally? Certainly. Is that advisable? Probably not.

The first strategy you might want to employ is identifying if any players within the league could be considered “premium” due to the league’s structure or scoring system. Some examples could be a reliable QB in a 16+ team league, or a scoring system that awards 1.5 or more points to TEs in an attempt to equalize the impact the position relative to other position groups (i.e. RB and WR). In these types of situations, it might make sense to set aside a little more to spend on these players so that you can take advantage of how the league is set up.

Another common strategy is to develop a value system in order to determine how much you would like to spend for expected performance. This can be based on general expectations, or calculated in a number of ways to determine what you would want to pay for 1 point of performance, similar to using a Price-to-Earnings ratio when investing to determine what you might expect a company to earn and if the price it’s currently trading for is expensive or a bargain. Since every league is different, I would suggest that each owner develop a ratio that best fits their needs if they decide to use this strategy.