By: Noel Davidson (Twitter: @Noel_thespark_D)
Updated: 5/18/2017

If you are reading this, you are here because you want to know about salary cap leagues or you want to know a few tips and strategies in order to get you started so you are not the Browns of your dynasty league. (Yes, every league has one. If you don’t know who it is….Sorry to break this to you but it might be you.)

So first of all. what are salary cap leagues? well if your here I am assuming you know the basic set up of a dynasty league. you have a team you keep from year to year and you draft rookies each year in order to strengthen your team, mimicking a NFL Franchise.

Well a salary cap league is basically an advancement of this and takes you closer to controlling your own franchise. the crease in these leagues are…….drum roll please……..Salaries!!! not that you probably guessed that from the title of this article however I always do have a case for the dramatic.

There is a Salary Cap, with rules that are based on the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement. For example, if you have signed a player with guaranteed money in the contract, and you cut that player — it could affect your Cap. The site that is most common and advanced for this is Reality Sports They also implement franchise tags which allows you – just as it does a NFL team – to secure a player for 1 more year at an admittedly higher price.

The way you build your roster initially is through the Free Agency Auction House. Reality Sports can explain it much better than I ever could:
” The Free Agency Auction Room process is best illustrated by an example. During the auction for a player, if the current offer is 4-years, $8 million (total), $4.88 million guaranteed — the player values a 1-year, $3.5 million (total), $3.5 million guaranteed offer greater than the first offer based on an algorithm, which acts on behalf of the player. The algorithm factors in the total amount, guarantee, per year average, and length of each contract offer similar to the way a player and/or agent would in real life. All contracts, except for 1-year minimum offers (i.e. offers where no competitive market for the player exists, forcing the player to sign for a minimum offer) contain some guaranteed money. In professional sports, almost all non-minimum contracts are unique, but follow a general outline.”

Each League is different; each has different allocations for contracts. the standard however is having most of your roster on one year deals one 4-year contract, two 3-year contracts & three 2-year contracts. This can obviously change from league to league but for the basis of this article I will use the standard allocations

Now that you know WHAT salary cap leagues are. I will get into the main strategy in Salary Cap Leagues: The Contracts

Assigning your contracts:
You have entered free Agency in your start up league and are now in the Free Agency auction house. waiting to bid on players, you have $167 Million in cap space to spend and have 6 multi-year contracts to assign (3-two year, 2-three year, 1-four year) how can you choose which players to put what contracts on? if you use them too soon then you are stuck with only 1 year deals for the rest of the auction. here is my break down of the “criteria” of each contract

2 Year Deals:
these contracts are to be used on star but ageing players in my opinion. getting maximum production and value out of these players before they drop off, 2 year deals come with security that they will be on your team next year (almost like a keeper league where you assign someone to be your keeper player) but also are not on too much of a risk of retiring. This contract can also be used in order to secure a top player for more than a year and bringing down the salary price of the first year. For example: Demarco Murray RB TEN Now don’t get me wrong, I love Murray, I think he is a top end RB in a great offense but throughout his career he has been injury prone and he is 29 years old, so by the law of running backs not named Frank Gore, they usually fall off after 30. This deal ensures you have his production this year and next before his regression, you could even use trade value if you believe the regression is coming and can get a RB needy team to bite.

3 Year Deals:
For me, these are the golden contracts, long enough to secure your star player, the fact there is two allows you to use one on a already established stud and use the other on a potential superstar and ensure his productive years won’t be missed on you (and after 2, that final year can easily be used as trade bait) These contracts are also very useful to get a star player who may need a year to reach his full potential. For Example: Melvin Gordon RB LAC.  My reasoning for this is Gordon can still mature and improve as a running back and a player as a whole so in order to make the most, you sue the first year to ensure he is the star you believe. The second to bask in production and the third can be trade bait or used as a push for a championship.

4 Year Deals:
This contract needs to be used with caution as it carries the most obligation for the longest time. For me. This player is one you don’t expect to contribute this year or maybe the next but has an ideal scenario in order to supplant the starter. For example: Donnel Pumphrey RB PHI. Pumphrey in his own right is a good, shifty back who could even make a career for himself at slot receiver, however with the addition of Blount, and Sproles already being in the mix (Pumphrey being essentially a clone of Sproles) it is unlikely he contributes this year, but next and the future he could be a big time player. If you were to put a 1-2 Year deal on Pumphrey, you would either miss out on his production completely or the contract would run out the year after his break out, not allowing you value to trade or a chance to use his production for your team.