(as seen in Grogan's Fantasy Football Analyst '05)
Play a salary cap game? That's just the younger step-brother to real fantasy football, draft style. I mean, it's too easy. What kind of talent does it take when you have your pick out of any NFL player every week? How can it be fair to retool my roster every week? And where is the fun in a salary cap game? No way, I'm just a draft guy.
Before I played a salary cap game, I had all of these thoughts and more. And they were all wrong. I would like to issue a challenge to anyone who plays draft or auction style fantasy football; test your wits in a salary cap game.
I have been playing fantasy football for over four years now, and a couple of years ago I started to write articles and contribute on many fantasy football message boards. As part of my desire to fully understand everything that fantasy football has to offer, I accepted an opportunity to play a salary cap team and write about my experience for Head2Head Sports, a provider of a salary cap game for over 11 years. It looked like a great opportunity for me. I had never played a salary cap game before, but had great success in all of my draft leagues. I could give my expert advice and show people that I could dominate a salary cap game all at once. Details aside in 2004, I made the playoffs in all six of my draft leagues with a combined regular season record of 54-21 and won two championships. In my salary cap league I finished one game over .500 and squeaked into the playoffs as a wild card team, then had little success in my postseason effort. Don't get me wrong; I still love playing in my draft leagues, but I learned last year how much a salary cap game brings to the fantasy football table.
What is a Salary Cap Game?
A salary cap game makes you the general manager of a football team with a designated salary cap. With the salary cap you have the option to pick any NFL player based upon each player's salary, as long as you stay under the predetermined spending limit. You will also have the ability to make trades throughout the season. Instead of picking a team prior to the season and sticking with it all year, a salary cap allows you to choose your team and then make trades to keep it in contention, regardless of injuries or poor early season player choices.
It's More Challenging Then It Seems
If you want a challenge in fantasy football, a salary cap game is what you have been looking for. There is no luck involved in this style of fantasy football. You will never get an easy win or expect a loss because of bye weeks or poor match-ups.
When you have your choice of any player in the NFL, it raises a lot of strategic questions. Should you load up at the running back position and fill the rest of your team with cheap players, or should you have more balance? How much are you really willing to spend on a kicker or a defense? These are all basic questions to ask yourself when you are preparing your salary cap team. Once you have your strategy down you have to find the players that best fit that plan, which is another topic in itself.
Remember that other teams in your league also have their choice of anyone in the NFL. For example, I rode Antonio Gates to some unbelievable numbers all season long. However, I didn't always have a leg up on my competition. If you and your opponent have the same guy, you will get equal points from that position and will have to beat him elsewhere.
A salary cap game is a great supplement to your draft leagues. I set my salary cap team's lineup before I touched my draft leagues. Then when I go to set my draft league lineups, I have already examined every NFL game. I know what match-ups I want to play and which ones I want to avoid. By playing a salary cap game, it increases your knowledge of all the players around the league. The more time you put in, the better you will do in your salary cap league as well as your draft leagues.
Each time I looked at playing a salary cap game, I was worried about how much money it was going to cost because of transaction fees. After a quick review, I paid out less to play in this league than I did playing in my other draft leagues. All my services were included in the sign-up, and by watching my player moves through the bye weeks, I was able to minimize my transaction fees while maximizing player performance. It wasn't hard, but it was just another strategic aspect of the game that I don't get anywhere else. Plus, the big bonus was playing for the league prizes in the regular season and playoffs, while also gunning for the overall prizes.
The salary cap game adds a lot to the fantasy football experience. Many salary cap games have their playoffs in the NFL postseason. If you don't make the playoffs in your draft league, the fun could end by week 12 or 13. With the salary cap league, you will have at least 17 weeks of action, plus some playoff time if you are lucky. That could mean up to eight more weeks of fantasy football!
It is also fun to manipulate the salary cap. There are an almost infinitesimal number of different player combinations available. It is fun and challenging to see what kinds of teams you can come up with by spending the majority of your cap at wide receiver as opposed to running back, or picking only players in the NFC. Even if you don't use these strategies come game time, it is entertaining to browse the different options.
Lastly, just like in any other fantasy game, the competition within your league and weekly head-2-head match-up makes it exciting. This league allows you to see how you are doing against the teams in your league as well as the best leagues across the country. No matter what game you are playing, there is nothing better than beating your opponents, getting a win and ultimately taking home the championship.
I have to admit that my overall fantasy skills were significantly upgraded by playing the salary cap game last year. I found that I could more consistently predict player success because of my need to look at them each week and review the team match-ups. I'm also better prepared for this year's draft since my exposure and analysis of players was more in-depth throughout the year. You can't lose by participating in a salary cap game and like me, you may get an edge on your buddies in your upcoming draft or auction!
Kevin McKee is a contributing writer for Head2Head Sports and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Head2Head Sports provides salary cap and draft style fantasy football games on their site at www.head2head.com.