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Old 02-14-2024, 09:34 PM   #1
JJ_Swatt_99
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Join Date: Dec 2023
Draft pick surplus value and Cap Management

I wanted to put my main cap management and draft strategies out there and see if anyone had any comments on inefficiencies I am missing or any sort of more analytical stuff to back up what is mostly anecdotal evidence as I have found this is working pretty well for me and I want to hear other peoples thoughts. I will say this took like 10 in game years to refine so its an accumulation of a bunch of different learned lessons.

When I draft I typically avoid the top 10 picks if at all possible. The logic behind this is that the draft talent for the first round is pretty flat after the first few picks while the price of the player drops tremendously. As a result my sweet spot for drafting players is pretty much always the mid teens to mid thirties and I will usually maneuver the draft to end up with at least one if not more picks in this range. As a result of this I get players that have close to top 10 talent or higher if I am lucky and someone falls (If you are patient and willing to take BPA someone pretty much always falls its more a question of can you fit your teams needs around this). The upside of this is these players are much lower risk because they come with less guaranteed money and their cap hit is lower so they are easier to keep and develop or suck up the loss if you draft a bust. Further this makes cap management around the margins easier because it pretty much always guarantees you a few players on crazy good deals provided you are serviceable at drafting. The even higher upside is if you are picking above this you can trade down and get multiple picks in this range or deeper depth picks. Pretty much the only exception to this rule is either needing a quarterback or seeing a clear and certain blue chip HOF level prospect at a position of need which for me only happens like every 5 or so years if that. It can be tough to watch some of the elite guys go that high especially if you trade down but I have found on average I end up far better off with more low risk chances that also come with the surplus value of being paid less if they do hit.

The above point ties in really nicely with my second and third pillars of drafting as well as all three emphasize keeping a cheap roster with low guaranteed money and high flexibility. The second big thing for me is pretty much always the best years of a players career in bang for your buck are their rookie deal. This means with only a few exceptions paying a second contract is usually a mistake. This leaves me with a few paths. Path number one is for players who are around top 3-5 at their position and seem healthy enough pay them. The advantage of this is pretty much all of the top 20 or so guys get paid like crazy. You get to avoid the risk of having to fail at drafting a replacement and you get surplus value because they make the same as players who are much worse then them. Path number two is buying out years of a rookie contract when you see a good deal. A great example of this was Will Anderson in my sim who in his third year had a potential career ending injury. I paid him over that summer for a 5 year deal at like 13 mil per year despite him being a top 3 EDGE in my sim when it became clear he would be able to play again. He did have some recurring injury issues but it became a huge bargain in the 3 years he stayed healthy. I have also found you can do this for players who had to sit for a year or two because of a crowded position group. Path 3 is for the big name players who are good maybe top 20 at their position but not elite. These guys get dealt with a year or two left on their deals for future first and second round picks with the hope they become a high pick. Path 4 is also for those same players or for players who are elite but I cant find the cap space. Play out their first 4 years and then tag or fifth year them. you then trade them that year for a reduced draft pick profit since they make way more but instead you got them for the whole 4 years. An added benefit is if for some reason their contract is too pricy to trade and you need cap savings you can cut them since they have 0 guaranteed money and would leave at the end of the year anyways. Path 5 is to pay players who want a fair but cheap contract what they want if they are serviceable and fill a role. Finally path 6 is to let them walk for comp picks if they don't really fit any other path. The result of all of this is I end up with a lot of draft picks and a lot of first contract guys. Since these guys are cheaper I can accumulate wayyyyy deeper teams and way more shots in that sweet spot draft range I mentioned earlier.

Pillar number three is all about drafting for need. This comes in two forms. The first is that in the first and second round filling a need is nice but getting BPA is pretty much always better. This means you end up with some deep and some shallow position groups sometimes but that means you may get to use Path 2 on them and get them for even longer and it insulates you against injuries. Further this means that you end up avoiding creating a future draft need when the guys above them leave and eventually if done well for long enough you get into a groove where you rarely have draft needs. Take a look at how the eagles prioritize O line and D line for a real world example of this working great. The second form of this is all about pairing players with a draft need. My favorite thing to see in any draft is two players at the same position with basically the same grade in my eyes especially if it is at a position of need. The benefit of this is that you don’t need to figure out where they will go. Let them fall forever until the first player goes. Then you trade up to the next spot and grab player two. They had basically the same grade in my eyes and even if one player ends up much better I did not know that going in they had the same grade for me. This means I would've probably flipped a coin to pick one or something equally arbitrary so I might as well wait and get whichever one is left for cheaper then I would have paid for him. This is great for trading down when you are indecisive as well as it lets you get extra assets and a cheaper contract and takes the decision out of your hands while still getting a prospect you like in a position you need. The downside is you may get the wrong guy but in the long run you were going to pick the wrong guy 50% of the time anyways so you might as well get something before taking that shot. this also works down the board albeit less effectively since you get less for trading down. This also works with guys who have the same grade across different positions if you are willing to stomach not getting the position you would prefer.

The last point is about paying your elite guys. I really only like to do this 1-3 times at a time for a given roster and you need to be careful and very certain when doing this as it is high risk high reward. However, if you only do it for clear cut like top 3 guys at their position with low injury or character concerns you will mitigate a lot of the risk and really only need to worry about injuries. The way I pay these guys is pretty much as much guaranteed money as possible and as little salary as possible. I try to reserve this for only EDGE, WR, and QB since chemistry is a thing and keeping a great WR with chemistry is huge, QB is hard to find and EDGE is so pricy you get bigger savings. The advantage of this is you get muchhhh lower cap hits at the cost of flexibility and safety in cutting guys. My logic has always been these are guys necessary for your window to succeed so if they get injured you were kind of screwed anyways. Further by giving yourself more cap room you can build a better roster around them. I would caution though that this can go bad if not done right and is the hardest part of my strategy aside from maybe drafting players in such bulk amounts. You need to be selective with this if it doesn't feel right to do it you probably shouldn’t do it. You will miss on paying some guys this way but you also miss on the kind of roster building mistake that can create multi-year cap issues

I have some free agency, trade, and positional draft scouting strategies I can discuss as well if people are interested that tie in with this but its getting late and I want to see if people even respond to this before going through the effort. Also if anyone has any like statistical or analytical evidence to dig into this I would be super interested to see it whether it backs up what I am doing or not. I planned on doing some over the summer when I have a bit more free time to look at my drafting a bit better but I have not had a chance to get deep into it yet.

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Old 02-15-2024, 05:53 AM   #2
Haiku
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Join Date: Jan 2024
It was a good read. Thanks for sharing! As a noob in FOF I would be interested to hear about your trade and scouting strategies as well.
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Old 02-15-2024, 08:48 AM   #3
garion333
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Near Cleveland
I think you nailed my basic approach to the game. Deep and flexible is the way to go.

To be completely honest, and I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse with this comment, but this team building strategy is why single player FOF is not satisfying in the long run. A human player is much better able to manage their cap, especially when it comes to re-signing top talent who were injured on under utilized and can be signed longterm for a good price. When your team becomes stacked with good talent for starters and backups, playing against the AI is simply too easy.

My point is your experience and lessons learned is what initially drove me to play multi-player FOF. The single player AI is not able to present enough of a challenge without severely handicapping myself with house rules. I'm not happy to have to employ house rules just to find a modicum of challenge.

Anyway, good on you for coming to this strategy so quick! Others like to build their teams differently, but avoiding top 10 salary demands is a good idea. You move down, get more picks and pay less overall? Yes, please.

Sent from my Pixel 8 Pro using Tapatalk
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Old 02-15-2024, 04:09 PM   #4
JJ_Swatt_99
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Join Date: Dec 2023
Quote:
Originally Posted by garion333 View Post
I think you nailed my basic approach to the game. Deep and flexible is the way to go.

To be completely honest, and I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse with this comment, but this team building strategy is why single player FOF is not satisfying in the long run. A human player is much better able to manage their cap, especially when it comes to re-signing top talent who were injured on under utilized and can be signed longterm for a good price. When your team becomes stacked with good talent for starters and backups, playing against the AI is simply too easy.

My point is your experience and lessons learned is what initially drove me to play multi-player FOF. The single player AI is not able to present enough of a challenge without severely handicapping myself with house rules. I'm not happy to have to employ house rules just to find a modicum of challenge.

Anyway, good on you for coming to this strategy so quick! Others like to build their teams differently, but avoiding top 10 salary demands is a good idea. You move down, get more picks and pay less overall? Yes, please.

Sent from my Pixel 8 Pro using Tapatalk

Yeah that is definitely fair I have felt the challenge to win bowls basically evaporate. That being said I have come up with some pretty fun challenges for single player without handicaps. For one my big goal is to eventually have my team hold the single season record for every single one of the records tab tracked things like pts per game, rushing yards etc. I want to do single game as well with the obvious exceptions of things like the first team to get a shutout cannot be beaten. The other big draw for me now is seeing if I can break real world records for players for single game, single season, and career. I play with a balanced Offense scheme as I have found that pretty fun and its interesting trying to catch Tom Brady for career passing yards and other such stuff like 200 career sacks. I definitely see the appeal of multi player though. And regardless I just really enjoy the scouting drafting and trading
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Old 02-16-2024, 01:26 PM   #5
TroyF
Coordinator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by garion333 View Post
I think you nailed my basic approach to the game. Deep and flexible is the way to go.

To be completely honest, and I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse with this comment, but this team building strategy is why single player FOF is not satisfying in the long run. A human player is much better able to manage their cap, especially when it comes to re-signing top talent who were injured on under utilized and can be signed longterm for a good price. When your team becomes stacked with good talent for starters and backups, playing against the AI is simply too easy.

My point is your experience and lessons learned is what initially drove me to play multi-player FOF. The single player AI is not able to present enough of a challenge without severely handicapping myself with house rules. I'm not happy to have to employ house rules just to find a modicum of challenge.

Anyway, good on you for coming to this strategy so quick! Others like to build their teams differently, but avoiding top 10 salary demands is a good idea. You move down, get more picks and pay less overall? Yes, please.

Sent from my Pixel 8 Pro using Tapatalk


I have a blast single player and I certainly don't always win. I do employ some house rules, but they are mainly ones I find realistic.

Meaning if I have a superstar and a fan favorite, I'm keeping him in most cases. I look at it as justifying to my ticket holders why their favorite players are getting dumped. So I understand it isn't an "optimal" strategy to pay an average player like a top 15 player at his position, but If he's spent 7 years with my team, I'm not dumping him, even if I 100% know it would be the best video game strategy.

If I have a bad year and I have a top 10 pick, I 100% agree with the take on drafting above, but am I trading down? Only if there isn't really a guy at a position I need. Fans don't like trading out of the top 10 over and over and over again and a reward for them after a bad season is getting a player in the top 10.

Everyone's miledge may vary, but for me house rules just aren't min/maxing the game with every optimal strategy. And doing it that way does give me a fun time while I don't win all the time.
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