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How Much of the Salary Cap Should I Use in the Draft? – Part II

How Much of the Salary Cap Should I Use in the Draft? – Part II

By Steven Van Tassell (@SteveVT33)

Now that we’ve figured out that League Winners were more likely to use most of the $110 million salary cap in 2020 and that this was employed by more Chase for the Ring contenders, it stands to reason that the next step is to determine how much salary cap Dynasty Owners should be spending in relation to the other teams in their League. After all, if everyone in your league is spending almost the entire salary cap, would it be better to zig while everyone else is zagging? Or do you stick with the pack and go as close to the cap as you can? Basically, what every Dynasty Owner wants to know is how much should they be spending to give themselves the best opportunity to win their League.

This is salary cap management. It’s something that you’re not getting in any other dynasty league out there, just Dynasty Owner. Dynasty Owners not only have to look at their own team and see how it’s doing against the salary cap, but they need to keep an eye on the rest of the league during the draft to see what the opposition is doing. For example, if it’s late in the draft and you have room to spend money on some players, but the rest of the teams in your league are forced to draft the cheapest players they can find in order to stay under the cap, then you don’t need to spend that money. The player you can draft at that spot is likely to still be available later on since the rest of the league can’t afford him. Therefore, you can pivot and start to scoop up lower salary players while everyone else is doing it, secure in the knowledge that you can still get the player you want later on.

To help Dynasty Owners preparing for a 2021 start-up draft, we have found that draft strategies not involving salaries have proven to not matter, been inconclusive or straight up contradicted by the 2020 draft data. Strategies involving salary were important, such as discovering that Dynasty Owners who picked a low salary player in the first round were more likely to win their League Championship than those who picked a high salary player (https://dynastyowner.com/2021/03/how-to-draft-a-dynasty-owner-championship-team-part-ii/).

League Winners were more likely to spend closer to the salary cap, but were they more or less likely than the people in the rest of their League to do so? Is there an advantage to being one of the biggest spenders in your League or not?

All salary data listed are from the 2020 Dynasty Owner season which had a $110 million salary cap on draft day, but was increased to $112 million for rosters due to COVID-19 considerations.

Salary Cap Usage by All Dynasty Owners

In last week’s article (https://dynastyowner.com/2021/04/how-much-of-the-salary-cap-should-i-use-in-the-draft/), we found a pretty even distribution in salary cap usage among all League Winners. Around two-fifths (39%) of League Winners spent less than $100 million and had enough salary cap room after the draft to add a significant player to their roster, while one-quarter (24%) spent over $109 million and had little to no salary cap flexibility after the draft. The average League Winner spent just over $100 million ($100,419,671), while half of the winners spent under the $103.7 million median and half spent more.

Overall, it turns out that League Winners were different than the rest of the Dynasty Owners out there. They spent less on salaries than the average Dynasty Owner!

Overall Draft Salaries% of Winners% of Teams
Under $80 million2%4%
$80 million – $90 million15%9%
$90 million – $100 million22%18%
$100 million – $105 million17%17%
$105 million – $109 million20%24%
$109 million or higher24%28%
Mean$ 100,419,671$ 101,651,629
Median$ 103,682,235$ 105,510,176

As the chart above shows, only three in ten (31%) of all Dynasty Owners spent less than $100 million and had enough salary cap room after the draft to add a significant player to their roster. That’s lower than the percentage of League Winners. Almost as many (28%) spent over $109 million and had little to no salary cap flexibility after the draft. When we look at who spent $105 million or more, we see more Dynasty Owners did so than League Winners (52% of all Owners vs. 44% of League Winners). The mean salary was over $1.2 million higher for all Dynasty Owners compared to just the League Winners and the median was more than $1.8 million higher.

Many League Winners did indeed spend a lot of their salary cap on Draft Day, but it appears that they may have been doing so to try and keep up with the rest of the Owners in their League.

Salary Cap Usage Rankings

On average, all League Winners appear to spend less than all Dynasty Owners. However, does it really matter what Dynasty Owners in other leagues are doing when you’re in the middle of your draft and everyone else in your League seems to be picking up the big name, high salary players? Relative to the other teams, it is better to spend more than everyone else or be one of the lower spending teams?

League Winners tended to be on the lower spending side of things with three-fifths (60%) ranking in the Bottom Half of spending in their League.

Overall Salary Rank% of Leagues
Top Half40%
Bottom Half60%

When we shift a little bit and look whether the League Winners were in the top or bottom four teams in spending, we find a similar spread. There are more League Winners in the Bottom Four teams (38%) than Top Four (29%).

Overall Salary Rank% of Leagues
Top Four Teams29%
Bottom Four Teams38%

Finally, it’s better to be one of the two lowest spending teams than one of the two highest spending teams. One in four (25%) League Winners spent the least or second least amount of salary on Draft Day, while just 15% spent the most or were the second biggest spender.

Overall Salary Rank% of Leagues
Top Two Teams15%
Bottom Two Teams25%

Bottom line, you don’t need to outspend everyone in your League on Draft Day to win. In fact, it’s more advantageous to spend less.

Salary Cap Usage among the Chase for the Ring Contenders

Because the League Winners who finished in the Top 25 in the Chase for the Ring spent more than just a regular League winner when drafting, we also found that they were slightly more likely to be one of the bigger spenders in their draft.

Overall Salary Rank% of Winners% of Top 25% of Top 10
Top Two Teams15%16%20%
Top Four Teams29%36%50%
Top Half of Teams40%48%60%

Twelve out of the Top 25 in the Chase for the Ring (48%) were in the top half of team spending on the draft in their league as were six out of Top 10 (60%), higher than the two-fifths (40%) of all League Winners. However, it wasn’t necessary to go all the way up to the $110 million salary cap in 2020 as there was no difference among the top two spending sports in terms of getting on to the Chase leaderboard.

Keep in mind though that you don’t have to be one of the biggest spenders to be the best. Six of the Top 25 in the Chase spent under $100 million and were one of the lowest two spending teams in their League. They didn’t spend a lot on Draft Day while the other Owners in their League did.  To further illustrate this point, our Chase for the Ring winner in 2020 (Barbee Kilgore) was only ranked sixth in spending in his league and our runner-up (Quaranteed for Greatness) was ranked seventh.

Draft Day Spending by Date

Just as we did last week, we also want to look at spending by draft date to see if there are differences in how much of the salary cap was spent based on when the league draft was held. Among League Winners, there wasn’t any difference if the draft was held before training camps opened or after. However, there were differences by month with early (June) and late (September) drafters spending big and using $105 million or more of their salary cap during the draft. The open question is: did everyone in these leagues spend as big as the winners did or not?

Once again, we see little difference between those who drafted before training camps opened and those who drafted after, as well as among those who drafted before rosters were cut down to 53 players and those who drafted after that day. The percentage of winners pre-camp and post-camp who drafted salaries that fell in the top and bottom half of their League were identical, while the percentages in the Top/Bottom Two and Top/Bottom Four were very similar.

Overall Salary Rank% of Winners% of Pre-Camp% of Post-Camp
Top 215%12%17%
Top 429%26%32%
Top Half40%40%40%
Bottom Half60%60%60%
Bottom 438%33%42%
Bottom 225%29%23%

The same is true of the pre-cut and post-cut day data. While not identical like for the start of training camp date, the percentages for Top/Bottom Half by cut day were very close. The same was also true for the Top/Bottom Two and Top/Bottom Four data.

Overall Salary Rank% of Winners% of Pre-Cut Day% of Post-Cut Day
Top 215%15%14%
Top 429%28%33%
Top Half40%39%43%
Bottom Half60%61%57%
Bottom 438%38%38%
Bottom 225%27%19%

The data are trickier by month. Winners who drafted in June were more likely to be in the top half of spending, but not more likely to be in the Top Two or Top Four. Those who drafted in August were slightly more likely to be in the Top Two or Top Four of their League in draft spending, but not more likely to be in the Top Half. Winners who drafted in July displayed a clear preference for not spending as much as the other teams in their League as three-quarters (77%) were in the Bottom Half.

Overall Salary Rank% of Winners% of June% of July% of August% of September
Top 215%9%14%21%13%
Top 429%32%18%36%30%
Top Half40%55%23%43%39%
Bottom Half60%45%77%57%61%
Bottom 438%27%36%46%39%
Bottom 225%23%32%29%17%

Overall, these data by draft date are not as clear as the dollars spent data with one exception. Winners who drafted in July spent less in terms of total dollars than other Winners. They also didn’t spend as much as the other members of their League did during the draft. The rest of the findings are muddled or show no difference.

Draft Day Spending by League

Since Dynasty Owners can choose three levels of financial commitment (For the Love of the Game Leagues that only cost $29, $50 entry fee Cash Prize pool Leagues and $100 entry fee Cash Prize pool Leagues), we also want to look at relative spending by League Winners by type of League. In our initial findings, we saw that Dynasty Owner League Winners who put the most of their own money into playing were more likely to leave themselves some salary cap room for after the draft, while Beta League Winners appear to be big spenders. However, we don’t know the dynamics of the entire league at this point to see if the spending by Beta League Winners and $100 entry fee Cash Prize pool League Winners was in line, or not, with the spending by the rest of the teams in the League.

And the answer is: Yes, it was. Two-thirds (67%) of beta League Winners were in the Top Half of spenders in their League, while just one-third (33%) of Winners in $100 entry fee Cash Prize pool League were in the Top Half. The same patterns are true when looking at the Top Two and Top Four for both types of Leagues.

Overall Salary Rank% of Winners% of FLOTG% of $50 Cash% of $100 Cash% of Beta
Top 215%10%23%6%33%
Top 429%29%35%17%44%
Top Half40%31%50%33%67%
Bottom Half60%69%50%67%33%
Bottom 438%45%31%33%33%
Bottom 225%31%23%17%22%

The lesson here is that it appears to be easier to spend the entire salary cap (or quite a lot of it) when you’re not playing with your own money.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen in other analyses of 2020 draft data, salary cap strategy during the draft matters in Dynasty Owner. Whether it’s first round draft pick salaries, total amount of salaries drafted or where the League Champion ranks in comparison with other Dynasty Owners, salaries are an important consideration on Draft Day.

We see that League Winners did indeed spend a lot of their salary cap on Draft Day, but not more or less than the rest of the Dynasty Owners in their respective Leagues. Dynasty Owners need to be paying attention not only to how much they are spending on Draft Day, but also to how much everyone else in the League is spending as well.

Drafting a Dynasty Owner team is a lot of work. It goes without saying that preparation for your Dynasty Owner Draft Day is very important and goes well beyond the preparation needed in a re-draft or regular dynasty league. New (and returning) Dynasty Owners can start to prep soon for their start-up draft by participating in mock drafts. It’s difficult to mock draft in Dynasty Owner before rookies are drafted and have their salaries determined by their draft slot.

Fortunately, that’s going to happen very soon as we are less than one week away from the NFL draft. After that, rookie drafts for everyone who is in a league started in 2020 will commence. There will also be those 2021 start-up drafts beginning soon afterwards as well. The season is getting closer!

My articles to get you ready for your 2021 Dynasty Owner start-up league team will be out on Fridays throughout the off-season. Keep an eye out for new articles from the rest of our team of Dynasty Owner writers as well. On Mondays, Nate Christian (@NateNFL) will break down rookies in his Prospect Preview. Matt Morrison – The Jerk (@Dynastyjerk) is back for another year and will do a deep dive into contracts on Wednesdays. Jay Pounds (@JayPoundsNFL) looks at how to rebuild your Dynasty Owner roster on Thursdays.

Please read all of their articles and follow the four of us plus Dynasty Owner (@Dynasty_Owner) on Twitter. Thanks, and have a great day!

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

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