In Dynasty fantasy football most owners get caught up trying to “win big” through trades or grabbing the next big star off of the waiver wire, while these things can happen they are very unlikely. Generally teams that sustain success do it by stacking small wins, one on top of the other, incrementally increasing the value of their roster.
When it comes to the active roster there are a couple of rules that may seem obvious but let’s review. First and foremost, unless you have a transcendent defense (ala the 2014 Broncos) you should never roster more than one. Generally defenses are very matchup dependent and just because a defense is a good NFL defense does not mean it is necessarily a good fantasy defense. In most leagues I will stream my defense from the waiver wire on a weekly basis, targeting those that have matchups against bad or turnover prone offenses. By keeping only one defense you will free more space on your active roster to take fliers on skill position players from the waiver wire.
When it comes to kickers this same general rule applies with one very important exception, there is never any reason to roster more than one kicker – period. On top of this many owners make the mistake of sticking with a bad kicker for too long. After 2 weeks take a look at the scoring leaders at kicker and if yours is not in the top 10 make a move to upgrade from the waiver wire.
The next point is related to those players that are commonly known around the industry as “roster cloggers”. These are generally veterans who are past their prime, will never start for your team, but you feel obligated to hold onto. They key is to identify those players on your roster and figure out what needs to be done to move on from them. This can include trading them away for late round rookie picks or if nobody is interested cutting them outright. Too many roster cloggers on one team can cause you to miss out on young players from the waiver wire that turn up through the course of the season. Some examples of roster cloggers this year could be guys like: Brandon Marshall, Mike Wallace, Tavon Austin, Kendall Wright, Eddie Lacy, Kenny Britt, Torrey Smith, Brandon LaFell, and Julius Thomas.
The concept of the taxi squad is quite simple but I frequently see it being misused. Owners will put their third and fourth round or free agent rookies onto the taxi squad, locking them in for the year. This in turn means that the players they selected in the first and second rounds of the rookie draft are stuck on their active roster. The issue with this kind of taxi squad management is that the owner is locking in low percentage rookies on the taxi squad while holding higher percentage rookies that are unlikely to produce in year one on the active roster. The better move is to put the first and second round rookies on the taxi squad as in most normal circumstances they would never be cut while the late round rookies should stay on the active roster so the owner can move on if there is a better player on the waiver wire.
If the mistake with the taxi squad is misuse then the mistake with the Injured Reserve is a complete lack of use. Too many owners only use their injured reserve spots when a player on their active roster gets hurt through the course of the season. Smart owners will treat these spots as an extension of the taxi squad, picking up lottery ticket players that are already on IR and stashing them there until the spot is needed for a higher value player. If your IR spots are empty take a look at the waiver wire in your league for guys like Erik Swoope, Mike Thomas (LA), Carlos Henderson, Tajae Sharpe, Malcom Mitchell, Rico Gathers or Jake Butt. The worst case scenario is that you need these spots for some of your core players later in the year but the best case is that you can hold one or two of these lottery ticket players heading into the offseason, maybe using them to replace retired or aging veterans.