Over the past several years, dynasty fantasy football leagues have become increasingly popular. Fantasy football is the most popular fantasy sport, but is also the shortest of the major American sports. Dynasty leagues come in all shapes and sizes, with dozens of potential rule variations. Not all dynasty leagues have taxi squads. Should your league be one of them?
What Is a Fantasy Football Taxi Squad?
Maybe you’ve heard the term mentioned before but never really stopped to think about what it is because you didn’t play dynasty fantasy football. There was a time when I had no idea what a taxi squad was. Everyone has to learn everything they’ve ever learned at some point.
The good news is the idea isn’t overly complicated. In fact, your dynasty league may have been using taxi squads for years without even realizing it had a formal name.
A taxi squad is a set number of players on your roster who do not count toward your overall roster limit. It’s tantamount to minor league spots in a baseball dynasty league.
The closest comparison in seasonal fantasy football would be IR spots. When you put a player in your IR spot, he’s still on your team, but he no longer counts against your roster limit. Think of a taxi squad like a non-injury IR.
What Is the Purpose of a Taxi Squad?
Stashing players is fun. It’s also necessary. The way to dominate dynasty leagues is by finding those unheralded long-term assets. Some leagues like to push back on the ability to stash players. In fairness, it’s largely because they want it to be a skill — not just throwing a bunch of darts at a board and hoping one hits the bullseye.
With that said, there’s certainly a happy medium to be found. That’s where taxi squads come in. They can help you find it.
Typically, players must remain on your taxi squad until you “call them up” to your main roster. At their purest form, taxi squads are designed to enable fantasy managers to stash players.
Once you take the player off your taxi squad, he usually cannot go back. The reason for this is taxi squads are designed to be a special group of players — not just an extension of your bench.
One surefire way to derail a successful dynasty league is having rules that force managers to drop future assets in order to pick up one-off starters in the current season. Taxi squads allow fantasy managers to keep those future hopefuls on their rosters.
It’s a way for fantasy managers to retain players they believe in long-term without sacrificing win-now players.
What Players Should Be on Your Taxi Squad?
You want to carefully curate your taxi squad based on your team’s immediate goals.
Are you trying to win in the current season? If so, you can use your taxi squad on handcuff running backs and other players with a plausible path to relevancy in the current season.
Are you punting the current season and rebuilding for the future? If so, don’t bother with veteran handcuffs or older players that might have a role later in the season but are unlikely to have any long-term value.
Take shots on young players with good talent profiles with the hope they get a shot and break out. You only need to hit big on one to turn your team from a contender into a juggernaut.
It’s important to note that rules surrounding taxi squads differ from league to league. Most leagues limit taxi squad-eligible players to rookies. There are leagues out there that allow anyone on the squad, but they’re far less common.
How Long Can Players Remain on the Taxi Squad?
The only universal rule when it comes to duration is players can remain on taxi squads for the entirety of their rookie season. Beyond that, it’s really up to the individual league.
Some leagues will let you keep players on taxi squads for their second or third seasons. Others will let you keep them there indefinitely. It’s up to you, your commissioner, and your league-mates to determine the policy best for your league.
Once a player reaches the end of his taxi squad term, managers have three options: keep, cut, or trade him.
When Can Players Be Activated From the Taxi Squad?
This is another issue without a universal rule. Your options really are limitless. Some leagues allow activation at any point during the season. Other leagues have specific windows during which activation is permitted. An example of this would be anytime before Week 1, then after Week 4, then after Week 8, then after the season. Something like that.
Once you activate a player from the taxi squad, he usually must remain on your active roster. However, some leagues may have exceptions that allow players to return to the taxi squad, either in specific circumstances or just a set number.
Leagues could also implement rules allowing managers to revert players back to the taxi squad if they do so within a certain timeframe.
Stealing Players From Other Teams’ Taxi Squads
Some leagues like to treat fantasy football taxi squads like NFL practice squads. The player is yours, but someone else can potentially sign him.
I know what you’re thinking, but no, you can’t just take players from other teams for free. If you claim a player from another team, there has to be a method by which that team can retain the player.
The two most common rules are:
- Teams can designate a specific number of protected players prior to each season; or
- The team who rosters the player you’re trying to steal can opt to call that player up to their active roster rather than let you take him.
If your league uses the second rule, it adds an element of strategy. There could be situations where it’s strategically beneficial to try and force a team to use an active roster spot on a player they would otherwise prefer to leave on the taxi squad.
Should Your League Use Taxi Squads?
In short: absolutely. I’ve played in keeper leagues over the years where managers were insistent upon finding ways to limit stashing players. I’m the opposite. I like when more players are on rosters. I want to be able to stash under-the-radar talents that might surprise in a year or two.
I don’t like being forced to burn roster spots on players I’m not using. Even worse, I don’t like being forced to drop stashes because I need to spot-start a WR4.
At its core, fantasy football is a game about predicting the future. That goes for every version of it.
Dynasty fantasy football just magnifies it in that you’re doing more than just predicting player performance for one season. It’s designed to reward you heavily for being correct.
Stashing unproven young players before they emerge into fantasy studs is one of the most rewarding aspects of this game. Taxi squads allow you to do that without having to sacrifice too much of the present.
Ultimately, every league is different, and I can’t tell you what you and your league-mates will find to be the best combination of fair and fun.