Fantasy Football Taxi Squads: What are they, and should you use them?

Taxi squads are just one way of making fantasy football as realistic as possible. But what are they, and should your league use them?

Over the past few years, dynasty fantasy football leagues have seen a significant increase in popularity. People love fantasy football but hate that it has the shortest season of the major American sports. Dynasty leagues come in all shapes and sizes, with dozens of rule variations possible. Not all dynasty leagues have taxi squads. Should your league be one of them?

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What is a fantasy football taxi squad?

You may have no idea what a taxi squad is. Perhaps you’ve heard the term in passing but never actually bothered to learn it. That was me at one point as well. Fortunately, the idea isn’t overly complex, and it’s entirely possible your league has been featuring them for years without explicitly calling it a taxi squad.

A taxi squad is a set number of players on your roster who do not count towards your overall roster limit. It’s tantamount to minor league spots in a baseball dynasty league. The closest comparison in fantasy football would be IR spots — those players that remain on your roster but don’t count toward the roster limit. The difference with taxi squad players is they don’t have to be injured to go there.

What is the purpose of a taxi squad?

We all love to stash players. Some leagues like to push back on too much of this because the goal should be pinpointing future stars, not just throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks. There’s certainly a happy medium to be found. Taxi squads help find it.

Players on your taxi squad typically must remain there until you “call them up” to your main roster. In most leagues, taxi squads are designed purely to stash players — once you move a player to your main roster, he cannot go back on the taxi squad. This rule prevents the taxi squad from merely being an extended bench.

This feature allows fantasy managers to roster players they know won’t necessarily contribute soon but have a chance to be productive down the line. By having a subset of players that don’t count against your roster limit, you can hang onto players you believe in long term without sacrificing players that can help you now.

What players should be on your taxi squad?

You want to carefully curate your taxi squad based on where your team is at.

If your team is in win-now mode, you should be stashing players with the potential to matter in the current season. Typically, those are handcuff running backs as well as wide receivers who could potentially benefit from injuries in front of them.

If your team is rebuilding, you’re likely better off stashing players with uncertain short-term roles but the potential for highly impactful roles in a year or two. You only need to hit big on one to turn your team from a contender into a juggernaut.

In the majority of formats, taxi squad players are limited to rookies. However, 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?

There are no hard and fast rules for this. In every league, players can stay for at least the duration of their rookie season. Some leagues allow players to hang around on taxi squads for their second or third seasons. I’m sure there are leagues out there with no time limit. It’s up to you and your league-mates to figure out the policy best for you.

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. Some leagues will allow it whenever you want. Others will designate windows during which you can activate players. This could be something like before Week 1 and perhaps at the midway point of the season.

Once activated, players usually cannot be returned to the taxi squad. However, some leagues may have exceptions allowing a certain number of players to go back each season. Leagues could also implement rules allowing players to return if the player is sent back to the taxi squad within a certain number of weeks.

Stealing players from other teams’ taxi squads

Some leagues allow teams to poach players from other teams’ taxi squads. 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 is, of course, a way that team can keep the player.

The two most common rules are:

  1. Teams can designate a specific number of protected players prior to each season; or
  2. 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?

I’m a firm supporter of taxi squads. I like being able to stash players, and I don’t like having to burn roster spots on players I’m not using.

Fantasy football is ultimately a game about predicting the future. Dynasty fantasy football is designed to heavily reward you 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.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.


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