From once being considered the “oddball” format of fantasy football, dynasty leagues have seen a massive surge in popularity over the past few years as managers look for a way to stay engaged with the NFL 365 days a year. While managers learn how to navigate the format, many new players have questions about what a taxi squad is or whether or not they’re even necessary.
What is a fantasy football taxi squad?
The term taxi squad might be new to some. However, the concept is straightforward and one you might have been doing inadvertently across some of your fantasy leagues already.
A taxi squad is a grouping of players on your roster that don’t count towards your overall roster limit. Think of it as a minor league team. It is a place where you can stash potential talent as they develop. Then, eventually you “call them up” to your primary team.
The act of stashing talent is nothing new. As I said, you do it on every team you have. The problem has always been those dart throws have come at the expense of your overall roster, forcing you to burn critical roster spots on what could be useful players now.
In a nutshell, a taxi squad is a way to add potential talent to your roster without those players counting against your overall roster cap.
Who should be on my taxi squad?
This all depends on your overall fantasy football draft strategy. When thinking about which players to add to your taxi squad, it’s essential to consider whether you’re likely to want to use them during the season and the possible consequences of promoting them.
Using 2019 as an example, Alexander Mattison was considered the probable backup to an injury-prone workhorse running back (Dalvin Cook). Mattison would inherit a heavy workload and have significant value for your fantasy team if Cook were injured. If he were on your taxi squad, adding him to your active roster would mean that you would need to drop a player occupying a starter or bench spot.
Looking back at 2020, James Robinson could have been a player on several taxi squads. When dynasty rookie drafts were firing off in mid-April, Leonard Fournette was still the starting running back and coming off a career year. Robinson, on the other hand, was an unproven rookie out of Illinois State. He had a background of success but didn’t exactly shine at the NFL Combine.
As a UDFA, the odds of him succeeding were extremely low based on trends of what it takes to break out as a rookie. He was the perfect taxi squad candidate.
Then, well, we all know what came next. Fournette was released, and Robinson went on to have one of the best seasons in fantasy football. Once a taxi squad dart throw turned into a fantasy football gold mine.
So the taxi squad is just for backups?
No. Not at all. Your taxi squad should be filled with players you expect to contribute to your team eventually, but not immediately. If a player isn’t in your plans, stashing them on your taxi squad allows you to add another player to your active roster.
These could even be guys starting. Imagine this. Say you have Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes on your superflex dynasty team. First off, I am jealous, but that’s beside the point.
When it came to your rookie draft, Trey Lance was on the board, so you took him. While he will be a superstar, even as early as this year, there is no pressing need to have him taking up a vital roster spot when you have two elite starters already. Therefore, you can stash Lance on your taxi squad until the time comes to plug him into your lineup.
Who is eligible?
All rookies are eligible to be added to your taxi squad. This may be expanded to include more experienced players in certain leagues, but standard rules limit it to rookies.
How long can a player stay on a taxi squad?
This varies from league to league. Players will lose eligibility once they come to the end of either their first, second, or third season in the NFL, depending on individual league settings. Once they reach that point, they must either be promoted to the active roster or waived.
Can players be activated from your fantasy taxi squad?
Once again, it depends. In some leagues, players on a taxi squad can be elevated at any point during the season. Once you choose to elevate the player, a veteran must be cut to make room.
Other leagues do not allow mid-season moves, locking in your taxi squad before the start of Week 1 of the fantasy football season.
The player may temporarily or permanently lose taxi squad eligibility once moved from a taxi spot to a starter or bench position. They may not be able to be re-added to a taxi squad slot.
Can you add players from another taxi squad?
Some leagues allow players to be poached from the taxi squads of other teams. In those leagues, the team potentially losing the player may block the move by promoting them to their active roster. If you are in a fantasy football league with shallow benches, this could be a savvy way to force an opposing manager to use a roster spot before they are ready.
Should my league use taxi squads?
Personally, I set up all of my dynasty fantasy football leagues with a taxi squad. I feel it adds more flexibility for the managers. Additionally, it places an extra bit of emphasis on the rookie draft or the process just following it. Managers who have been grinding can find potential gems and stash them. Whereas, typically, it may have taken said player having a sensational Week 1 preseason performance to pop up on the radar of others in your league.
Ultimately, it is up to you, your league-mates, and the commissioner. After all, there is no “one size fits all” way to play dynasty.
Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.