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    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?

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    Over the past decade, the popularity of dynasty fantasy football leagues has increased wildly. Dynasty leagues come in all shapes and sizes, with dozens of potential rule variations. Not all dynasty leagues have taxi squads, though. Should your league be one of them?

    What Is a Fantasy Football Taxi Squad?

    Not everyone knows what a taxi squad is. Ten years ago, I hadn’t even heard of the concept. Perhaps you’ve heard the term mentioned before but didn’t really care because you’re not a dynasty player.

    It’s possible you’re in a dynasty league with taxi squads and wondering what they are. Maybe you’re creating a new dynasty league and considering whether to include them. Whatever the reason, today you’re going to learn what a taxi squad is, how it works, and get all the information you need to determine if you want one in your league.

    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 like an amalgamation of a bench and injured reserve (IR) spots. Much like IR spots, players on your taxi squad don’t count toward your total roster size. Unlike IR spots, though, these players don’t have to be injured.

    A taxi squad is tantamount to minor-league spots in a fantasy baseball dynasty league. It’s like a non-injury IR.

    What Is the Purpose of a Taxi Squad?

    The key to long-term success in dynasty leagues is amassing a slew of talented young players. Unlike redraft leagues, you can’t just jettison every rookie and sophomore who isn’t fantasy relevant from your roster.

    At the same time, you’re trying to win matchups. To do that, you need players you can contribute immediately.

    Taxi squads allow fantasy managers to stash players for the future without it coming at the expense of competing in the present. What we don’t want in dynasty leagues is for rebuilding teams to completely punt matchups because they choose the potential of future assets over the production of current assets. Taxi squads help us find that happy medium.

    They’re specifically designed not merely to act as an extension of your bench. 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. Typically, once a player is removed from your taxi squad, he cannot be added back.

    Sadly, many dynasty leagues fold within the first three years. A great way to expedite the collapse of your league is to implement rules that force fantasy managers to drop future assets just to field a full lineup in the current season for a matchup that probably doesn’t even matter. These draconian rules only hinder rebuilding teams from catching up to the win-now teams.

    Taxi squads protect against this. They allow fantasy managers to keep future hopefuls on their rosters without having to drop or otherwise part ways with contributing veterans. They’re also key to competitive balance.

    Allow me to present you with a hypothetical. One of the worst teams in your dynasty league needs a complete overhaul. It needs to go all in on taking shots at future assets. But it still has a couple of solid, if unspectacular, veterans. These players don’t necessarily move the needle, but they’re undoubtedly starter-worthy.

    Late in the season, a few potential future starters emerge, and the manager wants to stash them. The rebuilding manager has no reason to care about the immediate production their handful of veterans provides, but they certainly don’t want to drop any of their future assets.

    If your league has limited roster space, the prudent move for that manager is to drop the productive veterans. The problem with this is it gives the win-now teams free production. Taxi squads protect against this.

    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 to handcuff running backs and other players with a plausible path to relevancy.

    Do you already know this isn’t going to be your year? Sometimes, you know you need to spend a full offseason and season preparing for the future. If so, don’t bother with veteran handcuffs or older players who 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, hoping they stumble into opportunity and break out. You only need to hit big on one to turn your team from an afterthought into a contender or from a contender into a juggernaut.

    All of this comes with the caveat that you need to be mindful of your league’s taxi squad rules. Most leagues will limit taxi-squad-eligible players to young players, or specifically, 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.

    If you want to allow players to remain on the taxi squad until you call them up to your active roster, go for it. If you want to limit it to just rookies, that’s fine, too. Do whatever you, your commissioner, and your league-mates feel is in the best interest.

    Once a player reaches the end of his taxi-squad term, managers have three options: keep, cut, or trade.

    When Can Players Be Activated From the Taxi Squad?

    This is another question without an objective answer. Your options really are limitless.

    Some leagues allow activation at any point during the season; others have specific windows during which activation is permitted. An example of the latter would be any time before Week 1, then after Week 4, after Week 8, then after the season.

    Once you activate a player from the taxi squad, he usually can’t go back on it. Your league could provide for some exceptions, usually related to injury or playing time. However, the simplest way to do it is once you activate a player, he’s no longer taxi-squad eligible.

    Again, there’s no objectively correct way to do this. Part of the beauty of dynasty leagues is the wide range of possibilities at your disposal. You and your league-mates can craft the league you want.

    Stealing Players From Other Teams’ Taxi Squads

    This is a really fun element to consider adding to your league.

    Some leagues like to treat fantasy football taxi squads like NFL practice squads. The player is yours, but someone else can potentially sign him.

    There does need to be a slight modification for fantasy purposes, though. You can’t have managers able to swipe players from someone else’s taxi squad just because they want to. The manager who currently rosters the player must always have a means of retaining him.

    The two most common ways to go about this are:

    1. Teams can designate a specific number of protected players prior to each season.
    2. The team that 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 it 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 because the league requires managers to set full lineups (which I do think is a rule that needs to exist as well).

    The biggest issue with any fantasy football league format where players are retained across seasons is competitive integrity. There will inevitably be a situation where a bad team is either incentivized to lose or not care about the quality of its starting lineup. Taxi squads are a great way to protect against teams starting non-competitive lineups.

    And please, do not worry about depleting the waiver wire. It’s a dynasty league, the waiver wire is never going to be rich.

    The waiver wire shouldn’t have players capable of starting available every week. You want the teams with the better players on their roster to have an advantage.

    At its core, fantasy football is a game about predicting the future. That goes for every version of it. Dynasty just magnifies 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.

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