We see it every year. A high fantasy draft pick gets an injury that will see him miss considerable time, forcing fantasy owners to decide whether they want to keep the player on their roster or drop him. Well, just as there is in real life, there IS a third choice. Injured Reserve (IR) spots have become a big part of fantasy football, particularly dynasty leagues, giving owners the option to retain ownership of a player through their injury without having to sacrifice a roster spot.
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How does Injured Reserve work?
Playing in a league with IR spots provides additional slots to the roster that are reserved for injured players. This allows fantasy owners to move them from their active roster temporarily. This then gives them the opportunity to add another player to the active roster.
Who is eligible for Injured Reserve?
Check your league settings, but in most cases, this is restricted to players who have longer-lasting injuries. Any player who has been placed on the injured reserve list by their team in real life can be added to one of these spots. In some leagues, players who have been ruled out of their upcoming games are also able to be added.
Can I move a player to my active roster from Injured Reserve?
Yes. Once they are eligible to return, you can move them back to your active roster. This will free up an IR spot for another player. Assuming that your active roster was full, however, you will need to drop a player to create space for the player who is being activated.
How long can a player stay on Injured Reserve?
Typically, a player can stay on IR for as long as they are injured. Players who have been placed on season-ending injured reserve by their NFL team are able to remain in your IR slot for the entire season. Different leagues have different settings, so make sure that you check what happens to a player’s IR eligibility once they lose their injury designation in real life. In some leagues, you will be forced to either activate or drop the player, whereas some will allow you to keep him on IR until the end of the season if you can’t spare the spot.
How many players can I place on Injured Reserve?
Most leagues will set a limit of one or two spots, but it’s ultimately up to the commissioner of your league. If all of your spots are filled, and another player gets injured, then you will need to make a decision about who you would prefer to keep on IR.
Can suspended players be placed on Injured Reserve?
In some leagues, yes. Make sure to check your league settings.
Are Injured Reserve spots just for dynasty leagues?
No. Not at all. While the majority of IR spots can be found in dynasty leagues, due to the long-term vision and team-building that exists, other formats also make use of them.
IR spots in keeper leagues allow you to stash a player who you’re considering taking with you into next season without having to waste a roster spot.
In redraft leagues, IR spots are often used as a short-term solution when a player is likely to miss multiple weeks but is still expected to return at some stage during the season.
Can I add players from another team’s Injured Reserve spot?
No. Players on IR are protected for as long as they have that status.
Should my league use Injured Reserve?
If you’re looking for flexibility and realism in your league, then IR spots are a worthwhile addition. Dynasty leagues should absolutely have at least one or two IR spots. Owners can safely keep players who aren’t able to play without crippling their team by forcing them to take an active roster spot. On the other hand, each team having extra spots reduces the number and quality of free agents, who quickly get added to fill the vacant positions.
Andy Gallagher is a writer for the Pro Football Network covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him @AndySGallagher on Twitter.