Ottoneu Cap Space

Ottoneu Cap Space

A trade was recently accepted in my 3 year old Ottoneu 5x5 categories league that caused a few members to scratch their heads. To some of you Ottoneu old-heads this trade wouldn’t have made you look twice, but it did bring up an aspect of Ottoneu strategy that isn’t necessarily sexy but is worth talking a bit about, especially if you are new to Ottoneu. Namely, cap space.

The trade:

Team A gives up...
Logan Webb SFG SP R $3
Has $0 free, will have $3 free
Team B gives up...
Has $12 free, will have $9 free

It kick-started a friendly conversation that made me realize that the true ins-and-outs of cap space value may not be readily apparent. Some league mates saw this as a 1 for nothing trade, thinking that one manager was getting much more value than the other. One manager commented that Team A could have at least thrown Team B a few dollars to balance it out. There’s a sort of unwritten rule many Ottoneu managers abide by when trading: making the money even. That is, if players salaries don’t match up, one owner offers the other the difference in the form of a loan in that amount.

The auction system in Ottoneu allows any manager with the cash to draft available players. A move like this seems to contradict that system and at a glance can feel like it is going around the way the game is played. Why wouldn’t Team A just cut Logan Webb so that the rest of the managers could take a stab at drafting him? While trading is a big part of playing Ottoneu, straight-up giving away a player to another manager can register as a bit unfair.

In this case it’s not. There are probably a million different ways to unpack this trade, but the most obvious reasons are that Team A did get something valuable in return: Team A got three whole dollars of sweet, sweet cap relief. If you play Ottoneu you know that every single dollar counts, and if a cut player’s salary is not picked up by another manager then for the entirety of the regular season you will always be responsible for $1 of the cut player’s salary. It adds up if you are making lots of moves. Over the course of the season you will invariably drop injured players and cut players who are not delivering. If you can’t move them in a more cost efficient way then that’s one less dollar you have to work with to support your team.

If I’m rostering Logan Webb and looking for some cap relief, I’m thinking he is one more middling start away from not being a guaranteed snag on the waiver wire (at least not immediately). Perhaps Team A has someone coming off the IL and is desperate to make some room, and would rather have the promise of $3 dollars of cap space now, versus the possibility that Logan Webb isn’t picked up leaving them with just $1 of free cap space. Team B is probably looking at Logan Webb and thinking that he’s worth the gamble for $3. Low risk, high reward. Both sides are getting something of relatively equal value in return and nothing here is going to upset the balance of power in the league. We’re not talking about someone handing over Mike Trout to another manager for free.

If you have played Ottoneu long enough then you know the feeling of being stuck with that straggling $1 salary that just feels like money waving in your face that you can’t touch. It’s a haunting reminder of either a bad move you made or a beloved player who was injured and had to be cut. It stings. If you can avoid that debt and still play fairly within the rules, then dumping your salary onto another team is a perfectly viable strategy.

(Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire)