There's nothing quite like a salary cap draft (formerly known as auction drafts). I compare it to playing Madden on All-Pro level as opposed to snake drafts equating to Madden on rookie mode. That's how strongly I feel about it. In salary cap drafts, every player is available. If you want Christian McCaffrey you're not bound to whatever draft position you randomly drew. Also, during a salary cap draft, you need to be engaged for every nomination and also have a gauge on the value of every single player in the pool. 

We'll cover my five most pivotal salary cap draft strategies and five players to target in your leagues.

1. Don't get caught bidding for the last of a tier

It's important to enter every salary cap draft with tiered rankings and it's more important to make sure you don't get caught bidding on the last player in any specific tier. The last player of a tier tends to go for the most of any player in that tier even if he was the lowest ranked by consensus. That's the nature of the demand in this format. Instead of waiting for a specific player in a tier that you like the most, make sure to win one of the players nominated earlier from within that tier if your strategy is to draft one player from that tier.

2. Nominate players you don't want on your team

This one seems simple, but you'd be surprised how many managers nominate the players they want on their teams. The value of nominating the players you don't want is that you get other managers to spend their budget which ultimately leaves you with buying power when the players you do want to win are nominated later in the draft.

3. Nominate positions you've already spent on

Similar to the last tip, once you spend big on a position, your next nominations should be players from within that same tier at that position. If your strategy is to get an elite quarterback and you win the bid for Patrick Mahomes, your next nomination should be Josh Allen. You want your fellow managers spending their cap on a position you've already drafted and won't be spending any further cap on. 

4. Don't bid on players you want until the end

One common mistake I see in almost every salary cap draft I've ever participated in is when managers get excited when they hear a player's name they want and start bidding immediately. It's bad business to inflate the price of a player that you are hoping to win. By bidding early, you're positioning that final price to be higher. Instead, wait until the bidding slows down and then throw yourself into the mix.

5. Be willing to bid on and win any player

Another common mistake I see is managers getting locked in on specific players they want to roster before the draft even starts. The beauty of the salary cap format is that you can find value in any given player. Some of my best value buys of all time are players I didn't plan to draft going in – and even some players that I didn't particularly want to roster but their price was too good to pass up. If I can leave you with one final word of advice: The name of the game is value when it comes to salary cap format.

And here are five players you should look to target in your salary cap drafts.

Jayden Daniels, QB, Commanders

Daniels is my favorite value in any format this season, but he's an even better buy in salary cap formats. In this format, you can wait for the rest of your league's managers to roster their QB1 and then nominate Daniels. At that point, managers are unlikely to spend a notable percentage of their budget at QB with so many roster spots still left to fill and their QB1 already in place. Daniels profiles similar to Anthony Richardson in 2023 drafts, but with a lot more production behind him. Daniels scored 50 touchdowns combined at LSU last season and his rushing upside gives him a floor that should land him inside the top-12 quarterbacks in 2024. If he can carry over the strides he made as a deep passer in 2023, Daniels will be the breakout quarterback everyone expected Richardson to be heading into last draft season. 

One of the Tier 1 WRs

The safest bet in the first round of your Fantasy Football snake drafts has been wide receiver for a few years now and 2024 should be no different. While an elite RB1 has more upside, the antifragility argument (RBs are more likely to get hurt) plus the addition of PPR scoring has altered the landscape. In snake drafts, you can't guarantee yourself one of the elite WRs but auctions are a different story. Grab one of CeeDee Lamb, Tyreek Hill, Ja'Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson – whichever is the best value of the four – and remember not to wait to bid on the last of the four who is nominated. This is the best way to start your team and well worth the extra salary space you'll pay to lock one in.

Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens

Earlier, we discussed not allowing yourself to get caught up bidding on the last player in a tier. There's also another strategy you can apply when it comes to drafting within a tier. It's typically smart money to draft the least buzzworthy player in a tier. Andrews qualifies this year with flashy names like Dalton Kincaid, Trey McBride, and Sam LaPorta challenging for that TE1 spot. Andrews will benefit from a full season in the pass-first Todd Monken Ravens system and he should see a target share closer to earlier in his career after Baltimore let Odell Beckham Jr. walk in free agency without a notable placement. Andrews could ultimately end up TE1 and you will most likely grab him for the cheapest price of those Tier 1 tight ends.

Zack Moss, RB, Bengals

Moss is now in the perfect situation to return Fantasy value after joining the Bengals. In 2023, Joe Mixon played the fifth-highest percentage of snaps among all running backs. Chase Brown is a talented RB2 behind Moss, but he's sub-200, a fifth-round draft pick, never topped 170 carries outside of one season in college, and hasn't proven himself in pass protection. Moss was brought in to be the reliable back he proved to be in a limited stint with the Colts while Jonathan Taylor was out in 2023. With Joe Burrow returning from injury, the Bengals will increase their tempo on offense and when they go to no-huddle it will be Moss on the field due to his reliability in pass protection. Moss should earn a snap share that will all but guarantee him returning RB2 value despite an RB3 price tag. Moss is the best RB to fit into your lineup if you go with a hero or zero-RB strategy.

Brock Purdy, QB, 49ers

Purdy is one of the sneaky-best values in all of Fantasy Football in 2024 and he's likely to be an even better buy in salary cap formats because he's not flashy. Others will look to fill their QB slot with what they deem to be higher-upside plays but don't sleep on Purdy's ceiling. He finished with the seventh-most Fantasy points per game in 2023, the 49ers returned every starter and they drafted Ricky Pearsall in the first round to provide him with an even better supporting cast. Purdy was also better than advertised in 2023: 40.5% of his passing plays went for first downs or touchdowns which was the best by any QB in the NFL. That was over four percentage points higher than the next best quarterback and then after that, the quarterbacks were separated by less than one percentage point. Purdy provides a QB1 floor with the opportunity to join the elite QB1 ranks if some of those rushing touchdowns go through Purdy this season.