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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Managing your Depth Chart

Welcome to today's installment of tips.  In this entry, I will discuss setting up your depth chart, some tips about it, and how to keep the AI from resetting it.

Let's first take a look at the depth chart screen. On the top right you will se a bar that indicates how many players you have on your roster, and how many of those players are active vs. inactive. During the pre-season you are allowed to have up to 60 players under contract; once the pre-season is over, you must cut your roster to 53 max. This total includes all players you have under contract with the exception of any players you have on injured reserve. If you enter a game stage with more than the maximum roster, the AI will cut players to bring you down to the limit.

At any game stage, you must have at least 45 and no more than 46 players active. Again, if you have fewer than 45 players, active, the AI will take over and make sure you have enough players to field a team for that week. This may also reset your depth chart to balance out the active players. Note that when you sign a player, he will be added to your roster as an inactive player. If you cut a player, he actually won't be cut until the next sim - so he will remain in your depth chart, giving you the chance to change your mind. He will be automatically marked inactive, though, and you won't be able to activate him without canceling the scheduled cut.

Below the top bar is your roster. You can view your entire roster, or filter by a position group. The boxes display each player's name, their current rating at their position, and their experience. To assign a player to a position in the depth chart, drag him from the top section into the position below. The player on the top of a position is the first string, the second position is second string, and so forth.

The bottom section shows your offense, defense, and special teams depth charts. Again, the same information is displayed for each player. One difference, however, is the rating - in this section, the rating displayed is the rating that this player has at this position in his depth chart.

To remove a player from the depth chart, you can drag him back into the top section, or click on him to select him (a red box will display around him), and hit the "delete" key.

Let's talk just a bit more about the player boxes. If a player is inactive, his box will be shaded to indicate this. In the upper left corner is a plus or minus button; use this to activate or deactivate the player. The bar at the top of the page will update to reflect your current count. You can open the player card with the (i) button in the upper right corner. Note, also, in my example, that J Hyatt has a green triangle in the upper right corner. This indicates that he is on the injury list, and green means that he is probable. You can look at his player card to see exactly what his injury status is. You can deactivate a player here without having to remove him from the depth chart; the player below him will automatically be promoted into his spot. Once your player is healthy, you can re-activate him, and the depth chart will return to how it was.

During the game, it is possible that your depth chart may run out of players. For example, you may have two running backs in your depth chart. If your starting running back becomes injured, and then your second string running back becomes too fatigued to continue, the AI will automatically select the most appropriate player to fill the spot, using your player position weights. For more information about setting these weights, check out the entry on How To Evaluate your Players.

I wanted to mention here some ideas about managing your depth chart. The player's card will indicate where he is in your depth chart. I try to make sure all my players are in the depth chart - even if they are inactive - so that I can keep tabs on who is improving and might need to be moved up, or who I might cut. I will also do my pre-season cuts using the depth chart screen, which helps me see each player relative to the other players in his position more easily. During the draft, I will usually plug my player into the depth chart immediately upon drafting him. This helps me quickly see how he stands up against the current roster. And, if I find that a player has a better future rating at another position that I am in need of, I will put him into that spot and then go into his page and change his position so that he will grow in that position appropriately. Between each game, I use the depth chart screen to evaluate my team's injuries, and quickly deactivate players that are too injured to play, and see if I need to plug in some other players in the depth chart beneath them. Technically, you could deactivate all the players in a given position, and the AI will not adjust your depth chart - it will just choose the best player available during the game. I don't like giving up that control, however, so I'll usually make sure that I have an appropriate number of active players at each position.

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