2016-07-08 12:32

Chapter 14 - Create and maintain your Depth Chart
Version 1.2.0 - 17.07.2018

The Depth Chart is important to set up your players you like to see playing in the next game.
You better fill in every position with a player, even if you don’t have one on the position or you intent not to use one, because you play only formations avoiding that specific position.
Regardless how good you set up a playbook, it might happen that a game situation occurs where no play is found in the playbook and then the game settings are used, which do leave the engine some room to become creative. Not a bad thing in general, but if you did not set up a player in each position and that position is suddenly needed on the field, ANY player on the roster might get a shot. Same is valid if you did not set up enough players for one position and based on energy levels and injuries suddenly another player is needed, where none is defined. Also here does the engine gets creative. You just don’t want your Kicker playing QB or your CB playing RB.
So better set up every position and if you lack players on that position, set up players you would like to see play in emergency, like a FB as RB or a CB as SF.
Some positions are quite heavy on players, like OL, DL and LB. You better set up a good amount of players on those positions to avoid bad plays. Because if no substitution is available at that moment when all the other players on that position do not fit the requirement regarding fitness, the engine become again creative and looks for players willing and able to step in.

Basic setup
You have to find your system on your own, but this might help.

Hard to find a substitution, it’s worth to set up 2 players at least.

It can happen that even a third player gets some snaps and if you use RB heavy formations, like Pro-Set, very often, even a fourth players comes in hand. You can mitigate a risk here by setting up a FB as backup-backup or worse.

Normally one player is enough, but sometimes the backup needs to step up. If you lack a good backup, try a TE if you block a lot and a RB if you rush a lot.

Since there are sets with four receivers, five to six should be considered, but that depends on your choice of formations. At Worst case it’s worth to think about a TE as last line of backups.

In general two TEs are enough to play through a game, except you play double TE formations a lot. If you rush a lot a FB might be the backup-backup choice, if you need a catching player, you can consider a WR as last substitution.

There are managers who try to have players for each position (OT, OG, OC) separately. If you like to go that way, you need two backups on every position and two starters, but you might consider a shared OG/OC backup as minimum or even just one backup per positions OT and OG and then a shared second backup for all positions.
Some do setup the starters on each position and do use the same backups on every position in the line based on their skills to ensure the best fit backup on any position if needed. That does leave you with some kind of lottery if you try to have a specific skill set on OT, OG or OC.
Even a system which does only setting up 8 to 10 players equally on all positions is possible, which would mean that the best 5 players are used as starters and the rest is backup. Over the game it can then happen that some of the best 5 players do switch positions because the original used player is not fit at that moment. You do have always the 5 fittest players on the field, but not always the 5 best players for each position, based on skills.
The numbers are more or less the same, 8 to 10 players are needed here anyway.
Some decide to put the best OL on the OT spot, some decide to put the fastest one on the OT spot.
The OC is needed less often, because the defense does often not field a NT as opponent, so it might be wise to put the worst starter on OC.
If you are short an OL, use a TE or a FB as last backup.

It’s not worth to think about an NT very long, except you might use him in a 5 men line setup very often. Even then it seems a real primary starter is wasted here.
Most managers do settle with one of their dedicated DT players, could be the best, the second best or the third best. Not setting a player would be not helpful, you never know what happens.
The DTs are usually the strong ones, while the DE are the fast ones. Because of rotation scenarios you can work similar to the OL-rotation, so either having backups per position or a shared backup pool for the whole line or even setting up 8 to 10 liners for every position and work with that.
Since the DE are quite important at the moment and do record the most sacks and TFL it’s wise to use at least the best or fastest DL as DE and to use them only as DE. But at the end it’s your decision.
If you are short on DL players, use a LB as last backup.

In general the same rules as for the liner. You can decide to use OLB and MLB as dedicated starters and backups or you can use some or all players as pool.
Most managers do see as MLB the smartest guy on the defense as a must and INT values with 45+ are not uncommon here. Of course, if you use a LB pool for the whole LB-group you have no real influence on the MLBs intelligence on the field, as long as you did not get Einstein-only as LBs.
Some managers do see the OLB as the spot for the best LB on the team, since many passing routes are defended by the LB in general and short passes are common and the short pass areas are often defended by the OLBs.
Under such circumstances it makes sense to have at least a mixture of dedicated players on a single position and a pool backup plan.
In general it’s possible to have here 7 to 8 players on the depth chart.

This bunch is the crew to work against the pass quite often and it’s worth to consider them as the best needed DBs on the field. Yes, the SFs are also needed, but CBs will make a lot of tackles and you just want them to MAKE the tackle and not to have them beaten and to wait for your super SF to bottle up the play a few yards deeper on the field.
There are some formations which do need a lot of CBs, so you will have to work here with 5 to 6 CBs.
If you are short on CB, use fast LBs or a spare SF as backup.

Some do see them as total separated players and have for each position at least a backup ready. Some just use the same 3 to 4 players for all positions.
Common mind set is that the SS needs to be stronger and the FS needs to be smarter and faster.
If you have a SF short, use a smart CB or a LB as a spare.

The Kicker is a single specialist which is used only on a few plays, but those are important. It’s quite ridiculous to have a backup here, but if you need one, because the Kicker gets injured, you play lottery. Never the less, the risk is quite slim and you will very likely settle with 1 player here.

Same here, the Punter is in the same situation as the K.
As a mitigation strategy it might be wise to train both your K and P as K/P hybrid, either as a specialist which could also play the other position if needed, like KIC = 40 and PUN = 25 for the K and the other way around for the P, or you a full hybrid with KIC and PUN the same value.
By that you can set the best K/P hybrid as starter and you might settle a prospect as backup, knowing the he will very likely never play as long as he is a backup.

As said earlier, I don’t see a G as a special position. Better use fast LBs, CBs or SFs as G and set up 2 to 4 players here to be save.
If you still insist on having specialized Gs, have two as a minimum and put the LBs, CBs or SFs as backups.

Same for the returner. In general you do need only two starter here and if you really like to have the specialist, don’t use more. Use RBs or even FBs as backups.
My suggestion is to go directly for the RBs and skip the KR at all.

The special team blockers are needed to block on return plays. The opinions are quite spread here, whether fast, strong or blocking in general are the primary skills needed. Since you need 8 to 10 names in this list, you will have to use OLs anyway, the question is, whether they are used high on the list or low. Up to you.
I do use most of my best blockers on this, but do also look for SPE.

The special team tacklers are more or less like the gunners. Use your fastest and best tacklers here.

Out of position
Be aware that except the G, KR and K/P a player with a roster position different than the depth chart position will get an out-of-position-penalty, means he will play worse on that position than on his roster position. So think twice before you add too many players on different positions.
I did put my tips regarding “if you are a player short, use a different player” there if you don’t have any other chance to fill the spots. Because it’s better to have for example an out-of-position-CB playing SF, instead of randomly selected player playing SF, which does STILL gets the penalty.
So if you do setup that last player for substitution in a worst case scenario, think about him as the best of the worst things to happen. Better you s e l e c t a player than the engine.
On the other hand some managers do use a lot of out of position players, normally as mitigation strategy on training (for example training all or with the new training restriction at least many defenders as DL, since their DL AC has the highest CP) but believe me, this will not help you on the field. But it’s your decision. If you try something like that, be aware that many managers do not approve such line-ups and will get mad, personal or public.

The line up in general
As non-supporter you can only setup one depth chart, as supporter some more, which can be quite useful.
Non-supporters either have to rework their depth chart again and again to have backups on the field when some meaningless games are played and therefore the backups and prospects can get experience and build up the TC if needed.
Support can set up different depth charts for exactly that purpose and even more.
If you like you can build different line ups for run heavy and pass heavy games. Of course you need the players to do so, but sometimes slightly changes can have huge effects. Since you only have 55 players on the depth chart, it might come in hand to have at some positions destined to do the heavy load more backups and have a few less on other positions with less traffic.
If you play a lot of Pro Set, go for more RBs and less FB, lots of TE formations, put in more TEs and less WR. Playing only with 6 DBs and a few LBs? Adjust the depth chart to have always the best or the fittest on the field.

Line-up rules
The engine does fill the spots on a formation from left to right, so the highest sorted WR will play starter on the left, the second best will be either starter on the inner left on a 4WR set or the starter on the right in a 2WR set.
That’s valid for all positions.
If it comes down to conflicts, the position pick in following priority:

QB -> RB -> FB -> TE -> WR -> OT -> OG -> OC

DE -> DT -> NT -> OLB -> MLB -> CB -> SS -> FS

Special teams
K/P -> G -> STT

That means, if you decide to put in a player on several positions, like OLs or DLs, and you like to have a specific player at a specific spot, you have to sort the player accordingly. Otherwise that player will end up on a different spot as intended. But even then this setup is only valid as long as no substitution is needed.
If you like to avoid mixing up players, you should put in always dedicated players on dedicated positions, like having OTs as starter and backups and only there, OG set up also with different players and OCs also. Only then will at least an OL meant to play OG play only OG. (except some major injury happens and the engine gets creative). You only have to deal in that case with the sorting on the position itself. Still the highest sorted will play left, the next is starter right in case of an OL and the next is the highest backup and so on. With multiple used backups it’s not possible to link them to a specific spot, just the position and the engine does decide whether they play left or right, depended on the need at that moment.

Given that system on offense and defense means, that you need also to adjust the line up if you like to have your best CB play the opponents best WR (assuming he did sort that guy highest on his depth chart. Otherwise it’s anybody’s guess.). The best CB should then be sorted second best on your depth chart.
This is only valid for most of the plays during the game, until the substitutions happen. Still, this could make a difference.
Or you like to rush with your best DE over the opponents worst OT? Adjust your depth chart to have the chance exploiting that weakness. But there is not guarantee, since you never know the final line up of your opponent until gameday and substitutions do happen.

Really really first string
If you build your depth chart you get your depth chart members on the right side shown, based on the selected position. Next to the players healthy status is on the most right side a check box, which you can click.
If that box is set that player will play the whole game regardless of substitution rules in the game settings (see Chapter 15) and regardless how many other players you did put into the depth chart on that position. So if you like to have you best QB play the whole game, click that box and he will do that (as long as he is healthy).
If you did set up more players on the depth chart, like liners or linebackers, and did click more than 1 of those players to be “first string”, the engine will s e l e c t those players with best in game energy. If that is equal the sorting in the depth chart comes into play again.
What does that mean?
Assuming you did setup 5 WR and you did click the first 3 players as first string, in a 2 WR formation the engine will work at the beginning with the first two players and if their energy level comes down, the third WR gets his shot. The fourth and fifth WR are never selected as long as no injury occurs and no 4 WR formation is selected.
WR1 -> X
WR2 -> X
WR3 -> X
I-Formation -> left WR = WR1, right WR = WR2
Shotgun 4WR -> left outer WR = WR1, right outer WR = WR2, left inner WR = WR 3, right inner WR = WR4
If you click a player down the depth chart to be first string and he is not sorted as starter, the engine does still s e l e c t that player as first WR. To a l t e r the example above, assume you have 5 WR in the depth chart sorted and the second and the fourth are clicked as first string.
The engine will use those clicked ones as starters, all other not clicked WR will play as backups only in a 4 WR formation as third and fourth WR.
WR2 -> X
WR4 -> X

I-Formation -> left WR = WR2, right WR = WR4
Shotgun 4WR -> left outer WR = WR2, right outer WR = WR4, left inner WR = WR 1, right inner WR = WR3

So basically what the engine does is, if a first string click is done for a position, the configured depth chart is divided in two lists, the clicked one and the not clicked one. Both lists are sorted according to the depth chart sorting, if the players from the other lists would not exist.
Then the engine does fill the spots first out of the clicked list, then, if additional players are needed, out of the not clicked list. That “needed” is only valid for injuries and additional bodies on the field, not for regular substitution.

This might be a useful tool for you, depended on you strategy and you game approach. Many do use this mechanism for positions which do need only a few players and if they want their best player on the field the whole game, like QB.

forward to Chapter 15 - Game settings or death
back to Chapter 13 - The games your team can play

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