2020 NFL Draft Guide: Using FAAB/Waivers Properly
Published: Jul 16, 2020
The draft is one piece of the puzzle. Even if you are in awe of your fantasy football draft and believe you created a masterpiece, the work is just beginning. Injuries will happen, players will disappoint and others will emerge out of nowhere.
Working the waiver wire and using FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) wisely will be critical in winning a championship. Take a look at championship teams from recent seasons and often you will find at least a few players that were acquired off the waiver wire, especially later in the season. Breshad Perriman is one example from last season. Of course, it's even better to land someone early in the season that has an impact on the lineup the whole season, like Phillip Lindsay two years ago.
My favorite system for the waiver wire is FAAB. It's the most fair and gives everyone an opportunity to acquire a free agent. Each team gets an imaginary budget. It's usually $1,000 or $100 for most leagues and teams put in blind bids. The highest bidder gets the player and when you run out of money you can't acquire anymore players unless there are $0 bids or first come, first serve after the waivers runs.
Other leagues use a waiver priority system. The team that is first in the waiver order gets top choice and the team that is second gets second choice, etc. The order can be determined in a number of ways. It usually starts after the draft with the team picking last getting first in the order. Then whenever a claim is made, the team moves to the bottom of the list and continues in this fashion. Some use the strategy to pass using a top pick on a player if it's a week without a great obvious addition. In this format, it is wise to make sure the team with the top pick uses it wisely.
If there's a week with no standout addition, wait until the next week. Running backs are usually the most desirable additions and when an injury happens to a starting running back and the backup is available, being first in the order is huge. Some leagues use the reverse order of standings each week and this isn't ideal. Deciding when to use the claim if you have a pick near the top depends on the roster. If you're deep at wide receiver and the big add that week is a wide receiver, it's best to wait. There's no exact blueprint on the approach, but in most cases running back is the scarce position and the one to use the top pick on.
There's always some luck involved in fantasy football and the goal is to eliminate that as much as possible. A waiver priority system involves more luck. The FAAB system uses more strategy, but more importantly allows every team to get a chance at the hot free agent that week. Most leagues use either Tuesday or Wednesday night to submit the blind bids. If there is a tie for the bid on a player, the team lower in the standings or with fewer points gets the player.
One of the mistakes people make in putting in bids for any format is only putting in an add of one or two players per drop. It depends on the free agent landscape that week, but I usually put in a lot of players to add per drop.
The first few are usually players I desire more and put in a higher dollar amount. If I have a player I definitely want to cut, I'll add a lot of cheap bids in the single dollar range to make sure I add someone. Some leagues only use two FAAB periods and that's the only way to add players. The high stakes leagues use this format. In other leagues, there's usually one FAAB period and then it's first come, first serve.
Not only is FAAB more fair, it creates more strategy. Do you spend money early? Do you save money? If you don't have any needs, do you put in bids? How often do you stash players? There's so many things to take into account when creating bids. It adds another fun element to the game.
The strategy with FAAB depends on the roster construction. If you have several injuries early in the season and have big voids, you're likely going to spend money. If a player emerges out of nowhere in Week 1 and you believe in that player, be aggressive. Last season. D.J. Chark is a good example and two years ago Lindsay was picked up for big money after Week 1. Spending money on a player like that plays a big role for the whole season is a big advantage. A lot of time players early in the season have big games and turn out to be flukes. Discerning the real from the fake is extremely important in managing FAAB. Do your best to have a decent amount of money for the stretch run. Sometimes, this isn't possible. I had a team that was battling for a playoff spot midway through the season and had to play it week to week. I didn't have much FAAB left by the final weeks, but still won the league.
Even if you have no glaring needs, you should always check the waiver wire every single week. Even if you don't need the pickup of the week and believe the player will go for 20-30 percent of the budget, always put in a small bid. While it's unlikely you acquire the player, you never know.
Every league is different when it comes to FAAB. In one league, Chark could go for $413. In another it could be $112. Trying to gauge what a player will go for can be tricky. Pay attention to the first few FAAB periods to get an idea if you're league is aggressive in the bidding. I like to take a look at rosters to see who is in dire need of a player and see the remaining FAAB budget. If there is a big tight end to be added, I go to the roster grid and see how each team looks at tight end. There will usually be a few teams that could use one and I'll check their remaining budget. Every little thing you can examine and help win a player. Since running backs are scarce in most leagues, if a starter emerges off the waiver wire, always expect them to go for a significant price with almost every team putting in a bid.
I tend to have one roster spot that I like to rotate. I use this to stash a player that could see a bigger role in the weeks ahead. In more competitive leagues, this becomes important. These players are usually won for a few dollars.
Another key as the season goes on, make sure you look at the remaining FAAB budgets of the opponents. For example, it's Week 12 and a big running back is available and is the starter. You have $386 left and the next highest amount is $213. All you have to do is bid $214 and the player is on your team.
Budgeting your FAAB money is important. Much of it depends on team needs. If you get off to a bad start, be aggressive early. Injuries can force more money to be spent. Even if the team starts off well, bids should still be made, but the amount of bids can be less.
Always look at the transaction log. Take a look at the drops and there will always be surprises. Injuries and bye weeks can make it difficult for some teams and they will cut some players you wouldn't expect. When selecting a dollar amount, don't bid $100. Many people still do this. Instead bid $102 or $103. Don't bid an obvious number.
Keep in mind there's no sheet that tells you exactly what to do. A lot of is feel and learning the tendencies of your league. The more attention you pay to details, the more success you will have on the waiver wire.