Welcome to "Money Talks". The general purpose of this column will be to give you some advice for one of the more popular methods of adding new fantasy players each week – the Free Agency Acquisition Budget, or "FAAB". What this is in a nutshell is a budget of money that every team is given to bid on free agents each week, much like in an auction. Usually this is done via blind bids, meaning that no other owner knows how much you have bid on a given player – unless you announce your bid in some sort of a poker-like bluff move. Some leagues do reveal all bids after the bidding is closed and waivers are processed, while other leagues just show winning bids. It can be fun to see if several teams bid on a given player or if an owner spent a ton of money on a guy no one else even wanted.
Enough of that for now. I will give both general advice and also some weekly assistance for this advanced waiver process in this column. I hope you enjoy and get the player(s) you want every week. Here we go.
As with anything in fantasy football, not all leagues are the same. Some are big, some are small. Such is the way with FAAB waivers. Some leagues use a big budget of $1,000 per owner or more, while others use $100 or less. I will assume $1,000 for the purposes of this article and let you, the reader, do the math to adjust to your league. Another difference is that in some leagues the FAAB process is the ONLY way to get new players. Other leagues have the FAAB process first and then allow free transactions for that week on any player not getting a bid (so you can cover your kicker's bye, for example, for free). I will assume that is NOT the case here and think that every transaction will cost you something. If it does not, great – but at least you know why I might say to grab a kicker now for a buck.
Now let's talk about bidding in general. For many more experienced leagues, round numbers are the kiss of death. Even older leagues (and owners) start to see bidding trends over time ("Jeff loves to end in a 7"), which can be dangerous when you are trying to outbid everyone. The natural assumption is to bid in large round numbers – please avoid that temptation. $53 vs. $50 may seem like a trivial difference, but many more people bid $50 instead of adding a few extra bucks that can change who wins.
Another generally accepted rule – do not be stingy early in the year. Sure it is nice to hold on to extra "cash" in case a stud RB goes down for the year, but look around your league and count how many NFL backups are even available on the waiver wire. Not many? Right. Go big early on players who seem to come out of nowhere, like Victor Cruz last year. Most fantasy studs appear on the scene in September instead of weeks later.
There is a "ying" to the "yang" of the last rule – which is to not excessively churn your roster. While it may not seem like much, but if you drop 5-10% of your bankroll each week on bench players that never see the light of day in your lineup, then you are just wasting money. Think about it this way – if you save for a rainy day, you can be prepared to go all out for when you need that money to go "all in" on a player you really want. Of course the trick is figuring out which player is worthy of such a big bid.
Last comment for now – it is far better to bid on a player a week or two early instead of a week late. That can be the difference between a $3 player and a $300 player. If you really want Adrian Peterson’s understudy, get him now before Peterson pulls that hammy and everyone gets in on the action.
Week 3 Comment: Another item to discuss – who to drop. Keep perspective on your team. If you are short on running backs, you probably want to cut a different position player to grab running back depth. To say that another way, if you are strong and deep already at wide receiver, a sixth or seventh wideout is very unlikely to help. Let that steer your cuts.
Week 4 Comment: Bye weeks are starting now, so teams are going to be more active on the waiver wire, especially with New England off in Week 4. Kickers and defenses will be added and dropped, so start looking ahead and you’re your lineups for the weeks where you will be short a starter or two. Depth is going to play a bigger part in the next several weeks, so do not be afraid to add players for a rainy day now instead of later.
Week 5 Comment: Bye weeks are here, so some of the best deals are both players on a bye week or coming off of one. For example, New England and Tennessee were both off last week. With the idea of "out of sight, out of mind", players on both teams could be bargain acquisitions – and this general trend will continue through Week 12.
Week 6 Comment: The fantasy regular season is nearly half over, so if you are sitting on some free agent money, it is probably time to buy some guys you might need – now or later. Even if a player is only startable for 2-3 games, that is a big percentage of the fantasy regular season. Shoot the lock off of that wallet.
Week 7 Comment: Not only is the (fantasy) season half over, injuries are starting to pile up. Once you can start to get past some bye weeks, depth on rosters will matter. Add players and handcuffs accordingly.
Week 8 Comment: This week is a make or break waiver wire week to me. Pick up the wrong guys and you will pay dearly for it. Waiver wire money will cost you, as will the wasted roster spot, but also the missed chance to get someone else. I see lots of Fools' Gold this week, so read on and choose wisely.
Week 9 Comment: Time to make some moves. With stars from six teams on the bye week, it is either time to build some depth or to position your team for a playoff push. Throw the budget away and get some guys you want (and might need) for November and the fantasy playoffs.
Week 10 Comment: Time to make some moves. With stars from six teams coming off of the bye week, those guys could fly under the radar. it is either time to build some depth or to position your team for a playoff push. Throw the budget away and get some guys you want (and might need) for November and the fantasy playoffs.
Week 11 Comment: Bye weeks are almost behind us, with just six more teams to take a week off. Now it is time to roster some guys to back up your top backs and receivers and get the roster set for your fantasy playoffs.
Week 12 Comment: You are likely running out of time (and possibly dollars as well). Grab any applicable handcuffs and if you have enough money left, spend it now on a Top 5 waiver wire prospect. Even if you have a strong team, keep hot hands off of the opposing rosters.
Week 13 Comment: If your fantasy playoffs are imminent, make sure you have backups at each spot - even kicker. Anyone can get hurt down the stretch.
Week 14 Comment: It is clearly time to go "all in". These are the final weeks, and it is likely your playoff time. If you can make moves (some leagues are already locked), then grab weekly starters or guys that can help right away. Everyone else does not matter.
Week 15 Comment: Same as last week - It is clearly time to go "all in". These are the final weeks, and it is likely your playoff time. If you can make moves (some leagues are already locked), then grab weekly starters or guys that can help right away. Everyone else does not matter.
Big Bucks are reserved for immediate starter potential players (QB1, RB1/2, WR1/2/3, Flex, TE1) in most league formats.
- Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs ($215): If you need a quarterback and Alex Smith is out there, consider this fair warning that he should bubble up to the top of your list. Week 15 against Baltimore and Week 16 against Cleveland should tell you all you need to know (plus Oakland in Week 17 if you play that week as well).
- Golden Tate, WR, Lions ($205): He shouldn’t be out there, but if he is, add him now. Three games to go against New Orleans, San Francisco and Chicago make for some great matchups the rest of the way.
Medium Money is reserved for players who could be bye week starters or that have upside potential on good matchups in most league formats.
- Willie Snead IV, WR, Saints ($188): He’s back, and he is productive once again for New Orleans. Drew Brees will be throwing the rest of the year, and with decent matchups (Lions, Jaguars, Falcons) he is a great addition if he is available.
- Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans ($185): If Mariota is still available and you need a QB, go ahead and get him. He had 274 passing yards but no touchdown passes – but he did catch a touchdown as a receiver. The athleticism of this young quarterback adds up. The problem is that the schedule is not very favorable (NE, HOU, Colts).
- Tim Hightower, RB, Saints ($177): What’s old becomes new again in the NFL, at least when it comes to tailbacks for the Saints. Tim Hightower resurfaced again and started for Mark Ingram, and Hightower had respectable numbers and a touchdown. Can he do it again? The schedule (Lions, Jaguars, Falcons) looks favorable, so I would call him a RB2 the rest of the way and worth picking him up.
- T.J. Yates, QB, Texans ($175): If you are not in love with McCarron or Manziel or cannot get anyone else on this list (Mariota, Winston), this is the quarterback to get. Yates has done very well in the past against the Colts and he has good targets in DeAndre Hopkins and company. If Yates starts beyond Week 15, the Texans have a solid schedule (Colts, Titans, Jaguars) that favors the passing game in each. You might be able to bid cheap and still get him, but at this point of the year – if you need a quarterback and have money, spend as much as you can, because after Yates the pickings are terribly slim.
- James Starks, RB, Packers ($168): Green Bay can support two running backs when they run for 200+ yards, but the next three games (Oakland, Arizona, Minnesota) could be challenging. Starks does have more versatility with his receiving ability, so he should maintain RB2 value.
- Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars ($165): T.J. Yeldon was hurt, but Denard Robinson actually looked much faster and a better fit for the offense. The Jaguars may just use him more going forward.
- A.J. McCarron, QB, Bengals ($163): It looks very much like Andy Dalton is gone for the rest of the regular season, so it will be up to McCarron to helm the Bengals. With two good matchups (49ers, Ravens) around the Week 16 game with Denver, McCarron could have solid value – you just need a Week 16 solution.
- Bilal Powell, RB, Jets ($160): The Jets are at 8-5 and right in the middle of the AFC Wild Card race, and they are finding production wherever they can. Chris Ivory is up and down this season, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has played well and gets the ball to Bilal Powell as a rusher or as a receiver in key situations. Powell is not flashy, but his 82 yards and a touchdown on just eight touches last week shows that he offers lots of upside in the right matchups. I would add him as a RB2/flex option that can start in a pinch.
- Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos ($148): Denver needs something to get that offense in gear, and Hillman is still the top running back for Denver, but the entire offense is stuck in neutral.
- DuJuan Harris, RB, Seahawks ($145): Thomas Rawls (broken ankle) is done for the year and Marshawn Lynch is not ready to return. Enter the former Packer who had 42 yards rushing in support of the Seattle offense. I think the Seahawks will stick with Russell Wilson as the key player, but Harris could get a goal line carry and add a little value if you are desperate for RB help.
- Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles ($131, $150 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Philadelphia continues to spread the wealth in the passing game, but Ertz had a solid (5-98) day against Buffalo. Arizona will be tougher in Week 15, but the season does close with Washington and the Giants, two softer tight end defenses.
- Brian Hartline, WR, Browns ($125): Not a sexy pick as Hartline is much more of a possession receiver, but you have to respect that he snared two scoring passes in Week 8 and continues to add receptions each week, including a 8-83 day in Week 13 and a 8-107 Week 14. Much more valuable in PPR leagues. Yes, this is a recording.
- Albert Wilson, WR, Chiefs ($115): This is about as deep as I like to go this time of year, but Wilson deserves a mention because he scored on Sunday and that the Chiefs have a great closing schedule.
- Robert Woods, WR, Bills ($107): Woods will continue to be more of hit or miss wide receiver, but if Charles Clay is sidelined, Woods’ value increases.
- Fred Jackson, RB, Seahawks ($105): Second in line behind Harris. Might be worth adding.
- Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns ($101): Did the return of Johnny Manziel to quarterback help Crowell’s value? Perhaps, but I think the 49ers defense played a big part. Cleveland ends the year against Seattle, Kansas City and Pittsburgh. Don’t hold your breath for another Crowell touchdown this season.
Chump Change is reserved for players who are relatively considered to be a good flier pick to stash on a fantasy bench in case he blows up over the next few weeks and becomes a potential immediate or spot starter.
- Juwan Thompson, RB, Broncos ($77): Some think he will take over as the top rusher for Denver, but that offense does not look good enough right now for any running back to emerge as a top option. Speculative add at best.
- Mike Gillislee, RB, Bills ($57): Only mentioning the former fifth-rounder in 2013 here because he scored a touchdown on a solid run on Sunday. Yes, he was the RB2 behind LeSean McCoy, but he offers very little value unless McCoy and Karlos Williams are both out.
- Bryce Brown, RB, Seahawks ($11): Just added, third on depth chart. Not much to see here.
- Charlie Whitehurst, QB, Colts ($1): Maybe one start and against the Texans? No thanks.
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to email@example.com.