Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) Primer (2018 Fantasy Football)
Your stud running back just went down, untouched, grabbing at his knee.
“It’s only Week 3. Of [expletive] course I don’t have him handcuffed,” you mutter under your breath.
You quickly scan the waiver wire and notice he’s there. You exhale a bit. Then the blow comes crashing down all over again. You remember you have the ninth waiver priority and absolutely no chance at getting your replacement. At least not for Week 4.
We’ve all been in this scenario, and it’s one of the worst feelings in fantasy football. Luckily there’s a way to avoid all this.
What it is
The free agent acquisition budget, or FAAB, is a different type of waiver system that lets every owner have a chance at every player every week. Teams start out with a set amount, typically $100-$200, of fake money at the beginning of the year and each week there’s an “auction” for every single player on the waiver wire. These weekly auctions are completely blind, so an essential part of the strategy is gauging what your opponents will be bidding. There’s no refund on an excess bid (meaning if you bid $80 and your opponent bids $20, you’re on the hook for your entire $80) and once you’re out of money you’re left with the post-waiver free agents to choose from.
Why You Should Use it
A lot of people are “FAAB snobs” and look down on other forms of waiver wire systems. I will refuse to play in a “worst gets first” system, but I don’t mind a rolling waiver wire. There’s a strategy of sorts behind whether or not to use your waiver position on a player or if you’re good enough to hope for something better the following week. Saving it too long can be a detriment, but using it right away might not be wise, either. That being said, FAAB is the definite way to go in terms of both fairness and strategy.
The fairness comes from my scenario above. Every owner has a chance at every player every week. If you want to spend the rest of your budget on the hot add you have to have, go right ahead. But if you spent all your money already and you want the next big thing, well, that’s nobody’s fault but your own. There is a rolling waiver-esque tiebreaker system, but it rarely comes in to play.
One of my personal favorite “fairness” aspects that is often overlooked is there’s no more middle of the night waiver clearings to have to worry about. In my home league, we have a guy who works nights and will make sure to be on his phone to scoop the first batch of cleared waivers that are now free agents without using his waiver spot. With FAAB, I’m able to bid $0 and have a chance at my guy. assuming nobody else bids more, without setting my alarm for a middle of the night wakeup.
Strategies to Consider
Aggressive early or value late?
Similar to an auction draft where you can go “studs and scrubs” or look for a roster full of value plays, when you spend your money is an important thing to consider. Going after the waiver wire early and spending big on guys you believe in can give you an enormous season-long advantage if you hit correctly. Think Alvin Kamara, Deshaun Watson, etc. for this. The downside is if you spend big on guys off to a hot start who fizzle out, i.e., Tarik Cohen, Javorius Allen, etc., you can hamstring yourself for more valuable additions down the line.
The inverse is true for holding off. You might miss out on a season-long stud like Kamara, but could potentially get great values on guys like Alex Collins or Juju Smith-Schuster in the middle weeks or even someone like Tim Hightower who came out of nowhere in the 2015 playoffs.
Many fantasy players, myself included, like to stream at the single-starter positions (QB, TE, DEF). With a standard rolling waiver system, this can be a difficult task, especially if you’re holding on to a good waiver priority. With FAAB we can bid a nominal amount and not be left with the scraps. It’s important to remember at this point there’s a set amount of money that needs to last all year and these are generally one-week fillers, so we don’t want to go crazy on them, but it’s a system that is ultimately beneficial for streaming.
This is something that goes hand in hand with saving your FAAB for a late value, but it’s one of my favorite things to do. Knowing the room is the most essential part of any auction. When it comes playoff time, we need to know what teams are streaming, who has banged up players, and what the next move for everyone in the league is. We need to be thinking of the waiver wire from every team’s perspective.
If you have plenty of FAAB cash left you can control the entire league. Don’t be afraid to roster two or three defenses or quarterbacks at this point of the year if you go with this strategy. Your upside WR5 or handcuff isn’t as valuable as it was earlier in the season, use those bench spots to block as many valuable pieces as possible.
Ultimately I try to push all of my leagues towards the FAAB waiver system and currently only have one holdout. It’s the fairest by far, involves the most gamesmanship, and it’s incredibly satisfying seeing you bid the perfect amount over the runner-up for your coveted addition. If you haven’t made the switch yet, I’d strongly encourage putting it up to a league vote and giving it a shot.