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Free-Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) Primer & Strategy

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
Aug 8, 2019

Phillip Lindsay was worth the FAAB bucks you spent on him last year as Raju Byfield explains.

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Does your fantasy league still use waiver priority to settle player claim disputes? Are you constantly monitoring your waiver priority and actively avoiding bidding on particular players so as to have a higher priority when a free agent you can’t pass up comes along? Even worse, does your league set waiver priority inverse of standings instead of continually rolling, in effect essentially rewarding the teams that draft poorly?

If your answer was yes to any of these questions there is good news for you. FAAB is and has been the new standard for waiver claims, and in most cases simply discussing it with your league commissioner will be enough to convince them to make the long-awaited transition. If that does not work simply direct them here.

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What is FAAB?

By now most fantasy owners know that FAAB is an acronym that stands for Free-Agent Acquisition Budget. FAAB has become the new standard for settling waiver disputes as opposed to the archaic waiver priority some of you may remember from the previous decade.

Your FAAB dollar amount will be set by your league commissioner, and if you play dynasty, depending on your league’s settings, it may refresh every year or may be partially or fully carried over.

FAAB essentially functions as an in-season salary cap teams can utilize to add priority free agents to their roster. There is always the option of bidding zero dollars so not all acquisitions require relinquishing FAAB, especially speculative adds.

Strategy

Deciding on bid amounts
When deciding on your potential FAAB bid amount for a particular player one must try to ascertain the potential demand for that player in the league in question. Is the player the hottest pickup of the week? The handcuff to a recently injured star? If you answered yes to either of those two questions you may want to be aggressive in your bidding.

The timing of your bid will sometimes play a huge factor in deciding how large of a bid to make. Early in the season owners are often more cagey with their free-agent dollars. They may be hesitant to lay down a significant portion of their budget before the bye weeks even hit. Later in the season owners may be more willing to drop higher bids, so be cognizant of that fact.

In one league I spent 60 percent of my budget in Week 1 for Phillip Lindsay as he was not only the running back Hall of Famer Terrell Davis gave his jersey number, but an undrafted rookie that had impressed Davis as well. This was an indication that his talent was real and that he was worth what would likely be my most aggressive bid of the season. If an opportunity for a player like Lindsay became available late in the season and my budget permitted, I would have likely been even more aggressive.

When deciding on an amount it is often wise to devise your bid based on a portion of your starting FAAB. Many waiver wire articles and rankings will now have recommended percentage expenditures highlighted for owners who are thinking of making the add. For example, this upcoming season owners will likely see or hear things like Maurice Harris is worth 10 percent of your FAAB, or that Jakobi Meyers is worth five percent.

Deciding what percentage comes down to the urgency of your roster need, and also your projection or rest-of-season outlook for the player in question. If the player in question is a running back that has shocked the world by taking over the starting job, you can be sure that the majority of your league will be placing bids. This is when knowing your draft room or in this case knowing your waiver room comes into play. Supply and demand basics dictate that if there is one player everyone may want on a given week that market value will be directly affected by demand. A week before the running back in this example stole the job you would have been able to add him for free. Now that the entire world knows he is the new starter you may see bids between 25 percent to 65 percent of an owners initial FAAB.

Analyzing the max bids a rival can make as well as their bid history can go a long way in helping you secure your target player. It is advisable to pay special attention to bid history if you are aware that one or two teams will be your main competition for a particular player’s services. If you can determine what players and at what price they made successful claims for before, you can get a rough idea of what type of bid they may place for the player or players in question. Conversely, if you can ascertain what bids they lost out on and at what prices, you may be able to determine what their new bid ceiling will look like in terms of percentage.

Trades
One tip for those in leagues that allow FAAB dollars to be included in trades is to also request free agent dollars when sending or countering an offer. The increase to your FAAB budget will help you to be more aggressive in your bids and in turn, may help you land a starter or flex option later on in the season. Trading for a rivals FAAB dollars also ensures that they will be in a weakened position when it comes to competing for priority free agents both you and your rival may be targeting.

Bluffs
A bluff is when an owner may leak, or outright state that they are chasing a potential free agent. This is done to drive up the price of a player an owner may not choose to roster, but that they know they can spark a ‘bidding war’ for. If other owners become explicitly aware that other managers will be submitting bids for their target player they will naturally be more aggressive in their bids.

This is a sound strategy, as driving up interest in a player you have no actual desire to roster can indirectly help an owner to win future bids for players they actually want. The one tip here is to make sure to at least submit a nominal bid for the player in question so as to not reveal that you are an owner who may be discussing a particular player publicly just to drive up the price. If your rivals realize you are someone who engages in this tactic they will be less likely to fall for your future attempts at bluffing. It may also affect their willingness or receptiveness to engage in future trade talks.

Zero dollar bids
If your league commissioner does not require a minimum bid, zero dollar bids will likely factor into your free agent strategy. While these bids require no one else to bid on the same player, they are often successful when used for speculative adds or IDP adds.

Pancake blocks
A pancake block or a block is when a manager bids on a particular player simply to keep him off of an opponent’s roster. It may sound conniving or devious, but it is strategy plain and simple.

Pancake blocking is a strategy that is most effective late in the season or in the playoffs. Bidding on your opponents handcuff or adding the top free agent running back when you have no intention of playing them is a sound strategy. This helps keep the player in question off of your opponent’s roster and prevents that player from hurting you in the stretch run or playoffs.

Why use FAAB?
Believe it or not, some leagues are still using the antiquated waiver priority system. It is most common in long-running keepers or dynasty leagues, but one would be quite surprised at how many redraft league commissioners still have not made the transition to FAAB. FAAB is the fairest and equitable method to address competing claims for a particular player. It also does not penalize an owner who may have seen their team ravaged by injuries, and who in turn may be required to make multiple roster additions during a particular claim period.

The use of FAAB also helps those who may be streaming at a particular position. It allows managers to be more nimble and not have to worry about losing their priority when bidding for players throughout the season.

FAAB also helps deter giving an advantage to that pesky owner who always seems to be awake when waivers clear and snaps up unclaimed free agents for “free.” With FAAB, owners have the option to put in zero-dollar bids to ensure that they don’t lose a target player to someone employing the night hawk strategy.

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his profile and follow him @FantasyContext.

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