Free-Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) Primer (2021 Fantasy Football)
More and more fantasy football leagues are making the wise choice to get away from weekly waiver priority being determined by the standings or order of recent waiver claims. Instead, the focus is shifting to FAAB, where each fantasy manager has a set budget for the entire season. Sometimes, this budget is also tied to an overall salary cap. More often, the budget is merely a set amount for free-agent acquisitions. For this discussion, we’ll just be focusing on the FAAB aspect.
Let’s get started.
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What is FAAB?
Before we get into the various strategies, let’s explain exactly what we’re talking about. FAAB stands for “Free-Agent Acquisition Budget,” and it means that fantasy managers have a set budget that they can utilize for free agents on the waiver-wire in leagues. Some leagues call it a “blind bid” system because waivers are determined by blind bids each week, as opposed to waiver priority that is determined by other factors. This is why you’ll also see the FAAB acronym sometimes described as “Free-Agent Auction Bidding.”
Each team gets a set amount at the beginning of the season ($100, $250, $1,000, etc.), and they have to decide how to utilize that budget throughout the year. $100 is one of the most commonly used numbers just because it’s really easy to tell the percentage of your FAAB that you’re using for each move ($5 is 5% of your FAAB, for example). There are a number of different factors to consider and strategies to utilize, and we’re going to cover most of them here.
FAAB Strategies and Advice
Know Your Leaguemates (And Their Rosters)
This one takes a keen eye, but it can be incredibly useful. If you’re in a league with friends, you likely already know at least a little bit about them and their general strategies when it comes to fantasy. Whether you know your leaguemates well or not at all, it’s in your best interest to pay attention to their transactions and their roster construction.
This will be helpful when it comes time to figure out how much to bid on certain players. If someone in your league just lost three players at the same position to injuries in a week, you can be sure they are going to bid aggressively for players at that position on waivers. If another person has one quarterback on a bye week and who hasn’t been playing well and has a tough matchup that week, that person is probably your main competition if you have your eyes on a quarterback with a favorable matchup this week.
Watch the transactions from week to week. If your site provides complete FAAB breakdowns after the bids are awarded (most of them do at this point), take a look at the losing bids, too. You’ll be able to identify trends and get a feel for overall strategies. If one fantasy manager bid aggressively on two different running backs but didn’t win either one, they’re likely to bid aggressively (perhaps even more aggressively) next week. This applies to the actual budgets, too. Pay attention to how much fantasy managers are spending and how much money they have left.
Know Your League’s $0 Bid Rule
This is a simple but important one, so we’ll knock it out and keep moving. Of course, you should know all of your league’s rules and settings. That should go without saying. But an easy one to overlook is how your league handles $0 bids. What I mean is this: some leagues allow you to actually bid nothing on players and still win those bids, as long as no one else attempts to claim them. Other leagues have a minimum bid of at least $1.
This sounds trivial, but there’s a huge difference. Being able to bid $0 means you can always add players, even if you run out of money in your budget. You may have to get creative or put out a ton of bids and hope that you’re able to land a player, but you’ll still be able to try. If your league has a $1 minimum bid, you can run out of money and lose the ability to add players. Imagine being in Week 14 and losing both of your quarterbacks to injuries right before the playoffs, and you aren’t able to add even a low-level streaming option because you’re out of money.
This advice is going to save you a ton of FAAB dollars. For fantasy baseball, our own Dan Harris wrote a weekly “Two-Start Pitcher Lookahead” article. The idea was simple, but also brilliant. In fantasy baseball, two-start pitchers are typically valuable and go for more money (FAAB) on waivers each week. But if you can identify those two-start pitchers a week early–a week BEFORE everyone else is targeting them–you can get them for a fraction of the price.
This can be applied to football, too. If you start thinking about and targeting your potential streaming options a week early, you can save yourself a ton of money, still get the players you want, and have more money to bid aggressively elsewhere. Think a streaming quarterback who has a tough matchup this week but who is facing the defense allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks the following week. Next week, he’ll be expensive because everyone is targeting him. But no one is targeting him this week against this top defense. Grab him a week early on the cheap.
We can go on and on with similar examples, but you get the point. You’re smart. You see where we’re going with this. The best fantasy managers are proactive instead of reactive. If you wait until the options are obvious, you’re competing with the rest of your league. If you look ahead and pay attention to upcoming weeks, you’ll save your budget and gain a competitive advantage.
This is a strategy that is often overlooked when it comes to FAAB. Blocking is when you add a player just so that another fantasy manager in your league can’t add them. This is especially important in head-to-head formats because you can block your opponent from adding someone that could directly impact your matchup that week. Let’s say your opponent is only carrying one quarterback, and he happens to be on a bye week this week. That fantasy manager is going to have to bid on at least one (though it should be multiple if they’re smart). Throw some $1 bids out there on a couple of the top streaming options for the week. If it’s a player you like and could see yourself using in the near future, bid a little bit more aggressively. The best-case scenario is your opponent doesn’t have enough backup bids going, gets blocked from the only one or two he did bid on, and ends up with an empty lineup spot for the week.
Have A Plan
If you talk to different fantasy managers or even different fantasy analysts about the best or their favorite FAAB strategies, you’ll get several different answers. Some will tell you to be conservative with your money and try to save it for a big acquisition late in the year. Others will tell you to bid aggressively early. Many preach taking a balanced approach. The list goes on, and there is no right answer.
My advice is to have a plan for your approach. You can be flexible and adjust your plan as the season unfolds, but don’t just blindly and wildly bid on players you think you need. Do some research on FAAB pricing and see what players are going for in other leagues that may run waivers before your league. If you are going to bid aggressively, have good reasons why you think you want or need to bid aggressively. If you’re going to play things more conservatively, again, know your why. Is your team at the top of the power rankings, and you feel you have relatively few weaknesses and would prefer to save your FAAB for the inevitable injury or late-season upgrade? Perfect. That’s a good plan. Do you want to hold onto your money because you like the idea of hoarding fake money? Bad. That’s a bad plan.
If you regularly ask yourself why you are making or not making certain moves (preferably before you make them), you’ll direct yourself to the right answers more often than not. It’s OK to adjust your plan, but it’s important to start with one.
That’s a lot of information, so this is a good stopping point. Want to keep the conversation going or just have a question? Feel free to reach out on Twitter @mikeMaher with questions or feedback anytime.
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Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher, and visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.