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How to Make a Waiver Wire Claim (2022 Fantasy Football)

Jul 16, 2022

The waiver wire is fairly complicated, but it’s an integral part of fantasy football. It allows fantasy players to refresh their rosters when things are going well, or manage bye-week absences for a big matchup with a rival. Mastering the waiver wire is as equally important as dominating your draft. The amount of amazing teams that should win championships but do not due to poor waiver wire management is extremely high.

However, where most people struggle is how actually to make a waiver claim, and what type of waiver claims there are in a league.

In 99% of leagues, there are two types of waiver claims. There is your traditional waiver claim, which is similar to how the NFL handles waiver claims. And then there is Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) bidding.

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What is a traditional waiver claim?

At some point in the season, some rookie will be amazing and everybody will want him. Or a lead running back goes down, meaning his backup is likely to start for the next eight or more games. So you’ll put a waiver claim on him. Who gets the player though? That is determined by waiver priority.

At the start of the season, the waiver priority is the inverse of the draft order. So the No. 1 pick has No. 12 priority, the No. 12 pick has No. 1 priority, and so forth. If your league is 10 or 8 teams, then it only goes to 10 and 8 accordingly. However, after that, the priority standings are done based on standings after every week. Therefore, if you were at the bottom of the standings after Week 1, you would have the first priority. And, if you are top of the standings after Week 1, you are last on the priority list.

In essence, whoever has the highest priority gets the player. Thus, if the second and third priority put a claim on the player, the second priority gets him.

However, whenever you use your waiver claim, you immediately go to the bottom of the list. So if Team 2 and Team 3 put claims on the same two players, Team 2 will get the first one. They then drop to 10 (if it’s a 10-team league), so Team 3 (now second, because Team 2 used their waiver priority) receives the second player.

The waiver priority resets every week. Therefore, if you are Team 1 on the waiver priority, and you were the only team to make a successful waiver claim but remained at the bottom of the standings the following week, you would go back to being at the top of the priority order for that week.

Remember though, if you want to add a player, you will have to drop a player and they will return to the waiver wire for all other teams to claim or add.

Waiver transactions happen on Wednesday mornings at 12:05 AM PT (unless your league changes from the default. Do check your settings for this). This is when any claims that have been made after the weekend’s football get processed.

After waivers clear, all unclaimed players become free agents. These players can be added on a first come, first served basis. They return to waivers after they play. Because of this, if you want a player that you think nobody will claim, it can be beneficial to wait until he clears waivers so you can add him without using your waiver priority.

Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) Bidding

In recent years, many leagues have moved away from the traditional waiver priority claim and moved to Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) bidding leagues. That is because, whilst the traditional method, similar to the NFL, attempts to restore parity where possible throughout the season, it does mean that teams at the top have almost no chance of getting help for their rosters.

There is many an argument that traditional waiver priorities skew the league more in the favor of the teams in the middle of the pack than anyone else, as they can make significant strides on the teams in front.

However, FAAB levels the playing field. It gives each team in the league a dollar amount (typically $100) to spend throughout the season. Then, instead of a waiver priority, you simply bid for each player using the dollars you have. However, it is a blind auction. Therefore, you have to submit the amount you think it will take to secure the player.

It means every fantasy player, in theory, has a chance to bid on, and acquire, any player that appears on the waiver wire. The same timeframe applies as in traditional waiver leagues. Typically winning bids are declared at 12:05 AM PT on Wednesday morning. Some leagues thereafter have free agency open up. Some leagues keep it to daily waiver claims via FAAB after that. That is down to your commissioner and your league settings as to how it is done.

FAAB leagues do add more levels of strategy, as you don’t want to run out of money too soon. However, you do not want to wait until you are 2-6 before you spend the majority of your money and almost certainly out of playoff contention. Therefore, you will need to read up on FAAB strategy, as well as listen to the FantasyPros podcast every week for advice on how to spend your FAAB.

How to actually submit a waiver claim

This one is very platform-specific. However, the usual place is to find the page on your site or app where available players are, and then hit the plus button or add player option. You should be doing this on Monday or Tuesday before the waiver deadline of 12:05 am PT on Wednesday.

The two things you will need to do is set the order of the waiver claims. And then you need to assign who you will drop if you are successful in your waiver claim. If you are looking to bid for two players in one position, because you are unsure of who you might get, and you only want one of them, then you can select the same player to drop in both waiver claims. That way, you will only get one or none of the players.

After 12:05 AM PT Wednesday, when players are free agents, on the page of available players, you can instantly select players to add, and again, you will need to drop somebody to make that go through. You cannot, at any point, have more players on your roster than what is allowed. Therefore, you must think really carefully about who to drop, and at what time you should be dropping players. Always think before you make a waiver claim or free-agency add because you do not want to strengthen a rival by dropping a player that will be of interest to other players unless you are absolutely desperate.

Lastly, you can use the Waiver Wire Assistant here at FantasyPros to help you with your waiver-wire claims. Sync your league up and use our tools to help you with your waiver-wire claims for the upcoming season and beyond.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

Adam Murfet is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Murf, check out his archive and follow him @Murf_NFL.

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