What’s the Difference Between FAAB and Waiver Wire Priority?

Referee asking difference between faab and waiver wire priority
Source: KeithJJ

Another of the many fun decisions a commissioner makes when setting up a fantasy football league is how to handle waiver wire claims. The two common methods to choose from are free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) and waiver wire priority. Both are effective ways to give coaches an opportunity to submit a claim before another coach grabs that player. So let’s cover the difference between FAAB and waiver wire priority along with how to choose one for your league.

What’s a FAAB?

In a free agent acquisition budget system (FAAB), every coach gets a fantasy budget (usually $100) at the start of the season to purchase players off of the waiver wire. That money is gone once you spend it, there’s no way to get more.

During the waiver period, you’ll bid an amount in your budget on the player(s) you want. The highest bid at the end of the waiver period wins that player. The winning bid amount is deducted from the winning coach’s budget. The losing coaches keep their bid amounts. Ties are usually settled by either who submitted their bid first or who has a higher waiver priority. You can submit bids on multiple players as long as you have enough fantasy budget money left to cover all bids.

What’s Waiver Wire Priority?

In a waiver wire priority system coaches win waiver wire claims based on their position on a priority list. Each coach gets a starting priority to start the season based on their draft position. The priorities are assigned in reverse of the draft order. So the coach that drafted last gets first priority and the coach with the first draft pick gets last priority.

During the waiver period coaches can enter a claim for a player on waiver. At the end of the waiver period, the coach with the highest priority that entered a claim on a player wins that player. The winning coach’s priority then drops to last place. Everyone who was below the winner on the priority list moves up one spot.

Coaches move up and down the waiver priority list all through the season based on claims submitted and won. Depending on your site’s options, your league can choose to set the priority order only at the start of the season based on draft position or reset it each week based on league standings where the last place team gets the highest priority. Yahoo calls the first option “Continual Rolling List waiver priority” and the weekly one is called “Weekly Rolling List”.

Comparison of FAAB and Waiver Wire Priority Features

Both waiver claim systems do a good job of giving league managers time to identify and claim players at the start of the week or after a player is dropped from another team. Below we’ll compare them on key features of making a waiver claim to help you understand and choose one.

Ease of Use

FAAB requires some thought. You have to manage a limited budget for the season. You also have to decide how much to bid on each player which can be a little stressful or confusing, especially for first time fantasy managers. Fortunately, there are FAAB bidding strategies to help with that.

Waiver wire priority is an easy process to follow and most fantasy players have used it before. You get a starting place in line. If you’re in front of everyone else that claimed a player then you win that player and go to the back of the line. If someone in front of you won a player then you move up a spot. Simple. Plus there’s no budget to manage.

Advantage: Waiver wire priority. It’s one of the easiest processes in fantasy football.

Competitive Advantages

Everyone has the same chance to claim a player in FAAB. It all depends on how much they’re willing to pay for him. The only exception is if your fantasy site tracks priority for use as a FAAB tie breaker, but that’s a tiny advantage.

Coaches that had a late draft pick get an advantage early in the season with waiver wire priority. That’s because the starting priorities are assigned in reverse of the draft order. (It’s a small consolation for drafting next to last.) This gives the late drafters a better shot at winning their first claim. The coaches that had earlier draft positions will have a tougher time winning a claim until they’ve moved up the priority list. This advantage doesn’t last long if your league only sets the priority order once. If you do weekly resets based on standings then the poor performing teams will have a waiver claim advantage throughout the season.

Advantage: FAAB. The only competitive advantage coaches have are their budget management skills.

Best Chance to Claim an In-Demand Player

Picture this…a top RB suffers a horrific season ending knee injury early in the season. His backup then goes off for 2 TDs and over 150 total yards. Amazingly, this guy isn’t on any roster in your league. What are your chances of claiming him off waivers in each system?

With FAAB, you have a better chance of getting an in demand player any time during the season. In the scenario above, you can bid as much as you want within your budget and have a shot at that breakout player. Any player on the waiver wire is yours if you’re willing and able to pay more for him than other teams. Good budget management will put you in a better position to claim players throughout the season.

If you’re using waiver wire priority and sitting first on the priority list then that breakout player’s yours if you want him. Even with the 2nd, 3rd or 4th priority you might have a shot depending on what the coaches ahead of you do. You can hope that they’re not paying attention that week or think they’re already stacked at RB. Any lower on the priority list and you’re probably not getting that player. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

Advantage: FAAB. You control your budget management and how prepared you are to snag a breakout player.

Multiple Player Claims

FAAB handles multiple claims very well because each bid is independent of any bids on other players. For example, you could bid $30 on Player A, $20 on Player B and $10 on Player C. You might win all, some or none of them depending on how your bid on each player compares to any bids made by the other managers. Winning player A won’t impact your chances of winning players B and C because everyone’s blind bids have already been submitted.

For those weeks when you want to pick up several players off the waiver wire, the priority system can be tricky. That’s because when you successfully claim a player using waiver wire priority, you drop to the bottom of the list. So you don’t know what your priority will be for each of your claims when you submit them.

Advantage: FAAB. You control your bids for each player.

Fun of Playing Fantasy Football

The experience of managing a FAAB is one of the options that makes fantasy football feel more like the real game. It requires thinking like an NFL general manager. You have to decide who to bid on, evaluate how much other teams might bid, then decide how much of your budget that player’s worth to you.

Waiver wire priority is a straight forward system that does the job, but isn’t exciting. Yes, there’s some strategy involved for deciding when a player is worth using a high waiver priority. But overall it’s a boring process and you can generally predict the outcome before you submit a claim.

Advantage: FAAB. Managing a FAAB definitely makes the game more fun for me. Of course, I’m also one of those nuts that enjoys auction drafts so your mileage may vary.

Which Waiver Claim System is Better?

The answer will be different for every league. While there are pros and cons to each waiver claim system, both are good. It depends on how you and your leaguemates want to play the game. So don’t worry about making a bad call here. You can always try the other system next season.

Now you know the difference between the FAAB and Waiver Wire Priority systems for processing waiver claims. For commissioners, hopefully this info will help you choose the claim system that’s right for your league. For players, now you understand how your waiver claims are processed during the season and know what to expect.

Which claim system do you use and why? Leave a comment below with questions on either system.

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