The toughest part of claiming a player off the waiver wire in a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) system is deciding how much to bid. Bid too little and you miss out on a player that your team needs. Bid too much and you’ve wasted budget that you might need later in the season. Here we’ll cover good FAAB bidding strategy to help you win your waiver wire claim while spending your budget efficiently.
Note that some of these tips are based on Yahoo’s rules and should apply to the FAAB bidding systems used on most other sites. They can also apply to fantasy sports other than fantasy football.
Why Do I Need a FAAB Bidding Strategy?
Because it’s no fun overspending on a player or getting outbid by a few dollars on a player you need to improve your team.
Submitting a FAAB bid is usually a guessing game of how much other teams will pay. Having a strategy will help you make calculated guesses instead of wild, shot in the dark guesses. You might still get outbid or overpay, but over time using a strategy will improve your bidding success rate and help you keep some budget for the playoffs.
Smart budget management can keep you in a competitive position to win in demand players any time during the season. This is a key difference between FAAB and waiver wire priority systems. Use it to your advantage and bid wisely.
Now let’s cover the first step in figuring out how much to bid…
Determine Player Value
This is the current market value of a player at a position. It’s not what the player was worth back when your league drafted. That’s history. You need current value.
To get the current value, check your league’s transaction history and look at recent bids for similar players to get a starting price. Here’s the important part, look at all the bids for a player. A similar player might have been claimed for $35, but if the next highest bid was $11, then the winner overpaid. A closer spread between the winning and next highest bids will give you a more accurate idea of the player’s value.
Yahoo has a “FAAB Bids” tab in the transaction history that shows all bids for each player. Other sites should have something similar. Use it.
Many weekly waiver wire pickup articles now include recommended FAAB bid amounts. These are usually percentages (e.g. 10% of budget) or fantasy dollar amounts (e.g. $15). Use these as a starting point or sanity check on the value you determine but don’t treat them as gospel. That’s because every league is different (number of teams, scoring rules, etc) and your league’s market value for a player may not match the author’s assumptions. Find what criteria the author used (league size, PPR vs. non-PPR, starting budget size, etc) and adjust accordingly for your league.
Determine Player Demand
Now that you’ve determined a base value for the player, the next step is to figure out demand for that player. This is where you analyze other teams’ needs for players at that position.
You won’t know which team will bid on a player or how much they’ll spend. You can (and should) take a look at each team’s roster to see who has a need at that position and might bid on him. If the player is a backup to a stud RB that just suffered a major injury then you can assume the stud’s owner will be bidding (and might bid high).
The league’s FAAB bid transaction history is useful here, too. Look at the number of bids submitted for comparable players recently. If 4 or more teams bid on that position last week, that’s a good sign of high demand and you may need to bid more to win a player.
Remember that demand for a position or specific player can fluctuate wildly from week to week due to byes and injuries. So factor that into your demand analysis.
Check the Available Budget List
Sites that offer FAAB have a list (usually called “Available Budget” or “Remaining Budget”) of all teams and how much budget they have left. Check this list to see what the maximum amount any other team could bid is.
This is where frugal bidding early in the season can pay off later as playoffs approach. If you have the most budget left in the league, then you’re guaranteed to win any player. Simply bid $1 more than the next highest budget amount if you’re willing to pay that much.
Even when you don’t have the most budget left, the available budget list is helpful to keep track of how much you and your opponents can spend. Use that info when deciding on your bids.
Zero Bid Strategy
Yahoo allows coaches to submit a bid of zero fantasy dollars on a waiver wire player. This gives you the ability to bid on and maybe win players at no cost to your FAAB.
Think of this as a “what the heck” or “nothing to lose” bid. Use it to take a free shot at potential sleepers and handcuffs to stash on your bench. This strategy is also good to use when picking up a kicker to cover a bye.
Why enter a zero bid when you can claim the player as a free agent for free after the waiver period? Timing. Bidding zero gets you the player right when the waiver period ends. There’s no opportunity for another team to log in and pick him up as a free agent before you.
Because it offers good potential upside at zero cost, this is one of my favorite elements of FAAB bidding strategy.
Determine Your Demand for a Player
This is the piece of info you know best…how badly do you need a player at this position? It helps to think of this as a percentage of your remaining budget. Are you willing to spend 1%, 5%, 10%, 25%, etc of your budget on this position right now?
If you’re only looking to cover your kicker’s bye week, that amount will be very low, even zero. However, if your starting RB suffered a season ending injury and you don’t have his handcuff or a good backup on your roster that number will be much higher. If you want to improve your bench with a good waiver wire pickup then that number will probably be in the middle somewhere.
Determine How Much to Bid
Now for the fun part. The three key pieces of info you need are your estimates of the current value, demand from other teams and your need for this player.
Start with the current value and adjust up or down based on league demand. Then adjust up or down based on your demand. If you really need this player add a few dollars to the bid for insurance.
Finally, check this number against your remaining budget and decide if you’re really willing to spend that much. If not, lower your bid amount to one you’re good with.
Accept Things Outside of Your Control
Stuff happens. No strategy or amount of research will prevent another coach from bidding their entire budget on a player you want. You don’t have a crystal ball, so do some homework, make your best educated bid and accept the outcome.
Now you’re prepared to make better bidding decisions. Using the FAAB bidding strategy tips covered above will give you a plan to decide how much to bid. Good luck and happy bidding!