By now, drafts are complete and fantasy teams are in full swing; nonetheless, even the best strategy rarely goes according to plan. Fear not, as there is a painful waiver process ahead that will wreck your afternoons and leave you wondering if you have any clue what you’re doing. This waiver process is known as Free Agent Acquisition Budget, or FAAB. If done correctly, this four-letter word can have you fist-pumping like Kirk Gibson during his 1988 Word Series HR trot or screaming a different four-letter expletive at your electronic device.
This year has made FAAB incredibly challenging to gauge with all the wrinkles: universal DH, summer camp/spring training 2.0, taxi squads, expanded rosters, and even runners starting on second base to begin extra innings. This altered season leaves us scratching our heads and wondering how to adjust our FAAB parameters.
We will dive into critical FAAB aspects like when to spend money, how much to spend on players, and additional tips for making decisions. So let’s roll up our sleeves, crack our knuckles and garner a better understanding.
What is FAAB? It stands for Free Agent Acquisition Budget, a stash of imaginary cash that every team in your league is given for free-agent auction bidding. Simply put, FAAB is an in-season salary cap that covers all your free agent needs.
FAAB was born as an alternative to waiver claim systems and first come, first serve (FCFS) methods. The problem with waiver claims is they favor a weaker team; likewise, FCFS is dependent on the speed of pickup up a player. Both are flawed because they allow for luck, rather than benefiting a smarter manager.
FAAB is relatively simple. You are given a budget (usually $100-$1,000) to spend weekly throughout a season. Managers are given a window of time to place claims for any free agents. Blind bids are placed, and the highest bidder wins the free agent. Simple, right?
Things to Consider
Before we address bidding blindly, there needs to be a consideration for how to handle the money. Bidding strategies need to be examined before heading into the massive player pool. These thought processes may help determine what you wish to spend.
- Bidding Aggression, Early vs Late – A couple of trains of thought come up on this one. Spend early to extend the amount of a player’s production. Spending is helpful for boom/bust players because you’ll have more time to move on and find a suitable replacement. On the other hand, having the extra FAAB later in the season allows you to control who gets what players. As the other managers’ budgets dwindle, you will be able to outbid by lesser amounts.
- Roster Construction, Want vs Need – Let’s consider this scenario: You have a few injuries and will be without closers for several weeks. The hotshot outfield prospect gets called up but is going to take a chunk of money to get. This outlook is an excellent time to check the rankings and see if it’ll fit into your budget. Regardless of chatter in the twitterverse that he is a must-add, FAAB is a precious commodity and needs to be thought of as such. Prioritize the team needs before the shiny new objects.
- Sense Of Urgency – Taking a zero for a week will put you behind. Spending a little extra to get a player in your lineup is paramount. Don’t wait! Pull the trigger and feel good about it. Like the previous scenario, if you need RPs, make it your main focus to outbid league mates for positions that will help you.
Start With A Plan
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” -Benjamin Franklin
We start by asking ourselves several questions that will serve as the primer to FAAB bidding. First, pull up your roster and identify where you need to make an addition. Next, thumb through the available player pool. Yes, you may be going back and forth a bunch of times between tabs. I do too. Remember, this is a process and will take a little bit of time to master. Even the best fantasy players can struggle with FAAB bidding.
- How many periods of FAAB remain? In the shortened season, there are considerably fewer FAAB windows. Spending strategy changes a little as you will have less time to make adjustments. Tip: Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra than you think you should. Grab your guys!
- How much do I want to spend? Go into each week with a spending goal. As stated above, there is a strategy for spending early versus late. Decide in that week’s window how lose you want to be with the budget beforehand. If you’re saving early in the season, that allows you to drive up bidding later.
- What are my team needs? Don’t jump off the bridge because everyone else is. If you correctly prepared for your draft, stick with your players. Identify what categories and positions will help your team only. Weak on power and you see someone heading into Coors Field with some pop? Prioritize that overtaking a third 2B or a sixth OF.
- How can I get an advantage? Great question. This is where you can spot tremendous value. Look ahead a few weeks for matchups and find the streamers. While many owners are overwhelmed by FAAB, this is where you can grab potential value, paying a fraction of the price. Like chess, staying moves ahead of the opponent is a winning strategy. Same must be said for FAAB.
A helpful trick is to place players into buckets based on several factors. The buckets have different percentages of spending for that week. Below are the different buckets and player classification criteria. By categorizing players into buckets you can build a base for what bid amount to place. Keep in mind that this is just a first step in determining the amount you should bid on someone.
Bucket 1 ($0-$1) The minimum pay bucket as I call it. This is where you grab value in FAAB, along with players just to add to your team. There is no shame in taking a $1 stash to see what happens.
Bucket 2 (2%-5% of budget)
- One Category Contributors
- Poor Skills / Great Matchups
- Speculative Players
- Two-Week Streamers
- Player on a Hot Streak
- Short-Term Starter in Bad Offense
Bucket 2 (5%-15% of budget)
- Multi-Category Contributors
- Good Skills / Poor Matchup
- Speculative Players with Upside
- Two-Week Streamer with Good Matchups
- Player on a Hot Streak with Good Matchups
- Short-Term Starter in Good Offense
Bucket 4 (15% and up) There will not be that many opportunities for you to spend over 15% of your budget on a free agent and if you’re going to spend top dollar often, I suggest re-thinking your draft process. This bucket can get crazy pricey. If you are a “get your guy” kind of manager, this is the bucket for you.
- High-Level Skills
- Full-Time Starter in Good Offense
Constant Adjustments – As the season continues, you will need to continually re-think your FAAB outlook. There is no bonus for finishing with more money than the next manager, so plan to spend the entire budget. Pick your places to buy in.
Bidding Tips – Never bid in round numbers. For example, offer $11 or $12 instead of $10 so as not to have a tie. There are no fractions of a dollar here, so the extra couple of bucks could land you the player you want.
Previously Owned Players – Keep an eye on who is dropped into free agency. Make a mental note that someone was high on that player to roster them already. The price may get inflated if the previous owner goes back in on that player.
Never Enough Claims – Set up a hierarchy or flowchart of players to arrange your claims. It’s desirable to have numerous combinations of players bid on and drop. Too many claims are better than too few.
Fallbacks – Have the right amount of minimum player bids at the ends of your claims. You’re going to want options every week and rostering an injured player is never ideal, unless he’s a stud.
Quick Last Thoughts
FAAB is an exhausting process that you will only have to endure for nine more weeks. Hopefully, this article helped lessen the burden somewhat. My advice is to have fun with it, and you’ll learn more as you play it. If there are any other thoughts someone would like to share, I am all ears and open for suggestions. Fine-tuning a FAAB strategy is an ongoing process. Feel free to comment, and good luck!