The Fantasy Football Waiver Wire
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This is where leagues, weeks, and dignity are won and lost. The waiver wire is the lifeblood of any fantasy football league. Could you imagine a league with no drops or pickups? Yuck.
Who would want any part of that? The wire separates the good from the great because you need to watch it like a hawk. It’s truly the most enticing part of any fantasy season.
You could have a great draft, but that’s not where championships are won. Sure, it’s still pretty important to draft well, but through the course of the regular season, you’ll encounter injuries, benchings, suspensions, and cold streaks. Enter the free-agent bin and the waiver wire.
Now, these operate differently in virtually every league so close attention needs to be paid to your league settings right off the bat. Some leagues have free agency open to anyone and everyone throughout the whole week. Others open free agency at certain times, but most these days like to open it up right after the weekends on Tuesday at 12:00 am. In other words, guys that are dropped during the weekend – generally (again, check your settings) – will sit on waivers until that next week hits. There are then three ways to pluck the guy you want.
Priority By Standings
If this is the option your league has selected, your odds get slimmer and slimmer the better your team performs. It’s a great way to keep parity throughout the league with the team in the last place getting first dibs at the newly discarded meat. Think of it like the NFL Draft. Priority is given to the worst team and then up the ladder, it goes from there. Just like how the NFL Draft order is selected based on the standings from the year before.
First Come First Serve
If this is your league’s waiver setting, you really need to pay close attention. Turning notifications on your smartphone would be a pretty wise idea here too. What this means is once a guy is dropped, he can be claimed by anyone, but the team that puts down that claim first will be the victor. This is generally done in leagues with more hardcore and prompt players. If you’re just starting a league and you’ve got some first-timers or fairweather players, it’d be best to avoid this setting.
Essentially, the easiest way to explain the FAAB system is, this is your budget for the year for claiming players off waivers. Most leagues are set at $100 for the season per team. Some are more. Some are less. Some even let you trade FAAB to other teams to help sweeten deals. The Sleeper fantasy app is good for that. Rather than the Priority by Standings or First Come First Serve systems, fantasy sites have found a way to put the two together in a way, so you can now claim a player by outbidding your opponents.
The only catch is that you have no idea what somebody else is bidding until that player comes off waivers. So you could go heavy or you could go light, but the amount of playing time they’ll see and the schedule itself plays a huge role here. If this is a player that’s taking over for X, Y, or Z, due to a variety of reasons on a full-time basis, he could be worth a larger bid. If it’s a short-term fix, you probably shouldn’t bet the house.
Meanwhile, if it’s early in the year, again, blowing all your dough isn’t the best strategy. You’re going to want to have some cash in the bank if things go sideways mid-season. Alternatively, if it’s late in the year and your team is on the brink, you might as well blow it all. So there are some things to consider, but that player’s usage, your spot in the standings, and the time of year are probably the three biggest factors to take into account.
There you have it. That’s the waiver wire in a nutshell along with how it works and how important it is. We can’t stress enough how crucial it is and how you truly need to stay on your toes with it. One missed or lost player could be the difference between the trophy and year-end embarrassment.
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Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.