Welcome to "Money Talks". The general purpose of this column will be to give you some advice for one of the more popular methods of adding new fantasy players each week – the Free Agency Acquisition Budget, or "FAAB". What this is in a nutshell is a budget of money that every team is given to bid on free agents each week, much like in an auction. Usually this is done via blind bids, meaning that no other owner knows how much you have bid on a given player – unless you announce your bid in some sort of a poker-like bluff move. Some leagues do reveal all bids after the bidding is closed and waivers are processed, while other leagues just show winning bids. It can be fun to see if several teams bid on a given player or if an owner spent a ton of money on a guy no one else even wanted.
Enough of that for now. I will give both general advice and also some weekly assistance for this advanced waiver process in this column. I hope you enjoy and get the player(s) you want every week. Here we go.
As with anything in fantasy football, not all leagues are the same. Some are big, some are small. Such is the way with FAAB waivers. Some leagues use a big budget of $1,000 per owner or more, while others use $100 or less. I will assume $1,000 for the purposes of this article and let you, the reader, do the math to adjust to your league. Another difference is that in some leagues the FAAB process is the ONLY way to get new players. Other leagues have the FAAB process first and then allow free transactions for that week on any player not getting a bid (so you can cover your kicker's bye, for example, for free). I will assume that is NOT the case here and think that every transaction will cost you something. If it does not, great – but at least you know why I might say to grab a kicker now for a buck.
Now let's talk about bidding in general. For many more experienced leagues, round numbers are the kiss of death. Even older leagues (and owners) start to see bidding trends over time ("Jeff loves to end in a 7"), which can be dangerous when you are trying to outbid everyone. The natural assumption is to bid in large round numbers – please avoid that temptation. $53 vs. $50 may seem like a trivial difference, but many more people bid $50 instead of adding a few extra bucks that can change who wins.
Another generally accepted rule – do not be stingy early in the year. Sure it is nice to hold on to extra "cash" in case a stud RB goes down for the year, but look around your league and count how many NFL backups are even available on the waiver wire. Not many? Right. Go big early on players who seem to come out of nowhere. Most fantasy studs appear on the scene in September instead of weeks later.
There is a "ying" to the "yang" of the last rule – which is to not excessively churn your roster. While it may not seem like much, but if you drop 5-10% of your bankroll each week on bench players that never see the light of day in your lineup, then you are just wasting money. Think about it this way – if you save for a rainy day, you can be prepared to go all out for when you need that money to go "all in" on a player you really want. Of course the trick is figuring out which player is worthy of such a big bid.
Last comment for now – it is far better to bid on a player a week or two early instead of a week late. That can be the difference between a $3 player and a $300 player. If you really want Adrian Peterson’s understudy, get him now before Peterson pulls that hammy and everyone gets in on the action.
Week 3 Comment: Another item to discuss – who to drop. Keep perspective on your team. If you are short on running backs, you probably want to cut a different position player to grab running back depth. To say that another way, if you are strong and deep already at wide receiver, a sixth or seventh wideout is very unlikely to help. Let that steer your cuts.
Week 4 Comment: Bye weeks are starting now, so teams are going to be more active on the waiver wire, especially with six teams off in Week 4. Kickers and defenses will be added and dropped, so start looking ahead and you’re your lineups for the weeks where you will be short a starter or two. Depth is going to play a bigger part in the next several weeks, so do not be afraid to add players for a rainy day now instead of later.
Week 5 Comment: Bye weeks are here, so some of the best deals are both players on a bye week or coming off of one. For example, Denver and Seattle were both off last week. With the idea of "out of sight, out of mind", players on both teams could be bargain acquisitions – and this general trend will continue through Week 12.
Week 6 Comment: The fantasy regular season is nearly half over, so if you are sitting on some free agent money, it is probably time to buy some guys you might need – now or later. Even if a player is only startable for 2-3 games, that is a big percentage of the fantasy regular season. Shoot the lock off of that wallet.
Week 7 Comment: Not only is the (fantasy) season half over, injuries are starting to pile up. Once you can start to get past some bye weeks, depth on rosters will matter. Add players and handcuffs accordingly.
Week 8 Comment: Time for some fantasy self-reflection. If your team is 5-2 or better, you are likely a playoff team and you can start stacking your bench for the playoffs. If you are 3-4 or worse, you have to gamble and get wins, so bid big for any help you can get now.
Week 9 Comment: Time to make some moves. With major stars on the bye week, it is either time to build some depth or to position your team for a playoff push. Throw the budget away and get some guys you want (and might need) for November and the fantasy playoffs.
Week 10 Comment: Time is running short to make some moves. With major stars on the bye week, it is either time to build some depth or to position your team for a playoff push. Throw the budget away and get some guys you want (and might need) for November and the fantasy playoffs.
Week 11 Comment: Bye weeks are almost behind us, with just six more teams to take a week off. Now it is time to roster some guys to back up your top backs and receivers and get the roster set for your fantasy playoffs.
Week 12 Comment: You are likely running out of time (and possibly dollars as well). Grab any applicable handcuffs and if you have enough money left, spend it now on a Top 5 waiver wire prospect. Even if you have a strong team, keep hot hands off of the opposing rosters.
Week 13 Comment: You are likely running out of time (and possibly dollars as well). Grab any applicable handcuffs and if you have enough money left, spend it now on a Top 5 waiver wire prospect. Even if you have a strong team, keep hot hands off of the opposing rosters.
Week 14 Comment: It is clearly time to go "all in". These are the final weeks, and it is likely your playoff time. If you can make moves (some leagues are already locked), then grab weekly starters or guys that can help right away. Everyone else does not matter.
Now, on to some specific players to target here in NFL Week 14 of the 2014 season:
Big Bucks are reserved for immediate starter potential players (QB1, RB1/2, WR1/2/3, Flex, TE1) in most league formats.
- Tre Mason, RB, Rams ($757): If you waited to get Mason, well, you are out of luck now unless you have a boatload of cash left to bid. He should be the top tailback pickup this week.
- Kenny Stills, WR, Saints ($657): Brandin Cooks will be out for several weeks and Stills elevated his play two weeks ago on Monday Night Football, posting a solid 8-98 night and leading the Saints in catches against Baltimore. His next performance was even better, posting 162 yards on five catches including a 69-yard touchdown. Stills is a must add if he is available and is the top receiver to pick up.
- Daniel Herron, RB, Colts ($427): Herron may have only had eight carries, but 88 yards rushing and a touchdown is RB2 material this time of year at the worst. If you cannot add Mason (or he is gone), Herron is your next option at tailback for a December pickup to help for a playoff push.
- Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders ($227): Murray exploded two weeks ago with 112 yards and two scores against Kansas City before being forced from the game with a concussion. Now he has been sidelined with a concussion. Do not think for a minute that Oakland will use him as the starter as soon he is healthy. If he is still available, add him and hope he is healthy for Sunday.
- Coby Fleener, TE, Colts ($225, $317 in PPR-bonus leagues): Fleener exploded in Week 13 with not just two touchdowns and 127 yards receiving, but he was the top fantasy tight end of all tight ends on the day. Not Gronkowski or Graham – Fleener. Plus he dropped a third touchdown where he was wide, wide, WIDE open. As long as Dwayne Allen is sidelined, the starting tight end for Andrew Luck remains a solid TE1 option.
- Jordan Reed, TE, Washington ($207, $291 in PPR-bonus leagues): If somehow Reed fell off the radar in your league, snap him up immediately. Despite quarterback problems in Washington, Reed is a Top 10 tight end every week with Colt McCoy under center again and should be on a roster – so why not yours?
Medium Money is reserved for players who could be bye week starters or that have upside potential on good matchups in most league formats.
- Davante Adams, WR, Packers ($188): If you soured on Adams after a few down weeks, you are not alone. Normally a team’s third wide receiver would not warrant a fantasy pickup, but Green Bay is no ordinary passing team. Aaron Rodgers has been outstanding this year, and Davante Adams is one of his favorite targets. He is a WR3/4 with upside, especially in favorable passing matchups. Adam’s price just shot up after a 6-121 performance on Sunday, but there is not a better third wide receiver out there to add with more upside.
- Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers ($175): The good news is that Martin is back as the lead tailback for the Buccaneers, but he is not as involved as a receiver and the matchups are getting rough (Detroit, Carolina, Green Bay). Even so, if you need running back help and he is available, you have to take what you can get this time of year.
- Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins ($175): I keep mentioning Landry, week after week. Monday Night Football was nearly unwatchable between Miami and the Jets in today’s big offensive NFL, but Landry was consistent yet again with a solid 8-68 performance. You can do far worse for a WR3/flex option.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Texans ($167): Do not laugh here – the guy just threw for six touchdown passes against the Titans and he has a fantastic schedule for the next four weeks (Jacksonville twice, at Indianapolis and vs. Baltimore). While there is almost no way he repeats his Week 13 performance, 300 yards and 2-3 touchdowns are within reach in all four of those contests.
- Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings ($145, $185 in PPR-bonus leagues): Do not let the stats from Week 13 keep you away from adding Rudolph, as the Vikings got a big lead early thanks to their defense. Even with that, Rudolph secured a short touchdown catch against Carolina on Sunday. Minnesota may play much better down the stretch with more receiving options and Teddy Bridgewater starting to get comfortable. If Rudolph is available he may be one of the last guys with TE1 upside out there.
- Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers ($135): San Francisco looked terrible against the Seahawks Thanksgiving night, but Hyde was the highlight with 38 yards receiving and 19 more rushing. Frank Gore seems like he will last forever, but it is clear to me that Hyde is faster and offers more right now, and with San Francisco at Oakland in Week 14 Hyde is a sneaky option this week.
- Andre Williams, RB, Giants ($133): Rashad Jennings tweaked an ankle and might miss some playing time. If he does, Williams is a RB3/flex option right away and gets a fantastic matchup in Tennessee in Week 14.
- LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots ($125): Blount led the Patriots in rushing against Green Bay but this time Brandon Bolden vulture the touchdown. Blount has value but figuring out which week to start him will drive you crazy.
- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers ($125): Stewart had over 100 combined yards in a loss to Minnesota on Sunday. He may not be flashy, but he is accumulating respectable stats and is a decent RB3 / flex option if you need tailback help.
- Robert Woods, WR, Bills ($121): The Bills face Denver, Green Bay and Oakland over the next three weeks, and Woods is averaging almost eight targets a game for Buffalo. If Woods is out there he offers good value.
- Heath Miller, TE, Steelers ($121, $165 in PPR-bonus leagues): The Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger had to throw a lot to try and catch up against New Orleans on Sunday, and Miller was a big part of that with a 8-82 day. While he is not that flashy, if you need a tight end with some TE1 upside, Miller offers just that for a potential playoff run.
- Colt McCoy, QB, Washington ($117): If you are shopping for a quarterback this late in the season, Colt McCoy has a decent shot of giving you some solid numbers in December. McCoy faces a tough matchup against the Rams this week but then has the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys to close out the year – all of which could offer QB1 upside for McCoy.
- Johnny Manziel, QB, Browns ($115): If Manziel gets the starting nod, the hype will be out of control. Manziel has two good matchups in the next three weeks (Indianapolis on Sunday and at Carolina in Week 16) plus Baltimore in Week 17. Love him or hate him, Manziel has solid fantasy upside if he becomes the starter for the Browns.
- Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts ($115): Moncrief scored two long touchdowns for Andrew Luck on Sunday, but he only had four targets and three catches. The Colts scored 49 points and Moncrief is “only” the fourth wide receiver for Indianapolis. He offers a huge “boom” value, but this was likely his top performance for the season and he may not even reach 60 yards again this year – but if you have roster room and own Reggie Wayne or T.Y. Hilton, I would stash him as insurance. Two touchdowns and 100+ yards makes coaches think about designing plays to get Moncrief the ball, so he is not a bad pickup at all.
- Eddie Royal, WR, Chargers ($113): Eddie Royal saw a lot of targets again from Philip Rivers on Sunday against the Ravens, and he culminated a big day with the winning touchdown to wrap up his 9-81-1 Week 13. I like Royal with the Chargers having to throw against New England and Denver the next two weeks.
- Juwan Thompson, RB, Broncos ($108): Once again Thompson saw limited work behind C.J. Anderson, but he is one injury away from a huge upside role for Denver.
- Michael Bush, RB, Cardinals ($105): With Andre Ellington missing time due to injury in Week 13 and Marlon Grice offering next to nothing, I expect Bush to be active and ready to step in if he is needed this week. Bush has been a spot starter before and he is capable of posting respectable starting numbers.
- Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings ($105): Greg Jennings had a solid game in Week 13 (5-45-1) even with Minnesota going out to a big lead early. Minnesota gets a great matchup against the Jets next week and Jennings is a sleeper WR3 with upside, especially in PPR leagues.
- Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars ($103): Jacksonville has to throw more and more, and Lee is seeing a lot more targets now with Allen Robinson done for the year. Lee has seen 13 targets in the past two weeks and eight of those are inside the 10-yard line. Lee is a solid sleeper to grab and roster this late in the year.
- Stedman Bailey, WR, Rams ($102): Bailey had 100 yards receiving on five receptions in Week 13 – all before halftime. Yikes. Bailey will be a big part of their offense going forward after that type of performance and could be a WR3 going forward with some good matchups (Washington, Giants) over the next three weeks.
- Charles Johnson, WR, Vikings ($101): Do not let Johnson’s quiet Week 13 prevent you from adding him – Minnesota’s defense built the Vikings a big lead and Minnesota did not have to throw much at that point. Johnson sees the field regularly now and he gets a great matchup against the Jets next week.
- Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons ($100): I put Douglas as a sneaky pickup now that he is back to action and Roddy White is banged up again. Matt Ryan will throw often the rest of the way, and the Falcons will need all three receivers to be actively involved even if White is healthy.
Chump Change is reserved for players who are relatively considered to be a good flier pick to stash on a fantasy bench in case he blows up over the next few weeks and becomes a potential immediate or spot starter.
- Shaun Hill, QB, Rams ($89): The Rams blew out Oakland 52-0 on Sunday, but Hill was not too heavily involved after St. Louis had the big lead at halftime. Hill did throw for two scores and ran for another and has a decent schedule (Washington, Arizona, Giants) so he is a QB2 with QB1 upside in December.
- Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons ($87): Steven Jackson is running well in Atlanta, but I see more speed and more spark with Freeman. If Jackson gets tripped up at all, Freeman could be a sleeper to step up as a RB2 in December.
- Nate Washington, WR, Titans ($77): With Justin Hunter hurt, Nate Washington could see the field more and he did just that on Sunday, racking up 61 yards and a score with Jake Locker replacing Zach Mettenberger. With either quarterback the veteran receiver offers WR3 upside.
- Roy Helu, RB, Washington ($67): Washington is not a good team, and they will be trailing on the scoreboard more often than not. That translates to having to throw to catch up, and it favors running backs who can catch and play on passing downs. Roy Helu fits the bill, as he did on Sunday with his 4-61-1 receiving day against Indianapolis.
- Cole Beasley, WR, Cowboys ($55): Cole Beasley is a fast, quick, speedy slot receiver that Tony Romo loves to use to move the chains. With Jason Witten slowing way down and Terrance Williams trailing off, Beasley has some upside.
- Marlon Grice, RB, Cardinals ($35): Andre Ellington was injured and Grice stepped up – and offered nothing. Do not bother adding him as I expect Michael Bush to start next week if Ellington misses time.
- Jaron Brown, WR, Cardinals ($27): Drew Stanton could not get the ball to John Brown on Sunday, so with Larry Fitzgerald out and Andre Ellington missing, Jaron Brown became the possession receiver and amassed 75 yards on seven catches. Brown could see the field more and be a depth guy for your bench, but not much more.
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