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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.
Now, on to some specific players to target here in NFL Week 6 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.
- Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers ($325): Donald Brown was sidelined with a concussion, and Brandon Oliver (UDFA, Buffalo) rose the occasion with 182 total yards with two scores against the Jets in Week 5. Oliver should be the featured back going forward for at least two weeks when Ryan Mathews may return to health, but if Oliver keeps producing like this, Mathews may have lost his starting role.
- Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos ($315): This is a gamble, but it is in the category “high risk, high reward”. Montee Ball was on crutches after the game and could be out a while – we just do not know yet. That likely makes Hillman the starter, which gives him a ton of value as the first back for Peyton Manning. Another risk is C.J. Anderson, who could push Hillman for touches right away. Recommendation – bid high on Hillman if you need a RB (and who doesn’t?), but add a low bid on Anderson to possibly get some lucky value.
- Brian Quick, WR, Rams ($266): You are going to have to hold your nose and take some Rams if you want some real fantasy pickups this week. Quick is the WR1 with 31 targets in four weeks, adding a stellar 5-87-2 line against the Eagles when St. Louis was trying to play catchup late in the second half. Quick is a WR3 with upside, especially when the Rams face teams likely to rack up points.
- Justin Hunter, WR, Titans ($227): Hunter has been considered the likely “other starter” for Tennessee on the other side of Kendall Wright for some time now, once the team finally realizes he offers more upside than Nate Washington. That finally looks to be a reality as Hunter played all but two of the 70 offensive snaps for the Titans in Week 6, racking up a 3-99-1 day on five targets. He is a WR3 with WR2 upside if Jake Locker returns to action soon.
- Andre Williams, RB, Giants ($225): One of three “Chump Change” guys from last week that have seen their price jump up significantly. Williams cleaned up in garbage time in Week 4, but Rashad Jennings got hurt last week and made Williams the likely top back going forward until Jennings returns to action, which might not be until Week 9 after New York’s bye week.
- Rueben Randle, WR, Giants ($205): While everyone will be infatuated with Odell Beckham Jr, look and see if Rueben Randle is available. If he is, get the hot Red Zone target for Eli Manning at wide receiver.
Medium Money is reserved for players who could be bye week starters or that have upside potential on good matchups in most league formats.
- Antone Smith, RB, Falcons ($153): One of three “Chump Change” guys from last week that have seen their price jump up significantly. Atlanta may not be giving Smith many touches, but he has been ridiculously productive when given the chance (192 yards, 3 touchdowns on just 13 touches through Week 4, and another touchdown in Week 5). Steven Jackson may not last all season long, and Smith could be the next starter called upon by the Falcons.
- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings ($145): Bridgewater looked very solid as the starter in Week 4, but his value will be a little depressed with an ankle injury which sidelined him in Week 5. Take advantage and add him as a strong QB2 option.
- Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens ($133): Baltimore remains a running back by committee situation, but Forsett looks to be the top back – for now. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro is going to push him for snaps, carries and touches all season long.
- Mike Glennon, QB, Buccaneers ($133): If the cupboard is pretty bare in your league at quarterback, Glennon offers solid value as the probable starter the rest of the year in Tampa Bay. Glennon has led this offense before, and Vincent Jackson is a solid WR1. One Mike Evans gets healthy again, Glennon will be a solid QB2 with QB1 upside.
- Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers ($127): This guy is too talented to be on the waiver wire. Even if he is hurt and you have to wait, he is worth it with Mike Glennon under center.
- Odell Beckham Jr, WR, Giants ($115): One of three “Chump Change” guys from last week that have seen their price jump up significantly. Once viewed as a gamble addition, Beckham scored his first NFL touchdown in Week 5 and looks to be a big part of the Giants passing game going forward. Snap him up in deeper leagues unless Rueben Randle is available, then target him first.
- Benny Cunningham, RB, Rams ($114): If Zac Stacy is out for a while with his calf injury, Cunningham becomes their top back and offers RB2 upside, especially with bye weeks in play. Stacy is believed to be ready to go in Week 6, but Cunningham is still worth a roster stash, especially if you own Stacy.
- George Winn, RB, Lions ($111): Who? Exactly, but does it matter? George Winn posted a solid 11-48 rushing with no other running back healthy for Detroit in Week 5 at the end of the game. The 2013 undrafted free agent (UDFA) out of Cincinnati has an opportunity for his third NFL team with both Joique Bell and Reggie Bush banged up.
- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Dolphins ($107): Miami comes out of a bye, which means that this is a perfect time to grab a Dolphin with upside. Lamar Miller has looked just OK as the lead back, and Moreno offers a higher upside. Pick him up now while other owners look at more immediate help, especially with Moreno possibly one more week away from action.
- Austin Davis, QB, Rams ($107): Yes, the score was 34-7 and then Davis racked up a ton of value, but at the end of the day, your fantasy team does not care and neither should you. Davis is getting the ball to the open guy and the results are adding up. He makes for a QB2 with QB1 upside in the right matchups.
- Louis Murphy, WR, Buccaneers ($103): As long as Mike Evans is out, Murphy will have some fantasy value. He is not great, but offers WR3/flex value through the bye weeks.
- Eric Ebron, TE, Lions ($102, $115 in PPR-bonus leagues): Detroit loves to throw and they have a ton of fantasy producers, but if Ebron starts to get on the field more like he did in Week 4, he offers good upside in an offense that has produced TE1 weeks with Matthew Stafford under center. Ebron lost a TD on an overturn in Week 5, and might see more action with Calvin Johnson hurt.
- Kenny Britt, WR, Rams ($102): Britt is pushing for the steady WR2 role for St. Louis opposite Brian Quick, turning six targets into three catches, 68 yards and a score against the Eagles. The problem? Two of the other three targets were drops. That makes Britt a high risk, high reward type of receiver. Tread carefully here, especially if you need to put him in a lineup.
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.
- Timothy Wright, TE, Patriots ($95, $115 in PPR-bonus leagues): Remember how good Tom Brady was with two effective tight ends? I sure do, and you should grab Wright before the rest of your league remembers as well.
- C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos ($77): This is an even bigger gamble than adding Ronnie Hillman, but has major upside. Anderson was inactive Sunday, but Denver loves him and he could be splitting time with Hillman very quickly. Anderson has more talent than Hillman, but it is raw talent. If he can pass protect, Manning will push to use him more.
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