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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.
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.
Now, on to some specific players to target here in NFL Week 7 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 ($405): If you are not convinced that he is a true feature back, you should check the highlights from the last two weeks. Oliver could keep every tailback, including Ryan Mathews, on the sideline the rest of the year.
- Rueben Randle, WR, Giants ($405): If Rueben Randle is still available, he should be scooped up quickly as he will see a ton of targets going forward with Victor Cruz out with a torn patellar tendon. Randle posted a respectable 5-52 against the Eagles in a poor offensive night. That should be his fantasy floor going forward.
- Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens ($375): Do not get trapped by the “3-headed monster” talk in Baltimore. Forsett has been a consistent contributor for Baltimore every single week, producing 10+ points in PPR leagues six weeks in a row. Go get him if he is out there.
- Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos ($315): If you gambled on picking him up, you were handsomely rewarded in Week 6. If not, his price is likely higher even though Montee Ball is one week closer to a return.
- Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs ($305, $377 in PPR-bonus leagues): I only mention Kelce this week in case your league fell asleep on him with Kansas City on a bye. Kelce should be rostered in all league formats.
- Odell Beckham Jr, WR, Giants ($277): Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr is the “next man up” with Victor Cruz suffering a torn patellar tendon Sunday against Philadelphia. The talented young receiver will see a huge boost in snaps and targets, with similar spikes in production expected.
- Andre Holmes, WR, Raiders ($265): Andre Holmes broke out in Week 6, scoring twice on four catches including a long score to start the battle with San Diego on Sunday. Holmes may hold on to his starter role after this performance, as he was on the same page often with QB Derek Carr.
- Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings ($215): Feature back, anyone? McKinnon started and dominated touches (17 to 3 over Matt Asiata), but will it stay that way? McKinnon has more talent than Asiata, but he has to deliver.
- Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals ($209): Even before A.J. Green injured his toe, Mohamed Sanu was the most targeted Cincinnati Bengals receiver. Now with Green hurt, Sanu exploded for a career best 11-120-1 against Carolina. Sanu is the unquestioned starter for the Bengals and compliments that offense well.
- Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens ($201): Flacco had four touchdowns in the first quarter and five before the midpoint of the second quarter against the hapless Tampa Bay defense. Flacco has elite talent when he is called upon to throw and lead the passing game early. Flacco could be in some shootouts down the road, including next week against Atlanta. If you own Nick Foles and need a replacement, grab Flacco if he is available.
Medium Money is reserved for players who could be bye week starters or that have upside potential on good matchups in most league formats.
- Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns ($175): Ben Tate is the clear top dog in Cleveland, but the noteworthy takeaway is that Terrance West was a healthy scratch in Week 6. If (when) Tate gets hurt again, Crowell is a very viable RB2/flex option – although if Tate goes down, West will be active.
- Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders ($167): McFadden appears to be far and away the better back for Oakland. Maurice Jones-Drew only had five touches compared to McFadden’s 16 in Week 6, and the Raiders looked like a better offense with that mixture. McFadden is a borderline RB2/flex player if he keeps up this pace.
- Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots ($166): Tom Brady appears to have a new favorite deep threat in Brandon LaFell, His big game on Sunday (4-97, two touchdowns) came on just six targets. LaFell is going to see that kind of volume going forward, but that was about his peak in production that you can expect. LaFell is a borderline WR3 with upside going forward and is worth a roster spot and a pickup.
- Davante Adams, WR, Packers ($161): Adams is the clear third wide receiver for Green Bay, and he nearly found the end zone in Week 6 with a pass intended for an easy score deflected at the line of scrimmage. Even with that disappointment, Adams converted six of the other seven targets for a very respectable 6-77 performance. Do not let the third WR designation worry you, as Aaron Rodgers will target Adams often every week. If Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb suffers an injury, Adams will be an immediate WR2 candidate.
- Owen Daniels, TE, Ravens ($160, $215 in PPR-bonus leagues): Baltimore is moving the ball more and more via the pass, and the tight end spot is a big part of it. Daniels is on the downside of his career, but he is a smart veteran who can get open 5-7 times a game.
- Antone Smith, RB, Falcons ($155): Part of me says you cannot add a guy who doesn’t get enough touches, but what if he scores every game? Smith will make you sweat, but he is so explosive, it is hard to consider him less than a RB2/flex option even with limited work.
- Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals ($149): Carson Palmer is a strong QB2 with QB1 upside now that he has helped his best two wideouts (Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd) both find the end zone for the first time this season. Palmer can post multiple touchdown games any given week and has three viable receivers (adding John Brown to the mix) and Andre Ellington is on of the best receiving tailbacks around.
- Mike Glennon, QB, Buccaneers ($145): Mike Glennon is capable of posting a 250-yard, multi-touchdown game most every week now as the clear starter for a team that has good receivers, a struggling run game and a terrible defense. That is a recipe for fantasy gold most of the time.
- Storm Johnson, RB, Jaguars ($145): The Jaguars have been thinking of elevating Storm Johnson to a starting role for weeks, but if it were not for a short touchdown plunge for Johnson his day would have been extremely forgettable – just like Jacksonville’s season so far. He is worth adding but not starting.
- Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans ($145): See Johnson, Storm – maybe $1 better.
- Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals ($135): Sometimes you just have to admit that there are vultures and thieves in this world. That is the case here with Jeremy Hill, who came in for a short touchdown plunge late in the Week 6 contest after Adam Jones returned a kickoff to setup a first and goal situation for Cincinnati. Hill has three rushing scores this year (compared to four for Giovani Bernard), all of four yards or less. Hill is a RB2/flex option and has high upside if Bernard gets hurt.
- John Brown, WR, Cardinals ($133): With Carson Palmer back under center for Arizona, all of the wide receivers get a big boost. John Brown is the third option for the Cardinals, but he gets enough work to be a WR4/flex right now with upside if Michael Floyd or Larry Fitzgerald misses any action.
- Jace Amaro, TE, Jets ($125, $166 in PPR-bonus leagues): So what does a team do when they have very little talent at wide receiver? They target the tight end. Amaro converted 12 targets into 10 catches and a touchdown on just 35 snaps. The rookie struggled early with the playbook but is getting better every game. He is a great pickup and spot starter for anyone with their top option on a bye or out in a given week.
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Buccaneers ($115, $145 in PPR-bonus leagues): Tampa Bay is not a very good team, but they do throw the ball and have to play catch-up most every week. Big targets like Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Sefarian-Jenkins provide three solid options for Mike Glennon.
- Derek Carr, QB, Raiders ($103): If you need a quarterback for the coming bye weeks, Carr just posted a very solid four touchdown performance against San Diego. Oakland struggles to run the ball and Carr is a solid QB2 when 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.
- Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars ($88): Bortles is another starting rookie quarterback, but he is on such a bad team that it is hard to rely on him as a fantasy starter. Jacksonville just does not find the end zone often enough for Bortles to be any higher than a low-end QB2.
- Tre Mason, RB, Rams ($85): If you are interested in speculating on the Rams run game, rookie Tre Mason was finally active in Week 6 against the 49ers on Monday Night Football. He was (very quietly) the leading rusher for St. Louis with just 40 yards on just five carries. Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham are not much to write home about, and this is about the time that Stacy emerged last season as the new starter for the Rams. If you want to get a potential midseason new starting tailback for cheap, adding Mason is not a bad gamble at all.
- Theo Riddick, RB, Lions ($77): Riddick had a productive day for Detroit, racking up 81 yards on just eight touches. His five receptions and a touchdown afforded him a Top 10 finish for Week 6 in PPR leagues, not that anyone likely started him. He is worth an addition as an insurance policy for Reggie Bush and Joique Bell owners, but not much more because of the crowded Detroit backfield.
- Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts ($77, $107 in PPR-bonus leagues): Dwayne Allen has the talent to be a respectable TE2 with TE1 upside, but Coby Fleener sees more targets on a regular basis from Andrew Luck.
- Scott Chandler, TE, Bills ($75, $101 in PPR-bonus leagues): Chandler had a big game for the Bills on Sunday, converting nine targets into a six catch, 105 yard game against New England. Chandler’s big performance was aided by a big deficit against New England and Darrelle Revis covering Sammy Watkins all day. Tread lightly.
- Timothy Wright, TE, Patriots ($75, $85 in PPR-bonus leagues): I mentioned Wright last week, and said: 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. Week 6 was a one-hit wonder with one catch for a short touchdown, so add Wright, but tread lightly
- Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots ($65): With New England’s loss of Stevan Ridley for the year, they will be looking for another back to compliment Shane Vereen. Bolden was the next man up after Ridley went down, but healthy scratch James White could be the choice. As always, the Patriot backfield could change on a weekly basis, but adding Bolden (or White) is not a bad gamble if you have roster room.
- James White, RB, Patriots ($57): With New England’s loss of Stevan Ridley for the year, they will be looking for another back to compliment Shane Vereen. Brandon Bolden was the next man up after Ridley went down, but healthy scratch James White could be the choice. As always, the Patriot backfield could change on a weekly basis, but adding either back is not a bad gamble if you have roster room.
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