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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.
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.
Now, on to some specific players to target here in NFL Week 9 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.
- Mark Ingram, RB, Saints ($535): If Ingram is still available, he will be highly coveted after a huge game against the Packers last week. Ingram is seizing the opportunity to become the lead back for New Orleans, and he could hold that role and perform well in it with the Saints now in a fight for first place in the weak NFC South. Ingram is a solid RB2 with upside going forward.
- Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars ($405): If Robinson somehow was not added last week, he will be at or near the top of the list of Week 9 additions after a 100-yard day Sunday. Just like I said last week, I know that starting tailbacks do not grow on trees, but I have so many issues in trusting Robinson it isn’t funny. The Jaguars are really bad and they cannot score with any consistency, and Robinson is under 200 pounds and is one good hit away from being sidelined for quite a while. I get that you have to take risks for big rewards, but I am not going to do that with him. The price tag is a recommended bid if you really want him, but I would really hesitate to spend so much.
- Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots ($205): I had LaFell under $100 last week, but good luck if that is your planned bid just a week later. Tom Brady is looking more comfortable as a passer again, and he seems to like looking at Brandon LaFell on both medium and deep passes. LaFell had been more of a boom/bust guy each week, but Brady is looking in his direction much more, making him a respectable WR3 with big upside.
- Brandon Cooks, WR, Saints ($205): Drew Brees and New Orleans love their speedy rookie wide receiver. Cooks is being used as both a speedy rusher on jet sweeps and also to stretch the defense for big plays. No matter how he does it, Cooks is a huge value with his ability to get open and get in the end zone.
- Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs ($201, $267 in PPR-bonus leagues): I have a hard time believing that Kelce is still available, but I keep hearing that this is true. Kansas City needs to keep getting him involved in the offense as his receiving skills are very strong. A matchup against the Jets next week looks very inviting. Yes, this is a recording. Go get him!
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 ($157): 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. Now is the right time to add him with Green Bay on a bye week.
- Heath Miller, TE, Steelers ($155, $215 in PPR-bonus leagues): Ben Roethlisberger seemed to throw a touchdown to everyone wearing Black and Gold last week, but Miller’s numbers (7-112-1) are still impressive. Miller is not an every week TE1 though and faces a tough Baltimore defense this week, but he is a solid TE2 with spot start capability.
- Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals ($155): What else can I say about Carson Palmer to tell you he is worth adding as a very strong QB2 with upside? He has three solid receivers and a great pass-catching running back and plays for a team that is very competitive. Palmer can post 300 yards and two scores almost any week, which almost sounds pedestrian in today’s NFL, but Palmer is worth rostering for certain.
- Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers ($155): Pittsburgh has been in need of a second target to compliment Antonio Brown, and most had expected it to be Markus Wheaton. After this Sunday’s offensive explosion, Martavis Bryant could be pushing for more and more playing time. He has scored three times in the past two weeks and Ben Roethlisberger certainly likes his speed / size combination.
- Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers ($141): Evans could be a WR1 for Tampa Bay if Vincent Jackson gets traded, but even if that does not occur, Evans has WR3 fantasy value for a team that should be throwing quite a bit the rest of the year.
- Kenny Stills, WR, Saints ($140): Stills is not as consistent a producer for New Orleans as Brandin Cooks or a healthy Jimmy Graham, but Drew Brees loves to throw deep to a speedy target like Stills. Stills is getting more medium depth targets as well, making him a WR3 with upside.
- Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders ($140): Oakland is not very good, but they have zeroed in on McFadden as their lead back. McFadden is posting respectable numbers on a weekly basis, but nothing too stellar. If you are thin at RB, add McFadden as an emergency RB3/flex option.
- Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars ($140): Robinson continues to rack up fantasy points, even in garbage time – but they all count the same. Robinson’s 5-82-1 day keeps him as a solid WR3/flex fantasy option.
- Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns ($137): I made mention of Hawkins last week, and he stepped up with a big game in Week 8, finally landing in the end zone to go along with his 7-88 game against Oakland. Hawkins will be used less once Josh Gordon comes back, but worry about that later.
- Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers ($133): Pittsburgh has been in need of a second target to compliment Antonio Brown, and most had expected it to be Markus Wheaton – but now Wheaton is being pushed hard by Martavis Bryant. Wheaton is worth a roster spot, especially if Ben Roethlisberger remains a hot passer, but Wheaton could be losing more snaps to Bryant.
- Andre Holmes, WR, Raiders ($133): Holmes continues to be the boom/bust option in Oakland, and he boomed last week late to score a touchdown, wrapping up a respectable 5-69-1 day. Holmes is best used as a flex player with upside, like a DeSean Jackson but not nearly as valuable.
- Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs ($132): Davis is mostly considered as the handcuff to Jamaal Charles, but Davis is getting enough work (and performing well on those chances) to make him a RB3/flex by himself. Charles owners should have Davis already, but if he is out there, consider a smart pickup.
- Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals ($132): Giovani Bernard is starting to collect some bumps and scrapes, and Jeremy Hill has already been a touchdown vulture when Bernard was healthy. Hill has great upside should Bernard go down, but has RB3/flex appeal even as the second back in Cincinnati.
- James Jones, WR, Raiders ($131): While Andre Holmes continues to be the boom/bust option in Oakland, James Jones is the more consistent target for PPR and modest yardage production every week. Jones will not be a big producer most of the time, but his production floor is higher than Holmes, making Jones a solid WR3/4/flex type player.
- Theo Riddick, RB, Lions ($126): Reggie Bush was out for Detroit last week, and up steps Theo Riddick as a great receiver out of the Detroit backfield. Riddick is worth adding, especially in PPR leagues. Riddick is still the third option in Detroit behind Bush and Joique Bell, but if either gets hurt (again) then Riddick will greatly benefit and could be a RB2 immediately.
- Robert Griffin III III, QB, Washington ($115): Desperation play here, or sneaky one – call it whatever you like, but try and find a QB1 with more upside on the waiver wire. Griffin could be back under center very soon in Washington, and they need all the help they can get in D.C. right now.
- Jonas Gray, RB, Patriots ($115): I am never fully sold on any running back for New England, but if you want to base a decision on Week 8 performance, Gray is definitely the next man up to replace Stevan Ridley between the tackles for the Patriots. Just keep in mind that Bill Belichick could completely change that outlook as soon as next week.
- Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers ($113): Doug Martin got banged up last week, which might keep Martin from being traded – but in either event, rookie Charles Sims is nearing the time to return to playing for Tampa Bay. The rookie has a lot of upside and could be the top rusher for Tampa Bay in a few weeks. The Buccaneers are struggling on offense, but Sims could help spark a second half rebound. He is definitely worth adding and stashing in case he becomes a second half hero.
- Timothy Wright, TE, Patriots ($111, $157 in PPR-bonus leagues): Lost in the big days by Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski was the day for Tim Wright, who caught all seven targets in Week 8 for 61 yards and a touchdown. Still a speculative addition, Wright has high upside because Brady has been known to make two tight ends very valuable in fantasy in the past.
- Mychal Rivera, TE, Raiders ($107, $147 in PPR-bonus leagues): There’s an old belief that rookie quarterbacks love tight ends, and it held true again for Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders. Mychal Rivera piled up 83 yards on seven catches (nine targets) on Sunday against Cleveland. Despite the healthy performance, Rivera is not consistently performing at this level, which leaves him as just a TE2 with some upside in the right matchups.
- Kyle Orton, QB, Bills ($105): No running backs? No problem apparently for Kyle Orton and the Buffalo Bills. Highly efficient in Week 8, Orton completed just 10 passes but four for touchdowns. He is a reasonable QB2 and bye week filler at quarterback.
- Steve Johnson, WR, 49ers ($105): Stevie Johnson may be the WR3 for San Francisco, but he is getting a solid amount of targets and the production is there. Against Denver Johnson found the end zone again (before garbage time), posting 5-71-1 on seven targets. Colin Kaepernick is looking at Johnson more and more, and he has WR3 fantasy value in passing-favorable matchups. Now is a great time to grab him with the 49ers coming off of a bye.
- John Brown, WR, Cardinals ($104): Another team WR3 here in Brown, but his upside is just so high when he hits that he is worth a shot if you need a spot starter, as he can explode for a 100-yard game with a touchdown when Carson Palmer is on target.
- Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts ($101): Moncrief played well for Indianapolis in Week 8, but temper expectations as there are two things to keep in mind – the Colts were in major catch-up mode against Pittsburgh on Sunday, and Reggie Wayne will be back soon. Moncrief is a nice depth receiver, but when Wayne is healthy, his numbers will plummet.
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.
- Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons ($85): I put Douglas as a sneaky pickup now that he is back to action. Matt Ryan will throw often the rest of the way, and the Falcons will need all three receivers to be actively involved.
- Jace Amaro, TE, Jets ($81, $102 in PPR-bonus leagues): Amaro had a decent day in Week 8 and may get more targets from Michael Vick, but he is purely a TE2 with not much upside yet.
- Colt McCoy, QB, Washington ($77): McCoy lifted Washington over the rival Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football, posting great stats (25-30-299, 7-16-1 rushing) and doing just enough for Washington to win in overtime. The only reason McCoy does not get more FAAB love here is that Robert Griffin III III is likely to take over for him after the Week 10 bye. If you need a QB for Week 9, McCoy against Minnesota is a reasonable pickup.
- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers ($77): Stewart was the lead back for Carolina last week, but DeAngelo Williams is ready to return and I just do not trust the Panther running game at all. Stewart can be rostered in deep leagues, but he should not be in a starting lineup.
- Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Ravens ($65): Here’s the deal – you cannot trust Taliaferro on a weekly basis. Justin Forsett is the lead back, but Taliaferro could break off a score (or two) any week. He has value, but is highly inconsistent and cannot be trusted in weekly lineups yet.
- Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers ($63): Doug Martin got banged up last week, which might keep Martin from being traded – but in either event, Bobby Rainey is heading towards more chances. He had most numbers last week (66 yards on 14 touches) which speaks to how bad Tampa Bay is right now. Even if Rainey becomes the starter, he is no better than a RB3/flex, especially if Charles Sims is coming back soon as well.
- LeGarrette Blount, RB, Steelers ($55): If you own LeVeon Bell, it is time to add an insurance policy, especially if most of your roster has bye weeks behind it now. Blount has huge upside should anything happen to Bell.
- Alfred Blue, RB, Texans ($55): Just like picking up Blount, if you own Arian Foster, grab Blue.
- Zach Mettenberger, QB, Titans ($55): Do not let the stats fool you – Mettenberger is not ready for prime time yet or the NFL as a starting quarterback. Most of his production came well after Houston had the game sewn up, so consider him only as a QB2 or for depth at best.
- Michael Vick, QB, Jets ($53): Purely a desperation play at quarterback if you go after Vick, who has little left to offer at this point of his career and in New York.
- Juwan Thompson, RB, Broncos ($45): Thompson stole two touchdowns away from Ronnie Hillman last week, and with Montee Ball’s return still unclear, Thompson is one injury away from a huge upside role for Denver.
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