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, like Victor Cruz last year. 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 Frank Gore’s understudy, get him now before he 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 Green Bay 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, Green Bay and Philadelphia 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: This is not a great week for waiver wires, so I went on to dig pretty deep. With six teams on a bye week and a few coming back, it is tricky to find value right now. Harvesting from teams that are taking Week 8 off is a good plan to get ahead of your league for Week 9 and beyond.
Week 9 Comment: You might be running out of time and money at this point of the season. The year is half over, so grab some potential values while you still can. Most of the byes will be behind us after Monday, so start planning for the rest of the fantasy regular season and the playoffs now.
Week 10 Comment: Just a few more weeks of byes and fantasy regular season. Get the players you want now with whatever money you have, and start getting a roster ready for the fantasy playoffs.
Now, on to some specific players to target here in NFL Week 10 of the 2016 season:
Big Bucks are reserved for immediate starter potential players (QB1, RB1/2, WR1/2/3, Flex, TE1) in most league formats.
- J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals ($203): Arizona grew weary of the drops from Michael Floyd and promoted Nelson to the starting lineup, so he would have been one of the hotter pickups for the week last week, but Arizona was on a bye. His two touchdown performance last Sunday against Carolina went relatively unnoticed thanks to the schedule, so if he went unclaimed, go get him now.
- Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles ($188): Let’s get this out of the way – Sproles is the lead back in Philadelphia until further notice. He has more value in PPR leagues, but he has to be owned as a RB2/flex option at this point. He also offers punt return upside (which he nearly hit last week against the Giants), but he deserves a roster spot in all league formats.
- Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals ($173, $229 in TE PPR-bonus leagues): Tyler Eifert put up a very strong showing in Week 8 against Washington, racking up over 100 yards with a score on nine receptions. I think the timeline to ease him back in is over, and he immediately becomes the second target in the Cincinnati passing game. If by some chance he is still available, snap him up quickly. He might still be available thanks to the bye week last week for Cincinnati.
- Cole Beasley, WR, Cowboys ($157): If Cole Beasley is still on your league’s waiver wire, scoop him up now because he is very quietly having an outstanding season. The speedy wideout is on pace for eight touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards receiving, and he creates matchup problems for nickel and slot corners nearly every week. Beasley pulled in all six of his Week 9 targets against the Browns for 58 yards and a touchdown, and that number of catches and yards is a reasonable expectation most every week the rest of the way.
Medium Money is reserved for players who could be bye week starters or that have upside potential on good matchups in most league formats.
- Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers ($135): Tampa Bay has no running game and a terrible defense. That is usually a great recipe for the quarterback to put up big fantasy numbers, and that is exactly what Winston keeps doing in losing efforts. Winston had three touchdown throws and 261 yards against Atlanta last Thursday night, and I expect more of the same against Chicago this week.
- Eli Rogers, WR, Steelers ($125): Hey, remember Eli Rogers? The Steelers did after weeks of doing next to nothing, but they got the slot receiver going against Baltimore in one of the few bright spots for their 21-14 loss to the Ravens. Rogers had six catches and 103 yards with 10 targets, so with Darrius Heyward-Bey injured, Markus Wheaton falling out of favor and Sammie Coates Jr catching none of his five targets, Rogers could be the WR2 opposite of Antonio Brown as soon as this Sunday.
- James Starks, RB, Packers ($113): If Starks is healthy enough, he becomes the lead back for the Packers, plain and simple. They would love someone else to step in and help Ty Montgomery in a backfield that lacks real rushers.
- Rob Kelley, RB, Washington ($108): Overall I am not a fan of the Washington run game, but for now it looks like Rob Kelley is ahead of Matt Jones. Head coach Jay Gruden has said that Kelley will get the early down work ahead of Jones after the team’s bye week, but this screams “committee” overall. Kelley had 87 yards and a score on 21 carries in Week 8 against the Bengals, but he did not show that much of a spark. He did, however, hang on to the ball, which does put him ahead of Jones just for that. Washington has tough matchups the next several weeks (Minnesota, Green Bay, Dallas, Arizona) so do not expect much more than a RB2/flex option at best from any lead back in Washington.
- Corey Coleman, WR, Browns ($107): Coleman returned to action in Week 9 after breaking his and missing six games, but the results were minimal (3-41, seven targets). Cleveland still needs to get their offense in gear (and get a win), but Coleman offers some upside for a team that will be throwing more than running most of the second half in nearly every contest the rest of the way.
- Kapri Bibbs, RB, Broncos ($105): There is going to be a lot of speculation when it comes to the Denver backfield this week. Denver gets a great matchup against the Saints, but beat writer Mike Klis tweeted out that the ratio of snaps figures to change towards Bibbs getting more action this week. I do not read that as a changing of the guard from Devontae Booker to Bibbs, but Bibbs will get more chances. He is worth adding to your roster or handcuffing to Booker, but do not go crazy here.
- Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars ($104): Jacksonville switched offensive coordinators (out – Greg Olson, in – Nathaniel Hackett) which might have led to Ivory’s best game of the year. Ivory had 108 yards on the ground on just 18 carries (along with one catch) for his top yardage and carry performance this season. If Jacksonville keeps the balanced offense and leans on Ivory the rest of the way, he becomes a RB2 option and should be on a roster.
- Tim Hightower, RB, Saints ($103): Hightower looked like a competent backup against the 49ers, but even those produce well this season. Hightower had over 100 combined yards (87 rushing, 15 receiving) but no runs over 10 yards against arguably the worst run defense in the league. After Mark Ingram II reaffirmed his lead role status (158 yards and a score on just 15 carries), Hightower is handcuff material only.
- Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars ($101): Lee had a productive Week 9 with his longest reception of his career (51 yards) that helped propel him towards an 84-yard day. Lee pulled down four of his eight targets and was involved in the passing game more with Allen Hurns getting sidelined with a concussion. If Hurns misses more time, Lee is in the WR3/flex conversation for Week 10 as the Jaguars face Houston.
- Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants ($100): Victor Cruz was knocked out of the game in Week 9, which opened the door for more targets for rookie Sterling Shepard. Shepard stepped up, catching three of six targets for 50 yards and a touchdown. If Cruz misses more time, Shepard’s value should increase.
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 ($95): I can’t believe I am writing up a guy who many thought would be a QB1 this season, but football is a funny game. If Bortles is out there, he is worth adding if only for matchups with Detroit (Week 11) and Tennessee (Week 16) later this season.
- DuJuan Harris, RB, 49ers ($94): Harris looked great last week against New Orleans, but honestly who doesn’t this year? Harris had 99 yards combined before halftime and finished with 59 on the ground and 83 yards receiving plus a touchdown against the Saints. If Carlos Hyde misses more time, Harris becomes a RB2/flex option with upside in good matchups – but not in Week 10 against Arizona.
- Kenny Britt, WR, Rams ($93): Britt converted six Week 9 targets into four catches, 49 yards and a late touchdown against the Carolina Panthers. Britt is having a very respectable season and is on pace for career bests in catches and receptions. He warrants WR3 consideration in most leagues, but especially those with PPR formats.
- Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys ($92, $99 in TE PPR-bonus leagues): Do not get crazy chasing points here if you are going after Jason Witten. The former Pro Bowl tight end is not what he used to be, but in great matchups like the Browns he offers good upside. His production should dip way back down to TE2 levels starting in Week 10 against the Steelers.
- Robby Anderson, WR, Jets ($88): I keep writing him up every week, but he deserves the attention. He had a great catch late in the game against the Dolphins and nearly scored his first NFL touchdown, but he had to settle on a respectable 4-49 day on six targets. With six targets in four of the past five weeks (see why I keep writing him up?), he deserves a roster spot in deeper leagues.
- Lance Kendricks, WR, Rams ($88, $94 in TE PPR-bonus leagues): Kendricks saw a dozen passes in his direction in Week 9, converting seven of those for 90 yards – but a key drop in the fourth quarter is what he will be remembered for from this contest. Kendricks had the ball hit him in the chest at the goal line and he dropped the sure touchdown. Going forwards, he represents strong TE2 value with TE1 upside in plus matchups.
- Dominique Jones, TE, Dolphins ($87, $91 in TE PPR-bonus leagues): Jones caught three of four targets for 42 yards and a score against the Jets in Week 9, and he looked very good getting that done. The 2012 UDFA became the starter with Jordan Cameron on injured reserve and Dion Sims out with a concussion, but the point is that Jones is the guy now and he looked pretty darn good this Sunday. Snap him up as a backup tight end.
- Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers ($87): Tampa Bay played on a short week last week and had to go with Barber as their top back with Doug Martin still not ready and now Jacquizz Rodgers in a walking boot. Martin and Rodgers are still not practicing on Monday, and also Antone Smith is out for the year. This is Barber’s backfield, for better or worse. He did not do much against Atlanta on Thursday (11-31 rushing, 4-24 receiving) but had the most targets of any back in a game where Tampa Bay had to throw all second half. Barber could have a much better showing this week against the Bears. He is definitely worth a consideration on a week where byes are still going on and choices on the waiver wire at running back are getting slim.
- Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons ($86, $91 in TE PPR-bonus leagues): Hooper got the start in Week 9 with Jacob Tamme out, and he converted his six targets into three catches, 46 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay. The rookie is not quite ready to ascend to TE1 levels, but during bye weeks he makes for a decent option especially if he gets another start this week against the Eagles.
- Brian Quick, WR, Rams ($86): Nothing is really too attractive about the Los Angeles passing game, but Brian Quick is putting up respectable numbers. Quick pulled down four of six targets for 48 yards, a total he has hit or exceeded in six straight contests. While not flashy, he is a bye week WR3/flex consideration.
- Jalin Marshall, WR, Jets ($85): Now that you know who Robby Anderson is, allow me to introduce you to Jalin Marshall. He is an undrafted free agent (UDFA) from Ohio State that got a big signing bonus back in May, so the Jets must have liked him coming out of college. He was getting a lot of work in preseason and September but tore his labrum, which helped Quincy Enunwa and Anderson move up the depth chart. Now that he is healthy, he’s back in the mix and actually led the Jets in receiving as he caught three of four targets for 59 yards and his first NFL touchdown against Miami on Sunday. Sleeper. Alert.
- Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills ($81): Rex Ryan is hoping his star wide receiver can return this season. If you can get him and stash him in the hopes he can play in December, Buffalo has some choice matchups for the fantasy playoffs (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Miami). He is worth that gamble if you can afford it.
- Adam Humphries, WR, Buccaneers ($79): I keep talking about the same guys but that’s because they keep putting up numbers. Humphries was targeted seven times against Atlanta on Thursday and pulled in five of those for 46 yards and a score (and yes, garbage time still counts). Tampa Bay has a terrible defense and lacks a ground game, so all the receivers are going to be heavily involved when the offense has the ball. Snap up Humphries as a WR3 / flex option.
- Kenneth Dixon, RB, Ravens ($77): I know, I know – you are all tired of reading about Dixon at this point, and I am pretty tired of waiting for him to get the lead job in Baltimore, but let’s look at how Week 9 went against Pittsburgh. Terrance West started but was ineffective (15-21 rushing, 1-6 receiving) and only played 30 snaps while Dixon was on the field for 20. Dixon did not set the world on fire either with 9-13 rushing and two catches for no yards, but I am going to hang my hat on those 20 snaps which is an increase over Week 6 (10) and Week 7 (just four). If ever there was a week for the rookie to emerge, this is it in a home game against Cleveland. I still say stash him if you can and wait for Dixon to finally take over as the top back as the rookie continues to learn the league.
- Will Tye, TE, Giants ($75, $83 in TE PPR-bonus leagues): The Giants need some receiving help beyond Odell Beckham Jr Jr., and swapping Will Tye ahead of Larry Donnell may be a step in the right direction. Tye had four catches on seven targets against the Eagles for just 33 yards, but Philadelphia defends tight ends well. The important part is the seven targets and that Tye is first on the depth chart (and played 46 of 64 offensive snaps). He is a sneaky addition that could be usable in plus matchups, like against the Bengals this week or Cleveland in Week 12.
- Bilal Powell, RB, Jets ($73): Powell is the backup to Matt Forte, but he is one of the better backup running backs in the NFL. Powell saw work as a runner (6-22) and as a receiver (4-29, four targets) but offers little value with Forte owning the majority of the work. He is a handcuff or a flyer, that’s all for now.
- Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots ($67): Anyone remember him? Placed on the IR before Week 1, Lewis is getting healthier and is eligible to play now. Considering his ADP back on August 29th (which was even higher on August 1st), Lewis is definitely stashing on your roster (and on IR, if you have it). This is going to be the last time to grab him, as New England enters the bye and could bring him back for Week 10.
- Paul Perkins, RB, Giants ($55): The Giants’ run game is a mess, but the one guy with the most potential is Perkins. That’s not a ringing endorsement, I know, but it was not meant to be. Perkins is the best option they have, but by no means do I want Perkins starting on my fantasy roster.
- Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Vikings ($66): Patterson had eight targets in Week 9 against Detroit, but he only caught six for 45 yards and dropped what would have been the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. He is very fast and has big play upside, but his hands continue to let him down. He is the epitome of a “boom / bust” receiver.
- C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Texans ($61, $64 in TE PPR-bonus leagues): Two weeks ago everyone was talking up “C.J.”, and he paid off nicely with a touchdown catch despite only 43 yards receiving. His value is not totally exhausted just yet, as Brock Osweiler still likes to target the tight end. If you need a backup option, you can get him very cheaply because the Texans were off last week and he might still be under the radar in your league.
- Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings ($60): Thielen is a competent possession receiver for Minnesota with good blocking skills, but that does not help his fantasy numbers. He had six targets in Week 9 against the Lions, catching four for 68 yards but that is pretty much his upside. He is a roster filler guy but you can probably do better.
- Bryce Treggs, WR, Eagles ($59): With the Eagles cutting Josh Huff, Bryce Treggs (UDFA, Cal) was active and showed off his speed to stretch the field with a 57-yard catch and run against the Giants in Week 9. He has 4.39 speed and saw four targets against New York, catching another to finish with a 2-69 day. With every wide receiver not named Jordan Matthews struggling for Philadelphia, Treggs could get more run the rest of the season.
- Taylor Gabriel, WR, Falcons ($58): Gabriel tied Mohamed Sanu in second place for receptions in Week 9, catching all five of his targets for 52 yards. Gabriel was active in other areas of the offense, running the ball on jet sweeps twice for 24 yards including a touchdown. Every element of the Atlanta offense is worthy of fantasy consideration right now, and Gabriel is in the WR3/flex conversation against the Eagles in Week 10.
- Quinton Patton, WR, 49ers ($56): Patton was part of the offensive breakout against New Orleans in Week 9, as he converted six of nine targets into 106 yards. Patton took full advantage of the matchup, but it might be a flash in the pan given the great game everyone had against the Saints. Temper both expectations and bidding here.
- Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers ($56): Kaepernick exploded last week against New Orleans, throwing for almost 400 yards and two touchdowns while adding 23 yards on the ground – but that was mostly because the Saints are nearly as bad as San Francisco on defense. Kaepernick did demonstrate that he deserves to be the starter for the 49ers, but his fantasy value is only in perfect matchups. The good news is that he has a few the rest of the way (Tampa Bay in Week 12, and possibly Green Bay in Week 14) so he is in the QB2 mix.
- Dwayne Washington, RB, Lions ($55): Washington was inactive in Week 8 but was promoted to the RB2 for Detroit against Minnesota, converting 10 carries into 26 yards. He might be worth owning for a matchup after the bye week with Washington, but the upside is rather limited.
- Damian Williams, RB, Dolphins ($47): Williams had a quiet Week 9 (5-29 rushing, 2-20 receiving) but it became clear that he is the RB2 to Jay Ajayi for Miami now that Arian Foster has retired. If you want Ajayi’s backup, here he is.
- Russell Hansbrough, RB, Buccaneers ($44): If you are in a very deep league and running back choices are poor, or if you just feel like throwing a dart at a guy with some upside, consider Russell Hansbrough. Tampa Bay is out of options at running back with Doug Martin and Jacquizz Rodgers both hurt and now Antone Smith going to injured reserve. The Buccaneers just promed Hansbrough from their practice squad and he is the backup to Peyton Barber, so all Hansbrough has to do is show flashes of talent that might move him past Barber to become a lead tailback. There are far worse deep flyers to take.
- Ronnie Hillman, RB, Vikings ($31): Hillman was the best running back the Vikings could offer up against Detroit in Week 9, which is not much of a ringing endorsement. Hillman (7-30 rushing, 1-30 receiving) looked better than both Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, but McKinnon is just getting back from his injury. If you want to roll the dice on Hillman in a deep league I cannot fault you, but odds are there are better flyers with higher upside.
- Terron Ward, RB, Falcons ($29): Ward was the RB2 to Devonta Freeman’s clear RB1 role once again in Week 9, but with Tevin Coleman sidelined he had some minimal value. Ward is only worth using if both backs ahead of him get banged up.
- Antonio Andrews, RB, Titans ($27): Derrick Henry could be sidelined for multiple weeks, which promotes Antonio Andrews to the RB2 spot for the Titans. Tennessee will rely heavily on DeMarco Murray, but if anything happens to him it will be Andrews’ backfield. Unfortunately, Andrews is just not that good.
- Paxton Lynch, QB, Broncos ($25): Purely a speculation add, but Trevor Siemian has not looked very good for Denver so far. He is worth a gamble in deep leagues, but not much more.
- Kenneth Farrow, RB, Chargers ($23): Farrow is Melvin Gordon III’s handcuff, that’s it. Bid accordingly.
- Bryce Petty, QB, Jets ($11): If you are looking at the future, consider Bryce Petty as a backup quarterback who might start soon in New York. Petty came in for some spot relief of the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 9, completing two passes for 19 yards, but the bigger concern for the Jets has been how poor Fitzpatrick has fares this season. At some point, Petty should start – and it could come in Week 12 after New York’s bye.
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