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 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 New England 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, New England and Tennessee 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 week is a make or break waiver wire week to me. Pick up the wrong guys and you will pay dearly for it. Waiver wire money will cost you, as will the wasted roster spot, but also the missed chance to get someone else. I see lots of Fools' Gold this week, so read on and choose wisely.
Week 9 Comment: Time to make some moves. With stars from six teams 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 to make some moves. With stars from six teams coming off of the bye week, those guys could fly under the radar. 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: If your fantasy playoffs are imminent, make sure you have backups at each spot - even kicker. Anyone can get hurt down the stretch.
TIGHT END SPECIAL
Before I get to my normal sections, with injuries to both Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, I wanted to point out just how many viable tight ends there are on the waiver wire. Here is my shopping list if you need to go get one:
- Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars ($201, $253 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): I would be surprised if he is available, but if he is, add a top three target for Jacksonville that could see more love if Allen Hurns misses next week. Hurns’ concussion likely led to Thomas’ big Week 12 (9-116-1), so add him either way and consider him a TE1 if Hurns is out.
- Jared Cook, TE, Rams ($157, $194 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Yes, St. Louis has quarterback issues, but whomever is starting is going to throw to their big tight end over the middle and down the seam. Cook had six targets and pulled in four for 58 yards against Cincinnati last week, and he remains a solid, high-end TE2 option.
- Will Tye, TE, Giants ($151, $180 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Larry Donnell remains sidelined and the Giants keep finding themselves in “must throw” games. He produced against Washington in Week 12, catching all six targets for 74 yards. He has high TE2 value with a little upside.
- Richard Rodgers, TE, Packers ($145, $184 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Aaron Rodgers loves his big tight end in the red zone, and Rodgers-to-Rodgers has become a weekly occurrence for the Packers. Rodgers hit Rodgers four times for 30 yards on Thanksgiving, and the tight end should remain a TE2 option going forward, but he has a lot of upside for his red zone targets.
- Jacob Tamme, TE, Falcons ($141, $183 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): The Falcons may have lost their winning ways but they have certainly found their top tight end in Jacob Tamme. He had five catches for 69 yards last week on six targets, making him a reasonable TE2 with some upside.
- Scott Chandler, TE, Patriots ($138, $177 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Scott Chandler will be a hot pickup target this week with Rob Gronkowski (knee) out for several weeks. Chandler had a big game going even before Gronkowski was hurt, as New England is really lacking in targets right now with so many injuries. Chandler had 11 targets against Denver, pulling down five of those for 58 yards and a touchdown. Chandler has TE1 potential but I would temper expectations especially if Danny Amendola returns.
- Owen Daniels, TE, Broncos ($133, $176 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Vernon Davis might be the new kid on the block, but Daniels stepped up as the top target against the Patriots with five catches and 48 yards on six targets. Daniels is a TE2 with limited upside but he remains above Vernon Davis – for now.
- Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers ($127, $174 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): While everyone wonders if and when Austin Seferian-Jenkins will return to action, Cameron Brate is performing nicely as the new starting tight end in Tampa. Brate caught five of six targets in Week 12 for 53 yards and a touchdown and makes for a solid TE2 with some upside.
- Crockett Gillmore, TE, Ravens ($125, $161 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Baltimore is desperate for receivers to target, so Gillmore as the top tight end has upside for that reason alone. He did not do much on Monday against Cleveland (3-20, four targets) but he has TE2 value for now.
- Heath Miller, TE, Steelers ($110, $145 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Pittsburgh knew that they had to throw in Seattle, and they used everyone that they had, including Miller. The Steelers found Miller for five catches and 45 yards, keeping Miller right in that “solid TE2” category.
- Ben Watson, TE, Saints ($109, $144 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Remember this guy? Yes, he is still around and productive in New Orleans. The Saints had a bad week against the Texans, but even so Watson had a solid performance (4-53 on nine targets). He makes for a decent TE2 pickup.
- Charles Clay, TE, Bills ($107, $135 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Tyrod Taylor was slinging the ball on Sunday, and he got his tight end in the mix as well. Clay piled up five catches for 31 yards on eight targets, so he has some TE2 upside considering that Taylor looked Clay’s way a lot in the red zone earlier this season.
- Vance McDonald, TE, 49ers ($105, $124 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Who had “Blaine Gabbert to Vance McDonald” as their must play last week? No one, that’s who – but it worked for the 49ers who nearly upset Arizona in a tight game on Sunday. Gabbert targeted his starting tight end seven times, and McDonald caught all but one for 71 yards and a touchdown. Riding the hot hand against the Bears in Week 13 may not be a bad idea, but I would want another option beyond next week
- Ryan Griffin, TE, Texans ($104, $121 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Houston and Griffin took advantage of the Saints defense in Week 12 as Griffin hauled in four of his five targets for 72 yards and a score. In the right matchup Griffin is a decent TE2.
- Vernon Davis, TE, Broncos ($101, $114 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): The newest Denver Bronco, Vernon Davis, slowed down in Week 12 as he was targeted less than Owen Daniels, but the upside remains. I would not use him just yet but he has potential and deserves a roster spot in deep leagues.
- Zach Miller, TE, Bears ($87, $104 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Another week as the starter and another touchdown for Zach Miller. Can he do it again? If Martellus Bennett is out in Week 13, he just might.
- Ryan Hewitt, TE, Bengals ($1, $1 in TE-PPR bonus leagues): Hewitt only has value if Tyler Eifert misses a start due to his neck, but even if Hewitt starts, there are so many better options out there that I recommend skipping this pickup.
Big Bucks are reserved for immediate starter potential players (QB1, RB1/2, WR1/2/3, Flex, TE1) in most league formats.
- C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos ($355): If Anderson was dropped in your league, go get him. He finally displayed the form that made him such a force in Denver last year, and he might be ready for another stretch run as the top back for the Broncos.
- David Johnson, RB, Cardinals ($231): Johnson needed not one but two injuries in front of him to get to be the lead back in Arizona, but now it might be happening. The rookie has the talent and now he has an opportunity. I would add him and hope that he takes hold of this shot.
- Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts ($229): Moncrief chose a great time to re-emerge as a legitimate WR2 for the Colts. Moncrief had 114 yards on eight catches and heads into a matchup against Pittsburgh that offers a lot of room in the secondary. Moncrief could be a solid WR2 in Week 13 and has value down the stretch.
- Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington ($221): Does Washington really have a shot at the NFC East? Stranger things have happened, and Kirk Cousins has the team believing in him. As long as DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed are healthy, Cousins is capable of a big performance.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets ($220): The veteran quarterback has some decent receivers to look for, and with a struggling ground game Fitzpatrick stepped up for four touchdowns against Miami on Sunday. Given the right matchups, it is clear that Fitzpatrick can produce QB1 numbers.
- DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins ($215): Rishard Matthews broke several ribs, which paves the way for rookie Parker to start in Miami. Parker had 10 targets in Week 12, pulling down four of those for 80 yards and his first NFL touchdown. His upside is high here and he could be a player that wins some fantasy teams a playoff game or two in December.
- Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans ($203): Mariota is a tough pill to swallow as your fantasy starter, but if you need one, you can do much worse. Mariota threw three touchdowns last week, but fewer than 300 yards – but touchdowns are touchdowns. He has multiple targets to look for in the offense and is getting more comfortable each week. I like him down the stretch as a decent QB2 with some upside.
Medium Money is reserved for players who could be bye week starters or that have upside potential on good matchups in most league formats.
- Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks ($167): Russell Wilson has been heating up and Doug Baldwin has been right there as his top target. Baldwin turned a great game into a career performance with a breakaway touchdown late on Sunday to wind up his six catch, three touchdown stat line. Ride the hot hand here on a WR3 with big upside for Week 13.
- Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens ($155): Baltimore needs warm bodies to step in as starters and produce, and Javorius Allen did so on Monday night against Cleveland. Allen had 16 touches (12-55 rushing, 4-29-1 receiving on five targets) and did enough to keep the Ravens alive for all 60 minutes. Baltimore needed every second in that game to win in dramatic fashion, but do not forget Allen’s contributions.
- Tavon Austin, WR, Rams ($148): St. Louis keeps getting their speedy receiver the ball, either through catches (6-33) or as a rusher (4-63-1). His 10 touches added up to more than 100 yards and a touchdown, so even with quarterback issues Austin has WR2 upside, especially as a kick returner as well.
- Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions ($145): Abdullah had 17 touches on Thanksgiving resulting in 75 yards, and he is the closest thing that Detroit has to a feature back. If you need a flex RB with some upside (and he does return kicks, too) then he is worth considering.
- Seth Roberts, WR, Raiders ($138): Fans of Roberts have been waiting for a game like Week 12, where Roberts finally broke out as the WR3 for the Raiders and had a big day. Derek Carr threw at Roberts seven times, and he responded with six catches, 113 yards and two touchdowns. He is a must add this week as the Raiders could be getting Roberts on the field much more often down the stretch.
- Theo Riddick, RB, Lions ($137): Riddick gets most of his work as a passing down option, but Detroit tends to fall behind and have to throw. That works well for Riddick’s value, but even last week in a win, Riddick had five catches for 62 yards and a score. He has more value in PPR leagues (possible RB2) but offers flex appeal overall.
- Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts ($136): Recent news came in that Frank Gore is old banged up, which means backup Ahmad Bradshaw could see a lot more work down the stretch. I like the pickup as his legs look reasonably fresh when he gets a catch for Indianapolis.
- UPDATE - Bradshaw was placed on IR - so go get Dan Herron instead, but probably a little cheaper, like $115.
- Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens ($135): Stop me if you heard this one before – Baltimore needs playmakers. Aiken is as close as they can get in December, and he will be the WR1 for the Ravens the rest of the year. He is not flashy, but he offers a big play now and then and he had one of the more quiet 6-80-1 performances I have seen against Cleveland on Monday Night Football. Aiken is a solid WR3 option.
- Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers ($116): Boldin had his second solid game in a row for San Francisco, this time catching eight of 11 targets for 93 yards on the day against a tough Arizona team. Boldin has nice sleeper appeal against the Bears in Week 13.
- Dontrelle Inman, WR, Chargers ($114): Inman stepped up for San Diego, another team desperate for wide receiver help at this point of the season. Inman converted nine targets into a 5-65-1 day for Phillip Rivers as the Chargers beat Jacksonville. Inman has a tough matchup against Denver this week but makes for a decent WR3 option down the stretch.
- Jermaine Kearse, WR, Seahawks ($113): Jermaine Kearse scored two touchdowns in the same game for the first time in his NFL career, and he is a candidate for the “do not chase the points” category for this week – but I like him for a different reason. Jimmy Graham is out now and Russell Wilson is hot. If Seattle starts to use more three wide receiver sets, Kearse could see more targets the rest of the way.
- Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots ($103): Not much to see here, but New England needs skill players to step up and Bolden looked decent as a receiver out of the backfield. He caught all four of his targets for 84 yards and a long touchdown, so the upside is certainly there.
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.
- Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers ($89): Do not go chasing his big Week 12 day (9-201-1) as it will not happen again this year, but Wheaton has both WR3 / flex appeal and handcuff appeal to both Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. .
- Marquess Wilson, WR, Bears ($73): Wilson has a limited skill set as a receiver, but he offers value whenever he starts for Chicago. As long as Martellus Bennett and Eddie Royal are hurt, Wilson has some WR3 / flex appeal.
- Devin Smith, WR, Jets ($71): The rookie scored his first NFL touchdown late in the game on Sunday. Could that be a sign of things to come? Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall will dominate WR1 and WR2 targets in New York, but Smith might push for the WR3 role.
- Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Panthers ($67): Cotchery is a possession receiver, and not much more. He is a WR3 / flex in PPR leagues at best.
- Kenny Britt, WR, Rams ($57): Britt had 11 targets in Week 12, resulting in a 6-63 day – but he still cannot get in the end zone. Add him in only the deepest of leagues and hope that he gets more reliable production, but I cannot trust him yet at all.
- Akeem Hunt, RB, Texans ($55): This is a sleeper pick, for sure, but Hunt caught my eye this week when I saw the Texans play. He was just promoted off of the practice squad and he only had four touches, but the rookie from Purdue looked very quick when given the chance. There is little in front of him on the depth chart, so I like his upside for such a low price right now. If you have room and want to take a chance on a sleeper who could be starting late this year, I like Hunt.
- Shaun Draughn, RB, 49ers ($23): I list Draughn since many people will want to know – I view him as just a guy that offers little upside. Look elsewhere for a good pickup, even though he is starting. I see very little potential here.
- Robert Woods, WR, Bills ($6): Woods had a great matchup (Kansas City) and eight targets, but still only walked away with three catches in Week 12. Leave him on the waiver wire.
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