When to use your FAAB budget and waiver priority

Last week, I discussed my philosophy regarding the use of the waiver wire in “first-come-first-served” type leagues. For leagues that use waiver priorities or FAAB, however, things can get a little bit trickier. Today, I’d like to give a few of my thoughts on these kinds of leagues.

Waiver priorities

The exact setup of these kinds of leagues can vary greatly, but many leagues that use waiver priorities combine it with a “first-come-first-served” approach (such as Yahoo! leagues). After the first few days of the season, all players are fair game and waiver priorities are used for players who get released or are newly added to the database. In leagues like this, I still generally recommend the approach I outlined last week. I really wouldn’t worry about using up a high waiver priority quickly, with a few exceptions.

If you are playing in the kind of league where Jimmy Rollins or Prince Fielder gets dropped after a poor first week and a half, then saving the waiver priority can be important. As long as owners aren’t dropping players who should be owned, though, who are you really saving it for?

The answer, in Yahoo! leagues, used to be “prospects” for many owners, but the Yahoo! database is much more complete this year. And even if you’re in a league where recalled prospects automatically hit waivers, there are very few worth saving your priority for. Matt Wieters is honestly the only one this year I would save it for. David Price? Tommy Hanson? Gaby Sanchez? Mat Gamel? Nope. None of them. Use your waiver priority aggressively as per my suggestions last week.

Other leagues put every free agent on waivers each week and resets the waiver priorities based on standings. In these kinds of leagues, again, be aggressive. You’ll be getting a new priority every week, so if you wind up with a good one, use it up.


FAAB bidding adds an extra element of strategy to leagues that I, personally, love, but they also add an extra layer of complexity.

The arguments
There are three common arguments for the use of FAAB:
1) FAAB should be hoarded
2) FAAB should be used aggressively
3) FAAB should be spent cautiously and frugally

Proponents of the first strategy are generally in AL- or NL-only leagues where they plan on saving FAAB cash in case of a midseason trade of, say, Manny Ramirez or CC Sabathia. These owners are swinging for the fences.

Proponents of the second strategy can be in any type of league but generally hold the philosophy that FAAB gives you no value if you leave it on the table and that you should acquire good players as they become available without worrying too much about budgeting.

Proponents of the third strategy are somewhere in between, not overbidding on players but not necessarily hoarding cash either.

My stance
Personally, I fall more into the second camp. In AL- or NL-only leagues, I don’t bother to wait on superstars switching leagues.

First, there is no guarantee that a star will actually be traded, much less to the right league. Second, you’ll have a tough decision to make on what to eventually bid for him. Your whole budget? If not, you’re risking losing him to someone else.

Even if a star is traded to the right league and you win him, we don’t know what caliber that star will be. Is he a $25 player? $30? $35? Let’s say $30 on average, but we must consider that we’ll only be getting about two months worth of time. That $30 player, as good as he is, will only be worth $10 to your team—and that’s if we are absolutely certain he will become available and that you’ll actually win the bidding for him.

In an NL-only league, that’s about as valuable as Luis Castillo or Pedro Feliz. If we discount for the uncertainty, maybe this player will only be as valuable as Jack Wilson or David Eckstein (on average), though we would need to factor in the value of whomever he’ll be replacing.

For me, I’m comfortable enough where I think I can attain “Pedro Feliz” value in bits and pieces throughout the year using my FAAB budget. In LABR, I spent $5 FAAB on Ross Gload, and I imagine he would have gone for at least $4 or $5 at auction. One week and five percent of my budget used, and I’m already halfway there.

Sample budget
There was a great article posted last offseason at Fantasy Baseball Cafe by Scott Swanay about the use of FAAB. To quote the important part:

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

The following is a sample FAAB spending plan for a $1,000 budget that allocates weekly dollars in proportion to the amount of time left in the season. If your league uses a $100 budget instead, divide the amounts shown here by 10 and round to the nearest dollar:

* (End of) Week 1 – spend $77; $77 spent year-to-date; $923 remaining.
* Week 2 – $73; $150; $850.
* Week 3 – $71; $221; $779.
* Week 4 – $68; $289; $711.
* Week 5 – $65; $354; $646.
* Week 6 – $62; $416; $584.
* Week 7 – $59; $475; $525.
* Week 8 – $55; $530; $470.
* Week 9 – $52; $582; $418.
* Week 10 – $49; $631; $369.
* Week 11 – $46; $677; $323.
* Week 12 – $43; $720; $280.
* Week 13 – $40; $760; $240.
* Week 14 – $37; $797; $203.
* Week 15 – $34; $831; $169.
* Week 16 – $31; $862; $138.
* Week 17 – $28; $890; $110.
* Week 18 – $25; $915; $85.
* Week 19 – $22; $937; $63.
* Week 20 – $18; $955; $45.
* Week 21 – $15; $970; $30.
* Week 22 – $12; $982; $18.
* Week 23 – $9; $991; $9.
* Week 24 – $6; $997; $3.
* Week 25 – $3; $1,000; $0.

I haven’t checked the math on it, but it looks pretty sound and, if nothing else, the logic is spot on. The longer you wait to acquire a player, the less impact he is going to have on your team. As obvious as that sounds, many fantasy owners don’t put it together. The players you get in April are going to count more than players who you acquire in June, making it wise to spend more on them (holding all else constant).

Swanay’s budget doesn’t necessarily need to be followed to the letter, though, because various league conditions will undoubtedly come into play. If Rollins does get dropped this week, you can be sure I’ll bid a good chunk of my budget on him. Or if there really isn’t anyone appealing out there in week three, I’ll sit on my money for a week or two. The underlying premise is what’s important, and that is to use your FAAB budget aggressively but intelligently.

Concluding thoughts

As I’ve said a couple times throughout this article, rules can be vary for these kinds of leagues, so if your league doesn’t fit anything I mentioned, feel free to comment or e-mail and I’d be happy to give you my take.

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Mike Gianella
14 years ago

One of the things that gets missed in this discussion (not just here but elsewhere) is that it depends on what your team’s individual circumstances are. Clearly, the most optimal scenario is one where you have a strong auction, no injuries, and only need to use FAAB to make some minor tweaks to your team. In that case, if you’re replacing one generic middle reliever with another, it doesn’t make all that much sense to be aggressive with your bid since many of these guys are interchangeable. Similarly, when you’re debating two marginal back-up catchers, bidding $15 to ensure you get the one you want doesn’t make much sense. I agree with bidding aggressively when you really want a certain player, but in deep leagues most of the players sitting out there in the free agent pool don’t justify a big bid.

Ted Brenner
12 years ago

Your draft position affects how early you start aggressively filling the holes in your team.Or if early in year your best power hitter gets a serious injury?