The concept of FAAB as a waiver system rose to prominence around the late 2000s/early 2010s. While I understand why it’s not the default, it certainly should be. For those new to the game, what is FAAB, and how should fantasy football managers use it to benefit their rosters?
What Is FAAB in Fantasy Football?
The most common waiver system is a continual rolling list. As the default on Yahoo, a continual rolling list awards players on waivers to fantasy teams based on a predetermined order. Once you claim a player, you move to the back of the line. As teams in front of you claim players, you move back up.
With a continual rolling list, you can only realistically pick up one key player from waivers every week. FAAB differs in that it gives every manager an equal opportunity to add players from waivers.
FAAB stands for Free Agent Auction Budget. It’s a blind bidding system where each manager submits a bid, or offer for a player in the form of a fake dollar amount.
Managers organize those bids based on preference. Then, the system awards the free agents to the highest bidders.
How Does FAAB Work?
Following your league’s draft, each team starts with the same amount of FAAB. The default is $100 but can be set to any amount.
Waivers process on Wednesday morning, the same way they do with every other waiver system. Once your fantasy platform runs its waivers, players go to the teams that bid the most. Everyone’s remaining budget is reduced by the amount of FAAB spent.
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In most leagues, any unclaimed players become free agents that can be added at any time without having to bid a dollar amount or wait any period of time.
Some leagues implement continuous waivers, which is a system where players are never free agents. Rather, waivers process every day (or every game day). However, this is not something you need to concern yourself with for now.
Managing Your FAAB Budget
Making sure you effectively manage your FAAB is definitely a challenge. Fantasy managers need to balance the importance of picking up useful players early in the season without burning through their FAAB too soon. That’s why FAAB strategy is important in fantasy football.
Using the 2023 season as an example, if fantasy managers could go back in time, every single one of them would say that guys like Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams were worth 100% of their FAAB as early as Week 2 or 3.
Every season, there will be players that, in retrospect, would have been worth every single dollar that early in the season, leaving you with nothing. If you knew right after your draft that you could forgo all of your FAAB for an extra second-round pick, you would do it in a heartbeat. That’s how valuable properly allocating your FAAB can be.
If done correctly, you don’t actually have to spend all of it. Oftentimes, the time waiver adds go for 50-60% of your total budget, still leaving you with plenty of FAAB to maneuver throughout the season.
Of course, the blind-bidding nature of the FAAB waiver system is the challenge. Ideally, you would bid $1 more than the next-highest manager for every player you want. But you can’t possibly know that ahead of time.
That creates a virtual game of chicken. You need to balance bidding as much as you’re willing to spend on a player against bidding as much as you think it will take to get him.
Know Your Team’s Strengths and Weaknesses
This part is crucial to properly allocating your FAAB. As you get deeper into the season, it becomes clearer what your team needs.
Once we’re into October or November, you can more confidently spend on players at positions you need. Early in the season, this can be much more challenging.
Sometimes, after your draft, you will know what your team requires to improve. If you went with a Hero RB approach, then you should be more inclined to shell out for a backup RB who just saw the starter go down, or a committee back that shows signs of breaking out.
FAAB Depreciates in Value
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression that a new car decreases in value the moment you drive it off the lot. Think of FAAB the same way.
Some fantasy managers take a more frugal approach to FAAB spending. They want to save their budget as best as they can in order to have buying power later in the season.
When the fantasy playoffs hit, this could be advantageous on the margins as you can block other managers from making moves. But the potential for this is nowhere near as beneficial as adding an impact player in the first month of the season.
FAAB is most valuable early on. This is because the sooner you add a player, the more matchups he can help you win.
It’s great if you have the FAAB to spend after a starting RB goes down in Week 12. But that running back does you no good if you’re already eliminated from playoff contention. And even if you’re still in it, he’s only helping you for a maximum of five weeks.
When you add that same type of player in Week 4, he can contribute for 75% of the season, which is far more valuable to your team.
This is not to say you should spend your FAAB early on with reckless abandon. Rather, if there’s a player you genuinely believe has a chance to go from a free agent to a startable RB2 or WR2, don’t be afraid to shell out a large chunk of your budget to get him.
In my experience, I’ve found an unwillingness to spend to be far more detrimental than overspending.
With the fantasy football season behind us, why not start preparing for your rookie drafts with our dynasty rookie rankings? Additionally, as you look to improve your team heading into 2024, our dynasty trade calculator can help you find the perfect deal to boost your championship chances.