For years, Dynasty Sports Empire (DSE) used a First-Come, First-Serve (FCFS) process for acquiring Free Agents. The FCFS system had its advantages and disadvantages. Most notable was that some General Managers (GMs) were glued to an electronic device when a player was dropped, and they grabbed players while other GMs were at work, taking care of family business, running errands, or even sleeping. This was a disadvantage for a lot of GMs. DSE adopted the widely popular Free Agent Acquisition Budget/Bidding (FAAB) system and modified it to work with its daily lineup changes and free agent pick-ups to even the playing field. FAAB specifically is the process by which we add new players to our rosters daily through waivers. If a player clears waivers, then the FCFS system is still in play.
In this article, we will delve deeper into the specifics of how the system works and discuss some basic strategies for using FAAB during the season.
DSE sets a FAAB budget for each team to $500 for the entirety of the baseball season, and that money can be used to acquire players on waivers or used in trades if so desired. It is important to note the slight differences in the player claiming process between the Off-Season, Regular Season, and Post-Season. Let’s examine the FAAB rules on DSE first:
- After the yearly draft, all un-drafted players will go directly to waivers.
- Waivers run daily at 9 am ET from the day after the draft’s conclusion until the first Monday of the DSE Post-Season.
- Players remain on a rolling bidding system until the start of the DSE Regular Season – which is the start of the MLB season.
- Rosters are expanded during the yearly draft and DSE Off-Season for GMs to “stash” a couple of extra players but will be required to drop players over the league max before starting the DSE Regular Season.
- A FAAB penalty of $25 will be charged to any team over the league max beyond the Max Roster Cut Date each DSE Off-Season.
DSE Regular Season
- On the first day of the DSE Regular Season, after the standard 9 am waiver run, all players will become FCFS until their respective game starts.
- Any player whose team does not play on a given day will be waivered at the start of the day’s last game.
- All remaining FAAB money and Free Agent claims are locked on the first Monday of the fantasy postseason.
- GMs cannot claim players during the DSE postseason but can drop players.
- Any remaining FAAB money will be become void after the DSE Post-Season and is not rolled over to the following season.
The use of FAAB to pick up a player on waivers is a blind bidding system. A GM who makes the highest bid on a player receives him. Usually, a player must be designated to be dropped to acquire a player unless a GM roster has a free roster slot. Freeing up roster slots can be done by either moving a player to the Injured List, Minors Eligible List or outright dropping a player.
Fantrax, where DSE hosts its leagues, uses a Conditional bidding system that serves two functions. The first is to set multiple players under a top bid to ensure the GM has someone replacing the player they are dropping. The second is to bid on various players at different amounts and drop one specific player till a bid is accepted. With each winning bid, your FAAB will be reduced accordingly. An example of the second type would look like this: Imagine Yadier Molina is your starting catcher and is injured, and you want to drop him and pick up a replacement catcher. You could put in bids for four different catchers with different amounts for each and list Molina as the player to drop for each. Once you win a bid and Molina is dropped, your remaining requests will not execute because you no longer have Molina release.
Strategy of Conditional Bidding
Having used FAAB in the past in other leagues and platforms, I often see GMs not making enough conditional bids for each of their desired drops. Inexperienced fantasy GMs may only make one of two bids for a player to be dropped. If you are dropping a player because you want a better player, that strategy will work – because if you lose the bid, you still have your original player. If you have an injured or demoted player and need a player who will score you the most points moving forward, there is no harm in listing a large group of replacement players. The more you bid on, the better your chance to get a quality player. If you only bid on one or two players and fail to have the highest bid, you will be forced to acquire whatever scraps are leftover when FCFS opens up between 9 am ET. Why take a zero for the day (or longer) when you had plenty of FAAB to bid on a player?
Strategy Behind Winning Bids
Moses never descended from Mount Sinai with tablets etched in stone on how to ensure you will win a FAAB bid – so don’t go looking for it. However, here is some advice to get you started:
- Study your league-mates, their tendencies, and bidding patterns.
- Vary your bidding patterns to throw off your competitors.
- Do not fall in love with your players, even in a Dynasty format. If you can better your team for the present and long-haul, drop the necessary players.
There are different types of bidders out there, and noting their habits will go a long way in successfully making intelligent bids. Nobody wants to waste one-fifth of their budget on a player only to find out you could have had him for $1.
Some bidders are aggressive and risk overbidding. These over bids often occur for a minor league player that just got called up to the big league, a player that came off the bench to have a three home-run game, or a pitcher making a spot start and struck out 7 of fifteen batters faced. Be wary of over-aggressive bidding and be conscious of why these players might have had a successful outing. Perhaps that three home run game came in a blowout when the opposing team was using shoddy relievers in a bullpen game; maybe that spot starter was facing a struggling team, and he is about to lose his next outing to a player returning from the Injured List. Make bids based not on what has happened but rather on the projected forecast for a player in the immediate and long-term future.
Likewise, some Uber-Conservative bidders rarely win their bids, fail to cut struggling players because they think the player is better than they are, or are waiting for a player they drafted to reach their expected potential finally. Conservative bidders often miss out on players because they lack the vision to see how a small move can better their team in ways that have more value than saving FAAB for an unforeseen injury that may never occur.
The smart fantasy baseball GM will learn when to be aggressive or conservative. GMs that utilize FAAB successfully consider future playing time and production rather than one-off past performance predictive of future performance.
Closers and Bullpens
Year in and year out, I see GMs panic and use FAAB to fix draft day mistakes, and this mostly happens with Relief Pitchers. At the time of this writing, Nick Anderson has been drafted in 99% of Fantrax leagues and has just been shut down with an elbow injury that is likely to sideline him for at least half the season (or more if the non-surgical route is unsuccessful). Every owner who drafted Anderson counted on those Saves and Ratios, no matter the format they are playing. Because of the draft capital invested in a Closer, these GMs are frustrated and motivated to overspend to replace their draft day bust.
Injuries and Closers-by-Committee have to be considered early and often. Do not wait for your Closer to go down with an injury – you may panic and spend half your FAAB budget on his named replacement, even if you bad-mouthed that player before the season as a mediocre scrub. Set-up men and middle relievers with good ratios are available cheap during the season before a Closer loses their job. Invest wisely.
FAAB Budget Management
Once your FAAB is gone, you can only pick up Free Agents as FCFS, and you are left with scraps. If you save FAAB for a rainy day, and it never rains, you likely missed out on players along the way that may have improved your team over the short-haul to win a week or two and get you off the bubble and into the playoffs.
When spending FAAB, consider as many variables as feasible. Some to think about are:
- Is the player worth more or less than the expected winning bid?
- Is playing time going to stay the same, decrease or increase for a player?
- Is batting order affecting a player’s production (who is hitting in front or behind him, and is he on a team that plays in a hitter’s or pitcher’s park)?
- Will this player be an everyday player or spot starter moving forward?
Be careful about spending your FAAB in bunches like when players are called up from the minors after passing their Minors’ year of eligible service time (this year in May). You may not have enough FAAB to deal with injures four months later when you need it most.
Learn to bid based on your budget remaining rather than a set amount all year long for different players’ levels. Bidding 25% of your budget on a mid-rotation starter in April is a different amount than would be 25% of your budget in July. As the season progresses, most everyone has less and less FAAB. Bidding $42 on a player in August because that is what you would have paid in April can be catastrophic. Keep tabs on your competitors’ budgets. Develop a number in your head for different levels of players. Some players may be worth 20% of your remaining budget, while others (given the factors discussed in the section above) might only be worth 5% of your remaining FAAB.
I like to keep at least 10% of my starting FAAB ($50 with DSE leagues) available for the last month of play that we can pick up Free Agents. A non-rostered player might get traded at the MLB deadline and become a Closer for a new team. You might need to acquire a two-start pitcher for a week to ensure a win and a playoff birth. If you have no money left, you cannot even make a bid. Don’t be the guy sitting in the dugout watching the action from the pine.
Thinking about FAAB
Always consider a bid before hitting execute and re-consider those bids before the FAAB waivers process at 9 a.m. EST daily. There is too much to gain and so much to lose by being glib about Free Agent pick-ups.
Hopefully, this article has helped those looking for answers, and if you need more help or questions answered, feel free to reach out to me on Slack (for DSE members) or social media via Twitter.