Last Week’s Question
In last week’s column, I
decided to extend our discussion of waiver wire practices because
I received too many responses to cover in one column. Of course,
the FF gods saw to it that I received even more responses in the
second week than I did during the first.
If I follow my usual practice of commenting on and providing
examples for these responses as I share them, then this week’s
column will be even longer than last week’s, so in the interest
of keeping this piece manageable, I’m going to divide the
responses into four broad categories and keep my comments to a
minimum. That way, you’ll learn about as many different
approaches in as limited a space as possible.
Category 1: Waiver Wire Preference
Is Not Directly Connected To Team Performance At Any One Point
In The Season
In our league we use a system of starting the waiver wire pickup
order by reverse draft order. Once you pick someone up you go
to the end of the list. This has been pretty fair so far and allows
easy planning on everyone’s part. It also allows unlimited
waiver wire pickups if you want and no one is ahead of you. The
order only matters for Wednesday pick ups, the first allowed pickup
day of the week. Then from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday morning
waiver wire pickups will not result in moving to the end of the
waiver wire order line. I like this system since it’s a
great exercise of strategy.
Category 2: Waiver Wire Preference Is
Only Partially (Or Under Certain Circumstances) Connected To Team
Performance At Any One Point In The Season
Initially, we give the highest waiver wire priority to the player
who randomly received the lowest draft slot. After the draft,
all players are on waivers for 1 week (we draft 2 weeks before
the season). If you put in a waiver claim, you drop to the lowest
waiver priority (if 2 people put in waiver claims they remain
relative priority to each other). The week before the season,
the players not claimed on waivers are free agents and can be
selected by anyone without loss in waiver priority. Any player
dropped is on waivers for 2 days following the drop, and that
continues throughout the season. During the season, all available
players are on waivers until Tuesday evening. Again, if you put
in a waiver claim, you move to the lowest waiver priority. From
Tuesday on, players not claimed on waivers are free agents and
can be selected by anyone without loss in waiver priority.
This system is sort of modeled on the baseball waiver system,
but I have seen it or something similar in many leagues. It helps
take away the fairness (your record doesn't affect your slot)
and keep the league competitive (you have to determine if that
week 1 wonder is worth dropping to the bottom of the waiver priority,
when next week there could be someone much better).
What we then do is in reverse draft order (12-1) for waiver picks.
The nice feature with My Fantasy League is that it has a “use
it and lose it” feature, where you stay in position for
waivers until you use your pick—then you go to the end of
So if you are fourth in line this week and two owners ahead of
you pick and one doesn't, you will be second in line the next
week. It makes you gamble on whether you should pick someone up
this week and then fall to the end of the line, or hold on to
your spot hoping someone "tasty" falls in your lap.
We had the worst-to-first method before this year and voted against
it because we felt the team with the best record always had the
last pick and rarely had an opportunity to improve his team. This
was particularly true when our six-team playoffs began, the sixth
seed picked before the one seed, etc. and that did not seem fair.
We do the bidding thing. All bids are due by midnight Friday,
unless there's a Thursday game, in which case all bids are due
by midnight Wednesday. The mild contention we encounter (and we've
been playing in this same league since 1983) is tie-breaking.
Over the years, we've evolved a system of bids with escalators
- in hope that the increases will break any ties. For example:
Zack Crockett: $5, 7, 8, 11
(meaning an initial bid of $5; if that's a tie, then a subsequent
bid of $7; if still tied, go to $8, etc.)
Not all ties get broken this way, in which case the player goes
unawarded. And, though we have an auction salary cap of $100 for
20 players, there's no salary cap in season, so no real reason
to bid conservatively - though everyone does. (We do play with
keepers - minimum 6, maximum 9 - so there's some incentive to
keep bids in perspective.) The no cap thing hasn't been a problem
because we've known each other a long time, and because we're
all of the same mindset concerning fantasy sports spending. No
Interestingly, we've never found a site that can be configured
to accommodate this, or even a simplified version of this with
no escalators. Every site wants ties broken. So, no matter how
automated and online we get, waiver bids still happen via email.
(Which is a big improvement over the answering machine method
we employed in the 80s, so there you go.)
I'm with Ron all the way on this one. My main league is what
we like to call a cutthroat league when it comes to the waiver
wire. An owner can add/drop at anytime including Sundays etc.
during the games by posting a time stamped message on our board.
Each move is $5 and you have to drop a player at the same position
as our league requires all rosters be the same.
We've got one owner who drops over $100 every season on add/drops
and more times than not it'll be a defensive move to try and screw
another owner. He also makes for some good laughs during the games
as when the league gets together on Sundays as soon as an off
player makes a good play or td someone will make a joke about
how Donnie will be adding the player shortly.
We've done first-come, first-served for over 10 years now, and
it works great and rewards those who are on top of the game from
We changed our waiver wire approach a few years back to address
the issue of rewarding the worst record. Every team is given $100
waiver wire funny-money for the season, bids are placed each week
for players desired, top bid wins. Bids are due each week by Wednesday,
sent to an email account setup just for this purpose. Commissioner
checks the email and sends out winning bids email. Idea came from
ESPN.com's Sports Guy Bill Simmons.
Our league uses a first-come, first-served approach to waiver
picks, but you have to pay for each pick with your own hard-earned
cash. All of the waiver money does go into the prize fund to be
paid out to the league winners at the end of the season. It makes
you think a little about whether you really want to shell out
$10.00 for a particular player. People still will pick up players
they legitimately need or want, but pass on players they really
might not need. That leaves plenty of players available for those
who need them. It works for us since we are all pretty much glued
to the games on the weekends and all have equal access to NFL
info. It does reward those who pay attention, but nobody has ever
In my league, which has been running for 14 years now, any player
that has not yet been on a roster (not drafted, not picked up
as a FA) is fair game to all teams, first-come, first-served.
(We are a little antiquated in that we do not us any online site
for our league, we just email our commish). So whoever get's the
first email in has priority for all nondrafted free agents. (I
was first to pick up Earnest Graham this past week. I grabbed
him after I had read online that the Caddy was in the shop during
However, for any player that has been on one of our teams and
then is cut, there is priority based on worst record until noon
on Thursday until week 11. After week 11, only players that were
not on someone’s roster in week 11 are available.
We’ve struggled with the waiver wire transactions in past
years –until we came up with this system. Essentially we
decided that at the start of the season it’s way too early
to determine which teams will need preferential treatment --and
it’s unfair to automatically allow one team to get a player
that could ultimately go on and win the league for them –especially
if that team was say just a few points behind some others. So
instead, this is what we go with:
Weeks 1-6 = Random Order
How it works: We will pull names to determine the waiver order
each week and then set the system up to reflect that.
Rationale: Keeps things fair. Too early to be giving anyone any
advantage over anyone else.
Weeks 7-11 = Reverse order by YTD Points
How it works: System will process waives by selecting teams with
the lowest points to highest points
Rationale: By this time the weaker teams should be starting to
show themselves and are in need of some help.
Weeks 12-17 = Combo Reverse Order and Random
How it works: The bottom 5 teams will use the Reverse Order Selection
and the Top 5 teams will use the Random Order.
Rationale: Still giving help to the lower teams (they get priority
based on their YTD pts), but this also makes sure the waiver
system won't determine the outcome of our top money spots.
Our league in its 11th year currently does the following: from
Tue until Thur at 9 PM you place requests. You can acquire 2
Free Agents weekly. 1st rights for 1st pick go to Worst Record
with least points until everyone Can get 1 pick. For those wanting
a 2nd Free Agent - rights go in reverse Order (Best to Worst).
It serpentines - just like our draft. On the Tue/Thur before
Week 15 (start of playoffs) 1st Rights go to - Best Record on
down to worst. This rewards the Best teams going into the playoff
PS - 11 years ago we used worst to best for 1st and 2nd pix
weekly includinggoing into the playoffs. We evolved into current
system about 5 years ago and all seem happy in our 12-team league.
Category 3: Waiver Wire Preference
Is Directly Connected To Team Performance At Any One Point In
We have a similar system set-up for waivers that Ron is complaining
about. Actually, we run a two-tier system. The first level runs
from the end of the Monday night game until midnight Thursday.
During this time period, people submit waiver requests. Then,
on Friday morning, I approve requests with a reverse power ranking.
The second tier is first-come, first-served, and it runs Friday
until kick-off of the first game of the week.
We use this type of waiver system for three reasons. One, to give
everyone the same opportunity to pick up a particular player.
Since I am in an office, I have access to data at all times. But,
my friend who is a construction worker would not. Two, not everyone
is football savvy. We have had trouble getting a full 12 teams
for our league every year. Handling waivers in this manner makes
it easier for new people in fantasy football to participate. Third,
we try to level the playing field as much as possible and increase
competition. Finally, we are playing for fun. If one person is
having a losing season and has no hope of winning, then they may
bag out. This is good for no one. This waiver system allows for
those losing teams to still develop into a strong one. This is
good for the player and the league, in our view point.
So to sum it up, use the waiver system where the weakest teams
get preference to promote fairness, competition, encourage new
players and to make sure everyone has fun.
In our league we have a meeting on thursday nights at a local
bar, ramada inn, and they give us $2.00 drinks and pizza. We
handle our waiver wire like this. We let the person who got
the lowest score for the week pick first, then the second lowest
picks second, etc. The highest points for the week picks last.we
keep doing that until everybody has drop and added.first everybody
drops players then we pick them up one at a time, like a draft.
For example if i drop 2 players and 2 other teams drop 3 players
i last for two rounds and they go 3 rounds.we start at 6:30
pm and if your 1 minute late you have to go to the end. This
makes owners be on time, especially if you pick at the beginning.
Category 4: Waiver Wire Preference Is Tied
To Multiple Factors (Possibly—But Not Necessarily—Including
Team Performance At Any One Point In The Season)
In our league, nothing is processed till Friday, so every owner
has time to get on the computer and check things out. the first
thing I look at is does anyone have any injuries(above all else
this is a player that will not being playing); second would be
bye week problem(if you have a player on a bye and need to trade
him away in order to have a player for the week); third would
be record(just because you are 0-6 does not mean your team is
the worst; it could be that you have just faced better teams);
last would be first inquiry (if there is no injury or bye week
problem and the teams have the same record, then the team that
made the request first would get the player). After friday it
is first-come, first-served.
Some of the responses above came from commissioners
who say that they personally handle waiver transactions because
they haven’t yet come to rely on any of the online fantasy
league services. As it happens, I have a reader named Craig who
likens these pen and paper league participants to the Amish:
Why is it so many leagues are so damn stubborn and refuse to
use one of the numerous, easy-to-use, easy-to-access, helpful,
online services? They've gotten much better with competition,
and you can always find one that is customizable to whatever
your preferences are. And just because the stats/scores/waivers
are now tracked automatically doesn't mean you still can't hold
your live draft with friends or whatever other social aspect
you have. I use Yahoo and Fox and now I won't join one unless
it is on one of these services (or a comparable one). This frees
up everybody to just discuss or pay attention to the game.
I’d like to hear from leagues that refuse to go the route
of automation. What is the appeal of combing the box scores and
attending to fantasy standings by hand? Part of me thinks that
no such commissioners will respond because this column is online—and
if they had online access, these commissioners would be using
an online service. But I know for a fact that some of my readers
are old-school diehards. Let’s hear it, diehards. Why do
you refuse to join us in the 21st century?
Trap Game: Atlanta @ New Orleans:
How many people picked the Saints to return to the championship
game and are now eating their words? Conversely, aren’t
the Falcons just about one of the worst teams in the league right
now? All that said, I believe that Bobby Petrino has something
up his sleeve for the Saints that have played more like the Aints;
and unless Drew Brees is exceptionally sharp, Joey Harrington
and Jerious Norwood just might sneak up on the visitors this week.
Atlanta has a new coaching staff and new players, but this is
still a divisional rival, and nothing gets the home town fans
more excited than beating the divisional foe. On top of that,
which Saints team will show up?
#3: Cincinnati over NY Jets (6-0):
How many times this year can you be guaranteed that the Bengals
are going to have a fighting chance to be your lock of the week?
This week the #2 passing offense in the NFL goes up against the
27th ranked passing defense in the NFL. If this were ever a mismatch
on paper then the Bengals should win this one easily. However
that is why they play the games.
#2: Philadelphia over the Bears (3-3):
This pick seems to be my nemesis this season, so take this with
a grain of salt. Both of these teams need a win to stay close
in their division. Lose this game and you might start to think
about next year. Brian Westbrook and company must be licking their
chops after Adrian Peterson ran for over 200 yards against the
vaunted Bear Defense. On the opposite side of the ball, don’t
expect Brian Griese to have the same success he had passing the
ball against the 9th-ranked defense. These aren’t the Vikings
who are dead last in passing defense you know.
#1: Washington over Arizona (6-0):
Still with me? Well we have been perfect in our lock of the week
so far, and this week I feel extremely good picking the Redskins
and their resurgent defense against Tim Rattay and the 49ers .
. . er, I mean the Cardinals. Tim Rattay’s playbook will
be scaled down so that he can handle the offense, but I doubt
that the Redskins will make it any easier for him by scaling their
defense down. The fact that the Redskins are ranked 5th overall
in passing defense will not be lost on a makeshift offensive line
that lost Levi Brown at the beginning of the season and has allowed
both of their starting quarterbacks to get hurt. There should
be lots of “Hail to the Redskins” chants this week
as they keep pace with the Cowboys atop of the NFC East.
For responses to this week's fantasy
question or to share your LMS picks, please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football
Readers who want to have their fantasy questions answered live,
on the air, by Mike Davis are invited to tune into FFEXradio
on Friday afternoons at 5:00 p.m. EST. Archived
programs are also available.