Waiver Watcher: Week 3

Learning from the past to make smart moves in the future.

The young 2021 season is officially under way. You know how I know? It’s less about actually seeing games on TV and more about seeing the overreaching payouts on the Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) results boards. Ok, that’s a little hyperbole, but it’s the driving force behind this article series.

Moving forward, I’ll be looking over weekly trends in waiver pick-ups and FAAB spends across a series of leagues, with a focus on National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) 15-team leagues, including the Main Event (ME) and The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI). If you don’t play in these leagues, don’t worry, there’s useful info coming your way here as well. The trends from these leagues give all fantasy managers insight into the value being put on both long term and short term production, while bringing light to some of the tough decisions that have to be made to get the most out of your roster, whether it be a 40-man roster or 20-man roster.

To put things in perspective, all NFBC rosters have 30 spots with no Injured List (IL) spots, so in a 12-team league like the Online Championship (OC) the “best” 360 players are rostered at any given time while in a 15-team league like the ME or TGFBI you could assume the “best” 450 players are rostered, making scraping the free agent barrel a bit more difficult. Of course I put the word best in quotations, as the players rostered will fluctuate based on not only the managers that play in the league and their own evaluations, but also the roster construction and needs of the teams involved. With no spots to stash injured players, NFBC leagues force managers to make tough decisions when it comes to when to cut players not performing and how long to stash both prospects and injured players, giving everyone else watching an eye into the potential production of players on the edge of your watch list. You don’t have to play in an NFBC league to make use of the information provided from those who do.

Ok, now that formalities are out of the way let’s get to work pointing out some of the most interesting trends, pick ups, and drops I noticed in the latest FAAB period, which concluded on April 11. I’m going to keep my focus on the 15-team leagues this week as the pick ups here may still be readily available in your 12 or 10 team leagues, so keep an eye out.

 

Getting the Call

 

It Pays To Speculate

It’s nice to see at least a small lesson was learned from Julian Merryweather, whose average winning bid just two weeks prior sat at $335 across all 43 leagues of the Main Event and $250 across 27 of the 29 leagues of TGFBI. Teammate Rafael Dolis was picked up in all but one league in each of the ME and TGFBI and kept his average winning bid under $90 in each. Bryan Garcia’s recent performance jumped him up watch lists while Kendall Graveman found himself rostered across the board after picking up a couple of saves in Seattle prior to bidding. Graveman was picked up in 14 of the 29 TGFBI leagues, but that’s only because 14 other leagues had teams place spec bids the week prior at an average bid of $14 compared to his average winning bid this week of $179. In the Main Event it was the same story, just spread out over 3 weeks. On 4/4 Graveman’s average winning bid across 12 pick ups in the ME was $17, on 4/11 it was $20 across 22 pick ups, and by time this past bidding period came up the other leagues where Graveman was still available averaged out at $205. It literally pays to speculate.

Penny Pinch Depth

Outfield is typically a position that gets a lot of love in each bidding period, so the numbers here don’t especially jump out. What does stand out is the similarities of the average winning bids, especially in the Main Event. Beyond somewhat known commodity Willie Calhoun, who just returned from the IL, the other top OF acquisitions of Adolis Garcia, Stephen Piscotty, and DJ Stewart averaged winning bids were within $3 of each other. I think this helps speak to the idea that you may not need to focus on one single player to fill a role, especially if that role is going to be temporary due to filling in for an injury or being a stop-gap until a stash like Jarred Kelenic is ready to perform. Don’t be afraid to put in multiple small bids on players you’ll be happy with rather than prioritizing single players with higher bids.

Looking Ahead

A big difference between the Main Event and TGFBI is the availability of 2-start pitchers. As you can see in the below charts, Joe Ross, Michael Fulmer, Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis, and Kyle Gibson were all picked up in at least 48% of leagues. Besides Fulmer, the same guys just weren’t as available in the Main Event. Ross was picked up in 18 of the 43 (42%) at $59, Gibson in 17 (40%) at $31, Duffy in 7 (16%) at $53, and Junis in 6 (14%) at $59. Look back a week and you’ll find each of those guys being picked up at higher rates with lower average winning bids – Junis in 35 leagues (81%) at $33, Gibson in 22 (51%) at $14, Duffy in 19 (44%) at $21, Ross in 18 (42%) at $26.

 

NFBC Main Event Most Added Players 4/18
TGFBI Most Added Players 4/18

 

Being Demoted

Put Up or Ship Out

We live in a “what have you done for me lately” sort of world, especially when your format doesn’t include IL slots and your roster depth is forced to take a hit when your entire bench goes down with one injury or another. Combine that with to ever questionable Covid 19 variables and you’re left guessing more often than you’d like after spending the past six months studying and agonizing over your possible 18th round selections. With that being said, April is filled with spec drops that simply didn’t pan out after draft day – from closers that lost their jobs or never got it to begin with (Kevin Ginkel, Anthony Bass, Jake Diekman, Adam Ottavino, Tanner Scott) to platoon bats that simply can’t find enough weekly plate appearances to justify rostering (Yoshi Tsutsugo, Wilmer Flores) to risky plays that find themselves injured early and without enough upside to stash away over other options (Christian Pache, Nomar Mazara, Ross Stripling, Andrelton Simmons).

 

Surprise, Surprise

I think things get more interesting when you start digging deeper into the situations some fantasy managers are forced to make early on to save their season – and yes, some managers are forced to save their season in April. It’s unfortunate, but true. Usually brought on by a build-up of injuries and possibly in addition to a few unfortunate demotions, managers have to sometimes make difficult decisions to drop players you wouldn’t expect to be available. This was the case this past period with Ke’Bryan Hayes receiving the largest single bid in TGFBI as he was dropped in one league the week prior for a $21 Travis Shaw as Shaw’s playing time increased with it his production – something Hayes couldn’t possibly match in the short term as he sat on the IL. Now with Hayes expected to return sooner rather than later he was obviously scooped up where he was available with a $309 winning bid and a runner-up bid of $56. It pays to watch your drops. Some interesting single league drops from the Main Event this past weekend included Akil Baddoo, Corey Kluber, Andrew Vaughn while in TGFBI we saw Mike Soroka, Richard Rodriguez, and Alex Kiriloff hit waivers in a single league. It will come as no shock to anyone to see each of them get bid on this Sunday.

 

NFBC Main Event Most Dropped Players 4/18
TGFBI Most Dropped Players 4/18

 

 

Photos by Kiyoshi Mio and John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)

Adam Howe

Adam resides in Indianapolis after spending the better part of a decade in Oakland, CA and growing up in Massachusetts. He co-hosts the On The Wire podcast with Kevin Hasting, analyzing your weekly FAAB options before your bid deadlines every Sunday.

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