Waiver Watcher: Week 4

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). The ME sports 43 different leagues (645 teams), while TGFBI has 29 leagues this year (435 teams). 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

 

Playing Time Is King

With all that’s going on in the way of injuries and Covid-related IL stints, fantasy managers are desperate for anyone suiting up and headed on the field 80% of the time. Once a player shows there’s even a possibility of seeing extra playing time you have to assume there will be a bid on them come Sunday. Enter Yonathan Daza, who’s seen [just about] every day playing time in the Colorado outfield since mid-April and has put up numbers one might expect from someone who has played their last eight games a mile above sea level. It doesn’t hurt that Daza is out of options and the Rockies have come to terms with letting Sam Hilliard ride the pine. Willians Astudillo, Sam Haggerty, and Jordan Luplow have all seen extra playing time in recent days and have done the mlost with their opportunities. The beauty of having this number of players seeing extra playing time is that they all fit a similar need for teams, which helps keep their price down – supply and demand and all that. The key is to find multiple players who fill similar holes and make them conditional bids of one another and rather than over paying for one players you think you want, bring the price tag down on all of them and just be happy with who you end up with.

 

More for Less

Just imagine if Josh Staumont had gotten that save two weeks ago. That average $80 winning bid may have (at least) doubled. But as it stands priced are already regressing. More and more teams are feeling the hurt from their spending and those who were keeping to a more early-season strategy of conserving funds continue on their path. Fewer managers are winning bids and thus fewer total moves are being made with fewer FAAB dollars spent, but just as many players are being added.

Managers With At Least One Winning Bid
Total Moves Made
FAAB Dollars Spent
Unique Players Added

 

This is a trend you should expect to see continue in the next week or so before it finally plateaus in mid/late May. Of course there will be players that come out of the woodwork, surprise promotions that light the field on fire, and unforeseen drops in your league that will force your hand to spend the hammers if you have it, but overall this is the start to the grind that is year-long FAAB. Be prepared.

NFBC Main Event Most Added Players 4/25
TGFBI Most Added Players 4/25

 

Being Demoted

Put Up or Ship Out

I think it’s safe to say that if a player is being demoted in “real life” it shouldn’t come as a shock to see them being shipped out from fantasy teams as well, especially those with less than flexible rosters like the ones you find on the NFBC platform. As Adolis García continues to make a name for himself it comes partially at the expense of Leody Taveras. As much as many analysts, myself included, thought the Royals were dedicated to Kyle Isbel as their right fielder in Kansas City it would seem they were not, at least not for now. Along with some younger pitchers in Nick Neidert and Logan Allen, these demoted players m ay end up being added again once they get another call but they simply are not worth the roster spot they would be occupying in the meantime. Do not be afraid to let the small fish go so it can grow. If you didn’t throw around your FAAB dollars at everything that closed out one game early you should be able to catch them again later in the season.

 

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 Carlos Carrasco receiving the largest single bid in the NFBC Main Event as he was dropped in one league the week prior for a $16 Wade Davis as a speculative closer pick up. Now with Staumont being the first Royal to get multiple saves on the season, Davis makes for a probable drop soon as three Main Event teams showed him the door this past Sunday, though these particular teams did hold onto him through the 4/25 FAAB period.

It pays to watch your drops. Some interesting single league drops from the Main Event this past weekend included Nick Pivetta, Bobby Dalbec, and Jon Berti while in TGFBI we saw Matthew Boyd, Elvis Andrus, and Taylor Rogers 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 4/25

 

TGFBI Most Dropped Players 4/25

 

 

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.

  • Avatar Mike Honcho says:

    Do you think a B. Dalbec has more ROS upside than say A.Hays, Avisail Garcia, Haggerty?

    • Adam Howe Adam Howe says:

      Of those four, Garcia probably checks more boxes all around (based on line up spot, position, all around skillset) and should see the most playing time, especially in the short term, but Dalbec is barreling the ball really well even with a poor slash.

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