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High-Stakes League Update: Recap and Blind Bidding Tips

By: — October 23, 2010 @ 4:53 pm
Filed under: Leagues & Contests

Since my last update (after Week 3), I’ve gone 1-1 in the league I was doing worse in, Footballguys Players Championship (FFPC), and 2-0 in the league I was doing better in, National Fantasy Football Online Championship (NFFC). That brings the FFPC team to 2-3 (9th in record; 10th in scoring) and the NFFC team to 4-1 (2nd in record; 3rd in scoring).


Back in Week 4, this team got smoked. Ray Rice did nothing against the Steelers, Michael Vick got knocked out early against the Redskins and Santana Moss had his worst game of the season amongst other issues. In Week 5 the team posted a good, solid score but squeaked out the win Monday night when Adrian Peterson was held under (just under) 13 fantasy points. Whew, that was close.

I’ll keep battling in this league to see what happens. Now Ray Rice seems to have turned a corner – finally – and if the starting Philly QB can finish a game with regularity (only 60% of games so far), maybe we can run off a string on wins and get back in the hunt for the playoffs. The top four teams make the league playoffs.


On the other end of the spectrum, this team posted its best two scores of the season the past two weeks. The majority of thanks go to Antonio “Superman” Gates and Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd made Brandon Marshall‘s bye week a non-event last week.

RB is still an issue for this team, with Ahmad Bradshaw at RB1 but neither Marion Barber nor Cadillac Williams doing much of anything in the RB2 spot. WR is strong with Reggie Wayne, Marshall, Lloyd and Dwayne Bowe if he can keep from dropping the ball at the worst possible times.

Big game this week as I take on the first place team, who sits at 5-0 even though they are seventh in scoring (got to love head-to-head). This won’t be easy though, as the team is built with similar strong receivers Roddy White, Miles Austin, Steve Smith (Giants) and Santana Moss, plus Jason Witten at TE.

A win will be a big boost but the outlook for my playoffs should be pretty good regardless. The top two teams in the league advance to the Championship Round.

Blind Bidding

Most high stakes leagues use what is considered the fairest method of waivers, blind bidding, over the more traditional worst-to-first waiver priority order. In both the FFPC and NFFC, teams start the season with 1,000 fictional dollars to bid on free agents all season. If you run out of money, then your team cannot pick up any free agents for the rest of the season, so money management is important.

As is to be expected, I have used more blind bidding dollars so far on the FFPC team than the NFFC team, but I did finally make my first bigger splash in NFFC last week. I picked up Brett Favre who was dropped the prior week, pre-Randy Moss trade of course, by a QB heavy team, and Javon Ringer, another drop.

In my humble opinion, I’ve done a pretty good job overall getting players I want for just the right amounts on waivers without overbidding. Here is a summary of my free agent acquisitions to date for each league, and I’ll follow that up with some commentary on key players missed in the FFPC bidding (can’t seem to get the detailed bid history on the NFFC website) and some general tips.

Week Player Winning Bid Next Highest Bid
5 Sam Bradford (3rd priority) $12 $11
5 David Buehler (1st priority) $5 $4
4 Kenny Britt (3rd priority) $5
3 Mike Tolbert (1st priority) $212 $200
3 Tony Moeaki (1st priority) $55 $52
2 Kansas City Chiefs (2nd priority) $8
2 Michael Vick (1st priority) $176 $57
Week Player Winning Bid Next Highest Bid
5 Brett Favre $325 $275
5 Javon Ringer $75 $66
3 Nick Folk $9
2 Brandon Lloyd $21 $1
2 John Kasay $3

Key Players Missed (FFPC)

Week 5, Brandon Pettigrew – I didn’t put an aggressive bid on Pettigrew, since I was already flush at TE with Brent Celek, Moeaki and Aaron Hernandez. At 1.5 points per reception, and the ability to flex 2 TE (to go with 1 starter), I would try to squeeze him in if I could though. I bid $55; winning bidder paid $333, way too much in my opinion.

Week 5, Kansas City Chiefs – Yes, I had them back in Week 2 and I was excited about this defense, but at the time I needed roster room. KC had bye Week 4, at IND Week 5 and at HOU Week 6. I figured if I dropped them prior to Week 4 I could get them back before anyone was interested in them again. Surprisingly someone bid, and bid a lot, earlier than I expected. I bid $12; winning bidder paid $67. I would never pay that much for a defense off waivers.

Week 4, LeGarrette Blount – RB is supposed to be a strength on my team with the early draft picks at that position. I wouldn’t mind taking a flier on Blount but I was pretty sure someone would outbid my passive bid. I bid $67; winning bidder paid $203. More than I would spend on a player who got a handful of “lets get this game over with” carries (PIT game) competing with two to three other guys for snaps and guaranteed nothing.

Week 4, Ryan Torain – Similar to Blount, RB is not my major concern with this team. Torain has more promise for production than Blount given less competition for carries and he has shown more in the past, but we also know his bad injury history. I still don’t expect to win this bid but I put in something in case the other owners are asleep at the wheel. I bid $67; winning bidder paid $256.

Week 2, Mark Clayton – Most people had to bid high to win Clayton’s services after his Week 1 performance, but were happy with their payback until his season ending injury last week. I wasn’t convinced of Clayton at the time given how long he toiled in obscurity in Baltimore, plus I needed to put an aggressive bid on Michael Vick since Kevin Kolb went down. I bid $76; winning bidder paid $355.

Week 2, Mike Williams (SEA) – I actually had Williams prioritized ahead of Clayton, but for similar reasons wasn’t sold on him, just figured he had slightly more upside. I bid $76; winning bidder paid $200.

Week 2, Brandon Lloyd – Now here is a player I really didn’t believe in based on his history ducking under balls and such. Had to be a fluke, right? Maybe not. The guy in this league who bypassed higher bids for Clayton and Williams has to be happy at this point. I bid $21; winning bidder paid $125.

Week 2, Brandon Jackson – This was the waiver wire darling after Ryan Grant went down for the season in Week 1. I never liked Jackson’s talent as he hasn’t shown anything, even in a limited role, in his three prior years in the league. Three years and nothing to make me say, “wow”. That is a long time for a RB. Plus I knew someone was going to blow their wad on this guy, a huge mistake in my opinion to drain almost your entire account after one week. I didn’t even bid on him. Winning bidder paid $991.


Here are some blind bidding tips to wrap up this update. The first thing I do every week is make a list of free agent targets at all positions, regardless if I have a need at a position or plan to drop anyone or not. I need to see what players are out there, not just for this week but future weeks too.

The big key to winning the free agent bidding war is to grab guys cheaply before they blow up, not pay top dollar the week after they blow up. I remember my second year in the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF) paying just over $100 for Domanick Davis the week before he wrestled the starting job away from whatever other scrubs were on the Texans roster.

I’m not sure anyone else in my league bid on him that week, so the $100 was overspending, but in most of the WCOFF leagues he was still on waivers the following week and went for six or seven times that much. That move propelled me to the league championship.

Often the best place to look for your free agent targets is not in the stats reports, but at the prior week drop list. See what players other owners gave up on out of frustration or they just needed to make room for another position and couldn’t hold any longer. As late as Week 5 there are still players who were drafted but off to a slow start and may yet turn it around.

Now, I got lucky with Favre being available since he got value boost after the unexpected Moss trade (here is hoping the elbow holds out), but a player like Ringer, sure I would love to take a chance on him in the event Chris Johnson goes down. Ringer has shown the wow factor in his limited carries off the bench.

For positions like QB and TE, where there is normally just one starter per team, review the other rosters to try to judge just how much competition you might have for a free agent player. I did this with Favre, and each team was pretty strong at QB except I figured maybe one or two other teams would be interested in adding him. So, I couldn’t bid $100 or less and expect to get him. It had to be a reasonably healthy bid.

Brandon Jackson this year is a perfect example why you do not want to bid north of 90% of your cap on any player. Of course, Anquan Boldin‘s rookie year was perhaps the exception to that rule, but it was a long shot that would work out at that price. Give me five to ten shots a season at the next Domanick Davis (is it Ryan Torain or Brandon Lloyd in 2010?) instead of putting all my eggs in one basket.

Final tip: If you really want a player, try to peg a reasonable value that most people would likely pay, and then bump it up a little beyond that to help guarantee the acquisition. Just how much to bump it will depend how much you want him. Don’t get emotional; get analytical to outthink the other guys in your league. That will help you spend wisely from start to finish.

  • Philip Olson

    This is my first year using FAAB (blind bidding) and I do enjoy this far superior system to simple waiver priorities. Trying to convince my main league to try it, but they’re a bunch of stubborn old timers. Still looking for that winning argument for, maybe you have advice.

  • Hi Philip. I think you need to try to convince them that (a) it isn’t that difficult to do (concept is easy; website figures out the winning bids) and then (b) that it is the most fair system.

    Try to come up with some early season waiver picks that made a big difference for teams all year, and the teams only got them because they had the 1st or 2nd waiver priority. Teams that won early lost out on having a chance at these players.

    Since we know weekly fantasy results involve a lot of luck, the teams that lost early and got first dibs at key players via first come-first serve, aren’t even necessarily the teams that needed those players the most. They just happened to be the teams that lost at the right time and were lower in the standings.

    We could look at Dave Stringer’s early Moving Up, Moving Down columns to get an idea of some of these players:

    Looking at some of the replacement type players, like Mike Tolbert or Mike Vick, isn’t a blind-bid system more fair so the teams that really need those players (Mathews, Kolb owners) have a chance to get them?

  • Mike: I just read this as i was researching to find blind bid waiver strategy articles to try to find a predictive model for +EV waiver wire decisions. This topic deserves some in-depth reasearch which i don’t have time to do. IMO, you really did a pretty good job of playing the wire in both leagues.

    I have a few theories:
    1. Many small bets are much more +EV than a few large bets. Not only do you get more ‘hits’, but your misses aren’t that detrimental to your chances of winning your league.
    2. In the FPC scoring format, even within a ‘small bet’ framework, TEs and RBs required a premium price, then QBs. WR bets could be more moderate.
    3. If I had do-overs in my league, I’d focus on staying within a budget of $100 for weeks 2-9 and $100 for the total of weeks 10, 11 and the two playoff weeks. Quality guys could be picked up for a song in those last weeks.

    Some factors that might go into +EV small bet decisions:
    How much breakout history is optimum? Too much history means that you need to bid far too much relative to your overall budget to get him. Too little break-out history (excluding situations caused by a starter injury (Vick, Tamme), and there is not enough predictive value in a 1st-week production spike to warrant the speculation at any price. I tried to look at two different FPC leagues and decide if there was enough evidence of successful future production to warrant bids as high as were placed by the winning bidder. I came up with kind of a ‘rational man theory’ and figured out in retrospect who I would have gotten within ‘small bet’ budgetary guidelines where I was somewhat confident of the chance of sustained future production. I was able to identify several opportunities based on an intuitive reasoning process, but could not establish criteria that I could apply any kind of general but clear-cut guidelines to.

    Interesting subject – one that needs more work!

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