There is an epidemic going on in the Fantasy Football world and every Fanager is at risk.  It has been around as long as Fantasy sports have existed.  The scariest thing is – most people don’t even know they are infected!  It is called Waiver Wire Addiction and it is a serious problem that has claimed Fantasy teams of even the most experienced Fanagers; however, there are precautions you can take to ward off the affliction by mastering the waiver, a skill of the utmost importance as we enter the bye weeks. 

For those unfamiliar with the concept, there are typically 3 ways a Fanager can add new players: by trade, on waivers, or through free agency.  Fanagers can trade players amongst themselves so long as they meet the trade requirements specified by their individual league settings, usually consisting of a trade date deadline and a minimum number of consenting Fanagers for a trade to pass.

Waivers is a player acquisition system by which a Fanager may add an “un-owned” player to his or her team by releasing another player in exchange for his spot on the roster. The waivers model is set up to reflect the player acquisition system used in the NFL as well as to offer Fanagers a grace period to figure out what roster moves they need to make before the upcoming week.  There is a waiver period of a certain number of days (the exact number of days depends on the individual league) during which Fanagers can put in waivers, or requests for players, each week.  If 2 or more Fanagers attempt to waive the same player, the Fanager with the preferential waiver order will claim him (more on this in a minute).  An un-owned player who is not waived by the end of the weekly waiver period becomes available for free agency until the next waiver period begins.

So what does all this mean for Fanagers? 

Well, first of all Fanagers need to look at their league settings to see how waiver order is determined each week.  Some leagues automatically reset each week and randomly assign Fanagers a pecking order; others base waiver order on previous claims made by individual Fanagers.  In the latter situation, a Fanager will move to the back of the line each time that they waive a player or move up in line when a Fanager ahead of them chooses to use their preferential waiver order to pick someone up.  It is critical to be careful when relinquishing top waiver priority for a player in this scenario because if this year’s breakout stud happens to emerge next week and you’re at the back of the line, well then, you are S-O-L.

Regardless of how the order is determined, it is generally a good idea to err on the side of caution concerning the waiver wire because it can be either your best friend or worst enemy depending on how you use it.  If you find yourself making multiple moves each week only to wind up wishing for last week’s roster on a regular basis, then there is a good chance you are experiencing Waiver Wire Addiction, and without treatment, it could prove fatal for your Fantasy squad.  If you think that you are at risk for Waiver Wire Addiction, the first step is to acknowledge it because you could be not only forfeiting some of your team’s top talent, but also hindering your chances of acquiring breakout talent in the future.  If you need to make moves that are of little significance in the grand scheme of your roster, wait until after the waiver period has ended and grab a free agent.  This will have no effect on your waiver order and free agents are immediately added to your team, so you will not have to think ahead about which player to drop to free up the spot in your roster.

Before dropping players that you drafted, really think about the consequences.  Just because someone has not yet met your expectations doesn’t mean they won’t do so in the future.  The limited amount of practice time due to the lock out has left some guys (and teams) slower to catch up than others.  Once they do, players that now seem like losers may become your big producers. 

Moreover, we are already seeing season-ending injuries and more are undoubtedly heading this way (my deepest sympathies go out to Fanagers with Jamaal Charles and Kenny Britt).  The deeper the league, the harder it is to find viable options for substitutes when your starters have a bye, especially at the running back position.  There are significantly more wide receivers who are regularly targeted than there are running backs getting consistent carries in the NFL, so hold on to your backs even if they only produce moderate numbers on a steady basis because you will need them at some point this season. 

Be aware of the positions and players in greatest demand before you drop anyone, and pay attention to the waiver wire to see who rival Fanagers are releasing.  If you have to let someone go for the week, drop the player that is least likely to be picked up by another Fanager.  I already scooped Tony Gonzalez off waivers in one of my 12-team leagues, which is huge considering I own Antonio Gates who has all kinds of question marks surrounding his return.  Don’t drop someone you drafted in the first 10 rounds just to keep a team defense on your bench during a bye week (unless your defensive scoring settings/team defense owned warrant that kind of preferential treatment, which is rare). 

Don’t waste a bench spot on a back up player if you don’t need one. This is especially true for positions such as quarterbacks, tight ends, and team defenses. If your league requires only 1 of the aforementioned positions and you have less than 12 teams in your league, you should fill your bench with running backs and wide receivers exclusively. You have to know what other Fanagers in your league want as well as what they do not want so that you can hoard all of the talent possible on your team.

But most importantly, remember that we are only going into Week 5 and no one’s fate has been sealed yet.  All you can do is stack your roster with players that perform consistently, because reliability is the key to surviving the bye weeks and ultimately winning the championship.  You have to go with the guys who put points on the board on a regular basis, not the guys who have a few monster games per season and average zero points for the other 13.  

Sure, Mike Sims-Walker could score 3 touchdowns this weekend, but as any Fanager who has ever owned him would tell you, he prefers to do his scoring on your bench.