In the wave of fixture congestion that we are swamped with in December, the prospect of new arrivals rightly loses our focus. Now that the window is going to be open for nearly half of the month before waivers run in major Fantrax leagues, however, it might be time to consider asking yourself: “is it time for a FAB war?”
Well, not a literal war...
For this hugely important piece, the Draft Society has recruited an expert and a draft legend who has already made his debut on the Key Pass Collective's Mid-Season Awards show, Didier Guerin.
Taking up Arms
The January transfer window is often described as a bit of an enigma. Up until this point of the season, it is always hard, if not downright impossible, to predict if holding FAB or not is worthwhile. For every Bruno Fernandes that has arrived in January in seasons past, there has also been a Gonzalo Higuain. So, it feels particularly appropriate that a certain Phillipe Coutinho has arrived at Aston Villa as the marquee signing of the window thus far. I label him "appropriate" because it seems agreeable to suggest that Coutinho could really end up being much like either of these two aforementioned names: hit or miss. A bonafide EPL (and Fantrax) stud at Liverpool, who has since struggled for game time after leaving in 2018 flirting with loans and benchings aplenty.
The ceiling which he has demonstrated, and the risk of inconsistent minutes to boot like someone who also struggled for minutes in prior seasons before arriving: James Rodriguez comes to mind as a similar asset to compare his evident and clear pros/cons. When name players arrive like this, it will often shake up leagues in the sense that FAB suddenly becomes much more valuable and managers are willing to make moves and shuffle around their squad.
Some of us will go for the new players, some of us will want the existing players. And many managers will also be considering their rest of season streaming potential.
What should you be doing?
*Note that whilst everything in this article will attempt to speak about January as a whole, it will naturally skew towards being geared for the next waiver wire in particular, given this will be the most relevant application of the information we currently have available. And, this is just a guideline that cannot be specific to your individual leagues. Use this as a baseline and then apply it to the context of your league and rival managers.
- Observe the current FAB holdings in Fantrax: TEAM > Team Info
- Observe the league standings in Fantrax: STANDINGS
- Identify a strategy based on the combination of the league standings and the FAB balances
- Execute strategy via a trade or waiver wire bid
This might sound simple. That is the goal. Unless you have 0 FAB, or an insignificant amount, don't put yourself through relentless research at the cost of creating an overall strategy for the window. Especially if you are a new player, it can be easy to get lost in looking at the week-to-week scores at this stage of the season without a considerable amount of context. An overall, general plan could be more important.
Understand your role by identifying who you are:
FAB Leader: Without new info before the waiver wire, FAB leaders must make the call on going all out for Coutinho OR trading their FAB in exchange for an existing player. With the FAB lead you may feel you hold all the cards, but if there is enough of a supply of FAB available between the other managers in the league, this puts your lead in jeopardy. If you do not want Coutinho, trade your FAB quickly before the waiver wire to get an existing asset. If you choose the path of Coutinho, be aware of the other managers in your league and their propensity for a last-minute deal. In active leagues, it could be well worth securing the lead with additional FAB. Make this call based on your league history. For example, if someone secured Ronaldo/Lukaku for 100 FAB this season at the start-of-season FAB wars, you may not need to do anything and will just win Coutinho by bidding correctly. You can figure out what the correct number to bid is by using this list in your league: TRANSACTIONS > BID TIE-BREAKER ORDER. If you are ahead of the player with the second highest FAB, you will be able to secure anyone with an equal bid to their entire budget. If you are behind them you will need to bid +1 FAB to their budget. As the FAB leader, do not be passive and let your lead go to waste. Be active and choose a strategy to execute. Your squad will thank you for it with a shiny new premium asset.
2nd Most FAB: This is one of the more interesting positions, but realistically lends itself to a fairly easy strategy. Bidding your max FAB for Coutinho (or the name asset for waivers when they run if someone else like Vlahovic arrives) will force the FAB leader to make the tough decisions. If he tries to save FAB by bidding less than your budget for Coutinho, you get Coutinho. If he bids your entire budget, you become the FAB leader with half of the month still at your mercy as the new FAB leader and successor to any last-minute big names. Keep it simple. Even if you don’t rate Coutinho, just take him for his obvious trade value and this is a win/win position for you.
High League position, Medium FAB: Generally speaking; teams should look to be active rather than passive. However, if there is considerable doubt of securing a name player in this circumstance, it may be worth sacrificing the attempt at 1 big-name player (like Coutinho), in order to preserve their advantage over other title contenders when it comes to streaming players in and out each gameweek. If you are currently in a title race AND unlikely to score the biggest name incoming assets, don't overspend FAB for the sake of it on lesser assets. Consider holding reasonable amounts of FAB in this context to create a week-to-week advantage for the rest of the season in your title chase. But, I would personally still be putting pressure on the leaders to go for Coutinho and give myself the outside chance of scoring a high-upside asset.
High League Position, Little-No FAB: This one will be brief. If you have exhausted your supply of FAB in exchange for the league lead (or title contention), then you have probably done everything right so far this season (in theory) to have used it to gain that lead. Keep doing your thing!
As for everyone with little to no FAB as a whole: streaming might be tougher, but not impossible by any means. Regularly bidding 0 for targets you deem unachievable, but openly desirable, can still help improve your bid-tiebreaker-order each week. And you will still get lucky from time to time.
Medium - Low FAB: Revel in the chaos. Swindle for deals. Or hold to use for streaming in the cup competitions, if they exist in your league. These teams are most primed to benefit from trying to sell their FAB to the teams in the title race, given that they hold little hope of scoring a big-name player with the FAB they hold, whilst at the same time holding an annoyingly plentiful supply of FAB. This can create an ideal circumstance to acquire an existing name player for a straight FAB swap (or player + FAB), with the prize of Coutinho pushing any of the squads in the race to the next level, being your selling point, which is no bluff!
Don’t finish the season with FAB, make sure you use it for something.
From a theory perspective, either option of a) passing on Coutinho to use him to get another player, OR indeed option b) going all out for Coutinho, are far superior options to option c) waiting for “what might be”.
That said, if you make the plan to hold FAB for streaming, be sure you actually are an active streamer. If you aren’t, then going for a player now is the time to drastically shake up your roster for the better!
I hope that by surmising some of the roles relative to your league FAB standings that this article has helped you get some ideas for the end of this week.
Good luck in your next waiver wire and have some fun finding new assets!
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