Waivers are undoubtedly a key factor to successfully managing a fantasy football team.  If you hit on the right player it can turn your season around for the better.  If you fail to nab the guys you’re targeting it could mean disaster.  Many leagues I participate in nowadays run a blind bid waiver system.  For those that haven’t tried it you basically bid the amount you’ll pay for a player and your bid is known only to yourself (thus the blind part).  Once waivers process the person with the highest bid pays the amount that they bid.  No other bids are revealed.  It’s as simple as that.  But there is a lot more to it beneath the surface.  What appears simple at first glance becomes pretty complex when you do it the right way.  So I’ve put together the following ten tips (in no particular order) to help you with the complexity. Hopefully more than a few of you will either gain something new from this article or at least have a couple “aha” moments.  Let’s get started.

1. Don’t be afraid to spend your money.

I’ve seen a LOT of people (beginners especially) hoard their blind bidding dollars like it’s real money or something.  Don’t be that guy in your league.  Saving money has its place without a doubt, but if you don’t spend any you can’t get anything.  Nothing is worse than having half of your money left at the end of the season when no one is available, then blowing your entire $100 allotment on a mediocre player who will do nothing for you.  Be on the lookout for guys who surprise or emerge.  And be bold when going after them if you believe.  It’s the only way you’ll get ahead in the blind bidding game.

2. Analyze the bids of your league mates.

Watch what types of players other owners in your league target.  Look for patterns in their bidding behavior.  Oftentimes you will pick up on something that can help you down the road.  If team A, for example, always bids $3 on guys he wants to get on the cheap then you know bidding $4 will generally net you his player.  If team B always places bids with a 1 at the end ($11, $21, $31) make a note of that and you can use it to your advantage.

Another key thing to pay attention to is team needs.  You can more accurately predict who will bid and how much it will be if you have a good working knowledge of each team’s needs going into the waiver period.  Spend just a few minutes perusing the rosters and you won’t regret it.

3. Define your targets up front and execute a strategy based on that.

It sounds obvious but make a plan before placing your bids.  Which players do you really want?  Without a good handle on who your key targets are you’ll be floundering.  Determine which players would help you the most based on position, cost, and upside.  Also remember to consider what to do if you don’t get your targets.  What happens if you don’t bid high enough for player A but player B and C are available?  This is a simple example but more complex scenarios are something that owners often forget to consider or are too busy to think about.  Doing so will be to your benefit.  Think all of the possible scenarios through and structure your bidding in such a way that best executes your strategy.

4. Check other owner’s available funds before bidding.

Another “duh” moment but you’d be surprised at how many owners simply bid on players without considering the competition.  By knowing what kind of bidding money you’re pitted up against you have a much better idea on how much to bid for certain players.  If people are running low on money you may be able to win a player outright without bidding as much as you think.  Likewise, if everyone has tons of blind bid cash the cost of a player may be too high for your liking.  Your opponent’s buying power should be a key factor whenever you place a bid.

5. Forget what a player SHOULD go for.  Bid based on what the player’s value is to YOUR team.

Don’t get caught up in the perceived value of a player.  If in the past TEs in your league have never gone for more than $7 that doesn’t mean you should only bid $7-8 on a guy you really want.  Make the bid based on his fit for your team.  If he’s worth $20 to you then bid that much.  The key to blind bidding is determining how valuable a player is on your squad.  If most people value a player significantly lower than you it doesn’t matter.  It only takes one other believer and perceived value is out the window.  So bid aggressively to ensure you get a guy you need.  Many will argue that if a player’s perceived value is X then you should just need to pay slightly more than that.  While this is true to a certain extent, and you can play that numbers game a bit, don’t let it define your bids.  If you do you’ll miss out on your targets more often than you’d like.  All in the name of saving a few fictional dollars.

6. Be active early in the season.

During the first few weeks of the NFL season you can generally land the best players in free agency.  This is when the Victor Cruz’s and Peyton Hillis’ of the fantasy world start to show flashes of what is to come.  So make sure you jump on guys early and don’t be afraid to spend on them.  Strike while other owners are waiting to see how things shake out in a week or two.  Playing it safe will not get you the big name free agents.  And these are the guys that can end up winning you your league.

7. Save money for injuries.

As stated in my previous tip blowing a good deal of your money early on isn’t a bad thing.  But also be aware that you do want to leave yourself some wiggle room throughout the season in case injuries occur to your starters.  You don’t want to be in an emergency situation where three of your RBs go down and you have no money left to bid on free agents.  At least if you keep a few dollars in your back pocket you can pick up someone who will put up more points than zero.  Leave a small emergency fund around if possible.  But be aware of your league’s specific waiver rules.  If your league has a bidding period followed by a first-come-first-serve period then this isn’t nearly as important.

8. Never bid in increments of five.

People generally gravitate to simple chunks of money ($5, $10, $15, $20). So the likelihood of ending up in a tie and not winning a player outright is much greater if you follow suit.  Bid $7, $11, or $13 and keep your opponents guessing.  This way you’ll have a much better chance of winning the bid and frustrating other owners.  Again, it’s not always just about outbidding your opponent. It’s also about outthinking them.

9. Avoid having a “tell”.  Mix up your bidding strategy.

Just like in poker you can develop a “tell” if you stick to a specific pattern of behavior.  Don’t always bid the same amount on guys.  In the previous tip I mentioned not bidding in increments of five.  But don’t always bid $3,  $13, or $23 either.  Mix up your bid amounts.  If you don’t want to pay much for a player don’t always bid a single $1.  Sometimes throw a $2 or $3 bid in there.  Don’t feel like you need to participate in the bidding each and every week either.  If you hold off for a while and come out of the woodwork for a big splash you won’t be as predictable.  The more random you seem the better off you are.

10. Keep emotion out of it.

Don’t overspend because you like a particular player or are a fan of the team.  Like anything in fantasy football, our built in biases can creep their way in.  Fighting off these urges is key to succeeding.  Don’t let the fact that another owner keeps outbidding you on your targets affect the way you bid either.  Bid with your head and not with your heart.  Outthink the other owners and you’ll eventually come out on top.

So those are my ten quick tips for blind bidding waivers.  This certainly isn’t a comprehensive list but it should be enough to help a few of you.  I’m sure there are a ton more tips that each of you could share as well.  And I want to hear them.  If you’ve run into something that would help us all out be sure to leave a comment or head over to the forums.  Blind bidding can be a trickier animal than it first appears to be.  The further you go down the rabbit hole the more tips and tricks there are to uncover.  So keep these ten tips in mind but don’t stop thinking about new ways to outthink and outbid your opponents.  Waivers are a key component to any fantasy league and many an owner has both lived and died by them.  So stay on top of your game and get ready to win your league.