A very vocal minority has been terrorizing the Twitter streets and airwaves this week with anti-waivers propaganda in Campus2Canton leagues. The core of this argument is essentially that it makes it easier for new players and allows the format to grow. However, I feel that it’s the opposite and this piece serves as the pro-waiver argument.
How waivers usually work:
As a new(er) format, Campus2Canton has a ton of variation in a league format and league rules. While the C2C website has a sample bylaw, there are legitimately dozens of iterations that already exist. The recommended process is a blind bid processed the same day of the week with FAAB, each week up to the championship. Below, are some of the main waiver formats and how they work.
Unlimited Waivers (Weekly Run with Season-Long FAAB)
This is my favorite waiver structure and provides near-unlimited flexibility to managers. Injuries, suspensions, announced injuries, and coaches lying (I see you Troy Calhoun) mean there is a substantial amount of risk at each individual position, necessitating roster flexibility. Part of this is addressed in depth. Most leagues have 40-45 roster spots to fill ~11-15 starting spots. That bench size is appropriate (30-35 players) given the starters but it is limited given that a good chunk of the roster is dedicated to devy-only players or freshmen who are non-contributors. Without being able to churn through the bottom of the roster, it leaves limited flexibility, especially in leagues with 3QBs, 2TEs, or more than 3 flex spots.
Unlimited waivers come the closest to resolving this issue as it gives owners the chance to evaluate the weekly state of one’s roster and make adjustments where needed. Within the $100 budget, the long-term (13-week length) means that there are fewer and fewer claims as the season goes on as impact players are selected early.
The biggest pushback here is how much it depletes the yearly freshman / supplemental draft. Potential contributors for the next year can be added down the stretch when a team is out of contention or in the final week of the season. This intentional roster churn does deplete the potential pool for next year. One small way to limit this is to require $1 bids, placing a functional limit on churn, especially if teams are adding throughout the season. Ultimately, it is the format that limits the supplemental draft the next season, making it far more freshman-focused than it otherwise would be.
Newcomer Difficulty Rating: 6
I don’t think 90% of the year is challenging for newcomers. It operates essentially as any other waiver league out there. Find top performers, locate issues on your roster, and submit claims. It’s not over-complicated in that respect. Where it is more challenging is the end-of-the-year churn mentioned above. That period is essentially a preview of the supplemental draft and off-season buzz. It requires more research and is content that has yet to be written and fully researched. This rewards those going the extra mile in that respect but becomes increasingly difficult for newcomers to the format.
Limited Waivers (Limited Number of Claims Per Team For the Whole Season)
This is by far the most popular waiver format of any league I’ve played in. Usually, the number of claims per team is ~4 and can be used any time of the year between Week 1 and Championship Week. This allows teams to add breakout freshmen who went undrafted in the startup or previous supplemental draft while giving flexibility to teams who are seeing injury issues throughout the year.
Are four-ish claims enough claims on the season? That’s my biggest question with this limited waiver format. As laid out above, there are many reasons that players can be out in unpredictable ways. The bigger the roster size is, the less the limited claims approach makes sense. Rosters (for example) that start 2QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, and 3FLEX are far less risky when it comes to roster size and limited waivers. However, in leagues where there are more quarterbacks and tight ends started, adding replacement players during the season becomes challenging.
My recommendation in roster size and the number of claims is dividing the number of starters by 2.5 and rounding up. For example, 12 starters mean 4.8 waiver claims (round to 5). 13 starters would be 5.2 waiver claims, which should round up to 6. The way limited waivers should work should be in line with starting roster size and not a predetermined number. I think this can be malleable of course but limiting to 4, the industry standard, should be re-evaluated. Roster size should also play a role here, but that goes back more to starting requirements and less on the waiver side of things.
Newcomer Difficulty Rating: 2
The only thing challenging about this specific waiver structure is that it’s a new format. Nobody can gain a significant edge due to the limit on waiver claims. It is, in my estimation, the best way to introduce someone new to the format. Threading the line between being able to add potential NFL producers and being able to fix roster holes where they arise. Being able to use the waiver claims in any week also provides flexibility when these roster changes are needed.
Limited Waivers (Designated Weeks to Run + Limited Claims)
This is the worst format for waivers and I would never play in a league with this format. Is that judgemental, yes. Do I care? No. This is the most challenging format to play in regardless of who you are and your experience level. Needing to remember which leagues run waivers on which week with so many differing waiver formats makes keeping up with this schedule increasingly difficult for anyone. All of this is compounded by the waiver limits. Oftentimes, not only are there only two weeks when you can make only a handful of claims anyway. Why this waiver format is a thing confounds reason.
Usually, the way this format works is Weeks 4 and 8 are designated as weeks waivers that will run through the season. They are the only instances waivers will run and you can submit claims for players. Not only do you need to remember to submit your claims in these weeks, but they also have no discerning reason for the weeks they’re being run.
Most teams have only played three weeks by Week 4, maybe some injuries occur but through three weeks, it’s less likely. Players being injured between waiver runs just means teams are SOL, waiting for the next run or the next season. Losing two quarterbacks in Week 9 essentially eliminates a team who may be performing incredibly well if their depth options are limited.
Newcomer Difficulty Rating: ∞
I would never recommend this waiver format to a newcomer. I would never recommend this waiver format to an experienced player. It’s confusing, the weeks chosen are borderline nonsensical, and it does nothing to address issues that necessitate waiver claims. The arbitrarily chosen weeks does less to address starting lineup requirements and speaks more to adding potential breakout player. That is partially what waivers are for but ignoring the other half and making the campus side of leagues less competitive and more random (injuries, suspensions, players out, etc.), making it a war of attrition rather than building the true best roster throughout the season.
No Waivers (Startup Draft + Yearly Supplemental / Freshman Drafts Only)
This is the other side of the argument and one with the small but vocal minority. Recently, this same small but vocal minority ran a poll on Twitter. 66.7% of the sample voted that ‘Waivers Allowed’ is the better standard college side waiver option that helps promote and grow Campus2Canton leagues. However, the 33.3% that voted in the opposite direction made a few compelling arguments:
First, introducing newcomers to the format is less daunting and more equitable when there are no college-side waivers.
I take issue with this for a few reasons. The underpinning of this idea is that edges are harder to gain for those new to the format and they can be taken advantage of on waivers by more experienced players. The necessary logical next step would be that the startup draft or yearly supplemental draft is, in turn, more equitable. Otherwise, it would be impossible to introduce those new to the format.
I believe the opposite is true. The startup draft is the most difficult draft to introduce a newcomer to. Having 45+ rounds with 133 teams means information overload and requires more research than any other type of fantasy format. With the startup as challenging as it is, it’s the easiest place to make mistakes without diving into intense research. However, one way to correct those mistakes is through waivers. A bad startup draft that produces a relatively weak CFF team can be amended in the season with additions from the waiver wire. Likewise, breakout freshmen can be added to rosters if some startup misses become obvious early on.
Alternatively, waivers on Fantrax are incredibly equitable, and probably the most fair way to add to one’s team. Managers can go to the play pool and sort by fantasy points to see the highest performer, the way they would in any other league on any other platform. They can then see the next opponent to determine if it’s a good matchup if they have limited awareness or are simply new to the format. There is no “extra” knowledge needed to complete this step, making adding players to the team incredibly different and much easier than identifying values in a startup draft.
I think there’s another argument, which is diametrically opposed to this thesis. Without waivers, a bad team is likely to stay bad. Mistakes (which we all make) in startups cannot be remedied and those first introduced to the format will be put off as they finish 1-10 on the season because they couldn’t add to their roster after being decimated by injuries. No other fantasy format operates this way and makes the unique aspect of Campus2Canton something that is off-putting instead of its intended equitable purpose.
Second, no waivers mean a better supplemental draft pool which everyone has access.
This is also not a compelling argument in my opinion. The pool, even in full waivers leagues, is rarely as depleted as one thinks year over year. Is it objectively less depleted without waivers? Yes. But should the additional name or two each season with “NFL” potential that wasn’t drafted be enough to offset the benefits of waivers? With the “middle” waiver option (anytime but limited adds), it solves directly for this concern. Limiting waiver adds gives the potential for high-end options in the supplemental while giving players a chance to add to their team in-season.
For example, in a four-add league, players such as Sam Wiglusz, Alex Adams, and Jordan Kerley would all be available. All three are ranked within the top-15 at their position for college fantasy. From a more-NFL perspective, Riley Leonard, JaQuinden Jackson, Joe Milton, and others went un-added in a lot of leagues.
Every year a handful of these players slip through to the supplemental draft. An example of some players named in the Twitter thread that could’ve been added include Braelon Allen, Devontez Walker, Rhamondre Stevenson, etc. but these types make it every year, based on the above names pulled from a specific supplemental.
Newcomer Difficulty Rating: 8
I think no waivers do the opposite of what it’s intended to do when it comes to newcomers. It makes fixing errors more difficult and causes rosters to languish in futility throughout the year with no ability to improve. For those new to the format, I would advocate for limited waivers, adjusted for starting roster size. A few solid additions on waivers can turn a team that is suffering from injuries into a contender. Give everyone the ability to improve their roster.
The Silver Bullet
There is a ton of content and the idea that there isn’t, is a misnomer. Just because it’s not on-par with NFL fantasy football, doesn’t negate the excellent work being done across the industry. Those new to the format have a ton of resources to choose from. Just within the Campus2Canton network, we have:
Chasing The Natty: A show that is posted twice during the season that deals with Waiver Wire content in a Monday episode and Start/Sit Decisions in a Thursday Episode. Both Jared Palmgren and Nate Marchese provide guidance on weekly waivers, specifically targeted to college fantasy producers. It’s also a year-round show, so make sure you’re subscribed to the YouTube channel.
Weekly Waiver Wire Columns: With both CFF and C2C/Devy production in mind posted weekly on the Campus2Canton site.
An analytics-based weekly column, By the Numbers: From data guru Jerrick Backous, this column highlights the most productive players with metrics that best translate to NFL production.
CFF Weekly Rankings: A weekly ranking by all positions, diving deep into the weekly numbers and helping guide players on waiver wires based on the rankings.
Campus2Canton’s Podcast Feed has a C2C dedicated pod that talks takeaways from the weekend’s games, starts/sits, and two devy podcasts reacting to the week.
Campus2Canton is not the end-all in this space, there are dozens of other weekly resources, some specialized content that tends to be better in some respects. I very much respect so many content creators out there and utilize their content weekly.
There is more than enough content for those being introduced to the format to be comfortable in making weekly waiver decisions both at Campus2Canton and everywhere through a growing industry.