Rules - Waivers and Free Agency

Updated: August 21, 2007, 12:08 AM ET

Standard Leagues | Customizable Leagues

Transactions Overview
Teams can make changes to their lineup throughout the week. Players may be moved in or out of a team's active lineup based on the rules in place for your leagues. Custom Leagues may have players locking at the start of their individual gametimes, or all players on your roster may lock once the first NFL game of the week begins (check your league settings to determine what your league manager selected). For Standard Leagues each player becomes locked at their current position in the active lineup or bench at the time their team is scheduled to kick off each week. Once locked, players may not be moved again until 3:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday. At that time, owners may begin making changes for the following week of fantasy competition but may not change their roster for the week just concluding.

Activating/Benching Players
You decide which players to start for each week of games. The Team page allows you to analyze each of your current players, review their year-to-date and previous week's performance, and freely move players between your active roster and bench. As detailed in transactions (above), roster moves involving a player may be made right up until that player is scheduled to begin play for the week.

When you make transactions during the week you must move a player to the bench or waivers when moving a player to the starting lineup. If you make a move that violates a roster slot, an error message will appear notifying you to double check the proposed transaction to ensure that you are moving players to available slots. Fantasy Football allows team owners in both Customizable and Standard leagues the ability to modify their lineups for future weeks of NFL action. This can prove to be helpful if you will not have access to a computer (on vacation, business trip etc.) but you would like to make sure that you are receiving credit for players at each team roster slot. Go to your Team page and click on the links for the Week (3,4,5 etc.) of interest to access your roster page for each future date. Then modify your roster. Please keep in mind that if you make any roster moves in the interim (adding/dropping a player or players) this will delete or clear any roster selections you made for future weeks.

Adding/Dropping Players
There are many players available in the player pool (those players not currently on a team in your league) who you may want to pick up for your squad. The player pool may be searched by position from the Players page. These unsigned players are available to add to your team at all times that a player is not frozen. Each week, players are frozen -- may not be added to a team's roster, cut, or traded -- from the time they begin play until the end of the Monday night game. At that point in time, the waiver period within your league (if you have one) will then begin. Please see the waivers explanation for both Custom and Standard Leagues to determine the schedule that your league uses. When all slots on a roster are filled, a team must drop a player before or during the addition of a new player.


Waivers Overview

Waivers are the process by which owners can select from the pool of available players who are not on a team's roster in the league. They may have been undrafted or dropped by owners. Owners can put a claim for that player, but must wait a specified amount of time until the waiver clears. The team that puts a claim on a player - and who has the higher waiver priority number - will receive the player when waivers clear. All available players not on Waivers are considered Free Agents.

To help prevent the issue of "cycling" players through free agency, a player that is added and released on the same day will remain a free agent. Previously, when a team owner added a player to their roster and then immediately dropped him, the player would go to waivers for 48 hours and could not be added to any team during that period. Sometimes this might done honestly - an owner changes his/her mind after adding a player and decides he/she doesn't want the player. But some owners took advantage of the rule, tying up all available players at a position (such as kicker) and denying their fellow owners the ability to add players. Intentional cycling of players through waivers is a serious offense and may result in a team being banned in Premium Standard Leagues.

To learn more about the waivers process in your league, read the appropriate information section.
Standard Leagues | Customizable Leagues


Standard League Waivers

All players not on a fantasy roster reside on waivers following each week of play, remaining there from Tuesday morning until waivers begin to clear at 3 a.m. ET on Thursday. Due to the high volume of waiver claims at certain times of the season, it may take several hours for all waivers in all leagues to process. Released players reside on waivers for at least 48 hours before clearing waivers. At the clearance time, the player is assigned to either a team (if a claim was made) or the free-agent pool (if no claim was made). Unclaimed players not acquired during the waiver period become free agents and may be picked up on a first-come, first-serve basis without affecting a team's waiver position.

If multiple claims are submitted for a player, the claim is resolved based on the waiver position of each involved team. A team's waiver position is the relative power you have when selecting a player off of the waiver wire. When more than one team requests a player in waivers, the player is awarded to the team with the best waiver position (closer to 1). When a claim is resolved, the waiver position for the team that receives the player is changed to the lowest possible priority (10), and all the other teams move up a position.

Waiver schedule
Following each week of fantasy play, each team's waiver position in Standard Leagues is reconfigured according to the team's position in the standings -- the team with the worst record receives the best waiver position (No. 1) and the top team receives the worst waiver position.

(In the event of a tie -- identical won-lost records -- the team with the fewest fantasy points is given the better position (closer to No. 1). In the event that two or more teams have identical records and fantasy points, points-against is used as the next tiebreaker. The teams with the most points-against gets the better waiver position. If none of these tiebreakers break the tie, a random drawing will be made to determine which team receives the higher waiver position).

Waivers process daily beginning at 3 a.m. ET, except for Monday and Tuesday, when waivers are not processed. Note that due to the high volume of waiver claims at certain times of the season, it may take several hours for all waivers in all leagues to process. Also, during certain weeks of the NFL season, the first game of the week is played on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, affecting the waiver process. See Weekly Play for details.

* - In the event that there is an official scoring change (affecting the outcome of a game) made after the initial weekly run of waivers on Wednesday, waiver positions and claims will not be retroactively changed.

Waiver claims can be made at any time before the player clears waivers. Any player who is dropped within 48 hours of the week's first kickoff is not available to be added and will appear on waivers during the initial waiver run on the following Tuesday.


Customizable League Waivers

Within Custom leagues, the way waivers operate can be adjusted by your league manager. The customization options available are as follows.

Free agent/Waiver Acquisitions Limit: The league manage has the option of choosing the number of player acquisitions that a team is allowed through free agency or waivers during the season.

  • No Limit - Most ESPN leagues set their league to use this option. If selected, there is no limit to the number of players a team can add or drop.
  • None Allowed - If selected only the league manager can add players to teams.
  • If a specific number is selected (i.e. 5, 10, 15, 20) once that limit is reached the team will not be allowed to add any players to their team.
  • This setting can be changed by the league manager at any time during the season.

    Waiver Period
    If Waivers are used, team owners must wait until the time that a player spends on waivers elapses before the waiver claim is processed. If the player on Waivers is not selected and the waiver period expires, he automatically becomes a free agent. If a specific day length is selected all available players lock at their team's scheduled kickoff time and the waiver periods begins at 3am ET on Tuesday mornings, according to this schedule.

  • No Waivers - If selected, players will NEVER be moved to waivers. Rather, all available players are always free agents.
  • 1 Day - Waivers process on Wednesdays (Wed).
  • 2 Days - Waivers process on Thursdays (Thu). Recommended setting.
  • 3 Days - Waivers process on Fridays (Fri).
  • 4 Days - Waivers process on Saturdays (Sat).
  • If a player is dropped during the week (i.e, on Thursday afternoon), the player will be listed on waivers for the set length of total days set in your league rules. For example, suppose your waiver period is set for 1 day. This means the waiver will process at the next waiver processing that is at least a full 24 hours (1 day) later. So, if you drop a player at 8:00 pm ET on Thursday, your waiver will run on or about 3:00 am ET Saturday morning - the next scheduled running of waivers that is at least 24 hours past the time the player was dropped.

    The Waiver Period setting can be changed by the league manager at any time during the season. NOTE: Any wavier claims which are pending at the time the Waiver Period rule is changed will be grandfathered and changed for players moved to waivers moving forward.

    Waiver System (In-season)
    The waiver order during the season determines who has the first chance to claim a player on waivers.

  • Move to last after claim, never reset order -- The team which makes the most recent pickup is automatically moved to the last slot.
  • Resets every Monday to inverse order of standings -- The system resets itself after each week is complete (on Tuesday's) and moves the team in last place to the first slot in the waiver order (and likewise, the team in first place will go to the last slot). In the case of a tie, the team that scored the least amount of points to date would get the better (earlier) waiver slot.
  • This setting can be changed by the league manager at any time during the season.

    View your League Settings page to see how your league's waiver rules are configured.

    Waiver Order Adjustment
    The league manager has the ability to manually adjust the waiver order for teams by going to LM Tools and clicking on "Edit Waiver Order".