Have you heard the Fantasy Football Chatter?

We rarely get a chance to highlight many of the fantasy football tools out there as we spend most of our time and effort giving you fantasy football tips at Fantasy Football Fools, but from time to time, something comes along that’s worth bringing to your attention. Fantasy Football Chatter is one such tool/website/community.

Say you come home one night and turn on the TV to find the stud running back of your fantasy team explaining his latest injury bug and how it will impact the rest of his season. Maybe after the denial stages and the crying, you go online in search of some comfort or a recommendation.

After, of course, reading all you can about the news here at Fantasy Football Fools, you might want to survey the rest of the fantasy football blogosphere and see what the ESPNs and ProFootballTalks of the world are saying about your guy and how others are reacting.

That’s the perfect time to swing by Fantasy Football Chatter.

Fantasy Football Chatter

Created by the same wizard behind the curtain of Fantasy Football Calculator, Fantasy Football Chatter is a digg-like social news site dedicated to fantasy football and tracking the latest NFL player news. Chatter dedicates a page to each NFL player displaying all the latest submitted links about them.

You can vote up the stories that are most relevant to you, represent the most informed point of view or the ones that have the most fantasy impact to have a say in what goes to the top. As always, Fantasy Football Fools appreciates your support, but there’s plenty of great content to go around at Chatter. You can also be heard yourself by participating in the discussion and commenting on current stories. I like to view Chatter as one big, much more organized forum.

Each of the player pages has a unique RSS feed. For you power users out there, you can customize your fantasy football news intake by compiling the RSS feeds of each player on your fantasy team and tracking only the news that matters to you within a feed reader like Google Reader. Rather than relying on ESPN, CBS Sportsline or Yahoo! to deliver player updates within your team management system, you can check out the latest user submissions at Chatter to get commentary from bloggers and news sites around the Web.

When you start your research for the upcoming fantasy football season, you might find Fantasy Football Chatter a useful addition to your resources. And when you get there, look me up. I’m fantasyfool.

To Waiver Wire or Not to Waiver Wire?

It’s a debate that rages in my leagues just as the first league emails start to go out. The date of the draft hasn’t even been decided. The chips and beverages of choice are still safely on store shelves, but the league emails begin with the eternal debate: “Why don’t we change the waiver wire this year?”

A waiver wire, for those of you who may not know, is the system the regulates how teams request and obtain free agents in your league. Most leagues use some kind of waiver wire system to lock down free agents as soon as they have played their games on Sunday and prevent them from being obtained until the Wednesday or Thursday of the following week. At that time, your league software or commish sorts out which team gets a player they requested based upon a predetermined order.

No one wants the unemployed guy that sits on his laptop all day or the stay-at-home hermit to grab up all the decent free agent gold as soon as their mug comes across ESPN, so, in theory, waiver wires are a perfect solution. If it wasn’t for waiver wires, I’d probably have to build an NFL Network command center that even Jerry Jones would envy just to watch the latest news, injury reports and player profiles throughout the season.

Who wants to give away a Ryan Grant every season? Grant won playoff games and championships for owners who were lucky enough to get him as a free agent back in 2007.

The problem arises when you actually get down to discussing how the waiver wire is going to work. Without a doubt, someone is unhappy that they didn’t get a Ryan Grant or a LeRon McClain the week they needed him. With the season just weeks away, they want to change to another option, and there are several out there without getting too much into salary cap, waiver wire bidding or limiting the number of transactions.

From Worst to First

Is it fair to give the last place team first crack at the free agents? This method, often the default setting in fantasy football leagues, gives the lesser teams a chance to rise up from their ashes like a phoenix during the season and keeps some owners from giving up too soon. That said, it also allows good teams to tank the first week, improve their rosters with the best breakout free agents from Week 1 and dominate your face off all year.

The common argument against this “worst to first” rank is that it gives owners who do not do their research, neglect to follow the NFL news and draft very poorly a break.

Use it and Lose It

Do you adopt a “use it and lose it” system where you go to the back of the line each time you use the waiver wire? This method discourages using the wire each week and rewards the players who wait around for the big score, if one ever comes their way.

The downside of “use it and lose it” is that good teams who don’t have to pick up any free agent players from the waiver wire to dominate will often be the No. 1 pick when the best free agents come available. When the time comes, they block desperate teams from having any shot at the best player.

Wild West

Or do you just screw the system, do away with the waiver wire and live life by the seat of your pants?

Sure, a bit of luck may allow one team owner to hear a rumor or see an injury report first and beat the league to the free agent pool. The hermit may get all the best free agents every Monday night while the rest of the league sleeps. But at least you all have a fair shot at getting who you want when you want them.

The Question

I don’t really have an answer for this one. I prefer using a waiver wire simply because I often write during games or go out to watch them with friends. I like to have a day to collect my thoughts before I get to deciding how to rebuild my team for the following weekend, but there is something to be said for being able to get a player the second your gut tells you that you must have him.

Last season, my most competitive league settled on the “use it and lose it” method. It seemed to work like magic as I used mine often to replace a player without too much concern while others held out all season for the big score — and eventually landed Tony Gonzalez for their patience when he was dropped by a less-than-genius owner. Was it fair? It was close. At least there was a bit of strategy involved rather than luck.

What say you? Do you use a complicated system? A bidding war? Limited transactions? No waiver wire at all? Tell us about your method in the comments.

I’m always open to hearing what is out there, and maybe we can all nip those debates in the bud before we even start sending those emails.

To waiver wire or not to waiver wire? That is the question.