What are protected free agents?
A league commissioner can choose to use protected free agents in his league. To use protected free agents commissioners should go to the Commissioner → Manage League →Transactions → Free Agent Transactions page. If a league uses a first-come, first-served free agent free-for-all or a waiver wire followed by a free-for-all, then protected free agents are an option.
A protected free agent is a free agent player that has just been dropped or released by a team in the league and has not cleared the protected time set by the commissioner. The commissioner can specify a particular number of days to protect a free agent (1 to 90) or he can opt to protect “Until beginning of the next FFL week”. In addition he can protect “Until end of season” to help prevent collusion, etc. at playoff time. Leagues using a waiver wire can also select “Until the next Waiver Wire” as the availability time of newly released free agents.
For example, my league has a 2 day protective period to prevent collusion. If I release a player at noon on Tuesday, other owners will not be allowed to pick him up until noon on Thursday.
How do you know if a player is protected? A list of currently protected players will be displayed on your Team → Add/Drop page where you pick up free agents. Team owners will not be given the ability to acquire players while protected. Commissioners, as always, can put any player on any team at any time. Don't forget there is a report that shows all adds and drops where commissioners and owners can check transactions if you have questions about when a player was dropped or added.