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Fantasy Football: The Anatomy of a Trade

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Jonathan Bales

Trades are an extremely important part of fantasy football and, next to the draft, are the easiest way to make improve your team. But what method is the most efficient way to conduct a trade in fantasy football?  There are a ton of trading strategies out there. Some like to come in with an offer nowhere near their potential best in the off-chance that they can fool another owner, while others give their best offer from the beginning and don’t budge.

In my opinion, a combination of these two strategies works best: coming in with a strong offer that is not quite your most extravagant.   That way, you can reasonably expect an immediate trade acceptance while also allowing yourself room to maneuver should that first request be denied.

Before any trade is proposed, it is imperative to know your team goals.  Are you in a redraft or keeper league?   What are the positional requirements and what is the scoring system?   One of my leagues, for example, recently altered the starting requirements from one quarterback to two.   I correctly predicted that owners would not originally realize the importance of the quarterback position, and so trading for QB’s became an easily-attained goal of mine.

Once you know your own strengths and weaknesses, analyze the other teams in your league.  Which teams are weak at the positions at which you are strongest?  These owners should be your targets.  Suppose you have four very talented WR’s, for example, in a league that only starts two.  Seek out the teams with the weakest wide receivers, as they will be most likely to deal.

Perhaps the most crucial part of a deal is what to offer.   It is at this point, I believe, where the majority of owners go wrong, as they try to trade a player for another at the same position.  Unless you are in a beginner league, executing this task will be nearly impossible, as there is a general consensus about which players are better than others at each position.   No one is going to trade you MJD for Steve Slaton, no matter how hard you try.

The key to obtaining value in a trade is to seek out those teams most desperate at a certain position, fill that hole, and obtain a player of greater value at another position (preferably one that is their strength). In this way, a Slaton for Chad Ochocinco (I still cannot believe he has gotten people to call him “Ochocinco”) deal is a real possibility if the owner is needy enough.  Hint:   look for owners who are very weak at a position because of injuries or byes.

As stated before, do not come in with your best offer, as you want room to negotiate, but do not come in too low either, as your potential trade partner could very well simply ignore your offer altogether.   If you are willing to offer Slaton and a WR2 for Ochocinco and Jason Witten, for example, propose Slaton and a WR3 first.   The offer is a respectable one and, at the very least, a foundation on which to build.

Next, do not explain to the other owner why your players are so spectacular and there’s are no good.   They know they have something you covet or you would not have approached them, so instead of ridiculing their team, try to convince them why your player makes sense for their team as well.  Take this trade for example:

Suppose Team A has RB1 with 250 projected points, RB2 with 225 projected points, RB3 with 220 projected points, WR1 with 225 projected points, and WR2 with 140 projected points.  Suppose Team B has RB1 with 270 projected points, RB2 with 170 projected points, WR1 with 220 projected points, WR2 with 210 projected points, and WR3 with 200 projected points.

If Team A were to trade his RB2 to Team B for his WR2, Team A’s projected point total among his top two players at each position would increase by 65 points (-5 at RB, +70 at WR).   It would be a superb trade for Team A, meaning it must be a poor trade for Team B, right?  Not at all, as Team B’s projected starter total at RB/WR would increase by 45 points (+55 at RB, -10 at WR). Both teams are winners because of the strengths and weaknesses of each squad and the fact that they traded a RB for a WR.

While projecting points is not as black-and-white as I just made it, this sort of formula should be your foundation for making a successful trade.

Again, make sure your player is the object of desire, almost creating a sense that the other owner came to you, and securing a trade will become a much easier task.

Once you have completed a trade, it is important not to brag about how much you ripped the other owner off, even if you believe you got a great deal.   First, as I have just shown, there really are trades that can make both teams better, particularly when you are not trading players at the same position.

Second, and most importantly, you are trying to create connections for future trades.   Winning the battle means nothing if you lose the war, and individually isolating the other owners via post-trade antics is a surefire way to lose the war.

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  1. Pingback: Fantasy Football: Point-Per-Reception (PPR) Scoring - NFL Super Bowl Live Online

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