and Ian Millman
Last Updated: Jul 15, 2014 1:10 PM
Fantasy Football University – Class VII
In-Season Roster Management – Part II
The Art of Trading
The three most important things in real estate are:
#1 Location #2 Location #3 Location
The three most important things in investing in stocks are:
#1 Timing #2 Timing #3 Timing
The three most important things in trading in Fantasy Football are:
#1 Be Proactive #2 Be Proactive #3 Be Proactive
Step One: Send a blast e-mail to the other members of your league that reads something like: “I am not in love with any members of my team and everyone is available for the right price…” Include a current list of your roster for the owners' convenience. You will be shocked at the response you get, as the league will now think that your team is available, including your studs. Which by the way is the truth: you would trade even the great Andre Johnson for Eli Manning and Vincent Jackson in return. The Blast e-mail accomplishes another very important thing: it opens up the dialogue between you and your league and gets the ball rolling!.
Step Two: Target Players you REALLY Want:
Remember the idea of every trade is to make your team better. Don't be afraid to target great players, and try to make deals for the studs. Trying to improve your core players is extremely important. If this was real life and you really did this for a living as a GM, the first objective would be to acquire talent. (Remember in basketball you cannot “teach height” and in fantasy football you cannot “teach talent”). If you recall what we said in a prior chapter of Fantasy Football University about tiering: players can be placed into different groups, which have similar levels of talent. Initially try to target top tier players in your proposal. They are the players you want on your team.
Step Three: Trading Multiple Players to Improve your Core:
Getting back to tiering, one of our most important concepts, it is possible to pull off a BLOCKBUSTER TRADE where you end up acquiring a “First Tier” franchise type superstar for two “Second Tier” players: Let's say you were trying to acquire Drew Brees and you had him ranked pre-season as your 2nd quarterback and overall 10th best player. Believe it or not another owner might accept a trade of Tony Romo (your 5th ranked QB, 40th overall player) and say a solid player with upside like Matt Forte (your 18th ranked running back). Here you would be trading two good second tier players for one super stud (first tier). This is just an example. This strategy is very risky: don't do it unless you have depth at RB & WR. Remember also that it is a lot easier for one player (Brees) to get hurt, then it is for two players (Johnson and Forte).
Step 4: Approach Other Owners who are Particularly Strong (stacked) at one Position.
It is a lot easier for another owner to trade a really good player to you if he has several other good players at that position. Example: If you were trying to get Matt Ryan in a trade and that owner already had Peyton Manning or Matt Schaub, it would be a lot easier for him to say yes to your trade proposal for Ryan, than if he didn't have any other quality starting QB's left. Look over the rosters of your league.
Although talent is usually equally dispersed in a twelve-man league, invariably you will find certain other team's that are overly strong at a particular position. These should be your first contacts as you have the highest probability of completing a deal with them.
When I am engineering trades, my first step is to print the league's rosters. My second step is to circle the guys I covet and will target. And the third step is to locate pockets of depth by other owners. So if I see a guy stacked at a position and one of those guys are one of my targets, I have a good chance of getting something done if I can come up with a deal that he cant say no to. Since I am so active on the waiver wire, I usually have a roster full of solid type players and I can package a few for 1 stud. That's my technique that I use over and over.
Step 5: You can't get Something for Nothing!
The definition of a good trade is that both sides walk away from the negotiating table thinking they got a good deal that makes their team better and brought them one step closer to winning a championship. Remember, BRAGGING RIGHTS ARE PRICELESS! Very few people play Fantasy Football for the money. They play it for the fun, and WINNING IS FUN! When you propose a deal, try to make it as fair as possible to both sides (this increases the chances of getting the deal done and cuts down on the time it takes to close the transaction). If you think you are the type of person who has trouble being fair in general, ask yourself one simple question, “Would you accept either end of the deal?” If the answer is yes, then the chances are the deal is fair.
Step 6: Always Speak HIGHLY of your Players and Explain (politely) how the trade will Benefit the other Owner.
You are trying to win the championship. You do not want to get the reputation of trying to “steal” players or to take advantage of less sophisticated owners. You may scare other owners from trading with you. The other owners in the league are your ALLIES. They possess the assets you desire. People will do business with you if you are nice, fair, and helpful to them. You might be able to point out the benefits of certain players to them that they originally did not realize. Since the trade you are offering is fair by definition (refer to step 5) your job is to get the other owner to say yes. It is a lot easier for him to say yes when you offer real value in return.
Step 7: Think Long Term
This rule particularly applies to keeper leagues. It is also important in leagues where you can protect a limited number of players. Education may be wasted on the young, but fantasy football value is not. Simply stated, if you perceive that two players have equal value, always choose the younger one. Try to get youth for aging superstars. Terrell Owens may have had enormous value two or three years ago, but if you could have traded this former stud for a Miles Austin or DeSean Jackson a year ago that wouldhave been awesome. Remember, it's a marathon not a sprint. The idea is not to win one game in week three; the idea is to win the Championship. More importantly, the idea is to put yourself in position to win year in and year out. This rule obviously does not apply to re-draft leagues.
Step 8: Trade Players At Their Peak
If you don't want a player that is playing bad, neither does anyone else. The player that you want to trade is the one that came out like Gangbusters and is playing way over his head. A perfect example was Mario Manningham of New York last season. He burned the Cowboys' defense for 150 yards and a score on 10 catches in Week 2. He then averaged just 47 receiving yards over his next six games. You could have gotten a lot for him after his big performance at Dallas, and he could have sat on someone else's bench instead of yours. Try to trade these over-achievers for underachievers that you think will improve -- which brings me to the next rule…
Step 9: Trade For Players Whose Values Are Down.
Look for guys that have posted below average numbers so far this year. These guys, unless they lost their QB's, or are playing without their two best offensive linemen, or are in some other unforeseen situation, are going to come back and put up big numbers. Make a list of players you think are really great, but just haven't shown it yet. Go after them hard. Now is the only time you will be able to get them. If you are right, your bet will pay off big. Remember, the concepts of Risk/Reward. You are taking a big risk by trying to get this current non-performing player. If he continues to not do well you may be sorry. So try not to give up very much.
Step 10: Target Players From Fantasy Teams That Are Basically Out Of The Fantasy Playoffs.
Unfortunately in all leagues, a couple of teams stink. It may not be their fault; they may have met with a series of injuries. Maybe it is their fault and they just exercised poor judgment. Whatever the reason, the reality is that they are out of it. They are already looking ahead to next year. They may be open to trading you players (very good players) that will help you this year for either draft picks for next year, or rookies that are not producing this year but will next year. There is a trade-off here: you don't want to mortgage your future to get a marginal player. However, if you can get a player that can put you over the top and helps you to win the championship this year than: JUST DO IT! Championships are hard to come by, so when you are close do whatever it takes to get you that trophy.
Last year, I traded some mid round draft picks for some depth at QB (Roethlisberger) during a playoff run and he ended up handling my starting QB duties from there on en route to a Back-to-Back dual Championship (Overall Points and Superbowl) in this league.
Step 11: Trade From Your Strengths
Ultimately you have one position that you can clearly say is your strongest position. Remember, if it is your strongest position it is somebody else's weakest. Pick out a couple of teams that are week at the position you are strong at. See if they have strength at a position you are weak at. For example: if you have great young QB's, say Aaron Rodgers and Matt Schaub, you might want to trade Schaub for a young RB or a pair of young WR's.
Step 12: Check the Schedule
Look for teams that are going into a stretch of the season where the schedule for their team is going to get a lot easier. Usually these guys had a tough go at it because the schedule has been tough. Their value will be way down; you can scoop them up cheap, and be on your way to the trophy. It does not take a rocket scientist to take advantage of this rule and there is no excuse not to use it. Go to the schedule right now, and pick out the teams that have easy late season schedules. Be prepared to trade for players from these teams when the time comes.
Step 13: Target Players Because New Members of Their NFL Team Make Them More Valuable
Last year there were wide receivers that didn't do well because they had a “running QB”, or their QB was injured, or just plain stunk. But look at what happened in Minnesota last year. The club finally added stability at quarterback with Brett Favre, which in turn led to a breakout campaign for Sidney Rice. In trading you should always try to stay one step ahead of the pack. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it does not help you in Fantasy Football. THE WAY TO WIN IS TO HAVE FORESIGHT!
Step 14: Targeting the Rookies.
This is a highly risky strategy, but can pay enormous dividends especially in keeper leagues. Rookies are obviously unproven and may not be able to make it to the “next level”. For every Anquan Boldin, there are dozens of newcomers that are total flops. This being said, there are situations where taking a shot is warranted. The Cowboys will be throwing many times this year. Dez Bryant could be in a good spot. He has the skills to develop into an elite receiver. He will begin to sow the seeds of a long relationship with Tony Romo. Bryant was probably drafted in the mid-to-late rounds, or will be. An owner will probably part with him for the right price if he gets off to a slow start. Example 2: Demaryius Thomas was taken in the first round of the NFL draft. He could be in the right situation if Kyle Orton (or Brady Quinn) can be effective as Denver's starting quarterback. Keep an eye on both of these players.
Step 15: Do Not Deplete Depth
One of the biggest mistake I see owners make is to trade away too much depth. They ride high because their team looks stacked and they think they are going to kill everyone else -- what they didn't realize is that they now have no backup Quarterbacks when their star passer goes out for the year with an injury (like Carson Palmer in 2008), their season is over. Make sure you secure depth on the waiver wire or get a valuable “throw in” to a trade that will reestablish your depth. Sometimes another owner will give up a good player as a throw in just to get the deal done.
In conclusion, remember to be proactive. The idea is to get the trade done. Sometimes you have to accept less than you had hoped for; sometimes you'll get more than you had ever imagined. Oh yeah, one last thing the final rule of trading is to make sure you cannot do better. Before you make a trade you should shop the same players you are about to trade around the league because somebody else might give you more for them. I know that it feels good when somebody says yes to one of your deals, remember if somebody thinks that you are going to make a trade they might up the ante because, they really want the player but didn't think you were serious, or they want to stop the other owner from getting him. As Always, GOOD LUCK. May The Trading Gods Be With You.
Using Trade Bait & Prey
Lastly, follow our Trade Bait & Prey section every week during the regular season. It is an invaluable tool which discusses which fantasy player's fantasy stock is up or down, and advises when to pull the trigger on a deal. We basically do all of the research, and you just have to pick the players up.