Fantasy trading 101 – Time to go pro

If you’re anything like me, the lockdown was an excuse to join even more dynasty leagues and get trading. As we enter the off-season proper, the time comes to take a closer look at your various teams. The draft is just the beginning and the summer signals one thing: trade season.

To help you get the best value for your superstars, I dish out some of my battle-hardened techniques and trade etiquette. Here are my trade dos and don’ts.

The Do’s

Small Talk

If you enter a trade without knowing your partner’s real name, you’re already on the wrong path. Leaguemates are far more likely to trade with someone they know. Start up a conversation about the NFL or ask their opinion on the incoming rookie class. You could even drum up a conversation about what they do for a living.

The chances of completing a deal improve tenfold by simply getting to know prospective trade partners.

Offer a bundle deal

As scoring systems evolve, player value has become increasingly complicated. With this in mind, 1 for 1 trades are in real danger of extinction.

Rather than struggling to find a comparable player, offer a bundle deal. Top-heavy teams will often trade away a stud for 2 solid players. While no single player can compare to a Christian McCaffrey or an Ezekiel Elliot, a pair of target-heavy Wide Receivers can provide an adequate return.

Find needs for both teams

Take a look at the various rosters within your league. Are there any players you like sitting on a roster with a gaping hole? Is Nick Chubb wallowing on a roster that has T.Y. Hilton as the WR1?

Taking a few minutes to spot potential opportunities to exploit is key. Offering another Tight End to an owner drowning in Tyler Higbee, Blake Jarwin and Hunter Bryant is pointless. Instead, find their weakness and get to work.

Include picks

Though only relevant in dynasty leagues, most GMs start the year with a multitude of rookie draft picks. Build on the earlier idea of bundle deals and include picks where possible.

As the league year moves closer and closer to the NFL draft, the value of rookie picks skyrocket. A deal that seemed impossible in December suddenly becomes a reality. A WR2 and a 1st round draft pick can now land you that elusive RB1. Voila! Your franchise is championship ready.

Say no

We’ve all been there; it’s been a few days and it becomes clear a fair deal is some way off. Your partner has unrealistic expectations or refuses to accept D.J. Moore is off-limits. Any chance of a good deal is dead.

Whilst it can be hard to say no, sometimes you must. Do not fall into the trap of being guilt-tripped into a deal. Accepting a deal you’re not happy with could ruin your roster for years to come. Apologise and let them know you are moving on to other targets. You may lose a future trade partner, but your long term vision remains intact.

The Do Not’s

Rip people off

Hands up if you’ve ever been tempted to rip off the newbie? You know that owner that doesn’t check twitter every 5 mins? Well, he doesn’t realise Antonio Brown got cut. Fantasy football can be a ruthless game and any unfair advantage will be exploited.

However, I urge savvy owners to use any morally ambiguous powers with care. In the short term, a horribly one-sided deal can look like a great idea. Nevertheless, with great power comes great responsibility. A fantasy swindle could have major ramifications for both you and your league.

Owners burnt in a raw deal are likely to quit. League mates will look at the deal and realise you are not an owner to trade with. You may get the deal of a lifetime, but at what cost?

Oversell your players

Everyone knows that guy who compliments his players to the ends of the earth. Although player pride is admirable, there is nothing worse than attempting to deal with that owner.

Nothing brings a sigh quite like an inbox beginning with: “You know that Marlon Mack runs behind the best line in football right?. Or the classic “Johnathan Taylor is a rookie, he won’t take over straight away. Marlon is still the bellcow”. It begs the question; why are you trading him away?

Overselling a player reeks of desperation. It assumes your partner is an idiot with no football knowledge and you are the resident fantasy God. No. You’re forcing a player onto your partner.

If you find yourself convincing a fellow league member of player value, your estimate is way off. Most owners will nod politely and remind themselves to never trade with you again. Don’t be that guy.

Package deal to death

Although we mentioned package deals as a positive earlier, there does exist a line. 2 for 1? Have some fun. 3 for 1? Turn and run.

Most, if not all, fantasy rosters are carefully cultivated works of art. A mixture of NFL knowledge and fantasy expertise. A sprinkling of ‘my guys’, garnished with homer picks. The fantasy die-hard can be seen as a Thanos of sorts, striving to keep their roster: “Perfectly balanced, as all things should be”.

Bundle deals exist to provide adequate value. Throwing in as many average players as possible to acquire a superstar is not expert negotiating. It’s just annoying.

First of all, the receiving owner now has to drop multiple players to facilitate the deal. Secondly, trash multiplied does not = gold. No self-respecting GM is going to accept 3 bench players for George Kittle. Sending a mega-deal is not going to work. Rather than a focal point, your team is more likely to gain an enemy.

Overvalue picks

Much like package deals, rookie draft picks can be a huge factor in the success of a deal. Everyone loves a rookie and exploiting recency bias can unlock even the shrewdest GM.

However, care needs to be taken on both sides of the coin. Unless a rookie is a truly generational talent, like Saquon Barkley, almost all veteran studs are more valuable. Refusing to offer more than a 1.03 for Josh Jacobs is foolish and exposes a criminal overestimate of rookie picks.

Ronald Jones and Royce Freeman looked like sure-things during the 2018 rookie draft. 2 years later, neither player has carved out a regular role. Remember: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Sure a haggard, dusty old veteran isn’t as shiny as a pristine rookie. But they provide years of analysis and verified production.

Similarly, don’t begin to pump 3rd round picks into deals come draft season. The further you drop down a rookie draft, the further the hit rate drops. There is less than a 10% chance 3rd round rookies produce high-quality fantasy numbers.

Owners know that 3rd round and below becomes a dart throw, so don’t waste everyone’s time. Later picks can be the polish used to complete a tricky deal. Just don’t expect miracles from them.

Pull out at the last minute

Hours of negotiating. Countless options inputted into trade calculators. Hundreds of messages back and forth. Finally, there is a fair deal on the table. You can smell the players about to join your team.

But wait, the new players aren’t appearing. There must be an error right? Wrong. The verbally agreed deal had been declined. Low and behold, the ultimate fantasy sin has been committed.

Pulling out of a verbally agreed deal at the last second is poor form. Without a good reason (injury or suspension) popping up, there is no need to commit this crime. Do this once and you’ll find your trade options dissolve faster than Damien Williams’ dynasty value.

Congratulations, you are now a fully-fledged trading expert. Go forth and conquer. That fantasy world is yours.

-Dre @lil_carat

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