If you’re reading this article, then you should have only one goal in your life right now for the rest of this fantasy football season. Make your league’s playoffs and win that ‘Ship! Making trades to bolster your roster for the stretch run is one of the best ways to accomplish this goal. The most important thing to know is this… Fantasy football is Darwinism at its best, and you should show no mercy in trading.
Now, don’t start sending out terrible offers or the only thing you’ll have to show for your efforts is a bad reputation. A smart and savvy fantasy football owner uses the tips and tricks I’ll describe below to make trades that are (or at least appear) beneficial to both owners, but you get the upper hand. If you’re rolling your eyes, stop it! Last time I checked, United Way was not in the fantasy football business. Use these tips (or not) and put yourself in the best position to bring home the title!
Evaluate Your Squad
First and foremost, you will need to make an honest assessment of your team to identify strengths and weaknesses. Do you have four solid WRs, but are stuck with Thomas Rawls or Doug Martin as your starting RB each week? Or vice versa with four startable RBs and [profiler]Martavis Bryant [/profiler] stinking up a WR spot? Can you do better at QB or TE? Identifying both the positions where you have an abundance of talent and gaping holes can help you pinpoint specific trade partners.
Know Your Place in the Standings
With only three weeks in the regular fantasy season you are in one of three camps; at the top of the standings having clinched a playoff spot, fighting like hell to make the playoffs, or already mathematically eliminated from contention. For those who are dominating your league, it’s time to prepare your roster for Weeks 14-16. This final bye week creates a golden opportunity to improve your roster at a discount.
Those teams in the middle of the standings are in must-win matchups every week and will get no help from their players from Carolina, Indy, SF, or the Jets this Sunday. Christian McCaffrey, Carlos Hyde, Devin Funchess, etc. can be acquired for pennies on the dollar from a team in desperate need of a victory in Week 11.
Survive and Advance. This phrase needs to become gospel if you are in the middle of a dogfight for one of the few last remaining playoff spots. You need to approach each week and do WHATEVER is necessary (within the confines of the rules of course) to win that week. Don’t look towards the playoffs, or even next week, because both of those could mean nothing should you fail to get the job done in Week 11.
Ideally, you don’t want to give away a player like CMC or Hyde if you can avoid it, but if you must… Keep Calm and Survive & Advance. Your best bet is to target those at the bottom of the standings. Those teams might have thrown in the towel and will trade you a high impact player for the “I don’t give a sh…crap,” discount. Make sure your trade is fair (or at least appears that way to the rest of the league) and not just for sportsmanship purposes. The cellar dweller you just ripped off in a trade still likely has a matchup against one of your competitors for one of those final elusive playoff spots.
Bonus Tip: Trading Zeke in a Keeper League
If you find yourself in the doldrums of your league… DON’T GIVE UP!! Just because guys like me have no qualms about treating your roster like the $5 DVD bin at Walmart, doesn’t mean you should let it happen. Take some pride and embrace the spoiler role! Does your league have keepers? If so, reach out to the reeling Ezekiel Elliott owner in your league and ask his price. Chances are you have at least one or two players on your roster who could help him/her win right now. The (former) Zeke owner gets players who can help them compete for the championship now, and you start next season with one of the Top 3 players in fantasy football suspension-free.
Find a Trade Partner
This facet of trading must be harder than I imagine for all of the offers I get that I would never accept. Not due to unfairness, but because the deal I see in front of me does very little, if anything, to improve my roster. No, I will not accept your offer of Isaiah Crowell when I already have Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, and Alvin Kamara on my roster. Remember what I said earlier about taking an honest assessment of your team… now do the same for all of your league mates. Find a team whose position of strength is your weakness and vice versa.
Fantasy football trading is not master… throwing a tennis ball against a wall, you need a willing partner. Fantasy Pros lists their trade values of all fantasy relevant players each week so you can ensure your deal is on the level but favors your squad.
Don’t Start with Your Best Offer
This is Negotiation 101 but is crucial in fantasy football player swapping. You shouldn’t take this as “Send a terrible offer,” as that could offend the other owner and end negotiations immediately. While it’s important to know your league mates, there are many instances where another owner might value a specific player higher than you or the fantasy experts and could accept your weaker opening offer.
In most cases, sending a simple text or voicemail stating your intentions will do the trick; “Looks like you need a RB, how do you feel about Player X? You are loaded at WR, and I’m a fan of Player Y.” Their answer to this initial outreach can help you in the all-important negotiations. When negotiating, make sure to have some solid arguments (impressive stats, plum matchups, etc.) to bolster your case for the player you’re sending away. These negotiations are crucial, that’s why…
Bonus Tip: Don’t Send Blind Offers
How many times have you just sent an offer to a fellow owner without any discussion and had that offer accepted on the spot? Not often, right? Unless you’ve discussed the trade previously, always reach out with a text or call to start the trading process. If you’re in a league where you don’t know everyone, ask the member of the league who invited you for contact information. If that’s not an option, use the messaging system on the league’s app to reach out to that person directly.
Ensure You are Receiving the Best Player in the Deal
People always ask who wins a trade…In my opinion, it’s the owner who gets the highest impact player. Teams at the top of the standings should look to trade two or three of their quality depth pieces for a stud like Shady McCoy or an upward trending player like Jay Ajayi. Both have great playoff matchups
Have the Courtesy to Respond
Not everyone is a fantasy football addict like myself who spends an unhealthy amount of time each day strategizing how to improve their teams… I get it. However, this does not mean you need to ghost another owner who reaches out to you with an offer. It’s not hard to say you’re not interested.
Psychological Tip: Place Trade Chips in Your Starting Lineup Before Negotiating
I believe it will bolster your negotiating power if your potential trading partner thinks you are trading him starters as opposed to bench players.
Thanks for reading and please reach out to me on Twitter (@DFF_JoshB) with any trade questions or humblebrags about great deals you pulled off. More importantly, please take a minute to visit this website and consider helping out our DFF brother John Di Bari and his family. His wife Nikki is battling a brain tumor so please spread the word to your networks and I know anything you can do to help will be greatly appreciated by JDB and his family!