Mastering The Art Of The Fantasy Football Trade
I get asked all the time, “what is your strategy for trading?”. It’s not an easy question to answer because a successful strategy for executing a trade might vary based on league, roster construction, the willingness of the other owners in your league to trade and unpredictable factors like injuries, etc. Regardless of all that though, the goal remains the same: to win the trade and improve your time.
In my opinion, people don’t trade nearly enough. Owners fall in love with their team and are afraid to shake things up. I see it all the time! What they don’t understand sometimes, is that trading is a great way to take a really good team and turn it into a championship caliber team. It doesn’t matter if you dominated your draft, or left the draft disappointed in how your team turned out. There is always room to improve and you should never let yourself be content.
I have always been the guy in all my leagues that is always wheeling and dealing. I am always working the phones trying to pull off my next trade. Part of the reason for this is I just think it’s fun. However, I have found that over the years it has also been one of the main reason why I have been so successful. Does this mean I win every trade? Of course not. In fact, sometimes I get burned, and I am always trying to get better at it. But overall I find that being aggressive is one of the keys to being successful in fantasy football.
Step 1: Understand Your League
Ever heard of the saying “know your audience?”. Well, the same is true in fantasy football when you are trying to improve your team through the trade market. It is important to know what owners in your league like to trade, which ones never trade, and which ones will trade but only if they are completely ripping you off. There is a strategy for all three. My recommendation is not to waste time on the owners who will never trade with you. Focus your time and energy on the ones that will. For those owners who are open to trading but will only do so if they feel they completely bent you over a barrel, the key to winning those trades is to properly sell the trade which I’ll talk about in a bit.
My recommendation is not to waste time on the owners who will never trade with you. Focus your time and energy on the ones that will. For those owners who are open to trading but will only do so if they feel they completely bent you over a barrel, the key to winning those trades is to properly sell the trade which I’ll talk about in a bit.
Step 2: Understand The Market
Once you have a good understanding of your league, the next step is to take the temperature of the market. More often than not, the league and the market will go hand in hand. Understanding the trade market will give you a good grasp on which players are coveted and which players may not have as much value. Timing is everything with fantasy trades, and having your finger on the pulse on the trade market will help put you in a position to make the right move at the right time. My two favorite moves to make, are selling high on a player whose trade value is through the roof. And buying low on a player that another league owner has given up on. Right up until the trade deadline I am constantly looking for both options.
Fantasy football season is a marathon, not a sprint. Throughout the season, players’ values will fluctuate just like their ADP’s do leading up to drafts. If you are plugged in to the market and are in tune with the rest of your league, you will always be in a position to strike.
Step 3: Finding The Right Trade Partner
Nothing is worse than receiving a trade offer that clearly only benefits the person making a trade. Everyone knows you have to give up something to get something. Believe it or not, first impressions count when making trade offers as well. If someone is loaded with running back depth and you offer them a couple below average RB’s for their best WR, you clearly aren’t thinking about what they would be looking for in a trade. Many times a terrible initial offer will put a bad taste in their mouth from the start.
Instead of just finding a player you want and offer a bunch of garbage for that player, scan the line-ups of the teams in your league. Identify areas of weakness on other teams and try to present a solution. Even if the first trade offer isn’t perfect, a solid trade offer that shows you understand their situation will show you want to do business in good faith. The key to making a trade isn’t always finding the right player to trade for, it is finding the right trade partner. Once you find the right trade partner and are able to offer a solution, you will have a much easier time getting the player you want.
Step 4: Making The Sale
So what happens once you understand your league, understand the market and are able to find the right trade partner? Well, now it is time to make the sale. Trying to pull off a blockbuster trade requires a sales pitch. This might be the hardest part to master. When making the case for a trade to a potential trade partner, here are several different strategies to use in your sales pitch:
The “I want this to work for both of us strategy”
This is a strategy designed to make them think you just want to make a fair deal and genuinely want it to work for both parties. Be blunt with them and make it clear that this is a trade that benefits both parties and they would be stupid to not accept it.
The “I don’t really even like this deal for me, but I’m willing to do it because I need help at X position”
This is also a great strategy because it makes it seem like you actually aren’t excited at all about the deal. It tricks your trade partner into thinking they might be getting the better end of the trade. Again, this will require you selling the fact that you are less than thrilled with make the deal.
The Takeaway Strategy
This is my all time favorite strategy. In fact, I shouldn’t even be typing these words right now because people in my league might read this and know my secret. Oh well! This strategy is perfect when you are trying to execute a trade with a person who is taking forever to decide, or is having second thoughts. Two essential parts of this strategy are the concept of leverage and making the other person think you are willing to walk away from the table completely. Or move on to another interested trade partner.
Desperation is the number one deal killer when trying to make a trade. People can smell desperation from a mile away. When you are desperate, the other person has all the leverage. When the other person has the leverage you are either not going to be able to make a deal, or you are going to lose the deal. Regaining the leverage is often achieved by making it clear that you don’t need to make the deal as much as they do, and you are perfectly fine moving on.
Step 5: Set a Deadline & Get It Done
Whenever I am trying to pull off a trade and I’m trying to get the other person to make up their mind, I find that setting a deadline helps create a sense of urgency. When you are able to create a sense of urgency it gives you an excuse to put some pressure on the person to make up their mind. It sometimes leads to them making a careless decision. The deadline doesn’t even have to be legitimate, it can be completely made up. Here are a couple great fake deadlines:
The “I need this player to start for me this week” deadline.
A lot of times, people will say they want to wait a couple weeks before they move a particular player. A good way around this is to say that you need that player ASAP because you need to win this upcoming week and you need the player you are asking for in the trade to start for you this upcoming week. This might not get the person to do the trade with you, but it justifies your reason for wanting to get the trade done sooner rather than later.
The “my waiver claim this week hinges on this trade” deadline.
Usually, waivers go through between Wednesday-Friday depending on the league you are in. If you are light at RB and you are trying to trade for an RB1, the outcome of the trade might affect who you put your top waiver claim in for. For instance, if they do not do the trade with you, you might have to target the top RB on the waiver wire. While if they do make the trade with you, you might have the luxury to place your waiver claim on a WR or player at a different position.
This is a great self-imposed deadline to throw out there because it forces them to make a decision by mid-week. In addition, it shows the other person that if you can’t address the need through the trade, you are willing to resort to addressing the need through the waiver wire process.
Once you have set a deadline and are willing to stand by it, you are in control of the process. Being in control of the process is important. Because after all, you aren’t trading with robots, you are trading with actual human beings. Trading isn’t always easier, and sometimes it can be a full-time job. Understanding your league, understanding the market, finding the right trade partner, being able to make the sale and setting a deadline will help you win more trades than you lose.