5 Tricks of the (Perfect) Trade

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As the trading deadline approaches in many leagues, here are 5 helpful tips for fantasy owners looking to make a deal to put their team over the top. Note: I don’t endorse being a cheap skate nor “ripping” off other owners. If that is happening frequently, perhaps you need to join a different league or get your fellow league members to grow up a bit.

1. Be a Best Friend

We’re ultimately part of fantasy leagues because it brings friends/family together although I’ve gotten in my fair share arguments. When it comes to being a friend, do not go overboard trying to “butter up” your trading partner and being overly sales pitchy. You are having a conversation… with a person about fantasy football. This isn’t like buying a used Buick from 1996.

Complimenting your league mate’s team in a text or your league feed is the first step in beginning a solid trading conversation. Compliment the team, a stand out fantasy week and the overall makeup before isolating which players you want to acquire. This is vital as it is so necessary to speak softly and not to point out the shortcomings of the other team. Give less opinions and more hard facts/points totals, which we will discuss in #3 below. Empathize with them in their losses and especially injuries. I had to share in the suffering of my fellow owner and basically perform the eulogy for Eric Decker’s season-ending injury. But soon after, I was THE best friend and THE trading partner.

2. Trade Across Positions

This is one of the biggest recommendations I have in terms of finding who or what to trade for. I get questions all the time about “who could I get for Player X?” There are so many variables and factors which are specific to each league that it makes it quite hard to pinpoint an exact player to trade for. Rather, start with whatever position you are in deepest need of and figure out what other position you can take a “hit” in order to improve the overall makeup and point total of your team.

For instance, I struck gold during the draft grabbing Melvin Gordon in as many leagues as possible. When Danny Woodhead went down, I was looking at one of the few RBs with an immense workload capable of posting weekly RB1 numbers. Although he’s been TD dependent, Gordon has the touches that most owners dream of when plugging in an RB. He was my most valuable trade asset and I wanted to find a trading partner who would value him as the top 5 RB that he’s played like so far.

What my team desperately needed was a WR1 that could take me over the top. I went searching for teams with 1-2 strong WRs with some question marks at the RB position. Look up fantasy points and compare them across positions to find players with similar totals. That is the key because no-one trades for the same position. A RB for WR is what muddles the numbers especially in PPR leagues. Use this to your advantage.

3. Use Similar Point Totals

I recently stole pulled off a trade for Ezekiel Elliott in my home league using this tactic as one of the sole means of comparing value. Through the first 6 weeks, Elliott had narrowly outscored Larry Fitzgerald in fantasy points per game BEFORE the Monday Night game the Cardinals were about the play against the Jets. In other words, the owner I was trading with saw that Fitz and Elliott thus far had somewhat similar “value”. Elliott was coming up on his Week 7 bye and this owner badly needed a WR. Up until then, Fitzgerald had been WR6 and this point value comparison is what sold the owner that he was getting someone capable in the deal. Now I added in a couple lesser pieces at RB to sweeten the pot but what was clear is that sheer points is what captivated his attention.

Even if the owner offers you apparent “trash”, DO NOT insult them or it will scare them off much like a wild animal. One of the fastest ways to make a terrible impression with trading is when two owners give assign unrealistic value to different players. Listen we all have inherent bias, hence the reason I still cannot for the life of me trade Allen Robinson as I’m convinced he can be a WR1 the rest of the way. Despite the bias working against us, make sure you use hard evidence which doesn’t lie: point totals and averages.

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As I showed recently in an article reviewing the QB1 landscape of the AFC, point totals rarely give a perfect picture of what is really going on. Looking at a fantasy points leaderboard doesn’t show week-to-week consistency but rather raw points. It doesn’t take into account who has been on a bye week thus far nor does it accurately show when someone had a major bust week. The data can simply be shown as a “bridge” in conversation.

4. Slow Play Your True Tradeable Assets

This is a hard step to make without turning into a used car salesman. Instead of leading with the players you are trying to actively move, begin a slow play of first highlighting your team and your current needs. For instance, if you are looking to move Jay Ajayi because you aren’t buying into his rest of the season value, then don’t lead with this player. If your trading partner asks about Ajayi, instead let him or her know that he is doing quite well recently and it would be hard for you to give him up. You need to share the “value” that Ajayi has brought to your team and that giving him up would only be for the right offer.

You’re not tipping your hand that Ajayi is the guy you are looking to ship out of town. Once you sift through a couple of lower options, lock in on the target worth acquiring by floating Ajayi’s name out there. In PPR leagues, if you have made it this far with serviceable RBs, maybe now is the time to trade Ajayi for a high end WR1 like Amari Cooper or perhaps Gronk at TE.

5. Add Players, Rinse, and Repeat

This is what can seal the deal. The more players that are involved in a trade, the harder it is for anyone (even so-called experts) to gauge who won or lost. Please do not overload your trading partner with a monster 6-for-3 deal as that will not turn out so well. But 2-for-1 or 3-for-2 deals definitely help mix up value and give each owner some different points of conjecture for trading. “Adding in” players can sound like you’re dumping trailer trash. Instead, throw out another player and ask them if they could fill a need.

I love current low-end WR2s such as Tyrell Williams and Quincy Enunwa this year as they are tradeable, startable WRs each week. Especially in PPR leagues, there are underrated RB assets such as Darren Sproles and Chris Thompson who can be serviceable additions and weekly FLEX starts. We must isolate the value of players without bringing in our own hang-ups about them. Owners want to reassured in the right now while also being promised the future of full of gold with real difference makers. Remember we are not trying to “hoodwink” anyone here or promise them “fool’s good”, rather present information that can be helpful in executing trades.

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