Fantasy Football: 10 Tips of Trading Etiquette & Strategy

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It’s officially August and that means only one thing; Fantasy Football drafts! While everyone loves drafting (most players cite it as their favorite part of the fantasy season), trading is typically second on that list. Once the draft has completed, it always amazes me how quickly the trade offers start to fly. One of the most common problems is terrible and offensive trade offers. Nothing can ruin your chances of improving your team than poor trading etiquette. Think of bad trade offers like going to a fancy restaurant and acting like a caveman who’s never seen a fork or napkin before.

While you (and I) might not remember where that 5th fork is supposed to be placed, there are a lot of things we can do to make sure we’re setting ourselves up to be a great trade partner. You need to put yourself in the best possible position to propose and complete trades with our league mates in the hopes of making your team better. Having a bit of fantasy class will ultimately lead to you being the owner everyone wants to deal with and not cringe everytime they see a notification on their league app.

1. Don’t Spam Offers

Everyone hates spam, and I don’t mean that processed meat in a can. I mean the junk you get in your email, in your mailbox, on your phone. There is so much spam everywhere we turn, we don’t need it creeping into our fantasy football leagues. Don’t be that owner that blindly shoots out a trade offer to every single team in the league. No one believes that your rich uncle is really trying to help their fantasy team. It’s perfectly fine to toss out a few offers to owners you know, but if you want the whole league to know that you’re shopping a player, use the league management programs trade bait area.

2. Not Opening a Dialogue

Since we’re not going to blindly throw trade darts at the wall to see if anything sticks, you need to reach out to your league mates and open a dialogue with them. If your league management program doesn’t have a private messaging function, at least use the little text box on the trade page to put a little message in there on how to connect. Even if it’s asking them to call/text you or use a social media messaging program to discuss the offer.

3. Don’t Offer a Dumb Trade “To Start Talks”

Above I suggested using the message box on the trade to open a dialogue, but don’t offer your Kicker for their top RB with a note that says – “not my offer, but wanted to see if you’d be interested in….”.  Start with a reasonable offer of what you’re looking to do. It’s likely to change, but at least the other person knows you’re remotely serious about getting a deal done.

4. Not Putting Yourself in Their Shoes

Before you ever send a trade offer or reach out to an owner, pull up their roster and pretend it’s your roster. If that team is stacked at WR and needs another RB, Don’t send an offer trying to acquire their RB with your WR. If the trade doesn’t benefit them in the slightest, they will auto-decline. You have to look at their needs and see if there is a mutually beneficial trade.

5. Not Understanding a Player’s Value to THAT Owner

Along the same lines as the above topic, you need to understand how an owner views and is using a specific player. One of the worst trades comes from the owner who doesn’t recognize the value to your roster construction. If I build a ZeroRB team, my pass catching RB might be far more valuable to my team as a whole than what you’re willing to pay. While that an RB like Duke Johnson might only be worth a WR3 in a trade, that WR3 would be a bench player for me. Unless you like getting your offers immediately declined, don’t send an offer that would result in the other owner losing a starter for a bench player.

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6. Don’t Offer Multiple Bench Players for a Stud

This might be the most offensive trade offer you can send/receive. “I’ll give you these four players I drafted at the end of my bench for Le’Veon Bell”. Seriously, Why would the Bell owner accept a trade that returns two balls of pocket lint, a paper clip, and a used tissue? Stop it. If you think your league mate is actually going to trade their best player, you need to come strong with an offer that remotely improves their starting roster.

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7. Consider Who Needs to be Dropped

In an un-even trade like a 2-for-1, you need to be considerate of who the owner getting two players would need to drop. In a shallow bench league, you might be asking the other owner to drop a solid starter, which suddenly makes the trade really lopsided for them. Before you ever accept a 2-for-1 type trade, ask the other owner who they would be dropping. Perhaps that player would be beneficial to your team when compared to the available waiver wire players. If the player to be dropped is going to be the top waiver add, it’s much easier to acquire that player as a 2-for-2 instead of competing on the waiver wire with the rest of the league.

8. One Owner’s Trash is (NOT) Another Owner’s Treasure

How many times have you seen someone pick up a waiver wire player coming off a monster outlier game, and then immediately try to trade them for an underachieving proven player? While this might sound good in the theory of “buy low, sell high”, think about how it looks when you get that offer. If you really wanted that player, you would likely have a much lower ranked player you were planning to drop in favor of this waiver wire flyer.

9. There Is a Time and Place for Draft Capital

Draft capital is a perfectly fair trade assessment tool right up until the time points start getting scored. If you’re working a deal before the season starts, draft cost is an acceptable valuation of the players. I am not trading the player I drafted in the 3rd Round for your players from the 10th and 13th Rounds, no matter how much pre-season hype they are receiving. But once the first week or two are in the books, draft position goes out the window. If it’s week 5, it sure doesn’t matter if a player was a 9th Round pick, it only matters how they are performing to that point.

10. Not Responding to Trade Offers

Have a little common courtesy and respond to trade offers. Even if it means immediately declining it, do something. Nothing is worse than sending a trade offer and the other owner acts like it never happened. This is also why it’s so important to have an open dialogue outside the league hosting site.

“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” ~ Grandpa Andy


To be a great fantasy owner, you need to use all the resource in your tool belt. Trading is one of the most exciting parts of fantasy football and one of the few ways to improve your team post-draft. Don’t ruin your trading opportunities by being the league trade-jerk. Have a little common courtesy and be a good trade partner.

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