The Art of the Fantasy Football Trade

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Ask a fantasy football fanatic about the key to a good fantasy football league and you’ll normally get the same responses: active players, good competition, and trading. Trading is in our blood as human beings. It is the foundation for modern currency. It’s no surprise that trading is one of the most exciting parts of fantasy football.

You don’t need to be an expert negotiator or smooth talker to pull off a great trade. In fact, the best traders are open-minded and know how to quantify true value. You don’t want to build a reputation as the used car salesman of the league because then no one will want to trade with you.

If you’re in a league that doesn’t trade much, I suggest you test the waters and reach out to other owners. If that doesn’t work or you’re looking for more, you should consider joining I can tell you firsthand that I personally joined a #footclan dynasty league in March and it’s been an absolute blast. There have already been dozens of trades and I’ve been a part of at least five of them. There is nothing better than an active fantasy league with smart owners.

Let’s get to it… What are some tips and tricks for fantasy football trading? We’ll start off with a beginner level overview and then discuss some advanced strategies in a follow-up article. You’d be surprised how many fantasy veterans skip the simple steps and end up leaving value on the table.

Editor’s Note: For more trading insights, check out 10 Tips of Trading Etiquette & Strategy.

Why You Should Trade

You should always be looking for trade opportunities and you should always be willing to consider a trade offer from another player (or at least provide a counteroffer). Some players are hoarders, which is great if you like finishing in third every year. Like trading stocks, smart owners will look for opportunities to grow value continuously through the season. This adds up and leads to long term improvements. Let’s do a thought experiment to drive home this point:

Let’s say your team’s projection for Week 1 is 100 points. If you can effectively trade and use waiver wires to improve your starting lineup by just three percent (3%) every week, what do you think your team’s projection will be for Week 15? ONE HUNDRED FORTY-SEVEN POINTS (147 pts). That’s called compound interest, folks. Note: it’s unrealistic to expect this level of growth, but the strategy remains sound.

Every trade introduces risk, but taking smart, calculated risks increases your odds of success.

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The first step of a fantasy trade is identifying your team’s strengths and weaknesses by position. If your team is strong at WR and weak at RB, you can start to identify the WR ammunition for your trade offer. Next, scan the other teams in your league for rosters with the opposite scenario: strong at RB and weak at WR. Look at player rankings from a handful of trustworthy sources to get a feel for trade value. Try to mold your strategy so that you offer the most value to your target owner while targeting a position that represents the least value to that owner. After all, you want to get the most bang for your buck and incentivize your target owner. Do your homework.

Have a conversation with the owner you’d like to trade with and be direct with them. “I am looking to for an RB2 and I have WR to offer you, are you interested in trading?”. Even if it’s short and sweet, it provides context and lets the other person know what you’re looking for. Ask them what they’re looking for in return. Don’t waste their time if they’re not interested.

Make the trade offer and then wait for the response. Consider offering a couple of options. Be willing to modify the trade. After all, everyone has a different perception of a player’s value. Be creative and don’t make assumptions. Maybe the Pat Mahomes owner really wants a backup quarterback to plug in during his or her bye week. Also, I typically present a counteroffer for every trade offer I receive, and you should consider doing the same (assuming it’s a reasonable offer).


Know your league. Find out who your league mates’ favorite teams and players are. Prioritize player production over name value. Find out which owners are bigger NFL fans than they are fantasy fans. Find out which person in your league is obsessed with rookies.

Don’t take advantage of inexperienced players. Guide them toward tools that will help them build their knowledge base. That said, ABSOLUTELY take advantage of others who should know better.

Bundle players together to go after a better player. Oftentimes, the person who receives the best overall player is the winner of the trade. Consider the replacement value in your decision making (i.e. the player you pick up from the waivers).

If you really like a player and want to overpay to get them, I don’t have a problem with it. After all, it’s fun to root for your favorite players on game days. That said, I personally don’t take this approach.

At the end of the day, trading is just plain fun. Apply some common sense and do your research, and you’ll probably win more trades than you lose. Jump right in, the waters warm. Oh, and only veto trades when there is clear collusion.

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