The Draft is the second most important aspect of dominating your fantasy football league. The first? Making trades.
Before you all gather your pitchforks and torches because you think I said the draft doesn’t matter, hold on a second. I’m not trying to diminish the importance of a draft in the slightest. The Draft is the foundation of any Championship Caliber team, I’m just saying making the right trades will take your team up a level.
Even with a poor draft, it’s not impossible to turn the ship around and head to clearer skies. If you’re in troubled waters, making trades has to become your greatest ally. You can change the course of not only your team but the entire league by making the right moves. In this article, I’ll lay out advice to help further your fantasy team’s potential and to avoid pitfalls along the way.
Redraft vs. Dynasty
Let’s point out some major differences between trading in a redraft league compared to a dynasty league. There is an immense gap between the two based on one fact alone — time.
A redraft league is similar to crabs in a barrel. At times, league mates are hesitant to make trades because it may boost another person ahead of them, even if it’s beneficial to both parties. That’s why it’s almost impossible to intelligently move your CMCs and your Saquons in a Redraft league, whereas they can be on multiple teams in one season in a dynasty league.
It all boils down to need. In a redraft league, if it seems you’ll lose before the season’s over, then there’s really no need to make any trades. However, in dynasty, if you’re in last place with a top-5 valuable asset on your team, you’re in a good spot. You can flip that asset and begin a rebuild.
Now, let’s discuss the magic of it all. And no, I’m not referring to the movie where Jesse Eisenberg stars as a “Magician Thief” (actually real for those who haven’t seen the movie), we’re talking Fantasy Trades.
Know Your Opponent
Before you start a trade, you have to realize you’re not in some video game where the ‘points’ have to add up. You’re playing against friends, family, strangers — real human beings. The human aspect of Fantasy Football tends to go out the window for analytics but, in order to win, you have to know and beat the others in your league. Players must use every advantage they can to win.
You should be aware of your trade partners’ habits — types of offers sent along with those accepted. It helps to see how they value players because not everyone’s views coincide. That’s part of the beauty of Fantasy Football.
Communication is Key
Have you heard of the phrase “ask and you shall receive”? I’m sure you have unless you’ve been living under a rock. Maybe your rock is one of those fake hide-a-key rocks, and you’re the key living under it. Which would then make you communication, since communication is key. (ba-dum-tiss)
ANYWAYS. One of the most important factors in successfully pulling off a trade is open communication with your partner — it’s necessary and decreases the level of difficulty. Trying to make moves without talking to your trade partner is like driving through a tunnel on a phone call with someone riding the subway and there’s a tsunami going on. Sure, something will get through but more likely than not, it’s all going to get lost in translation.
You can communicate by sending counter offers and whatnot, but nothing beats sending out a message and getting it done over text. No need to overcomplicate Fantasy Football. DM your league mate and get down to business.
Have a Plan
I’m someone who loves to make trades, plain and simple. I find it fascinating to create the best version of my fantasy squad possible. It’s like a big puzzle to me, trying to mix and match different running backs with receivers and seeing which ones will have the best performance.
Yet, I will not make a trade that goes against the vision of my team. Yes, you can alter plans and must be flexible throughout the season, but that’s not what I’m referring to. If you’re in rebuild mode in a dynasty league, don’t move young blood off of your team for an aging wide receiver. That WR may have a higher floor, but he also has a lower ceiling. It’s counter-intuitive.
This rule also applies to the opposite. If you’re making a title run, don’t trade a dependable asset of yours who is putting points on the board for a new, shiny toy that may not get the most playing time. Don’t make trades just to make trades. Simple as that.
Yes, the offseason feels like it stretches on, but don’t make a trade just because you’re bored. If the urge becomes too strong, keep it in line with the vision you have for your team. The last thing you think before accepting shouldn’t be “why not?” A trade should help further the vision you have for your team — be aware of that vision and use trades to bring it to light.
Trust Your Gut
You can take this and apply it to all of life. That’s a freebie.
But in respect to Fantasy Football trades, just be wary of outside voices against the decisions you make. Once a trade gets accepted, the whole league will have an opinion on it — for better or worse. People have tendencies of talking down completed trades because they don’t see the potential or they wish they offered something themselves. The comments will begin to fly but keep your head up.
You can’t show someone the top right corner of a building’s blueprint and expect them to get the bigger picture. And also, it’s probably in your best interest if the rest of your league mates don’t see your championship run on its way. Catch them by surprise.
Pull a Django
In the past, I’ve been stonewalled in trade discussions because it wasn’t interesting enough for my league mate. They wanted to make a splash and they didn’t want to “trade bench players for bench players.” You’ll run into players like that — it’s your job to navigate it.
In Tarantino’s movie “Django: Unchained,” Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is quite similar to the “league mate” mentioned above. He won’t entertain small offers that feel beneath him. He wants to be shocked and awed with many zeros and commas.
To navigate this dilemma, Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz approach DiCaprio with an offer so big he can’t resist. However, they throw in what they are really after, as DiCaprio is blinded by the bells and whistles.
Granted, it may not have worked out perfectly in the movie, but you can still apply it to your trades. It’s a great tactic to go after sleepers which won’t quickly arouse suspicion in your trade partner.
One of my favorite types of fantasy football trades is the multi-team trade. Now, I know on the surface it may seem like an impossible task to get three or more people on board for a trade, but fear not. These types of trades can allow you extra pieces to work with but will also require additional thinking.
I don’t want to toot my own horn (that’s a lie), but I am notorious for successfully masterminding multi-team trades. My biggest claim to fame was that I was able to pull off a five-team trade where everyone walked away happy.
The best way to pull off a multi-team trade is knowing what other people in your league are after. For example, I’ll talk with others in my league to see if anyone has sent offers for their ‘player a’ who’s on the block. This way, I can find out if imaginary league mate #3 is interested in imaginary league mate #2’s player a.
(Sorry that this is starting to sound like a math equation; if Sally has three apples…)
So, if I like someone on LM #3’s team, and I already know he is interested in player a, I can then navigate that to see if LM #2 wants anything from my squad. From there, you mix and match until everyone is happy with their side of the deal.
Easy as baking a complicated pie, but well worth it.
Be careful with trading away picks
(If you’ve made it this far and you’re in a redraft league, I applaud you and I hope you’ve been able to take something out of this. Unfortunately, this next part is all dynasty.)
If you’re going to throw in a first-round pick (or any pick) into any deal, be as confident in your squad as you can be. You may think you have a contending team, but I implore you — take a step back. The last thing you want is to dig yourself a hole with your lineup and not have any valuable assets to form a rebuild.
You don’t want to end up like the Texans after the 2020 season. They should have had a top-five pick but didn’t have any first round picks in the 2020 or 2021 draft. That’s a franchise-changing pick in the NFL or Fantasy.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 5, 2020
Be careful out there and really think about what you’re doing when moving picks.
Do the Research
It may be tough with so much information to sift through, but it is necessary. Before you send out any offers, you should really get a feel for how the community feels about certain players. At times you may disagree with some of the talking heads out there, but that’s just how it goes.
If you’re struggling to try to find an accurate set of player rankings you trust, check out the IDP Guys Dynasty Rankings and see how you feel.
Final Five Tips in Five Words
1. You may have to overpay.
2. Be flexible with your offers.
3. Trade calculators aren’t always accurate.
4. Keep calm when you’re denied.
5. Don’t burn any league bridges
I’m just a Fantasy Football player who loves the game and who believes trades bring an extra dimension to a league and enhance the excitement that already surrounds it. I mean, who doesn’t love the feeling they get when an NFL notification pops up that states a big-name player is on the move?
Now, when you make trades, you’re bringing that same feeling to a team you’ve created and put together. What’s not to love?
I hope this article helps you in the future when you prepare that blockbuster, league-altering trade. Good luck out there and happy trading!