You can find basic fantasy football "who to start" and "who to sit" information just about anywhere, but trading insight is harder to come by.
Today, I'm going to walk through a few trading strategies to optimize your team.
First, let's get some facts straight for the "anti-traders" among us:
1. Your team has room for improvement.
Unless you drafted the Patriots' offense and Joseph Addai, odds are your squad has a few weak spots.
In shallow leagues, these can usually be made up via smart pickups—but in larger leagues (such as my 16-person league), the waiver wire can be very barren.
2. Some of your players are over-performing.
Instead of riding them out (I'm looking at you, Wes Welker), trade them to someone who's willing to overpay.
The reverse is also true—if you see a player is undervalued (e.g. Reggie Brown or Lee Evans), nab him while you can.
3. Odds are you have another team you want to screw over.
Let's say Team A needs a RB this week, and is dealing with Team B. You can jump in, talk to Team B, and see what Team A was offering. Then, you can raise the asking price by making a verbal offer, and talking about how great the RB on Team B is.
Team A will either overpay to get him or won't get him at all.
With that established, let's get down to the nitty-gritty...
Strategy 1: Trading Up
To trade up, you need to have a bit of depth.
The basic trick is to trade TWO good players on your team for ONE very good player on another team, plus a toss-in.
If I have three RBs—let's say DeShaun Foster, Joseph Addai, and Fred Taylor—and only two RB slots, I won't be getting full value from my roster.
However, if I trade BOTH Taylor and Foster, I could get a player like Willis McGahee (and a player to drop later), who I would be able to start every week with Addai, maximizing my total points.
And you never know—the toss-in could evolve into something valuable.
Strategy 2: Roster Relief
In a deeper league, odds are a good chunk of your bench players are "sleepers"—guys who are playing poorly but who are due to bust out.
Let's say you have some key players due for a bye and your sleepers aren't performing. What do you do?
Spend the week before the bye hyping up your sleepers' stats to the rest of the league. Then, trade one of your sleepers for someone who's already had his bye week.
Most owners don't take the bye week into account, so if Player A has 500 yards and a TD and Player B has 550 yards and a TD, they might equate them—even though Player A has played an extra week.
Use this to your advantage.
Strategy 3: Blackmail
Let's say I have waiver priority. Someone in the league has been dominating because he owns Ronnie Brown—but UH OH! Brown goes down!
I use the waiver wire to pick up Jesse Chatman, and spend the week wearing down my opponent because he needs him badly.
This works best when a player like Travis Henry has an impending suspension (or is injury prone), and I pick up Selvin Young first.
Strategy 4: Sell High
Pretty basic: If you own a player who just had an unbelievable game (Kevin Curtis?), sell him as high as you can ASAP—because you can probably get way more than what he's worth.
Strategy 5: The Grand Scheme
This is going to be a little hard to explain, so bear with me.
The Grand Scheme is a rare trade maneuver that can only be performed if you're SURE certain events will occur.
Guessing wrong here can end your season. I pulled one of these off over the past few weeks, so here's a sample:
Step 1: I trade Chad Johnson, Tatum Bell, and Muhsin Muhammad for Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, and DeShaun Foster.
Analysis: It looks like my opponent is trying to trade up for a better receiver, but Wayne is still top-five, so it doesn't effect me. I needed the RB help too (this was the last week before Tatum Bell lost his job to Kevin Jones), but the real kicker for me was Welker.
Wes had done nothing up to this point, but I was confident he was going to be very involved in the Dallas game (Dallas would likely key on Moss, and Stallworth is injury-prone).
Sure enough, Welker has a ridiculous game. The only downside is that Moose and Brian Griese are starting to gel.
Step 2: I trade Welker and Foster for Marshawn Lynch and Roddy White.
Analysis: Here I sell high and get Lynch for pennies. Lynch's stats had looked near enough to Foster's, but Foster hadn't had his bye yet.
Getting Roddy White was icing on the cake, because White was the Falcons' only target. Lucky for me, White decided to have a huge game, racking up over 100 yards and a score.
Step 3: I trade Chris Chambers, David Carr, and Jeff King for Patrick Crayton, Daunte Culpepper, and Donald Lee.
Analysis: First of all, I needed a TE. Secondly, Crayton's Yahoo! ranking was very high, and Chambers had just been traded to SD.
Capitalizing on the hype about how good Chambers will be in San Diego (he won't—you heard it here first), I upgraded slightly at QB2 and TE2, and got myself Crayton.
Now to finish The Grand Scheme...
Step 4: I trade Lee, Crayton, and White for Antonio Gates, Fred Taylor, and Muhsin Muhammad
Analysis: Maurice Jones-Drew is hurt, so Taylor gets a value boost. Gates is golden—the best TE money can buy. Best of all, I get Muhsin back to fill my WR2 spot (and split time with Reggie Brown) just as he gets back into a groove.
I essentially traded Chad Johnson, Jeff King, David Carr, and Chris Chambers for Reggie Wayne, Marshawn Lynch, Antonio Gates, Fred Taylor, and Daunte Culpepper.
I upgraded substantially at every position. The next step? Wait until Brown has a great game, and package him (with Moose) for a player like Larry Fitzgerald, who's due to explode.