Fantasy Football: Five Critical Tips for Early-Season Trading Success

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2010

Worried about DeAngelo Williams' slow start to 2010? Don't be. He'll provide some big stats as soon as this week against Tampa Bay, and is a good guy to target in trades before his value spikes upward.
Worried about DeAngelo Williams' slow start to 2010? Don't be. He'll provide some big stats as soon as this week against Tampa Bay, and is a good guy to target in trades before his value spikes upward.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

If you want advice on your intake manifold, you talk to the guy at your garage. If you need help baking macaroons or weaving a basket, Martha Stewart is there to coach you through it.

But Joe the Mechanic and Betty Crocker don’t play fantasy football. They can’t help you decipher trade offers and be proactive in building a championship fantasy squad.

Enter the tradeaholic…who lives for the fantasy trade. Who has ample experience in making deals—both good and bad—and learning from those mistakes so you don’t have to.

Each week, the tradeaholic will discuss tips on being a successful fantasy tradesman, who to target and who to send packing.

This week, let’s talk about five critical things to consider when entering the world of the fantasy trade.

So here we are. Draft is done. First week of real games are behind us. Your team is either undefeated or winless—or both.

Wondering if the first week loss is a fluke or the start of a bad season, you start to look a little closer at the other teams in your league.

You see a team that has a need…a need you may be able to fill while improving your own squad for the long haul. What to do?


1. Don’t overreact.

Your team has stumbled out of the gate thanks to a mediocre to miserable Week 1 by DeAngelo Williams or other 2010 season-opening underachiever.

You start getting flack at the office water cooler. You need to win … and win now.

Bob the used car salesman offers you Darren McFadden for DeAngelo Williams. You see that McFadden outscored Williams by 20 points in the first week alone, and you pull the trigger and the flush handle on your season at the same time.

Rarely does any fantasy football team win its league championship after an undefeated season. One loss doesn’t mean your season is over, and one bad game doesn’t mean that your stud player is fantasy toast the rest of the way.

It is hard, at times, to be objective when assessing your own team for trade options…especially because you may be over- or under-confident in certain players based off a small sample size.

Take a deep breath, evaluate offers that come to you, and make rational counter offers that build your team for the long haul.

On the flip side, do watch other league owners for overreaction. Pinpointing those who are freaking out because their team is winless after one or two weeks of action can be a very lucrative way of jumping into successful trade negotiations.


2. Sell high, buy low.

For many, this may seem like “no, duh!” advice, but the golden rule of fantasy trading is a fundamental for a reason.

When all else fails, you can be successful at fantasy trading by moving players who have an elevated value for those who are about to break out and at a perceived low.

This may sound complicated and intimidating…as if you are forced to guess at which players are going to break out and which are going to break their tibia. But it isn’t rocket science, either.

For example, Week 1 disappointment DeAngelo Williams has drawn much fantasy scorn after a six-point performance in most fantasy scoring formats.

Some were leery of Williams as it was coming into the season based on perceived timeshare status with Jonathan Stewart.

So, Williams is currently a low value player. The potential upside? We all know what he can do when he gets enough carries in the Carolina run-first offense.

The perceived timeshare issues? Look closer at last Sunday’s box score and you’ll notice Williams had 15 carries to Stewart’s six.

Also realize that the Panthers were playing from behind after the Giants went on an offensive fireworks display — forcing Carolina to play catch up through the air.

The key with a buy-low candidate is striking with a deal before it is too late. For DeAngelo, that time is nearly over … as he is likely to rebound in a big way this weekend against Tampa Bay.

Other players to target…some to deal while their hot? Check out the tradeaholic weekly post highlighting players from both sides of the spectrum. This week’s post of that nature will be coming very, very soon.


3. Communication and patience pays off.

Really. Go to a used car lot and check out the sticker prices. Would you pay the price marked, or attempt to haggle to a more affordable price range? The same model can be used in fantasy trading scenarios.

It is very likely that the first offers you receive this year will be lopsided in the other owner’s favor. They aren’t going to give you something for nothing (unless they’re panicking), and are going to attempt to get the best value they can in return for a deal.

The problem is that too many people allow egos to get in the way. They see a lopsided offer and assume the other owner is trying to rake them over the coals.

These people take offense and either offer an even more ridiculous offer in return…or don’t do anything at all.

The problem with this is two-fold. First, back-and-forth trade offers…even if they seem far off in the beginning, still have plenty to teach us. Which players is the other owner targeting in most of the offers? Which is he offering?

You can get a good idea of what he/she thinks of certain players by the offers sent. This is important information for you as you work towards a common interest deal at some point.

Secondly, if you cut off all communication by either refusing to counter-offer or sending back a ridiculous deal is that you’ll likely not be making trades with this person down the road…when his asking price may come down and he’s to move players quickly. You don’t want to burn bridges, especially early in the season.

4. Do your homework.

This homework comes in all sorts of forms. For one, you need to be checking player updates and statuses on a regular basis. Preferably daily.

When news was confirmed that Ryan Grant was down for the season, Brandon Jackson was still locked in waivers in most leagues, giving most people a cushion before pouncing.

If the news about Grant came a day later, he would have gone to the first person to visit their respective league’s waiver wire. Timing is very key.

Also watch for potential trades. Again, with Green Bay, there are rumors circulating that the Packers may look to deal for another back.

While this is speculation and may never come to light, it doesn’t hurt to make a move early just in case a trade comes to light…as long as you have the roster room to add such players.

In this example, Marshawn Lynch has been mentioned in numerous venues as a possible fit with Green Bay. Will he wind up with the Packers? Hard to say. Probably not.

But wouldn’t be cool if he did surprisingly wind up with Green Bay and your competitors made a mad dash to the waiver wire only to see you already rostered him a day or two before?

Injury status is another major avenue to keep an eye on. Values ebb and flow around injuries…for example, if Beanie Wells doesn’t start this week (he’s a game-time decision), then Tim Hightower makes a nice flex or RB2 starter if you are hurting for starter depth at those positions.

Where to go for player updates? We at offer updates embedded in our weekly rankings and free game-by-game player projections. We write posts about major player updates.

Also, check your league’s home server. In most cases, they’ll provide bubbles next to each player’s name that give the most recent news and views. The website also offers comprehensive player information updates.

5. Get unbiased advice. Let’s face it…for many of us, our fantasy team is sort of like our baby. It can do no wrong…or, in some cases, it can’t do any right.

There aren’t many of us out there that can look at our own fantasy team and make the hardcore decisions to make moves or alter lineups when things start to spiral out of control.

Because strives in every way to provide a community where we all can help each other out, there are plenty of ways to get advice on your own, individual team. For free. How cool is that?

For one, you can leave questions in the comments section. Or, you can sign in to our message boards, leave a comment and get feedback from a number of our ninja finest. If you’d rather be more discreet, send me a line via e-mail.

We’re all about building strong relationships with others who love the sport of fantasy football as much as we do. We’ll do our best to offer different opinions on your team.

Will our advice be perfect and guarantee you a spot in your fantasy playoffs? No. Not at all. However, we can share with you what we think of your team, and encourage you to get involved and help out others in our rapidly growing ninja army of fantasy assassins.

Good luck, happy trading and we look forward to hearing from you!

By the way, have you seen our full list of free rankings, player projections and advice for Week 2?

Have you seen our free game-by-game projections for this week: PIT@TEN | TB@CAR | MIA@MIN | ARI@ATL | PHI@DET | CHI@DAL  BUF@GB | STL@OAK | SEA@DEN | HOU@WAS | NYG@INDNO@SF (rest of player matchup projections coming very, very soon. Be sure to check back!

And have you signed up for our really easy, yet really challenging chinstrapninjas weekly game?


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