Fantasy Football: How to Successfully Make Trades to Improve Your Team

John Miller@SportsSomethingCorrespondent IIIOctober 6, 2011

Cam Newton might be the most-traded player in Fantasy Football right now
Cam Newton might be the most-traded player in Fantasy Football right nowScott Cunningham/Getty Images

Now the trading season really begins. With almost 25% of the season in the books, owners have identified what they like and dislike about their rosters. You want to be proactive in the trade market right now. Injuries are dropping players left and right and the bye weeks are just around the corner. It's time to strike while the iron is hot.

NOTE: This applies mostly to re-draft leagues. If you are in a dynasty or keeper league, the trading strategies are somewhat different.

Now there are three basic types of trades in fantasy football:

  1. EXCHANGING POSITIONS OF NEED: These are the most common trades. These are usually one-for-one (One player being traded for one player) deals. When you have an owner with a surplus of talent at one position, they will look to deal that surplus to strengthen a weak position. If they find a team that fits the bill, a trade can happen pretty easily. This is your classic "Both Teams Win" trade scenario.
  2. THE MULTIPLE PLAYER TRADE: This trade is usually unbalanced, a 2-for-1 or 3-for-2 deal maybe. These are the most common trade offers that owners make. They usually involve one owner trying to trade two of his reserve players for another owner's starting player. Sometimes these deals are legitimate. A team might want quantity over quality (somewhat) if they have been stricken by injuries or had a horrible draft.
  3. THE FILL-IN TRADE: This is a trade you make strictly to cover you for a short period of time, usually only a week or two. You're most likely making this kind of trade to cover for either the bye weeks or an injury. Most likely you are trading a player that you usually don't start for a player that another owner doesn't usually start.

The first thing you need to do is evaluate your roster. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? And be honest with yourself. Where you drafted a player doesn't matter anymore.

  1. Do you have a surplus at any position? This means, do you have more quality players than you can start at a position?
  2. Are you extremely weak at any position? This means, are you picking up players every week off of the waiver wire in an unsuccessful attempt to fill a roster hole?
  3. Can any of your weaknesses be addressed via the waiver wire?
  4. How deep is the waiver wire at the position where you have a surplus of talent?

You should have a pretty clear idea of what you're willing to deal away and what you need. The next step is to find a trade partner.

  1. Right away, check out the rosters of the teams residing at the bottom of the standings in your league. These are probably the most desperate owners and they might be ready to deal.
  2. Check the rosters of every team that's suffered a major injury. You want to target the owners that drafted Jamaal Charles, Kenny Britt, Steven Jackson, Antonio Gates, Peyton Manning or Arian Foster. These teams probably have a starting slot they've had trouble filling. This is where you might be able to pull off a 2-for-1 type of trade.
  3. Evaluate the remaining rosters in your league. Identify any team that is weak at the position where you have a surplus.

See, nothing to it. Of course, which players are involved matter. But every fantasy owner places his (or her) own value on every player in the game. It's impossible for anybody to tell you what a "proper" trade is or to tell you a trade won't work. There are a couple of guidelines that you should stick to:

  1. PAY ATTENTION TO HOW LONG A PROPOSED TRADE IS OPEN FOR: Things change very quickly in fantasy football. When you propose a trade you need to figure out how long it will stay open for. I would never propose a trade that was open longer than the Saturday of that same week. Also, when accepting a trade, know how long it takes for the trade to officially be executed. Most leagues have a trade evaluation period. If you're planning on starting a player you are trading for that week, make sure the trade will go through before your games begin.
  2. DON'T LEAD WITH YOUR MAXIMUM OFFER: Be in the ballpark. But say you had two WRs you wanted to trade for a RB. You're willing to trade either WR to get the deal done. So lead with the WR you value the least. Maybe the other owner will accept. If not, then try offering the other WR. It can't hurt to try.
  3. BUT NEVER MAKE AN INSULTING OFFER: If you make an offer that honestly insults another owner, have fun. You're going to get nasty emails and terrible trade offers in return. Plus, you've probably eliminated them as a trade partner this season. And maybe even made an enemy. If you would be insulted at an offer you're considering making, just don't do it.
  4. LEAVE ROOM TO NEGOTIATE: Last season I had Tony Romo at QB. That didn't end well. There wasn't much on the wire. Later in the season I identified an owner I could trade with. He needed a RB. I had (a then good) Ryan Torain available. I needed a QB. He had Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan. I would've taken either. But I was pretty sure he wouldn't give me Roethlisberger. My best guess was that I would offer Torain for Roethlisberger , and he would counter with Torain for Matt Ryan. Which he did. Why didn't I just offer Torain for Matt Ryan in the first place? Because the odds are that the other owner would've asked for Torain AND something else. That's how negotiations work.

There you go. That's how to trade in fantasy football. It's not as much about the players involved as it is finding a good trade match. If you and another owner are both deep at RB but need a WR, you can't make a deal with each other. So don't bother trying. It's all about finding owners who have a need and making them pay the maximum price to get you to help them fill their need.

Good luck to everybody with the remainder of your fantasy football season. Please feel free to use the comments if you have anything to add or any questions. You can also follow me on Twitter.


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