Right or Wrong: Trading With Future Considerations

By Jeff Melbostad

The Morality in Fantasy Football series continues today with another controversial topic.  As I’ve said before it’s tough to imagine there being issues with “morality” in a game.  But it’s definitely present.  Morality is, in fact, present in all aspects of our lives.  And fantasy football is no exception.  We all strive to win and to win at all costs.  Which is where ethics, undercutting, and decision making comes into play.  Today I’m going to discuss trading with future considerations.  It’s something that can fly under the radar in many leagues.  But something that, if discovered, can create plenty of controversy and drama.  Two things that we’d all like to avoid in our fantasy football leagues.

That said let’s define what I refer to as trading with future considerations.  To me this refers to a situation where you make a trade with the idea that another trade (or other type of compensation) will occur at some point in the future.   Perhaps the best way for me to illustrate this for you is to bring up a real life situation that I encountered where this very thing happened.

A number of years ago in my long-standing redraft league a situation arose with a couple of owners in the league.  Both had bye week issues in the same week.  One owner was unable to start a RB because of bye weeks and the other unable to start a WR.  So they made a trade to work out said issues.  A RB from Owner A’s team was moved for a WR from Owner B’s team.  On the surface this is all well and good.  The shadiness of the deal showed up a week later when the same trade was made… but in reverse.  That same WR was traded back for that same RB.  An obvious trade with future considerations.

As commish I was able to get to the bottom of the deal.  The owners were indeed just trying to skirt the bye week issues.  But making a trade with the idea that the same deal will be made back the following week reeks of collusion.  There’s no question this teeters on the borderline of ethical behavior.  That said, it was not explicitly forbidden in the rule set I had at the time.  As such I let it go but with a stern warning and a promise that the rule would be in place going forward.

There’s a mini lesson here in that you should have a very complete and thorough rule set.  But that’s not the point of this article.  The real point here is whether or not trading with future considerations is right or wrong.  And based on my experience I would definitely say that this is not morally right.  Trading with future considerations (whatever those considerations may be) is a collusionary tactic meant to skirt the rules for your own benefit.  I understand that not all rules may cover this situation.  But just because something isn’t forbidden doesn’t mean you should do it.  Right and wrong goes above an explicit rule set.  It strives to adhere to a higher level of morality.  So I personally see blaming a lacking rule set as nothing more than an excuse for improper behavior.

Consider some other future considerations that could happen.  Owner A trades you his backup QB since yours is out on injury for three weeks but you need to trade him back after the injury. You trade your first round draft pick to Owner B but if the pick turns out to be in the top 3 he gets your second rounder instead.  Owner C trades for an extra RB that will help him through the playoffs with the guarantee that he’ll give him back for the same or similar deal in the offseason.  The possibilities are endless.  And the presence of collusion is almost always right there with them.  This type of trading can be used in a most immoral way and can bring out the worst in owners.

Now in theory it may not be a bad idea to allow this type of trading when collusion isn’t present.  But it can very quickly get out of hand.  And it can upset owners and commissioners alike.  Without any real way to manage conditions (at least with any hosting software I’m aware of) it becomes a nightmare to deal with.  And it can leave owners feeling cheated, upset, and confused.  But if you disagree with me and find trading with future considerations to be a perfectly acceptable practice then have at it.  Just make sure to cover all of your bases in any rule set you write up.  Have a clear and public place for storing such information.  Get a co-commish that can help you out with rulings where necessary.  And be prepared for it to blow up and cause drama at some point.

After all of that incessant babbling I would definitely have to rule that trading with future considerations is wrong.  It can potentially be done the right way, but the ambiguity and potential for collusion means it just isn’t worth the risk.  I’m sure a number of you have run into this issue before in your fantasy lives.  What were your experiences?  Does anyone allow it in any of his or her leagues?  Have you seen it take place and did it cause issues? I’d love to hear your opinion as well as your personal verdict on whether trading with future considerations is right or wrong.