The Art of the Deal…in Fantasy

by Guest Writer Dave Tapling


One of the most exciting events in a Fantasy Football season is a trade.  More so if it’s a trade you’re involved with.  Trades give owners a way to bolster a position of weakness, cover up a draft mistake, or even make a push for a championship at the expense of the future.  A good trade is entirely subjective and nearly impossible to quantify, since your goal at the end of the trade can be wildly different each time.  Additionally, what your trade partner is looking to get out of the deal can often also be wildly different each time.  Realizing exactly what your needs and your trade partner’s needs are can be the single biggest factor in getting a deal done.  The trick is to get that deal done and give up the least necessary amount to do it.  For the purposes of this initial article we will be focusing on some common types of trades, why you’d want to be involved with one, and how to approach them.


Leveling out a position strength.


As you analyze your fantasy team you’ll likely notice that there is position at which you feel very strong.  You’re equally likely to notice that you have a position that isn’t going to perform very strongly from week to week.  As you look at the other rosters in your league you’ll see that many of them are in a similar position.   These are the bread and butter of fantasy trades. Each of you fill a need and have a more consistent team from week to week.


The Good.


You’re likely to get a pretty fair deal in this scenario.  You won’t get something for nothing but you’ll usually be able to complete this without overpaying.


The Bad.


Your team may more consistent but you give up the ability to have a position you could pretty much set and forget.




Be open with your trade partner about who you’re willing to give up and who they’re willing to deal.  Players will often be slightly different in terms of fantasy value.  In dynasty leagues, this is where your mid to late round draft picks become useful tools.  Giving one up or asking for one is a great and easy way to level out the trade.  If your position of strength is at Quarterback or Tight End you’re going to get a lot less back for what you’re giving up.  This works both ways though, as you can often get a good QB or a starting level TE for a mid level WR or RB.  In IDP, defenders will often carry less value even at similar point totals because the defensive player market is far more volatile.  If you pick the least valuable player at the position you need that you still feel would be a serviceable player for you, you can often get them for less than normal market value. Lastly, don’t offer your Mike Wallace for their Ezekiel Elliott.   This just insults the other person and lets them know not to waste their time with you, as your respective player values will probably not match up.


The Jettison


Everyone has looked at a draft pick shortly after completion and thought “I’ve made a huge mistake.”  In dynasty leagues a player who has been a starter for years, possibly an anchor of your team, is just flat out old, and you want to get something for of him before he signs his retirement papers *cough Frank Gore and Larry Fitzgerald cough.*  If there’s no question in your mind that you don’t want this person taking up a roster space for you this year it’s time to attempt the Jettison


The Good


You can get something for a player you didn’t want, or future draft picks or backup depth for an aging player who might have another year or two in them before riding into the sunset…otherwise known as ESPN.


The Bad


You’ll never get fair market value for a guy you just need to dump unless you know someone in your league is a superfan of theirs.  For older players, you’re going to be in contact with a lot of league mates to find someone willing to take on your geriatric player on the cheap.




Almost every player in the league has an owner out there who values that guy more than you do.  Maybe you’re done trying to get a stretch of 3 consecutive weeks out of Sammy Watkins.  It won’t be too hard to find another owner who hasn’t lived his injury nightmare and just sees the Bills #1 WR.  Once you lock down a target owner, you can usually get close to market value.   Again, a mid round pick or a backup player to that owner in addition to your player might entice them to ignore the issues that you don’t think you can live with anymore.  For older players, you have to decide what player/pick you’d get for them will be worth giving away their last years of usefulness.  A guy like Frank Gore still put up close to 1,000 yards at age 48, but he’s not likely to do that again.  If you can get a mid to late third round rookie pick from an owner who thinks he has a shot at the title this year then take it and run.  Someone like Larry Fitzgerald, however, led the league in receptions last year despite getting up in years.  Even though he is likely to retire after this season, it’s not unreasonable to seek a late second round rookie draft pick from someone desperate for WR help now.   The level of compensation you’re willing to take will determine if and when you’ll be able to deal your unwanted asset.


The Final Piece of the Puzzle


Sometimes you’re so close to fantasy gold you can taste it, but you know you don’t quite have the firepower to get you over the hump  You’ve got top 5 players at QB, RB, and WR, but you’re streaming Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks and praying for anything out of the position each week.  You need that last piece of the puzzle, even at the expense of your future. After all, winning the title is all that anyone will remember anyways.


The Good


Acquiring the final piece of the puzzle sets you up to take on the rest of the best without worrying about holes in your roster.  If your gamble pays off, you’ve won your league.


The Bad


This will probably be very expensive.  Get ready to kiss your first round picks for the next year or two goodbye.




You already know what you need.  You’ve got two options. Option 1 is to find the least expensive player who will fill the need.  Gronkowski feels like overkill, but you can probably take that title with Kyle Rudolph on your roster.  Now you’re unlikely to be giving up multiple, or possibly any, first round picks.  The potential for disaster here is that if you don’t quite arm yourself well enough to finish the job then you’ve overpaid for second place.  Secondly, it’s not as easy as picking the player you want and dropping off the necessary picks.  You’ll have to take what you can get, which can mean a long time communicating with lots of other owners until you find a match.  Option 2 is to go big or go home, which is why you’ve considered this kind of trade in the first place.  Jordan Reed is both available and healthy? Get a blank check ready.  I find that a first and third round pick combination lets the other know you’re serious, even if it’s not quite enough for them.  Also, since that’s the exact compensation in the real NFL for signing a franchise player, owners seem to like that particular offer.  At any rate, you want to get the ball rolling by sending a large enough offer that the other owner will even consider dumping their valuable asset.  Try to find the top 5-10 player at his position languishing on a team that isn’t destined for the playoffs.  Often that owner is already looking at next year and wants to stockpile picks.  Human nature means that even the lowly owner who hasn’t even sniffed the consolation bracket, upon learning of your interest, will try to squeeze you for the most he can possibly get.  Be firm.  If the price is just exorbitant, move on.  Lesean McCoy will get the job done only slightly less effectively than Le’veon Bell would have.  Consider beforehand what the max you’re willing to put into this trade will be so that you won’t get caught with your pants down riding the emotional roller coaster that is fantasy football trading.


While these aren’t the only trade types that you will run into over the course of the season, they are some of the more common.  I’ll be getting into more complicated trading scenarios and options as this series rolls on.  Next time, though, we’ll be discussing communication with other owners. We will discuss effective ways to communicate with various owner types, and which owners to void altogether for effective and efficient trading.  Good luck to you all as your drafts start coming up, and always be thinking about your next move!