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Master the Art of Trading

Most people love to trade, however, everyone always has that one person who makes you wish trades didn’t exist. Don’t be that person. Follow my guidelines so you can acquire who you truly desire.

That Person!!

Don’t be that person. You know the person I’m talking about: The individual who just spammed every other team with running back Damien Williams for their second-round pick following the news of him opting out of 2020. The same guy who counters every trade sent his way with him gaining an additional first-round pick. The same guy who tried to send you Latavius Murray for Patrick Mahomes because “running backs are worth more.” Don’t be that person.

One of the most misunderstood skills in the fantasy world is the ability to pull off trades. People will send out offer after offer, hoping one eventually gets accepted, only to walk away empty-handed after hours worth of work. Let me be the first to tell you: You are doing it wrong. 

I have a set of guidelines I follow with every single trade, regardless of who I’m dealing with, and if it’s a fair trade, which everyone you send should be, it works just about every time. Keep in mind, the end goal of a deal is to improve your team, so I’m going to help you do so. 

Do Your Research

Know what’s going on with all players who could potentially be involved. A lot of people neglect to take an in-depth look into someone’s team. For instance, not realizing you might have one of their handcuffs could be a vital mistake. They can be prized assets increasing the appeal of the initial offer while holding little meaning for you. However, just because you have their handcuff doesn’t make the player more valuable to you. Just let him go for the correct value to sweeten up the deal. 

Another massive blunder is offering a wide receiver or tight end to a league mate who already has multiple guys rostered on the same offense. The wide receiver offered has significantly less to a player who already has shared on the offense. A perfect example would be Giants Sterling Sheppard to your opponent, who already has Golden Tate and Darius Slay. 

The last and most common mess up is not seeing what position they need. If you’re trying to trade for one of your opponents, only starting running backs and not giving one back, there’s very little chance they will give him up unless it’s a team going into full tank mode. Don’t insult the team with an offer because then it just gets a bad taste in their mouth, which brings me to my next rule.

Keep the Trade Talks Positive

All too often, people start a trade with an offer with the word decline written all over it. Why would you do it to yourself? Are you hoping there’s a counter which would still weigh heavily in your favor? Talk about a quick way to arrive on the “no train.” One of the first tricks in sales is to get your buyer to say yes. It creates a light-hearted environment and prevents people from getting stubborn and digging in their heels. I’m not saying go out there and overpay off the bat; however, make sure it’s a fair offer for both parties.

The other way you can quickly turn the conversation into a downward spiral is by bashing players. They have a specific player on their team for a reason. They liked them enough to draft them, acquire them in a trade, or pick them up off the wire. If they offer you a player, you’re not into, just tell them you aren’t feeling the player and move on. No need to bash; keep things positive.

Know the Direction of the Receiving Team

Most teams have directions. A huge indicator of a team’s intended destination is the age of their wide receivers. If you’re looking at an opponent’s lineup with Saints Michael Thomas, Vikings Adam Theilen, and Patriots Julian Edelman entrenched as their starters, they are most likely in win-now mode. Receivers like Texans Randall Cobb and Colts T.Y. Hilton and running backs like Mark Ingram and Todd Gurley have substantially more value to these teams. Meanwhile, trying to get equal value for a guy like Packers running back A.J. Dillon could be a pipedream.

Know where the buyer is heading. The majority of teams fall into these five categories in some way, shape, or form. 

  • Full-on rebuild
  • Up and coming stars
  • Players transitioning into their prime
  • Win now
  • Ready to sell

Side note: The best teams come from where you never have to leave the win now and still have the up and coming stars. Some call it the unicorn zone. It’s rare to find those gamers who have the skill to pull it off.

Make Sure the Offer is Fair

I’m doubling down on making sure the offer is fair. Most league mates talk. We all have opinions of other players throughout our leagues. You never want to be known as the person who throws out unfair offers. People will start to expect you’re trying to get one over on them. Then when you finally do throw out a fair offer, all you’re going to get is pushback. 

There are two phrases I want the recipient of a trades to say, post-offer: “I don’t hate it” or “it’s not a bad offer.” Those responses mean you hit the sweet spot where you didn’t overpay but also didn’t underpay. Some trade magic is likely about to go down, so bring some protection. By protection, I mean trade calculators.

Trade Calculators Shouldn’t Be Your Bible 

Use them as guidelines to value players, but don’t let them tell you whether a trade is fair or not. They don’t have access to your team, so they don’t know if you want to rebuild or go for the belt now. They also don’t have access to all your league mates’ teams. Use them as guidelines, not decision-makers.

After the Trade is Completed, Don’t Gloat

Want to know a quick way to never trade again in your league? Tell the person you just completed a trade with, in a group chat with the rest of your league, how you just fleeced them. Go ahead; I dare you. Teams will start expecting you to do the same, so even if you did fleece the individual, always say you thought the trade was fair and compliment the opposing side. We really won’t know who fleeced who until the seasons over, so what’s the point? You’ll just come off as the d-bag at the end of the day, especially if he ends up winning the trade bringing me to my next point.

There can be Two Winners to Every Trade

What good will Bengals A.J. Green do, on a rebuilding roster? What about Patriots Julian Edelman? Where’s the value for a guy like Browns Donovan Peoples-Jones on a team who’s on the cusp of winning versus a handcuff like Cowboys Tony Pollard if they own Ezekiel Eliott?

Just because a person might give up more value doesn’t mean they lost the trade, as long as they address a position of need on their team. A team that already has 3 or 4 top 24 wide receivers isn’t going to value a player like Theilen as high as a team with only 1 or 2 top 24 wide receivers. If you are receiving a player which helps your team eliminate a weakness, while giving away a player at a position of massive depth, don’t worry as much about who’s getting the better player. If you feel the separation is close but not close enough, don’t be afraid to ask for a low-value asset who could be a replacement down the road or a handcuff for a player currently on your team.

How to Get the Little Guy

Almost everyone has got their eye on a guy who most other people don’t know. Mine is Chargers wide receiver, Joe Reed. We can’t get over why only a few people don’t know about our sleeper for one reason or another. However, the people who do know about him have similar ideas in their heads; hence, they drop in and pick them right before you have a chance. Another player having the same sleeper you do makes it tough to acquire these players: they know the value just like you. I know you have to get your guy, so I have two ways to add these guys to your roster:

Overpay for them now before they become fantasy gods like you knew they were going to be in the first place. Whether that’s through draft capital and grabbing them rounds before you usually would, or trading future picks a round or two earlier than they were selected in rookie drafts are both potential ways. However, I prefer the second way: get them as an add on.

As discussed in the previous section, when you feel there’s a gap, you just ask for a little more. A third-round pick, an older veteran who might be a stop-gap or the rookie you’ve had your eye on this entire offseason.

When going after the aforementioned Reed, I like to scope out other players on the Reed owners roster, for instance, Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson. While conversing with the enemy, see if there’s anyone they are interested in on your roster. Hopefully, they see someone who is rated above Robinson, like Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay who, according to Draft Calculator, is being drafted 34 spots ahead. You then propose Golladay for Robinson and a 2021 first-rounder, knowing it’s going to be slightly too much. They then counter with two second-rounders instead of the first, then you request to throw in Reed, and it’s a done deal. He won’t even be thinking about Reed as his mind will be on Golladay. Meanwhile, you got your future wide receiver superstar in the making. Everyone had their own Reed, Robinson, and Golladay, so replace names as you see fit.

Almost Every Trade Should Make You Nervous, but Always Sell High

Not to be mistaken with, make the trade because you’re nervous. If you play in a competitive league, you’re going to have to make difficult decisions. Being a Todd Gurley and Antonio Brown owner, I know all too well. The number of trades offered to me for those guys was through the roof. If those same trades were provided today, the accept button would be broken from me smashing it too often. The best time to sell is while they are at their peak, not on the decline. 

Making the call of when to trade a guy can be gut-wrenching, but sometimes it just has to be done. I’m not saying go out there and sell a young wide receiver like Buccaneers Chris Godwin, but if you’re not a serious contender, Thomas might not be a bad idea. Yes, he still has multiple years of production left, but if you could get, let’s say D.J. Chark, your choice of a rookie running back, and Marquise Brown you’d have to accept. The reasoning being, while all three of those players’ values should rise, the 27-year-old Thomas should start to decrease following the 2020 season. Once again, you can replace the players I picked with up and coming players of your choice. 

The Reality

Trading is a blast, and it gives up hope for our future. Although trades don’t happen often, they are still a significant part of fantasy football. Just don’t forget fantasy was created to be fun, so don’t get stressed out trying to make them happen. Creativity is a big way to make trades happen. Get away from those boring one for one trades and throw some twists in there. Trading should be easy if you just follow those guidelines and remember: don’t be that person.

Find Chase at FF_Intervention on Twitter

Click here to find more of his work including the Fantasy Intervention Podcast

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