Strategy topic of the week: how should you go about proposing trades?
Whether your fantasy football team is doing well or not, one of the best aspects of fantasy football is the ability to improve your team by making trades with other owners. While exploring potential trade possibilities can be a lot of fun, the process can also lead to bruised egos, ruined friendships, and worse.
How can you ensure that no matter whether you're able to complete a trade or not, your fellow owners will still feel comfortable discussing trades with you in the future? For the purposes of this discussion I'll assume that you're playing in a redraft league (i.e. - teams do not have the option to keep players from one season to the next).
When many fantasy team owners decide they're willing to make a deal, they instinctively turn to their league's "On the Block" tool and list both their needs by position and the players they're willing to trade away. This isn't necessarily a good approach. Doing so can save time by discouraging fellow owners from proposing a trade you're unlikely to accept. However, when you're advertising your team's needs in such a public manner, your cost for acquiring the player(s) you desire is likely to go up.
The following procedure is an alternative to posting a note on your league's message board and waiting for a response:
Figure out which positions on your team you need to upgrade. Sure, we'd all love to have the best player at every position on our team, but the goal of a fantasy football team owner is much simpler - assemble the team that accumulates the highest expected point total in aggregate. Of course, even if you succeed in doing this you're unlikely to have an undefeated team due to injuries, bye weeks, week-to-week variance in your team's point totals, and week-to-week variance in your opponent's team's point totals. Focus on the positions whose players will be easiest for you to upgrade.
Find teams whose position surpluses and needs match up well with yours. If you have a surplus at running back and a need at wide receiver, then look for a team with a weak set of running backs and a strong set of wide receivers. If the team doesn't have a need at quarterback, then don't offer to trade them a quarterback just because you want to get rid of one who's currently on your roster. Both owners have to walk away feeling that they've improved their team in order for a deal to be made.
Determine whether you're trading for the regular season or the playoff weeks. Why make this distinction? If your team has started off the season 4-1 or 5-0 and is one of the top-scoring teams in the league, chances are good that you'll qualify for your league's playoffs. You can look ahead to your players' playoff week match-ups and see if you can find alternatives with more favorable schedules. However, if your team has a good record but is not one of the league's top-scoring teams (i.e. - you've been "lucky"), or your current record is 3-2 or worse, your focus needs to be on qualifying for the playoffs rather than worrying about your players' match-ups during your league's playoff weeks.
Propose a trade (or three). Since you can't know for sure how any owner will respond to your trade offer, you'll improve your odds of making a mutually beneficial trade significantly if you make several trade proposals simultaneously. Don't insult other owners with a trade that's clearly lopsided in your favor. Be willing to negotiate if a prospective trade partner responds with a counteroffer, but don't let negative responses affect friendships or working relationships - this game is supposed to be fun!
Next time we'll discuss how to evaluate and respond to trade proposals you receive.
Players you'll wish you hadn't started this week
QB: Michael Vick (@Washington), QB Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Jacksonville), QB Matt Schaub (@Baltimore)
RB: Steven Jackson (@Green Bay), Arian Foster (@Baltimore), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. Dallas)
WR: Percy Harvin (@Chicago), Greg Jennings (vs. St. Louis), Michael Crabtree (@Detroit)
TE: Tony Gonzalez (vs. Carolina), Marcedes Lewis (@Pittsburgh), Jeremy Shockey (@Atlanta)
DEF: New England (vs. Dallas), Philadelphia (@Washington), Oakland (vs. Cleveland)
K: Matt Bryant (vs. Carolina), Alex Henery (@Washington), Rian Lindell (@NY Giants)
Players you'll wish you had started this week
QB: Cam Newton (@Atlanta), Sam Bradford (@Green Bay), Jay Cutler (vs. Minnesota)
RB: Ryan Torain (vs. Philadelphia), Peyton Hillis (@Oakland), James Starks (vs. St. Louis)
WR: A.J. Green (vs. Indianapolis), Victor Cruz (vs. Buffalo), Deion Branch (vs. Dallas)
TE: Ed Dickson (vs. Houston), Greg Olsen (@Atlanta), Ben Watson (@Oakland)
DEF: Cincinnati (vs. Indianapolis), Detroit (vs. San Francisco), New Orleans (@Tampa Bay)
K: Lawrence Tynes (vs. Buffalo), John Kasay (@Tampa Bay), Dan Bailey (@New England)