Trading 101

Trading is a multi-faceted, ever changing, complex art form that is crucial to your success in dynasty leagues. Don’t get overwhelmed. As with any art form, this too can be mastered. Most of us are playing in dynasty leagues because we believe in our ability to find productive players that others are passing on. We want the opportunity to hang on to those players for multiple seasons and we believe that we can pick the winners and losers. That can come through the draft, the waiver wire, but more often than not in the deeper leagues it’s going to come through negotiating trades. Hang tight though, before you hit send on that trade offer here are a few tips to remember that can help you dominate the trade market.

1. Stop Trying To “Win” Every Trade: Since trading is an art, your mindset and approach are going to play a huge role in your success. This includes the way you define successful trading.  If your definition always consists of a winner and a loser, you’re doing it wrong. The best traders I know find win/win deals when they can. When you look for win/wins it builds credibility and you have a much higher success rate of getting deals done. How do you find a win/win deal? Here are a few scenarios you may find helpful:

Scenario 1: You have a championship caliber team that needs one or two pieces to make you the favorite. Take time to figure out who the rebuilding teams are in your league and figure out how you can help their squad rebuild. Add value to their team in exchange for that piece you need to patch up the holes in your roster.  This works in reverse as well. If you’re the rebuilding team, go find out how you can help the 2nd place team win it all.

Scenario 2: You have a team that is strong at RB, but only one trustworthy WR. Instead of simply shooting off offers for WR’s you like, slow down and go find the yin to your yang. Someone in your league has a bunch of WR's and is in desperate need of an RB. That team is much more likely to make a deal with you. Making an offer to a team with similar roster construction as yours (strong RB's/1 good WR) doesn't make sense and simply won't get done. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone make me a trade offer without even considering this. Even if the trade is fair on paper, why would I make a trade that makes my team worse? Don’t do this!

Scenario 3: You have a solid team with a lot of depth, but few stud players. This one’s tricky - Take a look around your league. I assure there’s at least one team that has 1-3 studs but is rostering players you’ve never even heard of. Take a good WR/RB combo on your team and flip them for one of their studs at one of those positions. The evaluation on this trade is more complex on your end, and in general, these are the types of situations where you may need to make an offer that you’re uncomfortable with… at least at first. To do this trade, keep in mind who you will pick up from waivers with your extra roster spot, and second, who on your bench becomes a regular starter? It may seem like overkill, but I’ve actually taken the time in these situations to write out my roster/starting line up with and without the trade to see which version I like better.

2. Don’t worry about “losing” trades: One of the dangers of this is that you can develop what I call “paralysis by analysis.” We’ve all been there, right? You find a team that is a good fit with a player you like. You queue up a deal and then you stare at it. The doubt starts to creep in. All of a sudden you’re reminded of all of the risks that come with this player you like. “He’s only done it for one year,” “maybe he is kinda injury prone,” “what if the guy I give up turns into Jerry Rice?” Go ahead and settle this in your mind now - Unless you can predict the future, you will not hit on 100% of the trades you make. Trading is critical to your success and you need to be active in your league. If you’re worried about losing, you will trade less and then you’ll be going into battle against your league with one hand tied behind your back.

3. Take time to analyze the deals you make, figure out what did and didn’t work and then ask yourself why.  Did you sell someone at their lowest point? Buy someone at their highest price? Give up too much for your favorite player? Got caught up in offseason hype? Saw a highlight reel catch/run/pass and overpaid? These would all be reasons to assess yourself and understand your weaknesses. Successful trading has more to do with perfecting the process and trusting that the results will come. Take steps to understand and overcome your biases. Did the guy you trade for get injured? Find himself in the coaches' dog house for unforeseen reasons? Unexpectedly have trouble getting on the same page with a new QB? Turned out to be a bad fit with a new coordinator? Give yourself a break, some of these things are out of your control. We’ve all played in leagues where there’s one team that you hate to see offers from. You roll your eyes when you get the notification and you know it’s going to be a bad deal. They haven’t taken the time to even ask the question “Why would the other team make this trade?” Good dynasty leagues have a great core that stays together for years. If you follow the steps above you will get more deals done, your league mates will take the time to negotiate a good deal with you, and you’ll probably even make some friends along the way.

Now go make some offers!