The art of trading: an introduction

by on May 28, 2010 @ 13:00:00 PDT



Managing your roster is a challenging aspect of fantasy league play. While teams are built in the draft, in-season strategies are often vital to guaranteeing victory.

Trading is a skill that has to be cultivated. It begins with an in-depth knowledge of the players and owners in your league, then adds the element of salesmanship and negotiation. Many leagues have experienced a decline in trading activity over the years because owners are ill-equipped to deal with this human aspect of competition.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Trading is a methodical process. It includes:

A. A careful analysis of the makeup of your team, its strengths, weaknesses and future potential. Trading must always be done with the future in mind. This often involves using some leading indicator gauges in lieu of traditional stats to gauge future value. Solid career batters who are slumping in traditional categories but have strong leading indicators are prime trade targets. Overachievers with weak indicators are prime trade bait.

B. A careful analysis of the makeup of the other teams in your league. You obviously need to know what your own team's needs are, but unless you have a firm handle on what the other teams' needs are as well, you'll never find a willing trade partner.

C. The development of an effective psychological approach that fits your personality. Here is the big grey area, one that is the cause of many of the problems leagues experience. However, there are some simple, basic concepts to help you put trading in the proper perspective.

One-step versus two-step trading

Depending upon your own inclination, your comfort level with negotiating deals, and your time constraints, there are trading alternatives you can employ to ease you into the best deals.

Essentially, you have the option of a one-step or a two-step approach when prospecting for players you need.

With the one-step approach, you research potential trading partners and carefully target your optimal opportunities. Then it is a matter of contacting each one individually and trying to negotiate a deal.

With the two-step approach, first you contact all your league owners with some type of open proposal, usually via a broadcast fax or email. In the second step, you follow up only with those who respond.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each method...



  1. This is a direct approach and keeps you more in control of the entire process.
  2. You will normally be able to close deals quicker.
  3. The preparatory research you do will position you better to negotiate.


  1. This approach does require a good deal of up-front work.
  2. This method forces you to employ cold-calling strategies, which many people have difficulty doing.



  1. By getting the message out to everybody, you better ensure that all interested parties are informed and all possible opportunities are explored.
  2. This method can uncover trade possibilities you might not have thought of.


  1. The two-step process requires longer turnaround times to close deals.
  2. By sending a blanket message, you may not get responses from owners who have the players you really need.
  3. Broadcasting your team's needs forces the other owners to essentially bid against each other for the services of your player, and may cause owners to propose less than fair value offers.
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Ron Shandler began publishing statistical reports for baseball analysts and fantasy leaguers in 1986. Since then, his enterprise has grown into one of the largest information providers in the industry, producing quality products continuously and over a longer period than any other fantasy baseball company.

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