by Matthew Scott Carr
on May 1, 2013 @ 14:25:04
The first rule of fantasy football is that research is everything, particularly before your league's draft. Bad drafting leads to bad teams, which leads to losses and ultimately frustration as well as the sad reality of disinterest. That can send you on that downward spiral of depression and poor personal hygiene.
Of course, despite some lingering anxiety over whether you pulled the trigger too early on the running back you drafted in the first round, nearly everyone leaves draft day happy, thinking his or her team is poised for greatness. The only certainty, though, is that someone is going to end up in last place.
Management: Why trade?
How can you prevent this awful shame from soiling the great legacy that is "Daryl's Androids" of the Big Ballaz league?
The answer: Active Roster Management (ARM). It's an oft-mentioned philosophy, like the "Stud Running Back Theory," and is very effective.
Free-agent and waiver wire pickups can salvage underperforming draft picks or injuries to key players. Few top-talent, solid producers are going to be acquired through that route, though. However, there are always diamonds to be found amid the garbage.
In some cases, however, that wasn't enough to offset losses from high-round draft picks spent on guys. Unless you drafted perfectly, your team suffered no injuries to key players and you were flawless on free-agent acquisitions, you might need to beef up your lineup through other ARM routes. That means trades, a tried and true source.
One school of thought is that trading is one of the most fundamental, most fun and most critical aspects of fantasy football. At the same time, it is also the most nerve-racking. If you take a look at any public message board, the subject lines are filled with "HELLLPPPPP!" or, "Is this 2 much 2 give up?" Even in a buddy league, friends are constantly asking each other for advice.
Trading is not only the hallmark of fantasy sports, it's what makes owners OWNERS, and it's half of the reason we play. Who hasn't spent time e-mailing another league manager, engaging in heated negotiations over that blockbuster deal? Your adrenaline is pumping; you can't focus on your boss' presentation about office Internet abuse because you're wondering if your latest counter-offer has been accepted. You're anxious over the fact that if something doesn't move forward soon, the trade won't go through until after Sunday.
It's an integral part of the fantasy sports experience.
The Basics of trades
Most leagues cater to this fact with a "Trading Block" page, where you can check to see what owners are looking for and what they're willing to give up in return, seemingly eliminating the need to do any fishing. It's unfortunate that some owners still undervalue, overlook or simply ignore trading because they are too wary of getting burned. A bad trade, especially one that kept you from the postseason, can haunt you. However, if you keep in mind some simple guidelines, all you have to fear from trading is injury.
There's no specific rule or timeline to start delving into the trading market, but at least try to get a feel for how your core draft picks are going to pan out. It's usually best to try to wait until about Week 3 or 4 before starting to seriously look for trade opportunities; even then, you shouldn't panic. No system is perfect, but as long as you didn't make too many reaches on draft day, the players will generally fall near the value they were projected, with some exceptions. Going into "fire sale" mode after a couple of bad weeks, is unlikely to rectify the situation. Most players have crests and troughs; a lot of guys get off to a slow start; and some guys storm out of the gate only to end the season in the barren lands of obscurity.
The basics of why to trade are fairly straightforward, with positional need taking the forefront. Some teams during the draft will launch into "Stud Running Back Theory" mode, trying to snag as many backs in the early rounds as possible. This ends up creating an imbalance in the talent pool with some teams being forced to go receiver- or quarterback-heavy. The basic rule of thumb here is that there are few wide receivers that are as valuable as a stud running back, even if you are in a league that awards points for receptions.
Things to consider
Other than an overpowering need to "shake things up" or boredom, injury is the next most common reason to seek a trade, though the most disadvantageous. Without fail, someone's first-round draft pick is going to go down because of injury. A major loss can basically destroy an owner's chances of making the postseason. Honestly, nothing is going to replace the production, but a series of lower-tier trades or making a one-for-two trade, like a running back for a couple of wide receivers or vice versa, can at least round out a lame team. That is, of course, if you can't scrounge some decent players out of free agency.
If your team is not in one of the top three teams in the league standings, try not to deal with those teams in terms of trades. Here's why: Their teams are winning; they've got little motivation to take a chance on a trade, and you generally don't want to make a top team stronger. Plus, if it's possible to make your team stronger as well as make one near you weaker, it becomes a two-pronged attack. The first goal in fantasy football is to make it to the postseason, and if you can get there by preventing an opponent from making it, all the better.
It's also good if possible to try not to conduct business with teams you are going to face again that season or any time in the near future. It ensures you don't have to face the quality players you are giving up. However, if that's the only factor holding you back, you have to do what benefits your team first and worry about the competition later.
More than likely, you play in a league with friends; you know their favorite teams and who their favorite players are. You can use that to tilt a trade to your favor. You may be guilty of having the same chink in your armor. Even if you're playing in a public league, a team with a name like, "New York Giants" or "Cowboys Rock!" is a dead giveaway that the owner probably has an affinity for players wearing a particular jersey.
Some fantasy owners try to replicate the NFL front office experience even more by joining keeper leagues, where trading becomes much more important. While it will be possible to take a last-place team to first place, it's very unlikely to undergo that sort of transformation relying on draft picks, especially in a full-retention keeper league. You can take a bigger step towards improvement by trading these draft picks, although it may be a short-term solution. Patience is a key factor in keeper leagues, although it is also good to have the proven, albeit aging, veterans over unproven young players, who may turn out to be huge busts.
Trade value chart and using other resources
Below is a "Trade Value Chart," if you're considering trading draft picks. Keep in mind that this is best used as a quick reference, and the pick value will change slightly depending on the league.
Table: Trade Value Chart
Above all, stay knowledgeable and use the resources available to you. Even though some owners may be unwilling to discuss trade offers, trading is an essential part of the sports world and remains so in fantasy sports. While it is true that accepting a bad trade can put you in last place, the right one can also win you a championship.
About Matthew Scott Carr
Matthew Scott Carr has been an avid football follower and fan for as long as he can remember. He became involved in fantasy sports in 1999, which transformed an already fanatical sports worship into a full-fledged psycho. Carr joined the KFFL team in 2004.
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