I usually hold off on my fantasy football trade manifesto until a couple weeks before the trade deadline, but I feel like there are a lot of teams that need to make deals now. It’s been a weird season so far with a lot of volatility and few constant elite performers. The running back position is as bad as it’s ever been and the top four tight ends don’t include Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. The time is now to make major adjustments to your squad.
I personally like to get my trade talks started on Wednesday morning for a few reasons: everyone’s forgotten the big games from the previous weekend, so it doesn't look like you’re trying to sell high on certain players; opposing owners have had a few days to stew about the disappointing performances of the players on their roster; waivers have processed to give you a better idea of your needs; and for trades to be effective for Sunday’s games, Thursday is usually the day they need to be completed. Feel free to get your research done ahead of time as I present Mr. T’s Trade Manifesto.
1. Find your weakness.
You might be able to put people like Tony Robbins out of business if you can practice this in your everyday life, let alone on your fantasy team. Sometimes it’s as simple as realizing that you have a need at a specific position, but often you’ll have to look deeper. Do your players show a lack of consistency despite their high season totals? Look at your WR1’s fantasy playoff schedule. It might make beating Usain Bolt heads-up in a 100m race look easy by comparison.
2. Find your strength.
Do your receivers suddenly look a little stronger now that Percy Harvin looks like a fantasy beast? Has the emergence of Robert Griffin III made Tom Brady less valuable to your team? You can’t gain anything from assets on your bench as the season comes to a close, so focus your efforts on bolstering your starting lineup. If you have a good record now, you can sacrifice a week or two of down performance in the byes by trading your depth for star players.
3. Find your trade partner.
You’re not looking for your future wife here, but finding a partner is not as simple as picking up the scraps at last call. Make sure the potential partner actually needs the position you’re offering. While the thought of getting double-teamed by Kate Upton and Mila Kunis might help you relieve some stress in the shower on a Tuesday night, offering Peyton Manning to someone with Aaron Rodgers makes very little sense for another owner.
4. Know market value.
If you’re trading players who have played above expectations, don’t package them in a deal for players with upside who haven’t put up the numbers yet. At this point in the season, there is no upside – your player’s value depends solely on his actual production. It’s fine to sell high, but get equal value. You wouldn’t trade your managerial position at Apple for a counter position at CVS just because they offered you a Doritos Locos Taco, would you?
5. Ask your opponent to rank his own players.
George Costanza once proclaimed, “George likes his chicken spicy.” Everyone has their own preferences. By asking your trade partner to rank their own players by the specific position you’re interested in, you might discover you won’t have to give up as much as you originally thought.
6. Never start with a worthless offer.
It is easier to make enemies than friends. A lowball starting offer will have the owner of Call Me Maybin ready to throw you into a power bomb. You can easily kill any hope of making trades in by coming out of the blocks with offensive offers. Never start with your best offer, but at least propose something that won’t piss the other guy off. From there it will be easier to finalize a deal. This maneuver likely won’t require groveling or offering your rollover minutes.
7. Don’t just accept the first offer.
The worst excuse I hear from people after they made a trade that’s not so beneficial to them is that they didn’t receive any other offers. How lazy are you? Go out into the marketplace and make your own offers. You’re spending money on your fantasy team, so why just sit on your hands and only take offers. You should never pull the trigger on a deal until you know all your opportunities have been exhausted and this is the best option for you.
8. Get creative.
Sometimes the answer requires a bit of work and you need to make two trades to get things done. I was in a situation earlier this year where I needed a RB and had two starting QBs in Drew Brees and Eli Manning. The guy who had RBs didn’t want a QB, but he wanted a WR. So I offered him Roddy White for Ryan Mathews on the condition that I could make another deal. Then I traded Eli for Torrey Smith. My receivers didn’t change much, but my QB depth allowed me to improve my RBs. Be prepared to set up a couple deals and work as a clearing house as long as you can improve your roster all at the same time.
9. Pull the trigger.
No, I’m not referring to what I had to do on my birthday after my eighth shot in three hours didn’t sit well in my stomach. Don’t be afraid to make trades. Chances are you’re not giving up the best players at each position. Very few teams are perfect. Don’t over-think the deal. You’re not trying to make sense of how the creepy Terry Richardson got to become the photographer of all the top models or how Romeo Crennel still has an NFL head coaching job despite a 27 and 45 career record. If you think the trade will help your team’s overall projected performance, make it happen.