Wednesday - Mar 3, 2021

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Anatomy of a Dynasty League Trade

In 2003, I started a dynasty league with friends, family, and co-workers. This has proven to be a mildly competitive league that is fun for everyone that plays in it. We use a traveling trophy as our award for winning the league and no money changes hands.

Earlier this year I made a trade with another owner in my dynasty league. I gave up WR Laveranues Coles, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 rookie draft, and my 1st round pick in the 2006 rookie draft for WR Randy Moss. This was a blockbuster trade in this league – especially considering all trades are few and far between. I thought it would be interesting to everyone to learn how this trade transpired and why we were able to make this trade.

Personally, I believe this trade was fair to both parties. I received the top WR in the league and greatly improved my current roster. In return, the other owner received a quality WR and 2 high draft picks to use on future young players. Since I have been close to winning the league each of the past 2 years – I wanted to do something that pushed my team over the edge. After evaluating his team, the other owner decided it was time to do some rebuilding. This meant getting younger quality players that could form a better overall team.

The trade actually happened pretty quickly. Late on March 14 I made the initial offer to the other owner. I offered Coles, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft, and my 3rd round pick in the 2006 draft. I thought this was a fair trade – but one that clearly favored me. It was an offer that would not offend him but at the same time, it wouldn’t overwhelm him. If he took it, great – but at the very least it would start the conversation for future trades. This is a key aspect to any trade – start out reasonable and with an offer that is fair to both parties. If your initial demands come across as greedy, then you’re unlikely to get a deal done.

On the morning of 3/15, the other owner made a counter-offer. He offered Moss for Coles, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft, the 13th overall pick in the 2005 draft, and my 1st pick in the 2006 rookie draft. To me this was too steep of a price to pay. This was when I almost made a mistake and ruined the trade. My first response to the other owner was a flat refusal. I didn’t like the offer and sent a response that said as much. My assumption was he would adjust and offer me something back. This would have been a mistake. He would have taken it as a refusal for the entire discussion – not just that specific offer.

Fortunately, I quickly realized my mistake and sent a 2nd email with a counter-offer. This offer was Moss for Coles, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft, the 30th overall pick in the 2005 draft, and my 2nd round pick in the 2006 draft. I increased my offer by moving from the 3rd round to the 2nd round in 2006 and I threw in a 3rd round pick in 2005.

Finally, he offered the trade that we finally settled on – with the option of using my 1st round pick in 2006 or the 13th overall in 2005. Looking at this year’s draft class, I did not want to lose both of my first 2 picks in the draft. There were some intriguing prospects that will be around at 10 and 13 and I wanted the opportunity to grab one. Therefore, I chose the 1st round pick in 2006.

We probably could have continued tweaking this trade but we were reaching the point of diminishing returns. It was clear he was not interested in mid-round picks with this deal. Continuing the negotiations could have killed the deal entirely. I was happy with the deal as it stood so I decided not to risk it.

So, what can you learn about this trade process.

  1. Be fair – No one wants to trade with someone that is constantly trying to steal players from other owners. If you’re constantly trying to steal players you will alienate the other owners and will end up making no trades at all. This will deprive you from other opportunities to upgrade your team.
  2. Understand what you want – I wanted Moss. End of story. None of the other players on his roster at that time would have interested me as much as Moss did. When you start to waiver on what you want, one of two things will happen: you’ll get taken or the entire trade will fail when he other owner gets confused by your trade options and abandons the entire deal.
  3. Understand what the other owner wants – The other owner wanted to get younger. He was giving up on the 2005 season and he wanted draft picks. By using this information, we were able to put together a trade package that was beneficial to each of us.
  4. Continue the negotiations unless it’s clear nothing will happen – Don’t make the mistake I almost made. Continue the negotiations. If the other owner made an offer you don’t like, make a counter-offer. I’ve been involved in a lot of trade negotiations where I’ll make an offer and the other owner will simply say, “make it better”. When this happens, I stop negotiating completely. He/she provided no guidance so I did not know what he/she wanted. Don’t make the same mistake.
  5. Keep the “tweaking” simple – each of us made minor adjustments to the initial trade. Don’t try to make wholesale changes to the initial offer. This leads to confusion and will almost always kill the deal entirely. If you want to make wholesale changes, make it clear you’re rejecting the original offer but have a different trade to discuss.

This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of things you should know about trade negotiations. This is simply meant to use a real-life trade as an example. For more specific rules on trading, read The Art of War by Tony Holm.

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