Saturday - Jan 23, 2021

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Successfully Making Trades in the Information Age

The Age of Information has probably gone too far. And I’m not even talking about Facebook or Twitter. It’s gone too far for fantasy football. Do you have any idea how many sources of fantasy football information exist now? Thousands upon thousands. You could easily spend an entire week from Sunday to Sunday reading articles and listening to podcasts. You wouldn’t even make a dent in the pile.

You need to recognize, that if you’re in any kind of serious fantasy football league, almost every owner knows what you know. They visit the same websites and listen to the same podcasts. Like anything else, you can use this knowledge to your advantage.

But first we need to discuss something. A lot of what these fantasy “analysts or experts” tell you is just their opinion, backed by little to no data. And there is a great deal of double-speak. For instance:

On a fantasy football podcast the fantasy football “expert(s)” discussed Titans RB Chris Johnson. The gist of their analysis was “keep Chris Johnson if you have him, try to trade for him if you don’t.” My problem is one of their quotes was “try to trade next to nothing for him.”

Why is this a problem. Partly because now all of the people in your league are bombarding the Chris Johnson owners with terrible trade offers. But assuming the Johnson owner listened to that podcast, he’s not going to accept any of these terrible offers. So what was the point of the entire exercise?

The other part of the problem is that this is encouraging the growing trend of making terrible trade offers. Owners have heard the terms “buy-low” and “sell-high” so many times that their views on trading have been severely skewed. Let’s use an example shall we:

I’m in a league where I wound up with Andre Johnson in the 2nd Round of my draft. Awesome right? In the 1st Round, I took Jamaal Charles. I actually have a pretty good team, but I’m 0-3. With Charles out, I’m very weak at RB. I went WR heavy in this league and wound up with: Andre Johnson, Miles Austin Reggie Wayne and Steve Smith (1.0). Of course I’ve started the wrong
WR’s every week. So I figured that I needed to make a deal.

Austin is hurt and Wayne is in serious trouble, so I’m not going to get good value for either of those two. Steve Smith is coming off of a game where he only had 2 catches for 15 yards. So if I want to land a big-time RB, I have to deal Andre Johnson.

So I make a couple of offers to the Chris Johnson owner. They’re all 2-for-1 deals where I give up Andre Johnson and get Chris Johnson and an additional RB. I asked for one RB from: Brandon Jacobs,
Knowshon Moreno or Ben Tate. I didn’t really consider that to be unreasonable at all given how badly Johnson has started. The other owner made a counter offer:

I GIVE UP: Andre Johnson, Matthew Stafford & Miles Austin

HE GIVES UP: Chris Johnson

Along with the offer me added a condescending note about how terrible my offer was and me and my team are a joke. I thought maybe he was joking. So I sent him an email. Nope. He was insulted by my offer and would settle for nothing less than what he asked for in his counter-offer. 

Now, I’m not here to just evaluate the players in such a deal. But as a fantasy owner, you have to deal with these things in a reasonable fashion. Otherwise you will ostracize yourself from the other owners. And then when you need to make a trade to cover for an injury or a bye week, they will take great pleasure in telling you to go screw yourself.

If you’re not interested in trading Chris Johnson. Just decline the trade. If you have to say something, just include a note saying, “Sorry I still believe in Chris Johnson and if you want to trade for him, value him as the #1 player in fantasy and then make me an offer.”

How difficult is that? Obviously, the other owner won’t want to pay such a hefty price and that will end the discussion. Or maybe (unlikely) he makes a massive offer. Either way, you can still do business with this owner later in the season if you need to.

Here’s the reality. NOBODY (well almost nobody) makes these stupid trades you hear about in any good fantasy football leagues. Especially leagues with real cash on the line. Just because you hear or read that some dude traded Pierre Thomas for
Arian Foster doesn’t mean that you should run out and offer Thomas to the Foster owner in your league.

I’m not telling you to never make a low-ball trade offer. But be reasonable. Don’t be that dude offering two players you just picked up off of waivers to a team for one of their solid starters. Slow start or not, no owner is going to accept Denarius Moore and Eric Decker for Hakeem Nicks. Before you offer that trade, think about it. Is there any way your would be trading your 2nd or 3rd round pick for two players whom you might have been able to pick up had you wanted to do so? Of course you won’t make that trade? So why are you offering it?

You should know your league. If you’re in a league with anonymous owners on the Internet, monitor the message board. Post in the chat. If you’re trying to buy-low on a player, look for an owner who is complaining loudly about an under-performing player. Then make an offer. And when you make an offer, include a note letting the owner know that this doesn’t represent your final offer, but you are interested in trading for “Player X”. Make sure that you make it clear that you’re trying to see what his interest in selling is and what his interest in your players is.

If there’s a team in your league that is known for making bad trades, by all means offer away. That’s not your fault. There are occasionally fantasy football owners who are not happy unless they are making trades every week. So occasionally, you really can “win” a trade. If you have one of these teams in your league, you should know it by now.

There is also some etiquette to trading.

  1. When making an offer, let an owner know why you are making that particular offer. If you’re trying to trade for Peyton
    Hillis because he missed a game and the coaching staff is talking up
    Hardesty, say so. Just include a note along the lines of “After
    Hillis sat the other day and
    Hardesty looked good, I was just checking to see if you were trying to move
    Hillis“. That’s it. If you include a note like that, 90% of the time you will get some sort of decent feedback from the other owner.
  2. If you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, admit it. Say you offered the Arian Foster owner Ryan Grant for Foster in Week 3 when Foster was again sitting out. The Foster owner of course replies with a nasty note and a counter-offer asking for your stud RB for his kicker. Just reply with a note along the lines of “Just wanted to see if you were really panicking about Foster. Guess you’re too smart for that, good luck.” Again, that’s it. Most of the time, this will diffuse the situation. And make a note that this isn’t an owner that will make a panicked move.
  3. Do not be a used car salesman. (Nothing against
    ya’ll) When you make an offer, don’t write down all of the reasons that the other owner should accept the deal. Here’s real deal I was offered and the note attached:

I GIVE UP: Mike Wallace & Ahmad Bradshaw

: Cam Newton, AJ Green and
DeAngelo Williams

: ”
romo is banged up, 1 more hit he could be out for year.
aj green is a stud and d-will is going to break out.
wallace will sucks with
oline n
bradshaw losing job to

I’m not really going to get into what’s wrong with this trade offer. If you think you’re going to get anything for
DeAngelo Williams, good luck with that. But that note. You’ve never tried to spin such a yarn of crap at your very drunkest points to the most-easily attainable female in a drinking establishment. Don’t do it. It doesn’t work any better in fantasy football than it does in a non-college bar.

Do take note of offers that owners make to you. If an owner steadily feeds your terrible trade offers, you can pretty much figure that you’re not going to get a trade done with that guy. So don’t bother. Saving time by not try to deal with impossible owners will free up more time to work on something else for your fantasy team. Or possible even to participate in real world activities.

You can use the information obtained by other owners against them by taking a


position. Say you know that an owner in your league reads a particular fantasy football website and listens to a certain fantasy football podcast. You should go to that site and read the content. Listen to that podcast. Now you know what that owner might be thinking. If you disagree with a piece of information derived from said website or podcast, you can use that to your advantage. What if this owner now believes that Greg Jennings is going to under-perform because of the presence of
Jermichael Finley. Meanwhile, you believe that the presence of Finley won’t hurt Jennings and may even help him. Because you know what this owner is thinking, you should be able to acquire Jennings for less than you believe that he is worth.

Trading is a very helpful tool available to fantasy owners. Use it wisely. If you make too many bad trades offers, it WILL come back to haunt you when you need to make a trade.

Good luck to everybody with your teams. You can follow me on Twitter. Please let me know if you have anything to add to the discussion. It’s always interesting to hear crazy trade stories from other leagues.

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