The Art of the Trade

What does it take to make a trade happen? How do you know which players to trade for once the obvious ones are no longer in play? Determining these things takes time and patience but more importantly, you need to have a pulse on your roster, NFL transactions & their impact to a teams depth chart, and what it will take to get your other league managers to pull the trigger!  In any league but especially in Dynasty formats trading is an essential way to help build a champion roster. Knowing the art of how to make a trade is one that has taken me years to master but is what I want to share with you today.

Patience when looking to trade is key. This is a rebuilding year for one of my teams and I knew there was an owner who was interested in one of my mid 1st round picks. Now, while I do like building through the draft, trading a pick or two for proven talent isn’t a bad idea either especially at WR. The owner sent me two offers;

Offer 1: Zay Jones & Austin Ekeler for my ’19 1.06

Offer 2: Allen Robinson & Zay Jones for my ’19 1.06

I made it clear to this owner I really have no interest in Zay but he didn’t want to pay ARob and Ekeler, even though I made it clear that’s what I wanted. However, knowing that these picks become more valuable as the draft approaches I let it settle and rejected the offers. A week later and presto I wake up to the exact same offers in my inbox!  I pulled the trigger the very next morning!

It’s moves like this that have helped me numerous league championships but more importantly help fast track my Dynasty teams right back to the top of the league. Every Dynasty team will have its ups and downs but figuring out what to trade and when to trade is essential to continued success year after year and something I have been able to refine over my 20+ years of playing Fantasy Football.  Take the trade I was able to pull off earlier this off-season, in a Dynasty team that is in a rebuild I was able to move one of my 4 2019 1st round picks to receive the WR1 on the Chicago Bears depth Chart and the back up RB to Melvin Gordon who provides individual production upside based on his receiving ability. I don’t care what I could’ve got at 1.06 it wasn’t going to be 2 very talented fantasy relevant players, but I had to be patient and with it being the offseason I knew I had the leverage to wait it out.

But how did we get to this point? How do I figure out who to trade for or what to offer? Let’s walk through what steps I take before an offer is even set and then how to present an offer the other owner cannot refuse.

Step 1: The Homework!

This first step is essential to making every great trade get off the ground! Determining who to target is done so by analyzing all the data that is provided to you and by looking at some key factors which you can use as a guide to steer in the right direction.

  • Age: Age is a HUGE factor in a dynasty league. It’s an obvious reason but when you own players for their careers or in some cases for the contract years you own them for then youth plays a very important role. The younger a player is the longer they should be in the league then their older counterparts hypothetically.
  • Depth Chart: Especially in Dynasty paying attention to the depth chart is essential in keeping your team relevant all season, mainly due to injuries handcuffing your RB is just smart. Even if someone else owns your handcuff you can usually acquire them at a reasonable price. However, there are other times that watching depth charts keeps you informed on who’s up and coming. Last year I took Kenny Young ILB for the Ravens and he played a lot last year for a rookie but he was in rotation with the other two starters, although he had done very well. Fast forward to today and the Ravens let CJ Moseley walk and now Kenny Young will be the starting ILB this season. Monitoring depth charts and spotting the young talent that is about to blossom is just a smart and savvy way to buy an asset at it’s lowest value.
  •  Breakout Potential: Being able to spot a trend before it happens is what has made a lot of people very rich in this country. In fantasy being able to be the first to spot a trend could have helped you land players like Melvin Gordon after a terrible Rookie season, that TE’s traditionally take 3yrs to breakout where WRs take 2. So sophomore WRs are always a great target, especially those that underperformed their rookie year. Now, an argument can be made to go to the other end of the age spectrum and target veterans who have become devalued because they don’t provide the long term value their younger peers provide. This is a strategy that I like to use when I have a roster that is filled with youth at that position and is in a Championship run window. You know you will not be able to move them without taking a loss but when you have your name on the trophy who cares!
  • NFL Contract: Next, it’s always important to monitor how a players contract is laid out. Using sites like or are essential when you are doing your homework on a player. The better you can understand the players contract the more educated you will be about the worth the organization places on that player and how he is valued at his individual position. Looking at the dead cap helps you spot when a player could really no longer be on his current team and thus a change in situation could lead to a change in production & availability. Knowing this can not only help you in targeting players but also in the setting of years as is needed in salary cap dynasty leagues.

Step Two: Sending over the Trade

This is where knowing your league mates comes in handy. Some people keep a notepad (what is it 1998?), others keep notes on their laptop, and other’s can just remember year’s worth of transactions and tendencies with ease. Any way you decide to do it, knowing how the managers in your league like to draft, remembering which players they have liked from previous drafts, and the patterns they have shown after years of trading can all be used to help you gain a competitive advantage.

The best way to break the ice is to examine the roster of the owner you want to trade with. Here you can find a lot out about how your team stacks up to theirs and what gaps the other owner may have. Here are few things I look for right off the bat.

  • Ages at Skill Positions (Do they have an aged group, balanced group, or a young group)
  • What Skill Position are they the weakest
  • What Skill Position are they the thinnest at
  • What Skill Position are they the strongest in
  • How many Rookie Picks do they have and where are the picking

All of these things again help you in putting together a starting offer that will lead us to a successful trade. Knowing which skill positions your trade partner is strongest and weakest at allows you to see how you can help them the most.  Offering players that help them with their weakest positional groupings is smart just as staying away from offering skill positional players that the owner is strong in because they most likely don’t need them and it will drag out the trading process. Age is important as you can offer youth to an aging skill position group or veterans to a young core. Lastly, knowing the number of Rookie picks and where the picks will be in the draft can again help you gain leverage as you can offer more picks to a team who has a lower amount than normal or is in a rebuild and the obvious, help a team move up in the draft. This is a very effective method when the strength of a draft lines up with where your trading partner is weakest.

Once you have all of this information you can begin the courting process. Some like to call the owner, others like to text or message the owner trying to feel them out, and some just shoot their shot and send over the offer without saying anything. I personally like to butter up my trading partner with first asking if the player I am interested in is available and try to see if they will give up the value assessment of that particular player or players. If they do then the work is done and you just need to make sure you can match what it is they want or better yet don’t mind the value they have placed. If they don’t you can still work with the owner to guide them down the path of what you were thinking of offering. This is where the prep work comes into play. Letting them know you can offer a young WR and a rookie pick to help them add depth to an aging position group and a rookie pick to help get that TE they have been talking about is how you present compelling value. To reach this point you may have to take an L today to hopefully win in the future but remember Dynasty is about the long play and falling victim to short-sidedness is what keeps bad Dynasty teams bad.

Step Three: Repeat!

Not all trades are created equal so remember not every trade will work out and you not always going to be able to win the value battle each time. In the end, it’s about acquiring the pieces you are targeting that fit your team needs or looking to buy high upside players at a discount. But if you leverage these steps you should have no problems being able to continue successfully adding valuable pieces to your roster each year via trades.

So remember to do your homework to determine the player or players you want to target this off-season. Know your league mates. Remember what players they have liked from drafts past, what players they like in this upcoming draft, and you know there roster inside and out. The more you know the easier the final steps become! Last, execute in your communication! Know how to talk to each owner. Does this owner take sarcasm well? Does this one not like to waste time and wants you to get to the point? Knowing this will make your interactions easier. Remember, never burn bridges with bad trades. Owners don’t forget and it will hurt you in the long term. You may win one deal but lose two and that is ok as long as you believe in the value of the player you are trading for. I hope you have enjoyed my take on the Art of the Trade and that these methods can help you this year and beyond!

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