Dynasty Draft Pick Trade Strategy (2020 Fantasy Football)
Trading in dynasty leagues is very often half of the fun. League activity like trades begets more activity, and it’s an exciting facet of dynasty leagues that lasts year-round. This is especially true because of the inclusion of rookie draft picks to the trade asset pile. Rookie draft picks can be used to hasten a rebuilding effort or to acquire assets that can help you contend immediately.
The first thing to determine when trading for dynasty league rookie draft picks is the timing. Trading for the same asset prior to the season, versus in-season, versus after the season, versus trading for a pick two or more years down the line, will, of course, all carry different price tags. Once you have the when figured out, it’s time to decide what sort of approach you want to take with buying or selling your rookie draft picks. Since we discussed draft pick trade strategy in depth last season here (strongly suggested reading), we’ll take a look at some of the most common strategies and approaches to buying or selling picks. Let’s dig in.
Trading up for picks may be one of the easier methods through which one can land dynasty rookie draft targets. One method is to package multiple picks in an effort to move up to acquire a target player. The other method is to package one of your picks with a player in order to secure your target pick. Trading up is sometimes one of the easier methods to trade for a dynasty league rookie draft pick, as your rival owner does not lose a pick. They only move down in exchange for an asset they deemed valuable enough to agree to the transaction.
The trade down is the exact opposite of the trade up. This is an especially helpful strategy if you are not completely sold on any of the players expected to be available when it is your turn to pick. This also works if you are equally enamored with two or three prospects available in the same range, and you would not mind moving down a draft slot or two to acquire additional assets in the process. In these cases, it’s often helpful to ask for an additional pick from a future draft.
Quality but aging veteran
Trading a quality but aging veteran for a rookie pick can, of course, occur either way. If you’re looking to buy, try to sell players you think are due for regression or who will be adversely affected by free agency or the NFL Draft. If this is done in-season, it will take some projecting and salary cap research. If you are the seller of the pick, the aim is to sell high on the pick or to buy low on a player you believe is due for a breakout or a bounce-back season. Trading quality players should always be entertained, as they are generally replaceable talents when compared to actual star players.
Star for high pick (rebuild mode)
Trading star players for a high pick is a common practice for teams committed to a rebuild. If you are sitting on a star wideout who just so happens to be aging, and you can land a rookie pick that will help you secure a similarly-ranked wide receiver in dynasty (but lower in redraft), pull the trigger. Trading star players for elite prospects who may be closer to making a serious impact than others may think it’s a sound strategy. Conversely, if you are selling a high pick in order to win a championship that season, make sure that the player has a long enough shelf life to make the deal worth it. There is nothing worse than accepting a deal only to see the player — or the players you received — see their roles scaled back the following season, all while the pick/player you traded away starts to flourish.
Sell all assets for future picks
Some owners go all in trading for future picks in order to achieve an immediate rebuild. Keeping your youngest and most talented players is recommended if you take this approach. Sometimes, however, that’s not possible, as those particular assets may be the most appealing to other teams. While this is a tough strategy to pull off, it is often a fruitful one if owners are able to land multiple first or second-round picks. Going this route requires you to punt a season as you wait for the next season’s draft. This is also a course of action one could take in the offseason, but waiting would be accompanied by a likely higher price tag than one could find in the season or in the prior offseason.
Sell high on a player
I highly recommend that you sell high on players you feel may be due for regression or a reduced role. Selling high involves identifying players who are unlikely to sustain the production pace they either ended the season with or have played with in recent weeks (if in-season).
Packaging multiple players for a pick or picks is often the most successful at or near the trade deadline. It also works well just prior to the season once starters have been finalized. The players you offer have to be valuable enough that the rival owner believes that they are winning the deal.
Trading for first-round picks is often a very difficult task. If you are confident enough in an upcoming draft class, you should be aware that the second round and later could boast multiple players that outperform some of the players that were selected in the first round. Targeting seconds will also give you ammunition for a subsequent deal if the owner you are targeting wants to stay in the draft but is willing to move down.
Trade during startup
If your league allows you to trade rookie draft picks during your startup draft, it’s something you should seriously consider. Trades that would never be accepted post-startup are sometimes quickly accepted by rival owners. The strategy here is to try to trade picks a round or two ahead of the current startup pick. You will want to project each and every pick between the current pick, and the startup pick being discussed. Once you do that, you can get a more accurate read on which player you may be giving up for the rookie draft pick. This, of course, applies to startups that occur before the NFL Draft if you are trading for a pick in the same season. Otherwise, you will want to trade for picks from subsequent years. If you are indeed participating in a startup that occurs prior to the NFL Draft, with a rookie draft to be completed later, the startup picks after a certain round (depending on league size) will be considerably and gradually less valuable on a per-round basis. Project the draft board and pounce on deals that would likely bet you a superior player.
Sell picks to compete now
One of the most common things you may see in a mature dynasty league is a contender selling off their rookie draft picks in order to acquire veterans that can help them compete immediately. Proponents of this strategy cite the inherent miss rate of rookie draft picks, and that the average dynasty league shelf life is five years or less. This is a strategy more commonly seen in dynasty leagues with a buy-in, as many managers choose to adopt the year-to-year approach as opposed to punting a season or two to create a true dynasty.
The deadline seller’s primary goal is to sell off assets that will not be kept past the rookie draft or depreciating assets (like the waiver wire running back who is spot starting for an injured starter) who will see a potential major value dip the following season. The key here is to be realistic with your ask. Everyone wants to acquire first-round picks, but second or third-round picks may be much easier to acquire.
Trade deadline buyers are generally divesting of rookie picks in order to acquire an asset to assist in a potential championship run. Buying at the deadline often means there will be more competition for a coveted asset that has the potential to be a weekly lineup fixture. If your dynasty league has no regular-season deadline, then waiting for a window closer to the fantasy playoffs may be advisable. The closer you get to the playoffs (when playoff team trading usually gets locked), the more the cost may decrease, as the seller will understand they only have a limited window to get a return for their asset. Be cognizant of what you are paying for aging players or for waiver wire players who are only seeing an increased role due to injury.