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Taking Advantage of Your League-Mates’ Panic Meter (Fantasy Football)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Feb 19, 2020

Trading and hitting the waiver wire are two of the most effective ways to improve any roster mid-season, and a great strategy for these two methods involves taking advantage of league-mates’ panic meter. Every fantasy manager has an internal alarm – that inner voice that tells you when it’s time to start worrying. Understanding what makes fellow managers sweat is a key ingredient to making successful trades. Let’s go over some of the best ways to take advantage when your league-mates’ panic meter hits Threat Level Midnight.

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Buy Low

If a fellow manager begins to feel less-than-excited about a player who has a track record of excellence, the time is nigh to buy low. Most every player experiences some form of a bad streak or tough stretch of play. Even the worst stretches of production don’t properly represent a player’s talent or fantasy potential, and an early-round fantasy star can start the year slow due to some deficiencies in his team’s offensive line, a lingering health issue, or a brutal schedule. Players who are in for a mid-to-late season resurgence are the ones you want to target. Because your league-mate is panicking over the small early-season returns provided, that manager is likely to trade for less than what the player is actually worth. Take advantage of this form of panic, and scoop up a potential gem at a bargain price.

Exploit Positional Scarcity

One of the best ways to take advantage of panicking league-mates is to exploit roster weaknesses. Injuries are a big part of fantasy football, and an unexpected injury can put even the best fantasy teams behind the eight ball. If a league-mate has particularly shallow depth at a certain position and one of his best players at said position falls victim to an injury, the panic-meter will likely be going off loudly. Now, you can swoop in and take advantage of his desperation. The idea here isn’t to rip someone off, but if you want to charge a little bit extra to fill a newly-formed void, that’s just smart business. Tight end is one of the best positions to exploit, as there is usually volatile production from that group of players. For league-mates are streaming tight ends every week, chances are they have at worst a reliable weekly starter and at best one of the handful of studs. After that, tight end depth from team-to-team is usually thin. Take Evan Engram‘s foot injury in 2019 that caused him to miss the final eight games of the season. For Engram owners (who spent a mid-round pick for his services), things were probably murky at tight end after their TE1 went down, leaving them searching for a replacement option who might be able to offer similar production. Rather than trading for an upside flier or making prudent moves on the waiver wire, the Engram owner may have panicked, resulting in him overpaying for your reliable tight end and leaving you with a better overall roster at your league-mate’s expense.

Take Advantage of Frustration

There are some players that fantasy managers are quick to jump ship on. Simply put, some guys have a short fantasy leash, and managers are willing to unload these players for a quick buck when they begin to struggle on the field. If you’re aware of a fellow manager who’s at his whit’s end with a player that can give you valuable production down the line, it’s a great time to propose a low-ball trade offer and see where the discussion takes you. Fantasy managers will often have unfounded expectations for a player and not wait for that player to develop before unloading him. These same managers may also fail to recognize the legitimate reasons why a player could be coming up small early on. Be sure to keep an eye on the waiver wire for players like this. You’d be surprised how much talent is left on the waiver wire because fantasy managers panicked and didn’t stay the course. Just because a player shouldn’t be on the waiver wire, doesn’t mean he’s not. Be diligent here, and make sure to take advantage of a panicking owner who gets rid of a player without good cause.

In addition to frustration with individual players, your league-mates can become frustrated and panicked by team record. A manager sitting at 0-3 is far more likely to make a crazy, blockbuster deal than a manager sitting at 2-1. Remember that among your league-mates, someone with a terrible record is anguishing and may be ready to take a big swing on a player or players who might help them turn the season around. Seek these league-mates out, and get the upper hand in trading.

Communicate

Yes, this one gets mentioned over and over, but it’s one of the core tenets of fantasy football success. All of the methods described above would not be possible without excellent communication with league-mates. To get a clear picture on how your fellow managers value players, you need to talk with them. Ask them how they feel about an under-performing star. Figure out if they think that player is destined to bounce back or if they’re ready to cut their losses. Take it a step farther, and offer a trade involving a player you’d like to acquire. The trade offer should be a little light on your side, just to gauge the reaction of your league-mate. You could also ask that league-mate, “What would it take to get Player X?” The response you’ll receive should give you great insight into your league-mates’ panic maeter. Overall, you always want to keep in touch with your league-mates to understand their mindsets and approach to each fantasy season. If you’re playing in a league with friends and family, you’ll surely know the personalities you’re dealing with, and it never hurts to engage the last-place, risk-taker in your league with a trade offer.

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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