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Why It Doesn’t Have to be a Win-Win Trade (Fantasy Football)

by Shane Manila | @ShaneIsTheWorst | Featured Writer
Feb 21, 2020

It’s best to never boast to your leaguemates about a trade you clearly won

One of the trade axioms you’ll often hear is that you should make trades where everyone comes out a winner. I’ve never understood this. I understand why you shouldn’t send out terrible trade offers. No one wants to become your league’s “bad trade offer” guy.

It’s also not advisable to make trade offers based on breaking news, like a player being arrested or being diagnosed with a torn ACL. Though many of us subsist on tweets, others don’t, and it’s not a great look when you prey upon leaguemates who might not be up to date on breaking news. But neither of those things falls under “winning” or “losing” a trade, in my estimation.

When I make trades, my ultimate goal is to make my team stronger, via players or rookie picks. I don’t want the team I’m trading with to become stronger. How does that help me?

I want every other team in the league to be worse than mine — and that includes whoever I trade with. I want their strongest assets and if I can get them for a steal, why wouldn’t I do that? In most leagues, you’re going to end up playing the team you traded with at least once during the fantasy regular season, if not in the fantasy playoffs. So, where is the benefit in making them stronger?

The only argument anyone has provided me as to why you don’t want to fleece another team is because you can lose a trading partner in the future. There are steps you can take to ensure this doesn’t happen, though.

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Don’t Gloat

No one needs to know that you think you destroyed a leaguemate in a trade. What does it accomplish if you jump in the league chat and start dancing on someone’s grave? I often take the modest approach. Compliment your leaguemate’s trade negotiation skills. Talk about how you didn’t make the trade that you were initially hoping for, but compromised in the end. Accentuate the value you gave up, while playing down what you gained. The worst that will happen is that an owner or two might even start to buy into your arguments or they may think that you don’t know how to value players. If they conclude that you don’t know how to evaluate player value, then they’ll likely start to believe you didn’t try to fleece your trade partner. As long as you don’t crow too loudly, no one will be any the wiser that you are smiling on the inside … and that’s what matters in the end. Did you win the trade? If so, who cares what anyone else thinks of it, whether good or bad?

Defend the Trade

If you know you’ve robbed a leaguemate in a trade, chances are that the rest of your league will think the same. You need to neutralize the hurt feelings this could cause. You’re going to need to argue against the return you received, and hype up the side you sold.

This helps serve several purposes. While negotiating your trade, you likely talked up the players you were selling. You may have talked about how much you like Damien Williams’ future outlook in Kansas City after his two-touchdown performance in the Super Bowl. The only reason you’re selling him now is that you’re looking to get younger or are already stacked at the running back position.

Once your leaguemates jump in the league chats trashing your trade partner, you need to jump in there and defend the trade with the same energy you put into making the trade. The arguments you used to get you the deal finalized can be the same ones you use to the rest of the league. Treat your trade partner like you do your significant other, defend them no matter how wrong they might be. Think of it as you and them against the world. Your trade partner will end up resenting the other league members and think of you as a fair trading partner.

Undercover Wins

If you want to avoid the rancor of an obvious fleecing, there are a couple of simple strategies you can employ that will help you easily win trades, even when your leaguemates don’t realize it. I also previously talked about avoiding owning middling rosters and some of those trade strategies apply here as well.

Look to deal rookie picks, especially those outside of the first round of the draft, for proven assets. The hit rate for rookie picks is notoriously bad, so let someone else take the risk. Sell players who still carry name value for players that aren’t as sexy, but produce just the same. Players like Robert Woods and Jarvis Landry, who carried ADPs of 60 and 61 in DLFs January mock drafts, respectively, are the perfect buys. Also, know your leaguemates. Target members who always overpay for rookie picks or specific positions. If someone in your league is an unabashed homer for his or her local team, attempt to sell high on the players from that team.

Do as I Do 

Here’s one final note. Don’t complain if someone in your league robs a leaguemate. Do something about it. Attempt to rob that person too. As soon as you see a terrible trade go through in your league, you should immediately send the owner who lost the trade offers too. Don’t start whining on whatever platform your league uses to communicate.

Outside of obvious, provable collusion, no dynasty league should have vetos or votes on league trades. If a trade is made that’s lopsided, then you need to try to get into the action and not complain about it. That’s my first reaction every time I see a bad trade, I jump on the league site and start sending offers while the rest of the league cries about that trade.

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Shane Manila is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive and follow him @ShaneIsTheWorst.

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