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How to Get the Most for Your Studs in Dynasty League Trades (Fantasy Football)

by Sam Hoppen | @samhoppen | Featured Writer
May 8, 2020

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A large factor in having a successful fantasy football dynasty team is understanding how to properly evaluate players’ value at certain points in their careers. This skill becomes all the more important when determining the foundational members of your roster. You feel a certain sense of attachment to your studs because of what they’ve given you, so letting go becomes that much more difficult.

That said, there are a couple of ways you can learn how to get the most value from your studs when trading them away. You don’t want to sell them for pennies on the dollar, and this guide will demonstrate some tactics to help evaluate your studs’ value before sending them to another team.

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Money talks

Familiarizing yourself with your players’ contract situations is a great way to gauge how his current team feels about him. Though you might think someone is worth a blockbuster contract, or that they’re safe from getting cut, team management might feel differently.

One way to take advantage of this information is by selling a player a year before he is set to become a free agent. That way, you can profit before their value changes drastically. Sure, there’s a chance a player’s perceived value increases after changing teams, but there’s also a risk that it bottoms out.

For example, a running back in the prime of his career could go from a committee situation to being the workhorse running back, or vice versa. He could even go from committee to committee and see little change in value, but so much of that is unknown before hitting free agency. Try to sell players to other teams that expect his value to rise. That will give you the most bang for your buck.

Spotrac is a great resource to use when researching player contracts. At Spotrac, you can find out when players are set to hit free agency and how much it would cost teams to trade or cut specific players. If trading or cutting a player doesn’t count that much against a team’s dead cap hit, they may be more likely than not to get rid of him if he doesn’t perform well in the following year. So take a look at the year-by-year value of a player’s contract to understand when it would make the most sense for a team to release him, should he lose a step or suffer a major injury.

What’s my age again?

Using a player’s age to determine their value is a common practice among dynasty league managers. It gives us a sense of how much longer a player has to produce at a high level for fantasy football purposes.

Based on some research by Mike Tagliere, we have a good understanding of the age at which each position’s production falls off, and the following table summarizes his research:

Position Prime Age Range Expected Decline Age
Running Back 21-28 29
Wide Receiver 22-32 33
Tight End 25-30 31

 
By no means does this say that a running back can’t produce after he turns 29 years old. There always are and always will be exceptions. However, history tells us that the average running back production, as an example, will start to decline around that age, and a player is less likely to be a consistent fantasy contributor after that point.

As with player contracts, it’s best to be ahead of the curve when selling your star player. For example, these ages may indicate that a receiver should be sold when he hits his age 33 season, but it would behoove you to trade him away before he reaches age 30 or 31. That way, you can get the best return possible. You may miss out on one or two more years of peak production, but the return you get from trading him will be that much higher.

Trading based on need

Though this isn’t a dynasty-specific suggestion, it bears repeating: trades should be made in order to provide both teams with players of need. This cannot be stressed enough, because you’re not going to find a worthwhile trade partner by selling your wide receivers to someone who is deep at that position. The same goes for every other position. Instead, look for teams that have a roster hole that your stud player can fill. They may be willing to overpay for your star in order to make their starting roster look stronger.

Moreover, you should go into trade negotiations understanding what your own needs are — is your goal to build depth at a position, or is it to fill a gap of your own? If your goal is to build depth at a position, try going with a two-for-one trade approach by selling your stud for a couple of above-average players. If you only have one stud wide receiver, but you have three starting receiver slots to fill, trading for several above-average players may prove more beneficial in the long term than having just one elite player.

On the flip side, should you be graced with multiple top-ten running backs with solid options on your bench, you should consider letting one go for an upgrade at another position. Since your starting lineup can only fit so many players, there isn’t as much value in holding onto players that might only fill in during by weeks.

In the end, you should know both what your personal goals and your trade partner’s goals are so that you can collaborate and get a win-win trade scenario.

That’s my quarterback!

In dynasty, quarterbacks are a bit different depending on the league you’re in, as they can produce at a high level well into their 30s. If you were lucky enough to draft someone like Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers at the beginning of his career, you were rewarded with great production out of the position for years and years. However, quarterbacks still remain one of the most replaceable positions from a fantasy football production standpoint.

It’s obviously a bit more difficult to stream quarterbacks in a dynasty league since most, if not all, starting quarterbacks are typically rostered, even in a 1QB league. Because of this, you may not want to give away an elite quarterback if you don’t have a somewhat serviceable backup. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be shopping an elite quarterback if your backup can provide solid starting value.

In the case of quarterbacks, it often depends on what your backup situation is. As mentioned before, if you find yourself with elite and above-average quarterback options, look for teams that have a couple of middling quarterbacks that could benefit from an upgrade over either option. This way, you could trade away a more established veteran quarterback and hold onto a young gunslinger that offers the potential to produce for another decade!

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether to trade away one of the cornerstones of your dynasty roster. That said, none of these are hard and fast rules, and they should be used as rules of thumb to help you figure out when you should start selling your stud players and how to sell them for peak value.

It’s tough to evaluate player values in a vacuum, though. If your team is two or three years from a potential championship run, then you may be best suited to unload a couple of elite options near the end of their playing careers instead of expecting them to produce highly when you’re in the midst of competing. Conversely, if your championship window is closing, you may benefit from an extra stud or two on your roster.

As one last parting thought, don’t sell your studs when they’re no longer considered studs. This may sound obvious, but just because they were elite at one point in their career doesn’t mean they have the same ceiling moving forward, and your league mates will know that.

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Sam Hoppen is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Sam, check out his archive and follow him @SamHoppen.

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