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How to Properly Value Your Assets on Trade Deadline Day (Fantasy Football)

by Shane Manila | @ShaneIsTheWorst | Featured Writer
May 2, 2020

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You know the feeling. A season that started off with so much promise has flamed out due to injury, poor production, or a combination of both. The playoffs aren’t a realistic possibility, and you’re looking to cash out on some of your assets as you look to the next season. Before you start sending out blind offers, it’s vitally important that you make sure you know what the player’s you have rostered our worth on the open market.

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League Format and Starting Requirements

To accurately assess the value of your the players you have rostered, you first need to make sure you are valuing them appropriately within the context of your league settings. Your league format will play a pivotal role as it relates to positional value. If you play in a Superflex league than quarterbacks will hold more value than non-Superflex leagues, and you need to keep that in mind when looking at trade polls on Twitter because most fantasy leagues are single quarterback leagues. Your leagues starting requirements will also affect a player’s value as well. Some leagues allow you to start anywhere from one to eight players per position, while others require you to start at least two running backs, two wide receivers, a single tight end, and a flex. If you only have to start one of each position as opposed to too having to start two to three per positions, it’s going to affect a player’s value. If I can start up to seven wide receivers and only need to start one running back, I’m not going to go out my way to secure running backs. Lastly, make sure you know your league scoring. Some leagues penalize quarterbacks heavily for interceptions or even sacks. Leagues with points per carry (PPC) make running backs more valuable then they would be in non-PPC scoring leagues. There’s no shame in reviewing your league settings one final time (or multiple times) before sending out or accepting trade offers.

Macro vs. Micro

While there may be a consensus of a player’s value in the community at large, that doesn’t mean that it will match what owners in your specific league feel a player is worth. Just because a Twitter trade poll, or a trade calculator, or even FantasyPros tells you that a player is worth X, it doesn’t mean that you will get that value in a trade you make involving that player. Think of it in terms of macroeconomics vs. microeconomics. A simple distinction between the two can be found via Investopedia which notes:

  • Microeconomics focuses on supply and demand, and other forces that determine price levels, making it a bottom-up approach.
  • Macroeconomics takes a top-down approach and looks at the economy as a whole, trying to determine its course and nature.

What’s important to keep in mind is that every league is its own’s economy. Most tools that are available for assessing a trade or a player’s trade value incorporate average draft position (ADP) and/or trades made in other leagues that involve the player (or players) in your trade offer. That is what gives you the community or the macro value of a player. The micro value is determined in individual leagues. Your dynasty startup drafts and the trades that are made within that league are part of the aggregate that feeds the macro value.

Knowing the macro value of an asset is essential as it gives you a baseline of what you can expect to receive in compensation for that asset. Just know that the macro view doesn’t account for the specificity of your league and league mates.

Declining vs. Ascending Assets

When determining what players you want to trade from your roster, you need to determine whether they are dealing or ascending assets. An easy tool to help you gauge the community view on this is ADP. Compare a player’s current ADP vs. their ADP during the same period from the previous year. If their ADP has risen, then how the player is valued in the community is higher than the year prior; conversely, if the ADP has dropped, so has the player’s value.

Don’t confuse value with production, sometimes a player’s value in the community won’t always match their production. A player like Jarvis Landry consistently outperforms his ADP year over year and isn’t the archetype of a player I would look to sell at the deadline (unless I am in full rebuild mode) because they are still young and highly productive and there’s no impetus to sell at a loss. Wide receivers will begin to lose trade value once they turn 28, because of the dynasty communities obsession with youth. This is why you can draft Julio Jones as the 11th wide receiver in startup drafts, per Dynasty League Football’s April ADP, despite his WR3 finish in 2019.

You should also be aware of what age players reach their production apex based on position, so you don’t continue to hold onto a player that has likely reached or passed their ceiling, or sell off a player too early. Running backs are a position where the drop off beyond age 26 is stark except in the case of outliers such as Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore. FantasyPros Mike Tagliere studied this and came to that conclusion in 2018, and I studied this recently and came to a similar conclusion but found that age 25 is the peak for running backs over the past four seasons.

Chart courtesy of @ff_spaceman

Based on the cliff dive that running backs see after age 25, it’s wise to cash out on them before that production, and subsequently, their value decrease. Tags also dove into the age apex for wide receivers and tight ends, which I suggest you read at your leisure.

Your League

The only thing I can’t account for when it comes to properly valuing your assets is your league mates. This is where you come in. You know which owners in your league value youth vs. production. Hopefully, you’ve taken notice of the types of players and the positions that the owners in your league value and how they value them. It doesn’t matter if a trade calculator determines that you’ve made a great offer if your league mate disagrees. You need to determine if your willing to sell lower than what the market might indicate a player is worth. I can’t give you the right answer. If a trade will help you make your roster stronger, and it’s the best offer you’ve received (after feeling out the entire league) than I’d likely make the 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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