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Dynasty Roster Revolution: Let’s Talk About Trade Calculators (2022 Fantasy Football)

Feb 12, 2022

In this article, we’re going to get into one of the more controversial topics in all of dynasty fantasy football: trade calculators. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely heard of at least a few different ones. You’ve probably even used one or two yourself. Instead of talking about how to use them because that feels somewhat obvious, I want to talk more about when to use them and how they can be helpful in your dynasty trades before the next season starts up.

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What exactly is a trade calculator?

Before we get too far, we should first establish what I mean when talking about a trade calculator. Basically, it’s just a way to compare assets to see if a trade is fair or not. How the assets are valued will vary from site to site, but they all basically do the same thing: measure what the market feels is fair. Each calculator out there does this differently, though.

How a specific calculator determines the market value of assets is an entirely separate discussion and one I’m not going to get too deep into here. Often it’s as simple as taking actual trade data along with projected rankings and formulating a value for each player and draft pick in dynasty. It’s a way to simplify a complex thing into a very simple and digestible metric. It’s a way to take something intangible and try to make it tangible.

Calculators are used often in dynasty because there are so many more trades in dynasty leagues than in redraft leagues, and dynasty assets are able to be traded all year long. This created a market to try to help dynasty managers determine if a trade was fair or not whenever they were presented with a trade. I’ve used a few myself and find them very useful, but not everyone uses them the same way.

What is even the goal of a trade calculator?

Like I said before, the basic idea of a trade calculator is to simplify something that is hard to simplify. Calculators often include values based on 1QB or SuperFlex/2QB because the values of quarterbacks in those two formats are so different. Some offer a TE Premium or PPR option to show the valuation changes that try to mirror whatever league you’re in. But these are all just approximations when you get down to it. No calculator is going to take into account every single aspect of your league and tell you who won a specific trade. That’s just not what they’re for.

What calculators are truly for is to see how close a trade can be. No one calculator is going to be 100 percent accurate in that endeavor, though. How you value a certain player will almost certainly be different than how I value that same player. Our own differences of opinion are what makes this game within a game so fun, right? Trading, drafting, and playing fantasy football wouldn’t be as fun if we all shared the same valuation.

That being said, calculators are meant to be a mediator of sorts. It’s a way to show how an impartial judge would value a trade. This doesn’t make the result perfect or correct. It’s just another opinion to add to the pile. If you send a trade offer to someone and it gets declined, sending a trade calculator result to the other manager will rarely work to sway their opinion. How a third party values the trade won’t change how they value the players. It can be helpful to show them, “Hey, this is where I was coming from,” if the talks get heated, but that’s about it.

So when should we use trade calculators?

Trade calculators have become a hot topic in fantasy largely because there are so many options out there. Each calculator will value players differently, giving us so much information that it almost becomes pointless again. If trade calculator A says it’s a good deal, but trade calculator B says it’s a bad one, do we find a third impartial calculator to decide for us? No! Trades are ultimately up to the two people in the trade, and that’s it! If the two parties agree, the trade goes through. If they don’t, it’s doesn’t. It’s that simple.

Personally, I often use calculators to create trade offers from scratch. I might start by putting someone in that I want to get rid of on one side and putting someone I want on the other. I then see what the difference is between those two players and see who I can add to balance it out. I do this so that I can take some of my own personal biases out of the equation and get what would be considered a fair deal for both teams.

For example, I might value Daniel Jones to be about equal to Matt Ryan, given all of the factors around both quarterbacks. If I send an offer of my Ryan for their Jones and it gets accepted, great, I’m happy because I like Jones more. But, by using a calculator, I might realize that the market actually values Ryan more, meaning I could get Jones and a 3rd round pick for Ryan instead. This way, I get the player I like AND another piece! That’s even better!

Of course, on the other hand, the other manager might have a similar opinion of Jones and want me to add a 3rd round pick to Ryan to make it happen. I might look at a calculator and say no thanks, largely because the market doesn’t seem to value it that way. That’s up to me and the context of my team, their team, and the league as a whole. None of that can be portrayed in a calculator. I might not value the 3rd round pick much at all, or I might have five of them already, so who cares what the calculator says, and I accept the trade. Either way, using that calculator can give me an idea of what my options are.

Conclusion

In the end, we all play this game for fun, and trading is a ton of fun. Winning a trade is also fun, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that matters. You might win based on how one calculator values players or based on the results of a Twitter poll, but ultimately you win if you made your team better. The only way to know that is to use your own values and not an impartial third party. If you like the trade, then it was a great trade to make—end of story.

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Andrew Hall is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive or follow him @AndrewHallFF.

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