A Rookie’s Guide to Trading

Fantasy football can be an extremely rewarding, but equally frustrating “hobby”. From the hope of the draft, to the opening game, the disappointments of poor play, the flush of victory over your mates until finally the joy and excitement of the playoffs.

For most new players the draft, waivers and free agency are the only ways to build and maintain a team throughout the season, but apart from the skill and luck of the waiver wire the ability to make trades is another key skill in a potential champion’s armoury.

Like most people in life some are risk averse whereas others have a daredevil spirit. When you don your General Manager hat it doesn’t really matter where you lie in that spectrum it’s more important you have all the correct tools and skills to make trading effective.

What’s important to remember is trading is another tool in your GM armoury. It’s important not to stand pat and look to improve your squad throughout the season. If improvement can’t be found in waivers or free agency then you need to do it by trading. Too many teams start well and then see a promising season fizzle out as their rivals restock, retool and then eventually overhaul them because they recognised their own strengths and weaknesses.

What i’m going to try to do here is give you those basic tools and ideas to get you started . Of course trades are their to benefit you, but the secret to a good trade is that both you and your partner see value.


Types of Trades


Although it’s not necessary to break down trades into categories I’ve done so because I think it helps to explain motivation behind the offers you may see during the season. Where possible I’ve tried to use trades that have gone through in the EFFL, or at least ones that were offered during the season.

Apples for Oranges

The first category is probably the most obvious one. A team with strength at one position and weakness at another trades with a team in the opposite situation. A great example this year was between the Bohemians and Jaguars. The Jaguars had some of the strongest RB depth in the league, but were really struggling at WR. The Bohemians on the other hand had strength at WR, but were struggling at RB. Although the Jaguars saw slightly more value from the trade it was a loss the Bohemians were willing to take due to their lack of RB depth.

Trading the Farm for a Star

These types of trades generally involve one team trading a superstar for a number of lower ranked but consistent players. The aim for the team off loading the superstar is to add players who are going to strengthen their overall squad and improve depth in a number of areas. It’s usual that team making the trade is (over) enamored by the superstar and feels they need him to compete. We’ve not had any of these trades take place in the EFFL (yet). But ask yourself how much would you be willing to trade for DeMarco Murray or Andrew Luck this season?

Waiver Wire or Free Agent Trade Bait

Generally these trades come about after the considerable amount of hype generated by the fantasy football media. In most cases they’re generated from “sell high” hype in most cases the player isn’t a long term solution e.g. Brandon Oliver, Bobby Rainey and Steve Smith all would have made excellent trade bait to prize better long term assets from opponents.

Injuries or Busts

When the unexpected occurs- Adrian Peterson (idiocy), Ray Rice (idiocy), Josh Gordon(idiocy), LeSean McCoy (poor form), Ryan Mathews (injury), Montee Ball (injury) or Robert Griffen III (poor form and injury), usually there are vultures ready to help you out with a handcuff for a decent performer on your team or someone hoping to trade for your bust in the hope that they can turn things around.#

We’ve had two good examples of this type of trade this season. The first involved Matt Asiata from the Jaguars for Larry Fitzgerald from the 187s. The 187s lost Adrian Peterson early in the season and without his handcuff (at the time Asiata rather than McKinnon who was the longer term target) felt they needed to make a trade. The Jaguars got an excellent player in the trade who started the season very slowly and looked like a great pickup. Unfortunately, the Jaguars didn’t hold onto Fitzgerald for long enough to see any benefit.

Our second examples involves LeSean McCoy. He’s had a complete bust of a season for our second overall pick. He was the subject of a number of trade offers early in the season and if Coach Nicky had cashed in he may have recouped some value for him. Unfortunately he hung onto him hoping for a turnaround. He’s a great example of cashing in when you can as McCoy’s value has deflated so much and the body of work has grown to such an extent that his value is no longer RB1 with hope or RB2 but is probably closer to RB4 or RB5.

Depth for a Starter

You are only 1 injury away from disaster in fantasy football. Sometimes it’s worth trading a low end starter to ensure you have depth. It’s particularly important if you only have 2 quality WRs or RBs. These positions suffer the greatest wastage and it’s worth investing in quality backups who can perform in match-up play.

Sometimes it’s better to trade a TE1 or a QB 6-10 for some solid performers at those positions and give you more stability over the course of the season rather than keeping your fingers crossed that your starters make it through the season unscathed.


Things to do before you offer or accept


  • Look at your strengths and weakness. It sounds obvious, but sometimes it’s too easy to be drawn into a trade you can’t afford to make. If you have 3 good starting RBs it might be risky to trade one of them to upgrade at WR. Be realistic, how good is your bench. If your starter is injured or loses form are they going to improve your lineup. If you don’t need them and they have value then go out and get someone who’ll help your lineup.
  • Look at your opponents strengths and weaknesses. It makes it easier to identify trade partners and is a better use of your time.
  • Identify your trade target(s).
  • Ranks, scoring and projections. This is where you gain your value. Look ahead in the schedule, plan ahead with match-ups. Perhaps you’ve got the best out of your player and your opponent is disappointed with his players production, but just look at that juicy schedule to come! Remember, running games usually improve as the season wears on, passing games tend to regress. The weather or fatigue?
  • Make an offer or even better make two. When we’re faced with a choice as humans we tend to select an option rather than reject it out of hand when we only have one.
  • Be open. Let your trade mate know what you’re thinking, why it’s good for them and more importantly why you want to trade with them. Sending someone a trade offer like: M Crabtree WR for J Gray RB without an explanation is likely to be rejected out of hand.

Tools to Help


Here are some tools that can help you decide value in trade. Shop around and make sure you get a few quotes!

Football Guys Trade Dominator

Fantasy SP Trade analyzer

Fantasy Pros my playbook

Trade Debate

and remember lunch is for wimps!

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