The Essential Components
As a coach, you cannot rely on yearly drafts alone to fill your team with players who will bring you a ring. The art of trading is a key skill which you must hone if you are going to build your dynasty.
A good coach is always evaluating the parts of his/her team, continually looking for an edge. One game can be the difference between a championship and second place. The following tactics, if used well, can be the difference between assembling a true dynasty for years to come or being the beer wench during each year’s draft. Master these tactics and let the pillaging begin:
You should strive to have three components on your team at all times:
1) Adequate depth at all positions
2) A balance of established fantasy producers and young productive talent
3) Developmental talent that will be producing within three years
The key here is in assessing your team with an eye towards identifying areas of extreme depth or value, even if it is in the area of developmental talent. These areas are then leveraged to obtain the objects of your affection. Always remember though that if you are too thin in any one position, a single injury can mean disaster. Too old at a position and your run may be over before it starts. Too young and you might as well be playing craps.
What is “too thin” and “too old”? Bye weeks are an inevitable occurrence and we have all had those weeks that cost us a very important game. Injuries are also going to affect your year. The older your roster becomes, the more susceptible you become to injury. When assessing your roster, you MUST prepare for these events and realize that there is an inverse relationship between a player’s age and his fantasy value. Assume that at any point during the season, you will be without three of your starters during a given week. If you wish to be more aggressive, you may, but be prepared to suffer the consequences.
If your team has very little roster value to offer in trade, realize that in some cases, draft picks may carry more value than rostered players (depending on the coach).
After you have assessed your roster, identify the positions you can leverage to build an even stronger roster. In a best case scenario, you will have assembled young, productive talent that will allow you to trade one or more aging, productive players in exchange for a young producer who bolsters your foundation without a loss of fantasy points per game (fppg). If you become successful at this tactic, you can leverage your roster year over year, staying one step ahead of the competition.
If you are not in a best case scenario, leverage what you do have. Developmental players, in good situations, can often times be as valuable as aging veterans. As mentioned above, future draft consideration often carries substantial weight. Just be very careful when trading away future opportunities for improving your team.
You must always be sure that, at least in your own mind, you receive more than you give away when making a trade. Note that some other coaches may not evaluate a trade in the same way. They might evaluate it based solely on fppg potential and name recognition.
There are many catalysts that make for a good trade. Building depth and securing handcuffs are often as important as landing another quality starter. If you are able to kill multiple birds with a single stone, all the better. Just don’t validate the deal based on how other coaches respond.
In the mining stage, you must perform steps #1 and #2 above for each other team in your league, paying special attention to which division a prospective trade partner is in. After you have identified those players that have value upon your roster, you need to locate a team that can offer what you desire, and needs what you have to offer. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Your approach and shtick means everything in this step. While you may not like the analogy, you are now a used car salesman. We will help you with this in our next installment of “Trading Tactics: Snakeoil Salesman”
Do not underestimate the importance of timing in securing maximum value for your offer.
Whether it is pre-draft, preseason or week ten of the regular season, keeping your eyes open for a catalyst is essential. Coaches panic when a primary player is carried off on a cart. Your #4 WR can quickly have the gleam of a #1 WR if you act quickly enough and capitalize on the emotion and fear of a season potentially lost. The rookie draft can make backups of primary fantasy producers as quick as you can say “With the first pick in the draft…”.
Mid or late year trades that fall just before your league’s trade deadline are of particular interest. At this point in time, coaches who are in the hunt may be willing to overpay to add a particular player to their roster. This is also the time to survey the standings and assess other rosters as you may want to push through a trade that will net you a higher selection in the following year’s draft; pay particular attention to those teams that are on the decline within reach of last place . especially if they have had a recent major injury.
Your draft picks and players can increase in value substantially overnight; be ready to take advantage of it. Nothing is more frustrating to a coach than the preseason season-ending injury. Realize that the ‘game’ of fantasy football is as much about excitement of the upcoming season as it is about assembling a dominant team. Preseason injuries affecting primary producing players create an opportunity for you to maximize the value of your roster. Successfully capitalizing on these situations can shape your team for years to come. Let the morality battle be waged by those coaches who are accustomed to the bottom of your standings.
These simple foundational steps should come as no surprise to a seasoned fantasy football coach. In most cases, these steps alone will not guarantee a trade in your favor but are a means to an end.
In our next installment, we will give you the ‘ugly’ side of trading that you must master in order to be successful.
You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff