Welcome to the Dynasty 101 series. We’re still in the “off-season” of football, which gives us time to improve our skills. Instead of hitting the weight room, we will hit the classroom in a series designed to make sure our mind is in tip top shape for the season.
One of the most difficult skills for dynasty owners to master is trading. Some owners in your leagues may be inactive, while others are only looking to rip you off, and most have an ego. How can you sharpen your trading skills?
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No. 1) Track the tendencies of owners in your league.
The longer I’ve been working at DLF headquarters, the more I think Leo Paciga is my long lost brother. We agree on most philosophies and players. Therefore, when I heard him on the DLF Dynasty Podcast discuss keeping a notebook on fellow dynasty owners, I wasn’t surprised. He also briefly discusses this philosophy in an article a few years back. I personally keep a mental log of owners, but may change to a Google doc with joining more leagues. Tracking the preferences of owners puts you in the driver’s seat to get deals accomplished. Here are the potential owners in your league:
Mr. Value = He only wants to increase the overall value of his team and rarely is tied to individual players.
What can you do here? Be very cognizant of the current market of players. Check DLF ADP data of the current month, Twitter, Rotoworld, etc. Once you have a good feel for any buzz on the player, match it up with your own projection and evaluation of the players involved in the deal. If it looks like they’re gaining current value, a deal could get done.
Ms. Ageist = She continually churns her roster to get rid of players over the age of 26.
What can you do here? When players are approaching the age cliff for this owner, throw out deals to them because they will probably be discounted. If you have a young player you don’t think will hit their potential or want to move, this is the person to target because they will likely be the one to overpay.
Mr. Contender = No matter how his overall team looks, he always thinks he can compete.
What can you do here? If you don’t view them as a contender in the upcoming season, I would attempt to ship off some vets to them for their future first-round pick early in the off-season (especially if they were successful the previous season). Otherwise, if you have too much depth or need to move veterans, this is your person. You’ll likely get the most bang for your buck here.
Mr. Underwear Olympics = If the player had a great combine, this owner wants them on their team. They’ll also try to find the latest and greatest ways to calculate things such as Sparq score, BMI, etc. to identify talent.
What can you do here? Be aware not only of who tested out well at the combine in the current year, but past years as well. You may be able to trade away past combine winners to this owner. Also, if you want to move down a couple of spots in a rookie draft, this may be the owner who reaches for players.
Ms. Prefers QB/RB/WR/TE = This owner has shown tendencies to really value this position by: overpaying for this position in the past, acquiring more players at this position for depth when it looked like they would be fine, etc.
What can you do here? Toss trade offers of this position to that owner when you can gain value or want to move a player. I’ve found successes here, when I didn’t think it was possible.
Other types of owners (Mr. Overreaction, Mr. Trade Happy, Ms. Loves Speed, Mr. WR Height supremacist, Mr. Players from his favorite NFL/college team or even region).
All owners have biases or tells. If you catch onto them, it will give you an advantage not only in trading, but also rookie drafts, etc.
No. 2) Remember the option to walk away
If you feel like you have to have a player, make sure you have a price limit. Don’t sacrifice the future of your dynasty team because you like a certain player. For example, I’m big into devy leagues and owners could have an advantage by buying my Devy Report. They know who I like and how I value devy players. I’ve received some doozy offers for some of my player crushes, but I just decline. In the end, I would rather succeed in my dynasty league (win a trophy, money, bragging rights) versus having a couple of players I love on my team and know I can’t win.
No. 3) Beware of Pride
The number one cause of outrageous deals is pride. “I want to prove to everyone I was right on this player.” “I know more than ______.” Some owners have to own a player in every league, which is great if the price is right. Listen, we all have pride, but make sure you’re doing the deal for the right reasons.
Pride is very apparent in negotiations. If I’ve seen one common theme in trading, it’s most owners value players on their own team more than you do. Which is why ADP and how they value them can show wide discrepancies. If that’s the case, see option No. 2. I’ve found discussions, negotiations for these players to be a time suck.
What can you do here? The one area of success I’ve had with owners with lots of pride is trading future firsts. They will likely overvalue their potential team success and you may be able to take advantage of it. I’ve also had success trading my future first-round pick for their future first-round pick. Only do this when you have a clear advantage for the next season over the other team because you may be showing your pride here. One byproduct of making this offer is if the other owner declines, they’re acknowledging you’re a better team and it could humble them. (Oh look, this is me showing pride! Told you we all have it!!!)
No. 4) Be Respectful
This is fantasy football, it’s not life or death. Therefore, going off on an owner is really just a waste of your time. Most won’t respond to that by saying “You were completely right. I apologize. I hope you can forgive me.” It’s going to turn into another time suck. No matter the offer, just clicking decline is your best option. I think it is fine to leave a one line response saying “This isn’t close for me, but thanks for the offer” is still respectful. Also, do not send a page long email about how your player is amazing and their player trash with trade offers. This is just going hit that pride area we discussed earlier. I can see discussing a player if you’re both in negotiations, but don’t start it off that way. Don’t let offers expire to show them up for a terrible offer. Remember you may have to negotiate with this owner in the future and you don’t want to burn bridges.
No. 5) Generating trades
I attempt to be up front with owners about players I’m interested in acquiring. During a down times in the off-season, I’ve made offers on MFL by clicking all of the players I have an interest and writing in the comments, “Not a real offer, but these are players I’m interested in if you see something.” I have also emailed owners using the same method but have differentiated high, medium, and low interest in each of the players. I then ask the other owner, who they might have an interest in on my team. The purpose of doing this exercise instead of making an offer is it gives a framework for deals. I’m not in their head and don’t want to guess which players they want.
Tip: if you want to get a deal done, don’t simply say I like only your top three players. But if you indicate a lower-end player you have high interest in (an example would be Chris Hogan). Many times that owner will include them in a deal.
Also, utilize your trade bait. It’s the easiest way to show people who you’re willing to move and what you’re interested in return. Please do not only select bottom of the barrel players on your roster if you actually want to get a deal accomplished. Also be as specific as possible for what you want in return. This saves everyone time.
No. 6) Win-Win offers
This is what everyone should attempt to achieve with an offer. Throwing out one-way trades is a good way to upset owners. Instead, look at their overall team to identify what direction they are headed (contender, middling, or rebuilder). Then see what position they could use some help and players on your team you’re willing to give up. Check ADP to find a player on their team you want that’s close and offer away. I recently made a WR for RB swap that filled a need for both teams with only a single offer using this method.
No. 7) Free Agency
One area of players I look to target is upcoming free agents. They hold hidden value because it’s out of sight for many owners and it could pay big dividends. Look to trade for players that will become free agents during the season or later in the year. You could also target players that may become starters if a player leaves the current team in free agency and they are only a backup at the moment.
No. 8) Multiple player deals
Some owners always want the best player out of a deal. I personally value depth on my dynasty teams. However, don’t shy away from multiple player deals. If you get an offer of three players for your one player, make sure you look at all angles of the deal. One overlooked aspect is the hidden value of roster spots. If you are acquiring three players for one player, then you have to cut two players in the process and they have value. On the other side, you now have the ability to pick up two more players off of waivers.
The best time to trade for Rookie or Devy picks is early August until the trade deadline. This is the period furthest away from those drafts and owners won’t be as focused on those players. The worst time to trade for Rookie or Devy picks is right before and during the drafts. Before is when picks have reached their premium and overvalued. I would also avoid trading for those picks just after the draft because owners still have those drafts in mind for next year.
If you want to trade for veterans I would try to obtain them just after the season has concluded and until mid summer. They’re old and dynasty owners are thinking about the next eight years, not the coming season. The worst time to trade for veterans is during the season and after your team had a major injury. I would look to acquire young players after a disappointing stretch of games, season, or injury. The rabbit didn’t win the race, but rather the turtle. NFL careers are longer than we think, but many dynasty owners are too short sighted. The worst time to trade for young players is just after the season has ended, before their birthday, and after a positive news blurb is released.
Trading is an extremely useful skill and my hope is I have helped sharpen the spear for your next dynasty trade hunt. Be aware of biases, be respectful, walk away if necessary, and look at all aspects of the trade. Thanks for reading the first instalment of Dynasty 101, and good luck trading.
Nick can be found on Twitter at @_NickWhalen