The Gut Check No.335: Practicing Your Trade


The best advice for fantasy football trades? Avoid them. If you must pursue a deal, Matt Waldman shares techniques that will help.

Getting sick of my analogy that building a winning fantasy roster is like building a sturdy table? I’m about there. This is the last time. I swear on the life of Bramuel L. Jackson.

Keep reading.

My three favorite legs of the winning fantasy table are the draft, lineup decisions, and free agency. Create these legs with knowledge and skill and your fantasy table will be sturdy enough to support your league’s trophy.

There are four-legged fantasy tables in existence that can support a winner. This may seem like common sense. I find that you first have to believe there’s such a thing as “common sense.”

I’m skeptical.

Four-legged fantasy tables that can hold up a winner are a lot like four-leaf clovers. Both exist, both are rare, and people talk themselves into thinking that they found one.

I don’t like building four-legged fantasy tables. Most of them are too lopsided.

What is this fourth leg that’s so problematic? Mastering the art of the trade. It’s usually the leg that’s the shortest on knowledge and skill. Most fantasy owners that rely heavily on this fourth leg wind up searching the basement at midseason for a phone book, a dictionary, or an outdated trade publication to place under that leg.

Without one–or all three–of these emergency props, the trophy often slides off the tabletop and into the greedy little hands of your opponent. Admit it, we all envision our competition having those abnormally small hands like the guy in the Burger King commercial. It’s not just me.

Ok, maybe it is just me. But you have to admit, it adds a rich interior drama to the season, doesn’t it?

When I really want to take it up a notch, I imagine Jene Bramel’s head and face as a Chia version of Samuel Jackson’s hitman in Pulp Fiction. 5-ish, one of our most twisted and dedicated Audible listeners, mocked this up for us:

I know, right? Just imagine Bramuel L. Jackson reciting Ezekiel 25:17 as he’s entering his lineup in a showdown with your squad.

(Yes, therapy is a good idea. It has been recommended several times.)

I’ve had enough experiences constructing winning fantasy tables to tell you that while I prefer the three-legged variety, my absolute favorite model has four legs: Three sturdy, evenly balanced limbs under the tabletop and the fourth just big enough to get a good grip so I can beat anyone over the head who tries to steal my trophy. Adding a few rusty nails at the striking end of the leg is a bonus.

Ok, I didn’t mean it about the fourth leg. Rusty nails aren’t good sportsmanship.

One of the least discussed aspects of fantasy football is the art of the deal. Broaching a conversation, recognizing value, engaging in a winning negotiation, and closing the deal are all important parts of a misunderstood craft. However, few people value the process over the product and it makes some fantasy owners short-sighted about wheeling and dealing.

It’s this reason alone why trading is the least appealing method of building a team. Fellow Footballguys writer Matt Harmon and I had this discussion the other day. Fantasy writers fall back on the idea that if you make choice x about a player and situation y happens, you can just flip him later in a trade.

And when the floodwaters rise to threaten your home, you can wipe it all up with a single ply of Brawny.

Tre Mason is a perfect example this year,” says Harmon about the Rams back tabbed for the early workload. “When I read that ‘you can just trade him at some point before Gurley returns,’ I don’t think those writers are accounting for the wealth of information fantasy information out there. Unless you play in a league with a bunch of dunderheads you won’t likely pull the wool over their eyes.”

Tricking your competition is not the goal of developing skill as a good fantasy negotiator. There are times you will get the better end of the deal to an extent that another owner in the league will see the trade and fire off an email along the lines ofDid you at least kiss [him] first?  

Turn around and engage that owner in a negotiation and he’ll make offers where you feel like he hasn’t even asked you out to dinner. We all value players different enough that one offer appears fair to an owner that another finds one-sided. It’s why trading is the riskiest way to build a team: One deal can dramatically help or hurt your squad in any format.

Although there is no true rule book of player value, it doesn’t mean you should feign ignorance while willfully taking advantage of another. Eventually those owners won’t want to deal with you.

This is a point I covered in last year’s article, “The One Trade Advice Article You Need to Read.” It’s a piece that details the philosophy behind a good negotiator:

  • Adopting a Negotiator’s Mindset
  • Being More Process-Oriented Than Results-Oriented
  • Be Willing to Lose Big to Win Big
  • Know What You’re Willing to Give and Take
  • Understanding the Framework of the Negotiation as the Seller and the Buyer
  • Learning Common Buyer and Seller Motivations
  • The Counter Offer

Read last year’s piece and you’re on your way to developing a sound, long-term approach to making trades that will benefit your team, your reputation, and your connections to your competition as a fantasy owner. This year’s article covers a few helpful negotiation techniques.

Read the rest at Footballguys

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: