Welcome to the off-season! The biggest off-season transaction (other than drafts) should be trades. And since it’s January, we’re going to skip over drafts for now and focus primarily on trading. So, I’m going to give you some tips on how to accomplish trades in your leagues so that everyone walks away happy.
Entering Trade Talks
I. Love. Trading. My background is in sales, so I love to negotiate and discover needs to provide solutions. Since I can’t sell my players for money, I look for other players or rookie draft picks. Once you find someone you want to trade with because they have something you want, the first step is to look at their team and see what they need. This could be depth at a position, lack of a decent starter, or someone on their team is injured or old. The next step is seeing if you can fulfill their need. If you don’t see a glaring need the next best thing is to just ask, “is there anything you need to improve your team?” Now if you want to be polite, don't start a conversation with a blunt question about a fantasy trade. Open the conversation and have some dialect first about non-fantasy items, then approach the trade. Try to create value by pointing out a certain player's injury history or their uncertainty on the depth chart and show the other owner that you're trying to help sure up their roster. If you can’t fulfill the need that you see for them or that they tell you they have, fear not, because another team may be able to help!
Last season, I accomplished the most 3 team deals in the league. In those deals I knew what I wanted, but didn’t think I had enough to give to one team to complete the deal, Bringing in a 3rd team allowed everyone to get what they needed.
During the pre-draft process, I had fallen in love with Terry McLaurin, but was unable to draft him. And after seeing Preston's physicality against my Cowboys, I knew he had a chance to be a monster. They were both owned by different people, and I knew I did not have enough by myself to acquire both.
The Preston Williams owner had a need at running back, and my most tradable asset was David Montgomery, which would be a gross overpay. Meanwhile, the Terry McLaurin owner wanted to get out from Kenyan Drake. So I created value for the Preston owner by offering Daesean Hamilton and Jack Doyle because he also owned Sutton and Ebron. Through our talks, I showed him that he was an injury away from losing two valuable pieces to his team and the easiest handcuff would be players on their respective NFL teams. Then, I recommended he trade Mike Williams for Kenyan Drake. Finally, I would send David Montgomery for McLaurin. In all, I gave Montgomery, Hamilton and Doyle to get McLaurin and Williams. While, theoretically it would be possible for me to have traded each player individually, there was not enough motivation to do so in independent trades. By incorporating 3 teams we were able to negotiate a deal that made everyone feel as though they were making significant improvements to their roster.
Closing the Deal
My biggest advice for this step is: Know you price. Do not overpay for something just because you want the piece the other guy has. While the “Get Your Guys” philosophy, has its merits, you must know your limits. Your ability to walk away from a trade is an important leverage tool and allows you to set a precedent for future trade deals.
At the end of this season, I was looking to sell Odell Beckham Jr. to gain more picks for the upcoming rookie draft. The first offer I received: D.K. Metcalf and a 2022 first. Not a bad start, but I needed depth and wanted to move up in 2020 specifically. After passing on that initial offer I was able to work another 3-team deal that net me two 2020 first round picks, Diontae Johnson and Auden Tate, giving me the ability to rebuild faster.
Good trade strategy means knowing your price. Anticipate offers and prepare yourself for how you will react. Having patience allows you to execute your plan.
If you follow these guidelines you will get more yeses, but most importantly you will give yourself access to the entire fantasy landscape instead of relying on the draft for improvement.