Last weekís question: What can leagues
do to encourage trades?
Iíve asked this question before, but Iíve never received
such a wide range of creative & practical answers. One of the
best suggestions came from WB, whose league uses a gradual expansion
and compression of rosters that leaves owners highly incentivized
to trade players they might otherwise have to cut:
One of the things we do is have a cut-down date where teams have
to reduce rosters to specific player limits. Our initial draft
is 15 rounds, and for the first 4 games you can add players via
a "blind bid pool" that allows you to increase that
to 18 players. But before week 5 rosters have to be trimmed to
specific "maximum" roster limits 2QB, 3 RB, 3 REC (we
combine WR's and TE's with no restrictions and don't require you
to start a TE), 2 Kickers, and 2 Defense/Special Teams, plus you
can keep 1 additional player at ANY position (QB, RB or REC) for
a max total of 13 players. Following week 5's games, specific
roster position limits are removed, but overall rosters can't
exceed 13 players. Between games 4 and 5 the activity level is
amazing...with players being traded, bought / sold (we allow $$
transactions between teams). We had 8 "deals" made that
week. And the blind bid pool (rather than a waiver system) provides
added excitement prior to week 6 with all those "dropped"
players now available and roster position limits removed.
This system sounds like a lot of fun to me, and itís hard
to imagine how it could fail to increase the level of trading
(if only between Weeks 4 & 5). Leagues that might not want
to imitate everything about the system (perhaps because they require
a starting tight end) could easily modify this approach to achieve
Many keeper leagues encourage trading by permitting it throughout
the year, but Reedís league has special rules for rookies
that make them especially hot commodities:
We see multiple trades in our league with the majority
of trades occurring in the off-season (which keeps the league
fun & active all year long). The league is a 4 + 1 Keeper
league. Each owner is allowed to keep ANY 4 players and they may
keep an additional player if that player is a rookie from the
previous year. If the rookie was drafted in the first 4 rounds
(after year one, this technically becomes the equivalent of the
fifth round) then that owner may trade ANY rookie (free agents
or trades) that they acquire as long as they maintain a rookie
continuously on their roster. If the rookie is drafted after the
fourth round, then the owner is stuck with the rookie that they
drafted. Sometimes your rookie pans out, sometimes they don't.
The savvy owner that acquires two valuable rookies is able to
make trades to owners that gambled and lost.
Owners with question marks at a position (due to the rookie rule)
are more apt to make a trade to bolster the position to cover
for a questionable rookie. Since, you can only keep five players...the
stronger teams need to trim the fat at the end of the season,
and trades for draft picks begin to dominate the league. The subsequent
year's draft order is decided by the finish placement of the current
year...which allows the weaker teams the first crack at the premier
rookies...and ultimately an opportunity to pull themselves out
of the cellar.
The special wrinkle concerning rookies adds a strategic component
that many leagues might want to explore.
I also heard from TomJ, who has an interesting proposal for leagues
that charge transaction fees for waiver wire acquisitions:
This just occurred to me, so maybe it's a bad idea. But on the
topic of encouraging trading...what if leagues that charge for
adds/drops either didn't charge or *paid back* for trades? Say
your league has a $10/add/drop fee. You could make trades free,
or pay back $5 or even $10 for every trade. BUT, the trade has
to be reviewed by either the commish or the league and open for
veto. Let the rest of the owners (who would need a supermajority
maybe) or the commish prevent collusion, and give enterprising
owners a way to get some turnover without having to pay (or even
getting a mild reward).
Iím not aware of any leagues that have a policy like this
one, so I would be interested to hear from anyone who can comment
on how it works in practice. At first blush, the idea of paying
owners back for trades seems like a bridge too far to me. Itís
all too easy to imagine a couple of clowns trading their backup
QBs to each other all season long just to build up waiver wire
credits. However, the idea of waiving fees for trades (while enforcing
them for waivers) could be effectiveóespecially in leagues
with steep transaction fees.
Iím impressed to have received three solutions that are
all so different and yet all worth considering in different league
contexts. I hope they are helpful to readers like Jeremy, who
asked the question about encouraging trades and followed it up
by wondering about the possibility of tracking trades to see who
ďwonĒ the trading game at the end of the season.
The best answer I received to Jeremyís follow-up question
came from Robert, who wrote:
Really tough to call a winner on a fairly even trade without
context. The winner is whichever team was made better by the trade
and without knowing a team's strengths and weaknesses you just
That was exactly the conclusion I hoped some readers would reach
when evaluating the trade I mentioned (Odell Beckham Jr. &
Phillip Lindsay for Joe Mixon & John Brown). Part of the difficulty
of deciding who won the trade is that you canít determine
that answer simply by adding up the points of the players involved
in the swap. The team that ended up with Beckham presumably improved
at receiver, but we donít know whether Lindsay will even
make it into the lineup or merely sit on the benchówhich
is where Mixon might have been, since we donít know which
other RBs were on the team.
But the difficulty of settling on a formula to determine who
won the trade isnít even the real problem. The real problem
is that if owners are reluctant to engage in trading, youíre
unlikely to overcome that reluctance by telling them that the
bad deals they are already afraid to make will be tracked and
ranked at the end of the season.
In any case, my thanks go out to Jeremy for the question & everyone
This week’s question: Which
playmakers are poised to perform best in the fantasy playoffs,
and how do you plan to acquire them?
The question for Week 7 comes from Dan, who is already thinking
about which fantasy studs have the most favorable playoff schedule
(and how he can get them on his team):
Now that we have a good sample set through 6 games of the season,
what players are you looking to trade for based on playoff match-ups?
I have Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins as my QBs. While I love looking
at total points for the season and seeing Matt Ryan sitting squarely
at #2 when I drafted him in the 10th round, he has had a really
easy run with his early match-ups, has proven to have a really
low floor (8.84), and I don't particularly like his playoff match-ups
(21st, 25th, 15th in PA).
Cousins has looked pretty solid (#6 in total points this year),
but he is a bit more inconsistent - meaning it's hard to say if
a good match-up will actually translate to more points and vice
versa. He has also proven to have a low floor (10.04), and again
- I don't particularly like his playoff match-ups (32nd, 26th,
19th in PA).
I am fortunate to be sitting as the only 5-1 team in my league,
but I can very easily see a situation where I snag a playoff bye
and lose in Week 15 because Ryan or Cousins tanks that week.
The guy who I am aiming for is Cam Newton. Cam is quietly sitting
at #5 in points per game on the season. Let's also not forget
that he finished as the #2 overall QB last year. Cousins and
Ryan were #4 and #14 respectively. Cam has had pretty average
match-ups so far this season, but his floor is higher (16.38),
and he has many more positive match-ups the rest of the year,
with two GRAVY ones week 15 and 16. I'm trying to trade Ryan
for Cam straight up, or pair Ryan with another player if that
Dan makes an excellent point about how desirable a QB Newton is
for the fantasy playoffs. We just saw Atlanta & Tampa Bay
giving up a ton of points when they played each other in Week
6, so Dan is right to be excited about the QB who gets to face
those two defenses in Weeks 15 & 16.
I suspect whoever drafted Newton did so with those games in mind,
so Iíll be surprised if itís possible to acquire him
with a straight swap for Ryan, but the idea of packaging Ryan
with another player sounds very promising.
What other players do you see as having especially favorable
playoff schedules, and what would you have to offer their owners
to acquire them before the trade deadline in your league? Please
answer in the comment section below or by emailing
Survivor Pool Picks
Trap Game: Rams at 49ers
The biggest spread of the week has the Rams as 9.5-point favorites
for their visit to San Francisco. I would ordinarily urge caution
simply because this is a divisional matchup with the underdog
playing at home. But if thatís not enough to give you pause,
consider that the 49ersí C.J. Beathard has played capably
in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo for 3 weeks now. Did you think the
49ers could finish just 2 points behind the Chargers in Week 4
or just 3 points behind the Packers in Week 6? They were visitors
in both those games against those much better teams. But what
if they were at home against a much better team (as is the case
this week)? Could they actually steal the win? Iím not ruling
Pick #3: Buccaneers over Browns (5-1; GB, NO, CHI, LAC, CIN, car)
Baker Mayfield is amazing, but he canít pass the ball to
receivers who are no longer on his team (Josh Gordon) or healthy
enough to take the field (Rashard Higgins, Derrick Willies, &
Rod Streater). If you think Mayfield can waltz to victory in Tampa
Bay based on what he can achieve with Jarvis Landry and the RBBC
of Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb, & Duke Johnson, then you may have
a very accurate idea of how bad the Tampa Bay defense has been,
but you appear to have forgotten that the Bucs are averaging 448
yards of total offense & 28.2 points per game (as compared
to 366 ypg & 21.3 ppg for the Browns). Yes, the Browns will
probably make the Tampa defense look like a sieve; everyone does.
But will the Cleveland defense be better at containing Jameis
Winston, Mike Evans, & DeSean Jackson than the Falcons were?
If the defensive rankings are any indication, then the 28th-ranked
Brown defense should perform marginally better than the 30th-ranked
Falcons (which probably wonít be good enoughóat least
not on the Bucsí home turf).
Pick #2: Colts over Bills (4-2; no, LAC, hou, GB, CAR, MIN)
Despite their 1-5 record, the Colts are 7.5-point favorites at
home. That sounds about right to me based on important developments
for both teams. In the pros column for the Colts is the likely
return of WR T.Y. Hilton, who practiced in full on Wednesday.
In the cons column for the Bills is the fact that newly acquired
QB Derek Anderson will likely be under centerówith rookie
Josh Allen sidelined with an elbow injury and backup Nathan Peterman
inspiring anything but confidence in teammates & fans alike.
Of course anything is possible with teams as inconsistent as the
Colts & Bills. However, with Buffalo wrapping up a brutal
opening schedule of 5 road games out of 7, a new QB seems like
a great excuse for the Bills to phone this one in.
Pick #1: Chargers over Titans (5-1; BAL, LAR, min, JAX, NO, GB)
The Titans were shut out by the Ravens in Week 6. They should
do better against a Charger defense that is more porous than Baltimoreís,
but itís hard to see how a Tennessee offense that ranks
30th in the league can keep up with a Charger offense that ranks
5th. The Chargers are one of only 7 teams to generate more than
400 yards of offense per game (412.5); the Titans are one of only
3 to generate less than 300 (262.7). With that kind of differential
in productivity, Marcus Mariota will have to deliver serious heroics
to keep up with Philip Rivers, but I donít expect him to
be in an especially heroic frame of mind after being sacked 11
times by the Ravens.
Mike Davis has been writing about fantasy football since 1999--and
playing video games even longer than that. His latest novel (concerning
a gamer who gets trapped inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms)
can be found here.