Last Week’s Question
In last week’s column, I
promised readers a survey of the responses I received concerning
the attitudes of FFers when they propose or adopt a trade. I also
solicited feedback concerning actual trades that had been proposed
in actual fantasy leagues around the world, whether the trades were
ultimately accepted/approved or not. I’ll start this week’s
column by discussing the attitudes of active fantasy traders. Then
I’ll invite readers to help me make sense of the information
I received concerning actual proposed trades.
Scott’s insightful analysis of fantasy football is an excellent
place to start:
Like everything in life, there are two kinds of
fantasy football owners - those that see trading as a way of trying
to "pull a fast one" on a fellow owner, and those that
at least try to trade fairly. I couldn't agree more that a majority
of fantasy owners fall into the former category, and only trade
if they feel like they will be the clear (and present) "winner"
in the trade.
Something about this question brought out long, thoughtful responses
from readers, such as this one from Tom:
That being said, it seems to me that the best approach to trading
is "laissez faire/caveat emptor." If you constantly
try to pull off the "Rex Grossman for Donovan McNabb"
trade, you lose credibility, and other owners won't trade with
you based solely on the perception that you are trying to screw
them, even if the trade might be objectively fair. On the other
hand, if another owner has a glaring hole in his roster, and you
can fill it without crippling your own team, it only makes sense
that you should try to maximize your value. It's a delicate line.
In my experience, 90% of trade offers are of the "my high
name recognition but crappy/underperforming player for your emerging
quasi stud" variety. Owners want to get rid of their trash,
and never want to sacrifice their depth. When you try to counteroffer
one of these trades with something that is remotely fair, the
other owner almost always loses interest. In my leagues, there
are two or three other owners that understand the concept of offering
value for value, and those are the guys you end up doing business
with. And dealing with those guys is what makes trading fun. I
don't consider a fantasy season very fun unless I can execute
at least one good trade. In my experience, the same guys who trade
fairly are usually the guys at the top of the standings, while
the idiots looking for a "win" end up with the same
crappy team they drafted, and never improve.
Personally, I will only consider trades when they
mutually benefit both parties. They need to be true "win-win"
solutions. Perhaps my attitude is different because I am the league
commissioner -- and it would be improper for me to take advantage
of a less-experienced team owner. After all, per our league rules,
I am supposed to veto any trades that are inequitable. But the
reality is that even as a newbie to fantasy football, the win-win
concept was always how I approached trades.
I received a similarly thoughtful answer from Chad (who also provides
us with insights into various trading personalities):
I suspect that people's attitudes regarding trading fantasy players
reflect their values and their general approach to life. I've
noted several "personality types" when it comes to trading:
"Shy" - These owners keep to themselves. They never
initiate trade offers, and they quickly turn down any that come
"Shyster" - These are the guys who offer Lamont Jordan
and the Steeler Defense for Larry Johnson.
"Hot and Cold" - These owners always seek to acquire
last week's hot player and want to dump any player who has 1-2
"Can't Say No" - Some owners will accept just about
"Win-Win" - Owners who trade in a way that benefits
One last thought, I've been in league where there was not a single
trade all year. How boring! Trading needs to be encouraged. It
spices things up.
I think trade success in general depends on the
type of league, the personalities of the owners, and player value.
I've found that the biggest obstacle is opposing views on a player's
value. For example, if an owner was trying to pluck one of my
sleepers that I viewed favorably, they might low-ball with a mediocre
veteran. The veteran is far less valuable, in my eyes, than someone
I've done my homework on and am relatively sure will have a breakout
year. Personalities are a big factor as well: some owners only
offer trades that are relatively close in the "fairness"
What astonished me most about the response to my question was that
although so many readers wrote in with an analysis of various “trading
personalities,” I was able to find four relatively lengthy
responses with so little overlap. Consider what Jeffrey added to
the discussion of Tom and Chad:
In a new dynasty league, I've recently experienced owners feeling
each other out, so to speak, by offering ridiculously lopsided
offers in an effort to test out those they don't know well and
to determine who might be the "weaker" member. Once
you learn who the chumps are/are not, trade offers become much
more thought out and equitable. One owner type I've encountered
that is particularly interesting is the "trade whore".
This is the person that HAS to make a transaction or 5 happen
because he is anxious and impatient, especially for the season
to start. This owner will often make a bad decision for the sake
of consummating a deal quickly. If this owner comes to you two
weeks before the season starts, keep playing along until you get
something you like because the "trade whore" won't quit
until he/she gets his/her fix.
As far as whether an owner wins or loses, it depends on the format:
in a redraft setup, its not a big deal to fleece some guy out
of his best player(s) because it’s only a short term proposition,
so long as you don't plan on trading with that person next year
(be careful because you might develop a reputation). In a keeper
format, the health of the league might be jeopardized if the trade
is too one-sided, which is where a commissioner comes in.
In leagues I care about, my approach is to broach the subject
with a marginal (but plausible) trade offer that I can build from
if I get any interest back. If the response is well reasoned and
positive, I know something can likely be worked out to the satisfaction
of both sides. If not, well... forget it and move on. Note to
the newbs, if you don't like a trade offer, don't respond with
an insult. Make a reasoned response and keep it civil ('I don't
want to because player X is over-hyped' would be acceptable as
opposed to 'what are you, an idiot?') because you might need to
swing a trade later and, if you are a jerk, you just lost a possible
A trade can be a win-win solution, a win-lose, or a lose-lose
solution. If you make a trade and have to ask if you "won
or lost," you are either so clueless that you should not
be making trades or probably made a bad deal and lost. A successful
owner will not make a trade that they do not believe has some
benefit for their team, essentially making it a better group than
when they began. You might not always be right, but if you don't
think you made a good choice when you hit that authorize button,
you shouldn't have done it.
This is my main strategy: work the combinations, and keep talking
until you get something you like. Don't be afraid to walk away
if it’s not going anywhere. Never make your best offer the
first time. Guess that is pretty simple.
In order to have other owners want to trade with
you, the trade offers you put out must be win-win. In my league
we have a group of owners who either want to decisively win their
trade or consistently over-value the players they are offering.
Generally, these are the same owners that criticize other team
owners for "not getting enough", and try to squash trades.
Mike’s response is the fourth that fits into this mold:
There is another group of owners who try to offer a player the
other team might need. Generally, this involves bench players
that fill a need and start on the recipient's team. It turns out
that these owners make trades and the other owners don't (and
When I need a player, I scan the league rosters. First I look
for players I could easonably get to fill my need. Usually, they
are not starters on those teams. Then I look for which teams a
player on my team will fill a need. The teams that make trades
tend to be more successful than the other group largely because
of depth (surprise?).
I would assume that most trades are heavily based
on needs. Bye-weeks, injury fill-ins,etc. I look at any offers
openly and my league's owners are all local, so discussing over
the phone works also. If I can see an upgrade to my team, I'll
consider the offer, my decisions are based on my depth at position
and bye-week fill-ins.
My thanks to everyone who responded to my question, and particularly
to those who took the time to write such in-depth responses.
My league has that one owner that always has his team on the trading
block and haspulled off multi-player and 3-way trades over the
years. Those are the owners you have to watch out for and scrutinize.
He can talk up any middle-tier player as if he was a 1st round
draft (e.g. Matt Jones for Chad Johnson). A lot of his trades
depend on who's hot and who's struggling. The buy low theory for
a top tier player versus a hot streaky player.
This Week’s Question
I received more responses than I could count when I asked for people
to write in with trades that had actually been proposed in their
leagues this year. When I posed the question, I had the idea of
asking readers to rank the trades from most balanced to most lopsided,
but I don’t think many readers would be willing to rank as
many trades as I have to choose from, so I have instead selected
12 trades that I think of as representative of the responses I receive.
My objective is to compile a ranking of trades (based on the responses
of readers) that commissioners can use to calibrate their own sense
of what seasoned FFers consider fair.
I am therefore asking readers to review the following list of trades
and to rank them from 1 (most balanced) to 12 (most lopsided). Furthermore,
I am requesting that those who respond break the list into three
After you review the list of proposed trades below (which are listed
alphabetically by the last name of the first player traded), you
might generate a list that looks something like this:
- Lopsided, but acceptable
- Dangerously lopsided (potentially collusive or a threat to the integrity
of the league).
1) Trade A
2) Trade B
3) Trade C
Lopsided, But Acceptable
4) Trade D
5) Trade E
6) Trade F
7) Trade G
8) Trade H
9) Trade I
10) Trade J
11) Trade K
12) Trade L
Here is your list of actual trades proposed so far in 2006:
- Shaun Alexander for Larry Fitzgerald (12-team redrafter)
- Shaun Alexander and Willie Parker for Larry Johnson and Warrick
Dunn (10-team redrafter)
- Tiki Barber for Torry Holt (14-team redrafter)
- Larry Fitzgerald (2nd-round selection) for Frank Gore (6th-round
selection) – (10-team keeper)
- Larry Fitzgerald for Deuce McAllister (8-team redrafter)
- Antonio Gates and Marques Colston for Ahman Green (12-team
- Muhsin Muhammed (7th-round selection) and Warrick Dunn (4th-round
selection) for Shaun Alexander (1st-round selection) and Lee
Evans (8th-round selection) – (12-team keeper)
- Chad Johnson and LaMont Jordan for Vince Young (12-team keeper;
hold any 4 players)
- Kevin Jones and Michael Jenkins for Santana Moss (10-team
- Jamal Lewis and Benjamin Watson for Terrell Owens (8-team
- Willie Parker for Laveranues Coles (12-team redrafter)
- Jason Witten for Rod Smith (8-team redrafter)
Trap Game: Detroit at Minnesota –
The Viking defense is beatable by an offense that has a balanced
attack. And because the Viking offense has not lit up the scoreboard,
more pressure is placed on that unit to keep the game close. The
Lions desperately want to win their first game of the season.
Jon Kitna is playing well, and the Lions have found a wide receiver
to play opposite Roy Williams in Mike Furrey while Mike Williams
rides the bench. Top that off with the fact that the Lions are
comfortable on turf inside and this has the makings for upset.
Oh and by the way, this happens to be a divisional rival.
#3: Indianapolis over Tennessee (3-1
Okay, if you have Indy left in your Survival Pool, now may be
a good time to use them. It is official, Vince Young will start
for the Titans, and Dwight Freeney and company are licking their
chops. As more than an 18 point underdog playing on the road,
this game could get ugly fast. Someone some week will lose to
Tennessee this season, just don’t look for it to happen
#2: New England over Miami (4-0 Season):
Tom Brady and company convincingly beat the Bengals last week
with a power running game and some controlled passing. The Dolphin
defense is better at stopping the run than Cincinnati, 94 yards
per game versus 144, but they really haven’t played anyone
good besides the Steelers. On the other side of the ball, Daunte
Culpepper is close to being benched since he still does not have
the mobility needed to elude the pass rush allowed by a poor offensive
line. While Joey Harrington may not be the Dolphins’ savior,
he is used to throwing on the run from his days in Detroit. Look
for New England to make a statement in this game and make a serious
claim for the AFC East title.
#1: Chicago over Buffalo (3-1 Season):
For a team that won its division last year, Chicago has one of
the easiest schedules in the NFC. They still have games left against
the Lions, San Francisco, NY Jets, Buccaneers, Packers and Cardinals.
Buffalo is not a bad team, as they have shown that they can move
the ball, but scoring is a problem for them. And this week the
Bears defense, which is ranked 1st in the NFL in points against,
could shut them out. If it wasn’t for the new-found offense
that the Bears have, this game could have been won 2-0.
3 - (2-2) - Bears over Bills:
Chicago is rolling. I can't think of any reason why they shouldn't
continue to do so at home this week.
2 - (4-0) - Panthers over Browns:
Steve Smith is back, and Carolina is starting to live up to expectations.
They should overpower the Browns easily at home.
1 - (4-0) - Colts over Titans:
I hope this doesn't take much explanation. The Colts face some stiffer
competition the next couple of months, so if you haven't used them,
this is a great time to do so.
For responses to this week's fantasy question or to share your
LMS picks, please email
me no later than 10 a.m. EST on Wednesdays during the football
Readers who want to have their fantasy questions answered live,
on the air, by Mike Davis are invited to tune into FFEXradio
on Friday afternoons at 5:00 p.m. EST. Archived
programs are also available.