Welcome to our Knowledge Base article on Beginner Trade Tips! Below we outline considerations, thought processes, strategies for novices and beginners, and tips and tricks for your trades. If you’re looking for something more advanced, check out our Advanced Trade Strategies instead.
For many of you, this section may not be necessary at all. However, if you’re just starting in a fantasy league, or even just thinking about starting in one – this is for you.
What is a trade in fantasy football, and what can be traded?
A trade in fantasy football is as simple as trading assets to another team for different assets. Most often this is going to be trading players.
The option to trade, and what assets are available to trade, will be dependent on the league type and league rules. For example, a Best Ball league often does not allow trading at all.
Different league types, where rules allow, may have additional assets available to trade, not just players. For example, in nearly all Redraft leagues, waiver-wire currency – most often called FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Bidding) – is an option to trade as well.
In addition to FAAB, Dynasty, Empire, Keeper and Devy league types often allow future Rookie Draft picks to be traded as well. Going another step further, some Contract leagues may allow for additional considerations pertaining to the Contracts linked to a player.
If all this is Greek to you, no worries, we’re building our Knowledge Base with information to help understand each league type. Check out the content in the links, and let us know what we’re missing so we can continue to expand it for you.
As a team owner, you should nearly-always be looking for opportunities to improve your team and take down a championship. That typically means trading for an asset which will give you a competitive edge, or keep you in competition in the immediacy. This could be a player, and/or extra FAAB money to get the top Waiver Wire pickup.
For many, an injury to a key player forces their hand, as owners scramble to fill the void left by the injury. For some, drafting an abundance of players at one position allows them to trade those would-be depth players for key pieces at other positions. And for a lucky few, a breakout player offers abundance, creating additional trade capital, ideally used to improve their team.
In recurring leagues like Dynasty, Keeper, Empire or Devy leagues, trades may not be to improve your team immediately. It could instead mean selling off your older players to acquire younger talent and/or draft picks. The theory is, if you’re not in contention for a championship this year, you would want to sell players who may be in or past their prime in order to set yourself up for a championship run in 2, 3, or 4 years.
There are even strategies, like the Productive Struggle Strategy used in the various forms of Dynasty Leagues, which encourage trading premium short-term opportunities to set up long-term success.
When should you trade?
Timing for trades can sometimes be fickle, and often the prime windows are short. Some owners look to make sweeping changes immediately after a draft, and that may present the best opportunity to get value. If you’ve drafted sometime between May and early August, chances are good that training camp and pre-season will create opportunities for trade as player value can shift drastically in this time. If there is a trade deadline in your league, you may find owners are looking to make the most moves then.
Your league may have a trade freeze at one or multiple points, typically before the season starts and/or after a specific week. Make note of these, especially if you’re new to fantasy. There may be penalties for even attempting to trade, or worse if you’re among friends, very personalized league-long insults.
Throughout the year, opportunities will always be available due to injuries, breakout players, and sub-par performances. So keep your eyes open as every week can present new opportunity, but that trade window may not last long.
Novice Trade Considerations
Let’s kick off our tips & tricks with some novice level information. Unfortunately, just because these are “novice” doesn’t mean everyone uses them. In fact, I’d venture to say many of the most veteran fantasy footballers all too often forget or ignore some of these, especially these first two listings.
Be prepared to hurt a little
This needs to be understood before extending or reviewing an offer. A good trade is one which benefits both teams.
The only way both sides benefit painlessly is if each team has an abundance of assets at a position of need for the other, and is willing to part with their assets. This just doesn’t happen often. Meaning that in order for both sides to benefit, both sides – yourself included – are likely going to hurt a bit.
Follow Trade Etiquette
While not directly a strategy in-and-of itself, it’s important to understand, appreciate, and attempt to follow etiquette of negotiation and discussion. Put simply, treat your trade partner as you would want to be treated. Easy, right?
Here are some simple rules to follow to ensure you’re the trade partner everyone enjoys negotiating with:
- Review the Trade Block first
- Most leagues have a Trade Block visible to all owners which shows the players someone is looking to offload. This may give you a place to start.
- Don’t open negotiations with garbage
- Before you send your offer, look at it from the other owner’s perspective. Ask yourself, “Would I accept this?”. If your initial reaction is to scoff and/or laugh, put in a better offer. If it really makes you strongly consider it, you’re probably on the right track.
- Respond to offers/counter-offers sent to you, within 24-48 hours if possible, with one of the following:
- Accept the trade as-is
- Reject the trade outright
- Counter-offer with a different trade
- Message the sender with a response. Include your thoughts on the trade, on the player(s)/pick(s) being targeted, and what player(s)/pick(s) you are interested in from their team
- Start the dialog
- If your initial offer is rejected without a response, write them a note.
- DO NOT push them to make a decision.
- DO NOT “educate” them on how good your offer was, or how they would benefit. They’re grown adults – or close enough to it – to be capable of evaluating the cost/benefit without your help.
- ASK THEM if the player(s)/pick(s) you were trying to trade for are available, and if-so, what player(s)/pick(s) from your team would they want in return.
- If your initial offer is rejected without a response, write them a note.
- Respect the untouchables
- Some owners deem certain players the foundational building-blocks of their team; without those players, their team crumbles. As such, they often determine before any trade dialog begins which players they aren’t willing to move. Once that owner states a player is untouchable, leave it be. Don’t try throwing in an extra player or pick. Don’t ask what they’d want for him.
- Empathize with their response
- An accepted trade is one in which both owners feel like they’re benefiting, a good trade is one in which both owners are comfortable making it.
- You’re not going to agree with every other owner’s evaluations or considerations. You don’t have to. You just have to understand their position.
- Use the information you get from them to your advantage. They may not like the offer you sent them, but in your discussions they may have given you an “in” to offer an even better trade.
- Good trades are rarely a one-and-done scenario. Building a relationship of trust and mutual understanding with another owner may not land you a solid deal every time, but it can shoot you to the top of the other owner’s preferred trade partner list, providing opportunities in the future.
- Don’t be afraid of rejection
- When all is said and done, you may have put together a trade that seems a little lopsided in your favor. This is totally normal, you know what you want and what you’re willing to part with. Just because you see it as lopsided, doesn’t mean your trade partner will.
- In the worst case scenario, a well intentioned and thoughtful trade – even if your partner doesn’t deem it fair – will still typically open the door to negotiation.
- In the best case scenario, your offer may be just what your trade partner was looking for, and both of you win.
There’s a number of things you should be taking into consideration before you extend a trade, or potentially when evaluating a trade sent to you. Here are just a few of the basics.
- Your own roster
- What position are you strongest? Are you top-heavy, or do you have good depth?
- What position are you weakest? Are the cupboards completely bare, or do you have players with potential?
- In Dynasty/Empire/Keeper leagues, do you have draft picks that you’re willing to part with?
- Your trade partner’s roster
- What position do they need the most? What do they have an abundance of?
- Do they have multiple players with overlapping bye weeks?
- In Dynasty/Empire/Keeper leagues, what draft capital is available?
- Your scoring settings and starting requirements
- Understand your league type and scoring settings, and the implications they may have on player value before sending, accepting, or rejecting a trade.
- Make sure you understand the scoring settings, not every league is alike. One player’s value could be drastically different in a non-PPR league compared to a TE Premium league, or a TD heavy league.
- Make sure you know the starting requirements, and how that impacts a player’s positional value. For example, in a Superflex league – where a “Superflex” starting position allows for a RB, WR, TE, or QB – a Quarterback’s value is going to be significantly more than in a 1QB league.
- Players to drop
- Generally minor, but often overlooked. If your negotiations involve trading away one player and receiving two in return, be sure to look through your roster and determine who you would need to drop.
- In leagues with a small bench, that player could have standalone value that may affect your desire to make the trade.
- Alternatively, that player with standalone value could be another cog in the trade wheel. If you’re going to drop them anyway, it might not hurt to add them into your trade offerings as an attempt to seal-the-deal.
- Where are you at in the schedule
- If you’re in a league with a trade deadline, you will want to consider how far away that date is. You may not be able to think about that offer for very long if you’re butting up next to the deadline.
- Alternatively, you and/or your partner may be more inclined to make a deal the closer you get – especially if it could mean getting an edge in time for playoffs.
In addition to our own Trade Calculator (coming soon) and other Utilities, there are a number of other sites which use a Fantasy Trade Calculator. I recommend checking as many of them as you feel comfortable with. Your trade partner is likely looking at them too.
If you’re unfamiliar with Trade Calculators in general, check out our Utilities page where we break down how ours works. Other sites will have different methods – that’s why each calculator’s valuations are different – so it’s worth checking others out to get a better understanding of a player’s actual value.
With that said, don’t send them a screenshot of the trade calculator. Again – they’re grown adults – they can do their own homework, they don’t need your help.
Thanks for checking out our beginner trade strategies. Tune in to the next segment, Advanced Trade Strategies and Tips for Fantasy Football, to continue the fun. Do you have any tips and tricks for beginner fantasy players that you’d like to share? Join the conversation and drop a comment below!
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Looking for utilities to assist your teams? Take a look at our Trade Calculator, Trade Architect, Team Evaluator, or League Analyzer! Want to know how we come up with our player values? Take a look at the Utilities page.
Thanks to Getty Images for providing this featured photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images.
That guy who wraps up the #1 seed by week 13, dominates the points scored column, and gets blown out by the #8 seed in the first round of playoffs…annually. That’s Ben.
He’s also the guy who constructs a trade calculator for fun, and builds a fantasy football website when he wants to share his thoughts with the world.
As a Vikings fan and a poor golfer, Ben lives in a perpetual state of frustration. In his fun-time he’s a husband and proud father of two.