To Trade or Not to Trade
The reason we love trading, and the etiquette that comes with it.
By Johan Lang
A fantasy prophet once sat down during week eleven to watch his predictions come true when he was asked the following questions by a novice.
Novice: Why can’t I ever get enough of trading?
Prophet: Because your team can always be better.
Novice: Will my team ever be complete?
Novice: What can I do to make it better?
Thus the cycle begins, and even when it ends, whether it is championship or elimination, it never really ends now does it. Trading is the most divisive part of fantasy sports. It is one of two ways to improve your team, and doesn’t involve any luck whatsoever, but rather your ability to know your hand and how to read theirs. The robbery of a good trade is euphoric, while to be taken for a fool can be season ending. If there was an art form in fantasy sports it would be in your ability to “talk trade” until the deal you wants get done. You watch as an accept button gets pushed, then Arian Foster pulls a hammy in a preseason game a week later or Hanley Ramirez decides to take the summer off. The waiver wire is all about luck, but it’s in the trade where the real action takes place.
The beauty of trading isn’t just in the trade and its aftermath itself either, but in the negotiations. It’s the only time in your life that you will be a general manager of any sort of team or athlete other than your child’s. The future of your team is in your hands while you get to play Brian Cashman with “your guys” who not only don’t know you, but think your “sick”. Everyone negotiates differently too, and that’s where the snakes in the grass really lie. Below is a list of negotiation partners you can expect to find in your league.
- The Ask for way too much guy: The guy who is willing to put up some nice pieces, but in the end it’s his way or the highway. He will never lowball you, but expect to pay at least market value for the guy you want from him and more.
- Insanely lopsided offer guy: Sure he will generalize it with some out of the blue statement claiming you needed depth at tight end or how good RB 3 could be on my team. The problem with insanely lopsided offer guy is that he won’t ever part with his studs. At best you end up making a lame trade that neither of you were really into if at all. He is the guy that gets you excited to see a trade offer, but when you find out it’s him you just click rejected and move on with your day.
- The Stoner/Uninterested: You will start talks, you may even make progress, but he will forget about it, you will become annoyed because you’re not making progress and the cycle will repeat.
- The I know there is a trade here guy: No matter how many times you try and make the pieces fit they just don’t. Your trade has already expanded from four to eight. He is persistent and will get his way if you let in, beware, sometimes they just need to be told no. Otherwise your inbox will suffer.
- The You only get one shot to impress guy: You better offer this guy a good deal, because if you don’t you won’t be getting a counter offer. It better be fair and it better help him or don’t bother.
- The Let’s make a deal guy: He sends you an email with a base of a deal, by the end of the day you have something worked out and your done before dinner. We need more people like this guy.
- The Irrational view of his player guy: There is one in every league. He is probably emailing you right now about how he is thinking about pondering about considering sitting down and putting CJ Spiller on the trading block, but is worried he may break out. Probably in 8th by the end of the year, but it was because he got insanely unluckily. Best way to work with this guy is ask for his best player and nothing else. You probably don’t want anything else anyway.
- The something up his sleeve guy: Much like the guy who wants to make his trade a three way deal, this owner always has something waiting in the background. He really wants you to make this trade with him, but can’t explain exactly why. Does he have another trade already in the waiting; are you just a pawn to his next trade? Be careful around these sharks, when they smell blood they attack.
- The Mad Scientist: Beakers has a formula that you just can’t seem to figure out. He took two quarterbacks in the first three rounds of the draft, picked up Blount, Law firm, and Tolbert before they blew up and has won without even playing a kicker. Who knows whats going on in his fantasy brain but his track record can’t be ignored. When he offers you a trade do you accept?
Negotiations need to be handled differently with every owner, just as fantasy relationships are built and burned during the art of the deal. Nothing feels better than completing a trade though, not only do you feel as if you improved your team, but you can officially call this a productive day. Remember, whenever you pull a heist make sure you are gracious. There is a reason Mangini stopped taking Mike Tannebaums calls, he was being ripped off every time. Thanks for Sanchez by the way (Braylon too).
At TradeDebate we recommend following something similar to what is below.
Step 1: Preparing and Planning - Determine what you have and what you can give up. Gather information on the other owner as far their negotiating style and anticipate what their needs are. Identify who you won’t trade is always step one, then who you are willing to part with, and finally assess your junk. You aren’t trading your junk, at best you can use them to leverage some value, but don’t start with it. In this analysts opinion being fair in assessing how your trade will help your opponent’s team is paramount.
Step 2: Setting The Tone - How you approach the trade will greatly determine the likelihood of you being able to work out a deal. “Hey I am interested in these guys, I’ll offer some of these guys,” and just like that you have your base.Present the starting offer and listen for new ideas as it gets figured out.
Step 3: Exploring Underlying Needs - Figure out where difficulties may exist and explore alternatives. How can you make the valuations work? Who needs to be thrown in here without offsetting equality or each other’s team?
Step 4: Reviewing and Recapping the Agreement - Formalize the trade offer and send it through on your fantasy site. High five somebody.
Step 5: Reviewing the Negotiation (Optional) - Think about what went well and what can be improved next time. When it was all said and done were you happy that you made the trade?
From this point on it is up to you to find a trade partner and negotiate, your outcome is in your hands (and ours) and your opponent valuation of those players. Wherever you find yourself on the negotiation table above though, may you live with honor and trade with dignity.
Debate. Trade. Win.