With the final few weeks of the Fantasy Football regular season upon us, most GM’s are scrambling to optimize their rosters for that all important playoff push. While some are scouring the waiver wire in the hopes that Cecil Shorts is this year’s Victor Cruz, others are doing their homework trying to make the perfect deadline trade. After realizing that Sidney Rice and Jeremy Maclin aren’t the guys to bring the trophy home, you can fall back on my trade guidelines to help you pluck that perfect piece off of someone else’s roster.
1. Don’t put available players on your message boards. You might as well tell your entire league you hate these guys and are willing to be insulted with horrible trade offers. It gives the impression that your available players have clearance tags on them. This turns off some GM’s based on the pure fact that these guys must be tainted, and it attracts the vultures that smell a lop-sided deal. If you put your third running back up on a message board, I guarantee you will be offered someone’s fourth or fifth receiver. I know we are all busy, but laziness is never rewarded, nor should it be.
2. Don’t put your needs on a message boards. Again, you are just asking for your buddies to try and take advantage of you. I really hated when some sites started utilizing needs and available player categories. You would inevitably only see the guys who were about to be put on the waiver wire put up.
3. Don’t offer a trade and renege. This happens quite frequently with lazy GM’s. They offer a deal without looking at the bye weeks and playoff matchups, and when they receive a “yes” they pull out. You are straining a relationship that you will need for years to come, and in some cases, a friendship. Before you put out an offer, either through email, text, or verbally, be prepared to follow through.
4. Don’t send out mass emails with available players and needs. While this might sound redundant, it is actually very different from the message boards. People occasionally check the message boards in their league, but emails are seen instantly in most cases. The message boards might get you two or three bad offers whereas mass emails will have your inbox flooded with bad offers to sift through.
5. Don’t let yourself get trapped by bye weeks and fragile players. If you are banking on guys riding the eternally questionable tag, be prepared to get burned. When you draft multiple players with the same bye week and don’t plan ahead, you are practically begging for someone to throw you a terrible trade offer. This week we have Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Marshawn Lynch and Ahmad Bradshaw all on byes. If you had two of these guys as your starters you are looking at backup running backs or terrible trade offers to try and win a very important Week 11. If I am 5-5 right now, I might take a hit to try and get in the tournament. How big of a hit is all in the negotiation. I can see things like a Lynch for Ridley deal being completed by desperate owners in some leagues.
Do the Work
There is nothing more satisfying than winning a league thanks mostly to your in-season moves. Sure, some GM’s get lucky drafting a team that goes injury or suspension-free en route to a championship. But more likely than not, the guys who are constantly vying for the top spot are making key pickups and trades at critical points in the year. There is no more critical time then the weeks leading up to the playoffs.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Are you four-deep at running back but have to rub two sticks together to get a spark from your receivers? Has your tight end been M.I.A. since Week 2? Are your Defense and Kicker matchups ideal for the playoffs?
Where are you losing key points week to week? Are you constantly starting the wrong receiver? Has your lineup been on autopilot when it needed a hands-on driver?
Know your opponents’ weaknesses and strengths. Who stockpiled receivers or running backs? Who has injury issues? Who has a bye week dilemma? Who will take Eli Manning off my hands because he or she is still riding high from last season’s Super Bowl win?
Collect information. Every casual conversation should be an opportunity to gauge your opponent’s feelings about their team. Sometimes a simple mope up to the board on draft day will let you know a player is available. I especially love when GMs tell you they love your pick, or they really wanted that guy. If they wanted him on draft day, he might just be your buyer in Week 11.
Play to your Audience
Every trade is a delicate dance that needs to be approached in a personal way. Here are some characters that are always fun to deal with.
This GM is the type of person that thinks all strippers and waitresses are into them. If you stroke their ego a little you might just be able to get what you want. Praise them for their draft day foresight and pinpoint in-season pickups. After some heavy petting they might want to share their wealth with your struggling team.
This GM has been taken advantage of and is very leery of anyone who is interested in their players. A little honesty will go a long way with this GM. Tell them who you are after and why. Always have a second target on their team in mind as they will cling to that first bit of information as the bible truth. They tend to make fair counteroffers when almost all the cards are on the table.
This GM is all about the action. They cannot stand pat for a whole season, let alone week to week. Always let them know there is a trade in the works. They might be your pawn in making a deal possible for you. You may be competing with another team to trade for Jamal Charles who has some favorable playoff matchup. So you happen to let Mr. Vegas know that your competitor is trying to trade for a running back. They will instantly try to insert themselves in the trade activities. You might be able to distract your competitor long enough to pull off your trade.
The best trades are the ones that make both teams just a little bit better. Your rosters are like puzzles that need each other to finally see the picture. Sometimes on draft day you might not fit, but with free agent pickups and early season trades you evolve into perfect dance partners. This is why you should constantly be looking at your opponent’s rosters, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.
Recommended Trade Targets
QB – If you don’t have one by now you are most likely out of luck. The waiver wire might be your lifeline if Carson Palmer or Josh Freeman is still available.
RB – Jamaal Charles, Willis McGahee, Stevan Ridley (for his next few matchups), and Shonn Greene to a lesser extent.
WR – For a position that was as deep as I could remember it being in years, it has thinned out considerably through injury and ineffectiveness. Try and grab Denarius Moore, Marques Colston, Eric Decker, Jordy Nelson and Miles Austin.
TE – Antonio Gates, Jermaine Gresham, and Greg Olsen. You might be able to get Olsen as a throw in to tip the scales in your favor.