Dynasty Football Trades: The Art of the Deal
In the previous article in this series, we discussed strategies and tips for dynasty football startup drafts. Once the startup draft has been completed, there’s still a lot of work to do, whether or not you’re pleased with your current roster. While your dynasty football roster can be built up and improved through rookie picks and waiver wire additions, trading with other teams plays a large factor as well. Here are some pointers to keep in mind as you’re making dynasty trades.
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Dynasty Trading Guidelines
Understanding the Trade Market
There are a bevy of resources on the internet that can give you a general sense of how the dynasty football community as a whole values a particular player. Average draft position (ADP), player rankings, trade calculators, articles, and podcasts are all useful guides in dynasty valuation. And of course, Twitter polls can also give you a sense of how many dynasty players feel about a certain player’s fantasy outlook. You may or may not agree with how a particular “expert” or set of rankings values a player, but knowing that player’s market value is a baseline for creating or evaluating any trade offer.
Once you understand what the consensus market valuation is on a player, you can then determine whether you value that player higher, lower, or the same as the rest of the community. By evaluating the inequity between consensus value of a player vs. your own valuation of that player, you can then find value in the difference between the two. Whether you are trading for a player you value more than the current market price or trading away a player you deem overvalued by the consensus, these trades can help you build a quality roster and acquire draft equity on the cheap.
It’s fairly easy to evaluate which positions are needs for your roster, but a good trade offer is composed of pieces that fill needs for both your roster as well as that of your potential trade partner. Remember that even if you send a fair offer along the lines of Tyreek Hill for Nick Chubb, it would make little sense for your potential trade partner to accept that if both of you already have ample wide receiver depth and share a similar need at running back. It also makes little sense to offer aging veteran players to rebuilding teams who are likely looking to acquire rookie draft picks and younger prospects. Trade offers are far more likely to be accepted if you account for your potential trade partner’s roster needs.
Timing the Market
Sometimes you may not need a particular player or depth at a position, but you should anticipate for changes in market value. This is why it’s essential to keep up-to-date on trade rumors, player salaries, and teams’ salary cap situations. Much of the dynasty football community is currently enamored with Austin Ekeler after the Chargers signed him to a four-year contract extension. This creates an opportunity to sell high on Ekeler if you don’t believe in him long-term for whatever reason. Conversely, if the Ekeler owner is likely to hold him in your league, this may be an opportunity for you to sell Justin Jackson to that owner prior to the NFL Draft if you believe that the Chargers will add a rookie running back to their roster in the coming months.
There are a multitude of potential dynasty trades to offer depending on how you are projecting free agency. With Ekeler now signed long-term in Los Angeles, Melvin Gordon will be a free agent to monitor. Depending on where you predict Gordon will sign, he could be a trade target to either acquire or sell right now in dynasty. If you are projecting him to be a likely workhorse in Tampa Bay, then his current dynasty value could be considered relatively cheap right now. But if you’re predicting that Gordon will be in a committee in Buffalo, then perhaps it’s time to sell him while you still can if he’s on your dynasty roster.
The NFL Draft is another difficult process to project, but the offseason is the best time to make trades if you believe certain outcomes are likely. It may be best to hold or acquire rookie draft picks right now, as they generally tend to increase in value after the NFL Draft, when some players shoot up draft boards based on landing spots. For instance, a top-three rookie pick may already be valuable now, but such a pick could still increase in value if Jonathon Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, and CeeDee Lamb are all drafted by teams with high-powered offenses.
There will also be cascade effects depending on what occurs during the upcoming NFL Draft, with one such case being Joe Burrow. While nothing is certain, it seems likely that the Bengals will select Burrow with their first overall pick. If you believe that is indeed what will happen, then A.J. Green should be a buy-low target. Though his value is currently depressed due to his age and injury concerns, Green’s market value will likely increase if/when Cincinnati officially drafts Burrow. Regardless of your opinion of Green, he may net you an easy profit if you believe that you can acquire him for a late second-round rookie pick right now and sell him for an early second-round pick or better post-NFL Draft.
Know Your League Mates
We discussed the importance of knowing your league mates in the startup draft strategy article, but it holds just as true for dynasty trade offers in general. This one can be easy if you know your league mates in real life. Of course that one Eagles fan in your league is going to overvalue players like Carson Wentz or be a good owner to target when trying to sell Alshon Jeffery. But even if you only just met these new league mates online, you can still get some insight into their valuations based on your league chats or from their Twitter feeds.
Perhaps a league mate who you don’t know in person has casually mentioned in the group chat that they love combine freaks who have blazing speed, in which case you could target Henry Ruggs in your rookie draft and then attempt to sell Ruggs to that owner at a markup. Or maybe a league mate you barely know has a Georgia Bulldogs logo as their Twitter profile picture. In that case, you might be able to trade down from the second overall rookie pick to the third overall rookie pick for a hefty profit if you believe that their target is D’Andre Swift, whereas you are targeting Jerry Jeudy. Understanding your league mates’ preferences and biases can be key in crafting dynasty trade offers that will maximize your return.
General Communication Etiquette
There is nothing worse than sending a trade offer and getting no reply. While we are all busy with work and everyday life, a timely reply to trade offers is always appreciated. Outside of emergencies and other rare exceptions, two to three business days should be the general rule of thumb. Don’t be “that guy” in your league that everyone knows is inactive and to whom it’s not worth sending trade offers.
Additionally, player valuations can vary widely between dynasty owners in many cases. Remember that you will likely need to deal with your fellow league mates for the foreseeable future, so there’s no need to take personal offense at a trade offer or to reply with snarky comments. Even if you feel as though a trade offer you receive is unreasonable, a simple reject and/or a reply of “I think our valuations on this player are too far apart for us to make a trade here” will suffice. There’s no need to burn bridges with a league mate and ruin the chance to make a potential trade with him or her in the future.
Remember these guidelines as you send, receive, and evaluate dynasty trade offers this offseason. Good luck wheeling and dealing out there.
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