You know that you should look for moments to buy low and sell high. But successfully consummating deals to carpe those diems requires cultivating more subtle psychological skills. Here, four guidelines to wheel and deal by.
Walk A Mile In Your Trading Partner's Shoes
Take a moment to look over opponents' rosters and recent results. Look beyond the initial questions of what you need and who they could spare and think about the fantasy pain they’re going through. Imagine the frustrations you’d be feeling if you were setting their lineup. Are they hamstrung roster-wise at a certain position during the week of a crucial matchup? Is there a spot in their lineup where they can’t ever seem to pick the right guy? The ideal fantasy football trade — and the one that gets done the most often — is one that makes everyone feel good.
Don't Get Too Hung Up On Value
You win a trade when it improves your starting lineup without compromising too much of your depth — even when you give more total value than you get in return. Often there will only be one team that has the right combination of needs and assets for you to work with, so you can't get picky. If you have a starting quality running back on your bench every week and a problem at quarterback, it's more important to improve your quarterback position immediately than it is to wait three weeks trying to find another trade partner who can get you full value for the running back languishing on your bench. Giving a little more than you want to can also pay off down the line. You’re building a reputation here. How you conduct your business will be noted by other owners and used to decide whether to even entertain your offers. Being known as likeable and easy to work with will give you a big advantage in roster flexibility.
Let Them Feel Like They're Leading The Dance
You can initiate negotiations with an opening offer or declaration of interest in a player, but from that point on, you want it to be the other party’s show. Prompt them to set the parameters of the deal and ask them deferentially for their evaluation of certain players. For one, they’ll feel better about any potential trade if they feel like they masterminded it. For two, any information they give you about their intentions/valuations of players can eventually be useful even if the particular trade you’re working on doesn’t happen.
One good way to follow this rule: give others the power to make choices whose outcomes don’t matter to you. Determine players that are roughly equivalent on your or their roster and incorporate the option into the deal. “You can have Wes Welker and either Ryan Williams or Beanie Wells.” “I’ll take any one of the Dallas receivers.”
Be Outgoing, Not Pushy
As we mentioned above, you want to be the guy that people go to with their offers. And to get to that point have to knock on the door to get their attention. Be willing to throw offers/inquiries out to multiple owners weekly. Let your whole league know that players are available via trade in a leaguewide email or on the league message board. Rejection of an opening offer isn’t a bad thing because you can use it to invite them to make a counter or gauge their interest in players on your trade block. Remember, you never know what the answer is until you ask. Every time you see someone else make a trade that bothers you because you wish you had done it, use that as an impetus to start some trade talks so you don’t miss out on the next sweetheart deal.
Of course, there's a fine line between being an active owner who stokes interest in the league and is generally fun to compete with and being a pest who gets your email added to your leaguemates' spam folders. In exchanges with your potential trade partner, make sure to give some of the reasoning that has led you to the offer — just as you value any information about a fellow owner's state of mind, sharing your thoughts up front can turn a nuisance into a conversation starter. Mention something you noticed about their team ("Man, you would have won if Fred Jackson hadn't gotten hurt." "Thanks for shutting up [vanquished douche] last week!"). Fantasy football is about competition, but it is also about friendship and shared experience. You want to connect the idea of trading with you to those ideals. Being friendly and forthcoming turns a "what can you do for me" interaction into something that fosters what drives fantasy football — our love of the game.
Sigmund Bloom, a Football Guys staff writer, lives in Austin.