Fantasy Draft Strategy: Trading For Keepers
Fantasy Football is different in every league, whether it be your scoring system, the options to the starting line-up, or the rules to the off-season. You are usually a part of some kind of “house-rules” that makes fantasy recommendations difficult. Nevertheless, the NFL season approaches and the time grows even closer to when you have to announce your fantasy keepers, and for some of you the option of making a trade is constantly in the back of your mind.
Many fantasy football keeper leagues offer the ability to trade players or draft-picks for upgrades. The temptation to give away a high draft pick in return for a big name player is always very stressful. On one hand you could make a major upgrade to your team, on the other you could bury your season before it begins.
On the other side of the trade, the fantasy owner with the biggest crop of extra talent can have a yard sale of fantasy studs gaining wealth in the form of higher or additional draft picks. Most fantasy leagues have keepers ranging anywhere from 1 to 5 players, and the months leading to the draft are usually the busiest for making deals.
How do you know what to give up? And who should you go after?
Let’s start with a standard fantasy league that has 3 keepers, and pretend your best keeper-worthy player is Frank Gore. You have a handful of fantasy players that you used last year, but are unsure if they are worth hanging on to.
Most people think of keepers like developmental players, NFL sleepers that will turn into stars one day. I can’t stress this enough…you are confused and need to rethink the players you bring with you from year to year. Age is a factor, and ideally you want someone in the prime of their career; 2010 rookies or aging stars can lead to a disaster season.
Typically, the best way to think about keepers (in this case a 3 man keeper league) is to remind yourself that when you show up on draft day, you are really starting the draft in the 4th round, as everyone already has 3 players on their team. The amount of talent off the board depends on the amount of members in your fantasy league (10 members: 3 keepers=30 players, 12 members: 3 keepers=36 players…Really? Did I just give an example of grade 2 math?).
So…obviously…your 3 keepers should be ranked somewhere in this years projected top 3 rounds, or high on the top 100 list. If they aren’t…you shouldn’t be keeping them!
My team sucks, and I need to make a trade
Making a trade to upgrade your keepers can be done two ways:
- Give up a couple high ranked draft picks and study the hell out of sleeper lists (or)
- Trade away late round picks for quality production.
Trading for a big name player and giving up a first round pick can be a smart investment. Remember, using the example above: a 12-man, 3 keeper league pool means the first round pick of your draft is the 37th overall player to come off the board.
A first round pick for let’s say Michael Turner, gives you a high quality player for a draft pick that sounds valuable, but is really a pick in the 4th round. If you don’t believe me, write out all the trades in entirety, showing who that first rounder turned out to be…I guarantee it doesn’t translate into an equal trade.
For those who hate giving up high draft picks but have nothing great to keep heading into the new year, make a trade for production. What I mean is, go after guys that are solid tier 2-3 players. The best way to do this is send a league wide email, saying you are willing to part with a 4th round pick for a solid tier 2 player. See what comes your way and play each offer against the other: “Well, Jim said I could have “this guy” for a 4th rounder, and he is clearly better than what you are offering, would you take a 5th round pick?”
- Does your draft use the snake format when picking (1-12, 12-1)? If it does, then the first pick in the 3rd round is only one pick after the last pick in the 2nd round. And doesn’t a 2nd round pick sound so much better in the negotiations?
- The pick in return is important. Most leagues require an equal number of draft picks in the trade (ie: RB Michael Turner and a 5th for a kicker and a 1st), so research what pick you are getting back.
- Use the sales pitch: “There’s no way you’re going to be able to get him back on your team from where you’re picking, trade him to me and get a draft pick for nothing”
- The first round flip: Flipping positions in a round is an excellent way to not miss out on a first round talent and gain a decent tier 2-3 player in the process. Find someone who wants to move up, and tell them you will do it if they toss in a player they weren’t planning on keeping.
Good Luck! More questions and comments below or follow us @gridironexperts