Fantasy Trade Advice Week 7
Evaluating trades isn’t something you can cookbook, and adding multiple players to each side of a trade further complicates matters. So what’s the best way to go about evaluating a trade proposal? I accepted a large trade this past week, and as I was discussing the trade with a friend over the weekend, I realized that it would be the perfect example to walk through how I look at trades.
As you read this, you will see a lot of familiar ideas – ones that I’m sure you are already considering when evaluating trade offers. However, their relative importance is often overlooked, and that’s the focus here.
Specifically, I’ve broken up the evaluation into Critical Factors and Tiebreakers. The Critical Factors are (obviously) the important ones; if you hit most or all of them, you should do a trade even if you don’t meet the tiebreakers. The Tiebreakers will become important when a trade is too close to call after looking at the Critical Factors.
Trade Evaluation Tool
Here is the trade I executed last week (10 team league, standard scoring, non-PPR):
I gave up:
I am going to walk through a trade evaluation using this trade as an example. While these guidelines really help to break down a large trade, they are equally useful in smaller trades (and can make the answer very obvious). Each Critical Factor is broken up as follows:
Goal: Description of the particular factor.
Explanation: Why the factor is important.
Example: How the factor applies to the example trade above.
Result: Whether or not I satisfied the goal using the example trade.
Before we jump into the evaluation, I want to share something from the weekend: click here to see the conversation I overheard between Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh after the Michigan/Michigan State game
I’m really glad they can still be friends after their offseason breakup. Now let’s jump in:
Critical Factor #1: Identify the best player in the deal
- Goal: Receive the best player in the deal.
- Explanation: A great place to start with any trade offer is who is receiving the best player. It’s a primary goal of every trade, and it’s a great way to simplify a large trade.
- Example: WR Julio Jones, despite his relatively quiet last couple of weeks, is definitely the star of this trade, and he’s going on my roster.
- Result: Yes, the trade meets this goal (1 of 1 Critical Factors met).
Critical Factor #2: Identify the stud players in the deal
- Goal: Receive more stud players than your opponent.
- Explanation: This is a bit more difficult than identifying the best player, but it’s still pretty easy. The reason to look at the trade in this fashion is simple: stud players win you the league. Focus on both upside and dependability; studs have both. A good rule of thumb: if you are in doubt about a player being a stud, the answer is probably no.
Example: Let’s look at the trade but only considering the stud players:
Give: RB Arian Foster,
RB Jeremy Hill, WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR James Jones
RB Latavius Murray, RB C.J. Anderson, WR Julio Jones, WR Randall Cobb
That makes things simpler, doesn’t it? It’s now basically a 2 for 2 swap. I also think my opponent is getting the better of me in this regard, albeit only slightly. Beckham, while not quite the target monster that Jones is, still possesses monster upside. Cobb hasn’t been performing lately because of his injury, while Foster has been heavily involved since returning from injury.
- Result: No, the trade does not meet this goal (1 of 2 Critical Factors met).
Critical Factor #3: Assess how the trade will help/hurt your starting lineup and depth.
- Goal: Increase overall roster upside, focusing on starting lineup.
- Explanation: It’s critical to consider our starting lineup and depth with and without the trade. I know that you know that already. So let’s take a look:
RBs on my roster: A. Foster, F. Gore, C. Ivory, J. Hill, Chris Johnson
WRs on my roster: O. Beckham Jr., A.J. Green, James Jones, W. Snead
I start 2 RBs, 2 WRs, and a FLEX every week. And now you see another reason why this deal looked good to me. While Foster is a great player, I still have Chris Ivory, Frank Gore, and Chris Johnson on my bench. Even without Foster, I have one stud RB (Ivory) and two others that I feel good about. If this were a PPR league I might value Foster more, but it’s not, so I don’t. Meanwhile, my WRs are thin outside of Beckham and Green.
- Result: Yes, the trade meets this goal (2 of 3 Critical Factors met).
Critical Factor #4: Assess current values of each player
- Goal: Buy low on studs; sell high on non-studs.
- Explanation: You have probably seen ‘buy low, sell high’ a billion times during your fantasy football career. That’s exactly what this is (notice how it is just one of the four critical factors for me when evaluating a trade; important, but certainly not everything).
Example: Let’s have a look at the player values in the example trade. Each player is rated as stud or non-stud, with a high, average, or low current value.
For players you are giving away, the ideal case is selling high on non-studs; in my case, I am doing that twice. Jeremy Hill’s value is inflated by his TD number, while James Jones is unlikely to keep producing a TD every week on his limited # of passing targets (just 29 on the season, which is actually one fewer than Richard Rodgers’ 30). Also, avoid selling low on your own stud players. This trade passes that wicket, as Foster and Beckham are producing and thus my opponent is valuing them as such. Sure, Beckham isn’t matching last year’s torrid pace, but that’s probably because defenses are actually paying attention this time around.
For players you are receiving, the ideal case is buying low on studs. In this case, I am doing that twice. If Jones and Cobb were producing the way they did to begin the season, there is no way my opponent would have offered me this trade. Anderson isn’t valuable to me, and Murray has been very inconsistent, but I’m at least buying low on both, and remember, I have a ton of RB depth, so I don’t need to count on those guys to win.
- Result: Yes, the trade meets this goal (3 of 4 critical goals met).
Critical Factor Summary
Goal #1: Receive the best player? Yes.
Goal #2: Receive more studs than your opponent? No.
Goal #3: Increase overall upside on roster, focusing on starting lineup? Yes.
Goal #4: Buy low on studs; sell high on non-studs? Yes.
Since I’ve satisfied 3 of the 4 goals in the first tier (the most important one), by my own logic, I should accept the trade. Which I did. It’s a huge move, and one that has risk to be sure, but I think it gives me a better chance at a championship roster.
What about playoff schedules? Injury risks? Bye weeks? Some of these factors are important but not critical, while others are pretty meaningless. Here’s a brief explanation of some secondary factors to consider as tiebreakers:
Active/inactive nature of your league and trade partner. Is your opponent someone who has been sending you offers and counteroffers every week? Or is he/she one of those, “oh my lord, they actually responded to my trade offer?!?!” types? Is your league active in the trade market, or are you lucky to see even one or two trades over the entire season? The goal here is to understand that you can give up some overall value if getting a slightly better offer in the future seems unlikely.
Playoff strength of schedule. This one is self-explanatory: improve your roster’s overall playoff matchups. Consider where I’ve put this one (tiebreakers, not critical factors). Predicting strength of schedule is possible, but difficult. If you want to see some more info on the fantasy playoffs, click here.
Relative positional value. Does your league start 2 RBs and 3 WRs? Are TEs receiving 1.5 points per reception instead of 1? How many points are QB TDs worth? Here’s where you can start looking at those types of questions. Obtain players at a higher relative positional value. Generally speaking, QBs have the lowest positional value because there are usually a couple that can be started from the waiver wire (this won’t be true in 2-QB leagues).
Future injury risk of relevant players. Another one that is self-explanatory. Again note that I consider this a tiebreaker, since predicting injuries is virtually impossible. If players are already hurt, you should definitely factor that into their overall value above (which I did with Randall Cobb, for example).
Number of players giving/receiving. Creating an extra roster spot is always a good tiebreaker to look at for trades because, by adding a waiver wire player, you are getting value for free.
Bye weeks. This is another one that can be important, but is best used as more of a tiebreaker. If the player we trade for and the player we trade away have point totals so close to each other that the bye week matters, then we haven’t executed a good trade. We are trying to get the studs who will put up enough points for this not to matter.
The purpose of this post was to give you some insight into how I evaluate fantasy football trades. Chances are that you already consider most or all of the factors I’ve described, which is awesome. The important thing to think about is how these factors are important relative to one another. If you keep looking at trades prioritizing the 4 Critical Factors I’ve identified above, success will find you.
Finally, keep sending trade offers my way (@JJRaleigh87)! I’ve been getting around 4 per week from you all. Next week you’ll get to see how I’ve performed advising you (hint: it’s pretty darn good :) ).
Jack’s undying love for football dates back to his earliest days: bravely sporting Green Bay Packers attire in his hometown of Minneapolis, MN, while playing football every day after – and drawing plays on his notebooks during – school. After five years as a U.S. Naval officer, Jack has become a nuclear engineer for the Department of Energy by day and an aspiring football mind by night. Jack’s interests include fantasy football (both standard and daily leagues), weekly NFL point spreads, and the NFL draft. A steady advocate of data-driven predictions, Jack leverages his technical background to compile and analyze large football data sets, highlighted by an Excel spreadsheet of every single NFL draft pick since 1965. Jack can also be found drawing coverage away from fellow author Brian Jester in flag football leagues on the National Mall in Washington, DC.