StrategyOctober 16, 2008

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Creating a Successful Trade Offer

By David Vauthrin

In the evolving world of fantasy sports, one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how people struggle to make good trade offers. Look, I understand the point of trading is to improve your team, but do you really think I’ll take your Andre Miller for my Chris Paul straight up? I think it’s safe to say if Paul is healthy that offer gets rejected every time. But fear not, as I am here to provide a few basic tips that will help every owner create win-win trade proposals.

1) Know your rosters.

I know it’s not basketball related, but recently in my Madden 2009 online league an owner tried to trade Fred Taylor and another player for Brian Westbrook. On the surface that looks like a fine idea, as Taylor is a 94 rated player to Westbrook’s 97 rating. However, the Westbrook owner had Adrian Peterson and Clinton Portis at running back, so he had no need for Taylor. The same thing applies in Fantasy Basketball. If I own three really good shooting guards, it isn’t a good idea offer me a shooting guard as the centerpiece of your offer. The way to create a good trade offer here is to find my weaknesses or strengths (works really well in head-to-head formats) and offer a deal that addresses them while benefiting your team.

2) Know your rotisserie standings.

In a rotisserie league, you can approach trade offers different ways. One idea is to offer to improve somebody’s weakness to improve a weakness on your team. This is as simple as trading Jermaine O’Neal to a team that needs blocks for T.J. Ford when you need assists. Furthermore, the concept of punting categories also can be an asset in trade talks. Let’s say team A is dead last in your league in blocks but they have Josh Smith and acquiring him would net you valuable points. However, they are decent in assists and you have an extra point guard to spare. It would be a smart idea to offer a point guard around Smith’s value to team A’s owner. They will see the deal as improving their team, but you know it improves your team as well. Also, you can work a deal where you both are punting categories. For example, if they have Josh Smith and no other shot blockers and you have Jose Calderon with no other assist threats, a Smith for Calderon deal is a logical swap as long it isn’t harmful to other categories. Finally, you can make a deal where you hurt the teams right in front or behind you in the standings indirectly. For example, if I’m dominating the league in blocks by so much that nobody can catch me, it would be a good idea to trade a strong blocks guy to a team that can steal points from my competitors in that category.

3) Know your head-to-head league standings.

In a head-to-head league, a team’s overall record plays a big part in trade offers. If a team falls to the bottom of your standings after a month or two, that is a perfect time to find a struggling or injured star on their team and make a buy-low offer. For example, recently I offered an owner Bernard Berrian and Lance Moore for Braylon Edwards in one of my Fantasy Football leagues. He was struggling with depth issues and needed players playing well right now. I, on the other hand, was doing very well and could afford to gamble on a stud turning it around by playoff time. Sure enough, he accepted the deal prior to the Monday Night Football game versus the Giants where Edwards showed his ability. Now I’m just hoping the league lets it stand. Conversely, if you fall to the bottom of your standings because of depth and injury issues, it would behoove you to find an owner doing well that has a lot of quality depth and use them as a trade partner. A good multi-player for one deal can be just the shot in the arm that you need to make the playoffs.

4) Know your player values at all times.

The fact that player values fluctuate greatly over the course of a season is important for trade offers because while two players may have started the year close in value, they may not be close in value even hours later. Right now Chris Paul and Amare Stoudemire are two unanimous top five picks in most formats. But let’s say Paul comes out guns blazing while Amare struggles the first week or two of the fantasy season. If a team was deep at point guard but weak at center prior to the season, an Amare for Paul deal stands a decent chance of happening. But if you offered Amare for Paul after those few weeks of the regular season the deal gets rejected in a heartbeat, no matter what the teams look like at that time.

5) Know your injuries.

I’ve already touched on this when discussing how knowing your head-to-head league standings affects trade offers, but it works in rotisserie leagues as well. For example, let’s say you were lucky enough to pick up Andray Blatche after Brendan Haywood’s wrist injury. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to offer him to the Haywood owner in your league and see if you can get a sweet deal in return. You could also let Blatche boost his value and sell him high to any team for a struggling but more established star that you like more. Also, if a team falls behind in the standings and is holding a very good player that is hurt for another month or two, it’s not a bad idea to offer a lesser player riding a hot stretch for the injured stud. I did this with Alfonso Soriano in one of my head-to-head baseball leagues this season where I finished in second place. At the time I was uncertain to make the playoffs and the Soriano owner had run out of moves and had too many injuries. I still pulled the trigger on a Soriano for Kevin Youkilis and Solomon Torres deal because I felt I had the depth to keep my team in striking distance when Soriano was scheduled to return. Sure enough I did just that and he helped get my team the last spot in our playoff structure. However, this strategy is not advised if it will hurt your team badly in the short term or if the player’s return to the court has been already been pushed back. For example, last year you would have been burned horribly if you had traded anything for Agent Zero or Andrew Bynum.

David Vauthrin is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. A native of Houston, Texas, David Vauthrin is a diehard Rockets fan. Having graduated with a degree in journalism from UT-Austin, it is believed his blood is not red, but rather burnt orange.
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