Winter trading: One question

Making the right deal for your fantasy team means being patient with winter trading.

One of the greatest thrills about dynasty fantasy leagues is the ability to talk and play fantasy football 12 months a year. At this time of year, though, there should be only one question you should be asking your league mates about trades.

“What are you trying to do with your team this year?”

Yeah, a nice, conversational starter question. Seems simple, right?

The mistake many people make in February/March dynasty trading is trying to jump right in with unsolicited trade offers. If you do this, expect messages back to this effect:

“Dude, it’s February. I’m not trading you Mike Evans in February.”

“I need to see how the NFL draft shakes out.”

“Check with me in a few months.”

Even an unsolicited trade offer that is a fair deal will likely get shot down at this time of year. So back to the original premise of this article. You should only be asking your league mates about their goals.

Here’s what that accomplishes:

First, you are building rapport. You aren’t saying, “I want Julio Jones off your team. Give him to me.” You’re showing interest in the other player’s mindset and plans, and when you do it that way, you might be building a friendship. Friends tend to trade with friends in November.

Second, you’re asking their strategy at a time of year when people are liable to tell you tell you the truth. I know I usually tell the truth at this time of year. When queried about my plans, I’m pretty open. “Man, I feel like I’m one stud receiver away from contending for a title this year.” Or, “I feel like I have a lot of aging vets and I’m not close, but wow, do I love this 2017 rookie class.” Or, “Gronk’s injuries scare the hell out of me, and I still love him, but I feel like I can’t count on him next year.”

You’re gathering incredibly valuable intelligence when you have frank conversations like this. What did we learn from seemingly innocuous statements like the above?

The guy who is “one receiver away” is likely to target WRs in the upcoming rookie draft. Also, he would probably give up just about any position of strength to get a WR who could help him contend now, even an aging one.

In the case of the guy with aging vets who covets rookies, it’s a signal he’ll sell low on anyone 30 or over for rookie picks this year. Would he take a late first-rounder for Jordy Nelson? Probably.

In the case of the third league mate, he’s signaling he really feels he needs a backup TE, and you could probably get a premium for one of yours. Or, conversely, he may be willing to part ways with Gronk at a discount if you offer him someone without an injury history in return.

It’s a good idea to keep a spreadsheet – or notebook, if you’re a luddite – with other league members’ wants and needs, and where they feel like they are stacked. Doing this in February or March can pay huge dividends from April through August.

It all starts with one question: “Hey, man, what are you trying to do with your team?”

Steve Schulz is an editor of fantasy football at FakePigskin.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SteveIDP

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