Today, boys and girls, I’m going to give you the gift of fantasy basketball trade strategy. Are you excited? Don’t answer, I can’t here you anyway. How many times have you gotten a trade offer and wondered if the other owner even bothered to look at your team? When it happens to me I just shake my head and wonder what the other guy was thinking as I silently move my mouse to the reject button. Sigh. I know it’s happened to you, too. Happens to everyone! If you’re that guy making the offer, please stop, it’s embarrassing. All you need is a little common sense and some basic 4th grade math skills to become a reasonable and efficient trade partner. Incidentally this trade advice isn’t just limited to fantasy hoops, you can also apply the same to fantasy baseball and football! Here are some trade strategies that you can utilize to help improve your team:
1. Analyze your team’s strengths and weaknesses – Yeah, I know. Duh, right? But let’s delve a bit deeper here. I’m going to take this section in two parts. 1. The first half of the season and 2. The second half of the season.
The First Half of the Season – Early in the season, unless you’ve strategically decided to dump a category, you’re generally trying to compete in all 8 or 9 categories. Typically speaking, unless I have an obvious glaring need or overabundance of something, I’m not very active in the trade market in November. I want to give my team a sample of what it’s capable of doing. In the meantime, I’m scouring the waiver wire for players that slid through the cracks at the draft or auction. You always have a bunch in November that pop up so I try to improve that way first. If I am going to trade, I’m targeting guys off to poor starts in a buy low situation. Fantasy basketball trading is a buy low/sell high game. Don’t ever forget that! Around the end of November, I’m starting to get an idea if I need threes, FG, boards, etc. and at that point I know who I should realistically look to move.
The Second Half of the Season – If you’re low in the standings as the season moves to it’s mid-way point and beyond, you’ll need to start moving and shaking. At this point, you have to start to look realistically at how far back in some categories you are. For example, if you’re in a 12 team roto league and are last or near the bottom in threes, you have to start to make some difficult decisions. You have to get realistic, are you going to add more threes or would it be wiser to take Jason Richardson (pure example) and try to move him to help gain elsewhere? I know it’s tempting to want to continue to compete in all 8 or 9 categories but if you’re in 10th place overall, you’ve gotta start to think about taking calculated gambles. You can compete in all categories and finish in 9th place or you can dump a category like FG, for example, which will give you a lot more trade flexibility and upward mobility in the other categories.
2. Target owners, not particular players – Yeah, I know you want Chris Paul but he’s on the team sitting in second place. Realistically, the teams sitting high up in the standings aren’t going to be trading their studs so consider those guys off limits and focus on owners lower in the standings looking to shake things up. If you know of a few owners who are more active, stay in touch with them regularly to see who’s on the block “this week”. These types of owners usually have an itchy trigger finger.
3. Show interest in your trade partner’s needs – As I was saying in the lead in, this is one of the biggest non-starters to making a deal. If I’m sitting with 4 quality guards on my active and perhaps another guard in my utility spot, don’t offer me a 6th guard for one of my big men. Seems fairly simple but you’d be shocked at how many offers I get where I can’t even fit the player being offered on my team. It’s ridiculous, son! Don’t be that guy, if you’re going to take the time to email an owner about a deal, take an extra 10 minutes and go over his team. Look at his strengths and weaknesses, look at how he’s doing in each category and see what he may realistically look to do. I will even often mention in an email something like, “I noticed you could use some assists and have a nice lead in blocks, I’m looking to move Steve Nash.” Something like that. Plant the seed in the owner’s head. Sometimes he’s too busy dealing with real world stuff to realize. The nerve! Help him out a little and you’ll be helping yourself out too.
4. If an owner emails you looking to deal or sends you and offer and it makes no sense don’t ignore it completely – If an owner emails you looking to deal or sends you an offer through the league site, even if the offer is ludicrous, don’t just delete the email or hit the reject button in disgust. Think about it. That owner is looking to shake and move and probably he’s going to be shaking and moving with someone so don’t take yourself out of the running by ignoring. Take a look at his team to see what he needs, maybe you have a match. If he’s emailing you, he’s looking to deal. Maybe he hates a player (buy low!), maybe he’s just trade happy, maybe he has excess somewhere. Whatever the reason, harvest it. Worse that happens is a deal doesn’t happen but don’t miss opportunities to explore trades when a guy reaches out to you. You’ve got a live one!
5. Buy low/Sell high – As pretty much everyone knows, fantasy basketball is a buy low/sell high game. There are three buy low/sell high scenarios that I’ll cover here. The first is to look for guys who are hurt. Owners can sometimes deal with a player slumping but to get no stats is particularly frustrating. Make inquiries. The second is to sell high on a player who recently came into minutes due to injury of another. The shelf life on these guys isn’t long so you have to move quick to turn him into a player with better long term value. In particular, I like to throw these types of players in as 2nd players in a 2 for 1 deal where I get the one. The third is your classic under performing player based on his career statistics. He’s perfectly healthy but he’s sucking balls. Basketballs I mean. You need to have foresight and some courage to make these types of deals but most often they’ll pay off.
6. If you’re high up in the standings, look to consolidate – Let’s talk about the team kicking some arse now. If you’re high up in the standings, most likely you have some real nice depth. Maybe you drafted guys like O.J. Mayo, Jamal Crawford and/or Omer Asik late and made a few shrewd free agent pickups along the way. The result is your now stacked! Consolidate that power by looking hard at the teams low in the standings and cherry pick their best players for two of your lesser solid ones. I refer you to tip number 3 above. Take interest in your trade partner’s needs and it’ll pay off.
7. Exhaust your options – Don’t just take the first deal that’s offered to you on a player who has extreme value. If you decide you want to move a stud, shop him to all teams. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a guy like Kevin Love or Josh Smith traded and I’m like dubya tee eff, man? I’m in total shock that the owner of the stud just traded never bothered to reach out to me. I’m not a mind reader so if you’re looking to move a stud, let every owner know and make it a bidding war. Maximize that return! You feel me?
8. Don’t be the annoying guy – Everyone is entitled to send a bad offer or three out, it happens. Just don’t be the guy that owners become numb too. Respect, y’all. You need to make sure you have it! If you’re on the receiving end of a super aggressive owner who won’t take no for an answer, don’t cave. Every league has a super aggressive owner who prays on the weaker teams. Annoying, I know. As a result some of the deals the guy ends up making are lopsided. Don’t make a deal out of obligation because you got 10 emails with 10 different offers from the guy in the past 2 days. Stay strong if you don’t like the deal. Just say no! He’ll get over it. And if you’re the guy sending out 10 bad offers a day, please stop. It’s embarrassing.