2018 – Week 1: Trade Mailbag

In the first mailbag of 2018, David Fenko discusses some basic strategy for when to make specific types of trades, some basics on handcuffs, a trade evaluation, and some tips for targeting a specific player in dynasty.

The season is exactly one game old, and I’ve already fielded 3 trade requests for week 1 (not counting the 2 trades I completed in the preseason) across 7 leagues. Trading is an integral part of fantasy football and could be the difference between a strong team that fizzles in the playoffs and one that hoists the trophy. Making a good trade is often the hardest part of fantasy, and I hope to pass along some of what I’ve acquired in 20 years playing this game.

This will be a collaborative article on a weekly basis. I could probably fill a few weeks worth of content from my own leagues, but that would be boring. Expect me to engage with the community to find out what people are struggling with on a weekly basis and offer experience and advice.

Grading the Trade

Grading Request: I traded away Travis Kelce and Nick Chubb for Doug Baldwin and Sony Michel in a 10 team 0.5 PPR with an extra flex.

The questions that come to mind for evaluating the trade are:

  1. Will Kelce lose targets to Sammy Watkins and Patrick Mahomes tendency to go downfield?
  2. Will Carlos Hyde hold the job all season in Cleveland?
  3. Is Doug Baldwin just blowing smoke on his 85% health commentary?
  4. Bill Belichick

I think you ended up turning the 2nd best player in the deal into the best player in the deal (Kelce and Baldwin respectively) and you probably traded for better RB volume in picking up Michel. To me, that’s a win. Things can go sideways if Hyde gets hurt or Michel fumbles again anytime remotely soon (or if Baldwin was on the level with his injury commentary (at which point, why the hell did he say anything at all)).

A couple of follow-up questions to consider before saying yes:

  • Who do you have playing TE for you now?
  • Which WR is now on your bench as a result?

Grade: B

Targetting a Specific Player in Dynasty

Question: What would your approach be in a dynasty league where there’s a young player of interest to you at a non-position of need, say WR Mike Williams, but you have good young WR depth already.

The trick here is getting multiple teams involved (unless the team you are trading with doesn’t have great WR depth). At this point you are looking to consolidate your depth into someone you are higher on, to begin with, so your first step is to identify the needs of the Mike Williams owner. If their need is WR depth, you’re well aligned, but if their team need is RB (for instance), you’ll need to turn your WR depth into an acceptable RB by working with another team that satisfies that part of the deal. Then all you have to do is flip your new RB for Williams. In my experience, it seems like people tend to shy away from multi-team deals, but dynasty almost requires it.

Trade Strategy Based on Week

Question: Is there any difference in your approach to trading pre/early season than mid/late season? If so, how and why?

The mechanics are roughly the same, but the reason behind the deals is typically very different.

Preseason trades are typically a result of perceived strengths and weaknesses for the team after the draft (assuming redraft). I’ll typically try and tailor trades to shore up starting lineup weaknesses, though in most cases I’ll intend on standing by.

Early season deals are typically injury based. At this point of the year, I’ll start making deals to help cushion my lineups for bye weeks. This is the time of the year where other owners injuries can help you out if you have the appropriate depth. Always engage with owners that just lost a player with some form of alternative (you never know what you might get). I’ve managed to turn Ryan Matthews into Odell Beckham (with some extra flotsam) based on early season performance and injuries.

Midseason deals are typically made to make sure you are fielding the strongest teams during bye week hell. If your team starts strong (5-2, 6-1, 7-3, etc), start making deals for playoff weeks.

Late-season deals exist entirely to put together the strongest lineups for the playoffs. No one should be sacred on your team if you think you will make the playoffs and want to go far. If you are on the playoff cusp, identify they cornerstones of your lineup and see if you can trade the rest.

Hey Stupid, You Forgot Handcuffs

Follow-up Question: Something you didn’t mention in the last answer is handcuffs. Generally, the advice I’ve seen is try to secure handcuffs mid/late season if you’re headed for playoffs.

Are you in the same boat or how do you value handcuffs?

Do you ever trade for them? Do you specifically look for handcuffs for the high-end running backs (Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley David Johnson, etc)?

I think I handwaved over that. I typically try to pick up or trade for my RB handcuffs (especially) as the season progresses.

My ideal playoff situation is having a set lineup (in my head) for every week of the playoffs and owning all of the handcuffs for the lynchpins.

So, if I’m the Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliot, or Le’Veon Bell owner, I’ll make the deals for John Kelly, Rod Smith, James Conner in the mid-late season. Otherwise, I’ll try and make deals for depth more than anything else. I’m just as likely to trade for Nick Chubb if I’m the Peyton Barber owner as Ronald Jones II. I am generally low enough on the TB offense as a whole that owning my own handcuff is not as important.

David Johnson is a case where owning his handcuff isn’t valuable to me. The Arizona team isn’t good enough that I think his handcuff has more intrinsic value than depth from other teams. I’m just as likely to try and trade for someone like Adrian Peterson (or whoever is starting in WAS) as an attempt to secure another late-season/playoff starter.

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