In-Season Management: A Word of Warning About Trades
Trades are hard to conduct – or at least they should be. Engaging in transactions with the waiver wire is easy, because you can act unilaterally. Trading requires the cooperation of your fellow managers, which you should never count upon. Even in the best of worlds, where all fantasy managers are fair, active, responsive, cooperative and easy to deal with, trades should be difficult.
Every manager has a slightly different valuation system, even if they don’t have it codified into a spreadsheet. In general, a manager values
each of his own players more highly than any other manager will. There is a reason that each and every player landed on a manager’s team – either
that manager drafted that player higher than anyone else, paid more for that player at auction, picked up that player first, or actively traded
for that player. Each of these actions indicates that the manager valued that player higher than all other managers did, although that is not
always true (e.g. a player who was drafted first overall in the draft might have been valued higher by a manager with a later pick in the draft).
If every manager values each of their own players more highly than any other manager, this constitutes a problem in trading. A trade which
looks fair to one player will necessarily look unfair to the other. Manager A values his player at 170 points, and is willing to give up that
player for manager B’s player worth 165 points. Manager B thinks that his player is worth 185 points, and that Manager A’s player is worth 160
points. Manager B counters by suggesting that Manager A throw in a 40 point player to make it even, but Manager A was already giving up value
in his estimation, and throwing in another player (who Manager A valued at 65 points) makes the trade unworkable. This is often how trade
discussions go – after a while, it becomes clear that each manager just likes their own players better than other managers do, and no trade
There are exceptions, of course, as trades do occur in leagues – in some leagues they happen quite frequently. Some managers just like to trade
more than others do, for whatever reason. At the base of it however, there is always that fundamental obstacle to trading. Outside of fairly
narrow situations, you should always plan to solve your team issues with adding and dropping rather than through trading. Even when it seems tempting
to acquire players purely to trade them away, it can be inadvisable to do so.
It happens very often that during a draft you recognize that managers are undervaluing a particular kind of player. You feel that you can take
advantage by selecting a significant number of these players, and then trade them away later at a profit, when other managers have realized
their folly too late. An example of this can be when quality goaltenders are falling in a fantasy hockey draft. This is tempting,
and can work, but is fraught with peril. If other managers are undervaluing goalies in the draft, then it will be difficult to trade away
goalies for a high price to those same managers. It takes time for those valuation mistakes to be corrected in other managers minds – maybe
they will never be corrected. In the meantime, you have a team whose bench is distorted by having more goalies than you can use. Your
add/drop flexibility is seriously hampered by the need to store these players. The potential payoff is elusive, and the current cost
is very real. The moral of the story is – don’t do it unless it’s an extreme case. When your strategy depends on trading in order to be
successful, you should realize that trading is inherently difficult and may be simply impossible.
Next Section - In Season Management: How to Trade