Trader Joe's - Week 4
By Jeff Pasquino
September 28th, 2011

Welcome one and all to "Trader Joe's", the trading outpost here at Footballguys.com. Over the course of this season this will be the place where we talk about trading strategy and trade dynamics. All types of leagues will be discussed, but given that so many fantasy football leagues are redraft in nature we will focus primarily on redraft leagues.

I will be your usual host and respond to your questions and comments as quickly as possible. The best questions I receive in the Assistant Coach Forum at Footballguys.com will likely also appear in this column, whereupon I will add more commentary.

Just like the seasons, this column will be evolving throughout all 17 weeks of the NFL season. From the first weeks of the year and then to midseason and onward to the playoffs, we will address the timing of the trade market and how the dynamics of the season also play an important part in trading.

Here we are in Week 4 of the rapidly moving NFL season, and both real and fantasy teams are starting to take shape. Some are surprises like the Buffalo Bills, and some are horrible disappointments such as the Indianapolis Colts. As we all learn each year, we have to adapt and adjust to a rapidly changing league.

So this brings us to our fantasy football teams, which are also taking form. Some teams are still nebulous with a 1-2 or 2-1 record, but the teams at the extremes (winless or undefeated) are either enjoying their perch atop the standings or scratching their heads at what happened to all that alleged value from draft day. Again, we all have to adjust and reevaluate what happened since getting our teams together. Is DeAngelo Williams going to stay stuck in neutral? Will Arian Foster disappoint all year? Where has Dwayne Bowe been hiding? On the contrary, will Ray Rice, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson keep up their torrid pace?

Whether you are 3-0 or 0-3 or somewhere in between, the goal of every owner remains the same - to win fantasy football games. To do that, every owner must look for areas of improvement. You must continue to seek trades even though you may be happy at 3-0. Do not get complacent. Teams that are not improving are falling behind.

Once again this year we will keep the standard format. The questions I receive in the Assistant Coach Forum can be on any topic within your league, but I would advise you that the more general the question, the more applicable it becomes to everyone and thus it is more beneficial to all. The "Who should I trade" questions are still welcome (as long as they follow the format outlined below), but if you'd like to see your question in my column, strategy and/or trade philosophy is highly recommended.

For Example

Team / league specific question:

"I can keep three players. I have Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. Who do you recommend?"

The better way to generalize the question, yet still get your answer:

"I have three Top 10 running backs (Rice, MJD, Chris Johnson) and a Top 10 WR (Fitzgerald), but I can only keep three. Is it better to keep three running backs, or should I keep a top shelf WR and two backs?"

I would request that you include the following regarding your trade questions:

  • Type of league (Dynasty, Keeper, Contract, Auction, Redraft, other)
  • Starting roster (positions you play each week)
  • Scoring format
  • Number of teams in your league
  • Roster size
  • Regarding keepers - if you ask a "who should I keep" question, please note the "penalty", if any, for keeping a player (i.e. a draft pick)
  • Regarding a trade - post the other team(s) roster(s) of the teams with which you are negotiating
  • Any other pertinent info that would help me to help you
  • Let's get to some trade talks. In an effort to expedite finding a particular scenario of interest to all of our readers, I will number each question and provide a brief synopsis here:

  • Question 1: Decisions, Decisions
  • Question 2: Trading with Your Team Having a Winning Record
  • Question 3: Trading with Your Team Having a Losing Record
  • Question 4: Don't Mess Up a Good Offer
  • Question 5: Shallow Waters
  • So let's get to it.


    Question 1

    Our first question this week comes from "Geekjocck", who has a deal on the table but cannot make up his mind:

    Hey Jeff,

    Could use a second opinion here.

    Enhanced scoring, PPR. 7pts per Ru/ReTD, .1 pts per Ru/ReYd. 5pt bonus at 100 yards rushing or receiving. 1 QB/2 RB/3 WR/1 TE/1 Flex (RB/WR/TE)/1 PK/1 DST. Side note- QB scoring 6pts per paTD, .05 pts per PaYd.

    I'm engaged in some stud-trade talk. I feel a little flush with talent at WR and want to upgrade to a stud at RB2.

    My team:

  • QB: Romo
  • RB: Rice, Blount, Ingram, Stewart, B. Jacobs, P. Thomas
  • WR: Nicks, D. Bryant, B. Lloyd, R. Wayne, P. Harvin, E. Decker
  • TE: Gronkowski, F. Davis
  • His team:

  • QB: Roethlisberger, Freeman
  • RB: Forte, Mendenhall, Wells, Spiller, McCluster
  • WR: Cal Johnson, Jennings, Mi Williams (TBB), S. Moss, D. Moore, Garcon, Gibson
  • TE: O. Daniels, Keller
  • The trade is:

  • I get - Mendenhall and D. Moore
  • Give up - Stewart and Nicks
  • He's offered it and it's on the table. I'm leaning toward accepting it but have this min/max devil on my shoulder making me not feel good about it. I can make up a story where Stewart's almost as good as Mendenhall this year, and if not, Ingram is. Then I'd be giving up Nicks as a starter for little gain. However, given Nicks and Stewart's extensive injury history and how good Mendenhall looks, it seems like the right thing to do is accept. I'm a Moore fan as well, and that's no small get on the replacement side. The one lingering concern is the Steelers' line.

    Your advice is appreciated.

    We've all been there. Here is my reply:

    Hi Geekjock,

    Often when I find that I'm teetering on a trade, that is a strong sign that it's a fair deal. I believe it is for you. Mendenhall will do just fine this year, and I'm not sure Eli will get the job done for Nicks. I'd take the deal and enjoy getting Moore too.

    Good luck.

    We all want to be "right" on a trade, but often we find that we just aren't sure what to do (hence the existence of Trader Joe's). I've always found that whenever I am really close on a deal - that's usually a good sign that it is a fair trade. With that in mind - and if it helps my team, of course - I accept.


    Question 2

    We come to our next question which comes to us from "Assani Fisher", who is off to a great start early in the year and is talking trade:

    Hey Jeff,

    10 team league

    1/2 pt PPR, 4 pt/pass TD, 6pt/rush or rec TD, 1pt/10 yard rush or rec, 1pt/25 yard pass

    My team is 2-0 and absolutely stacked so far. Have 7 of the top 27 players through 2 weeks! We start 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 flex(RB,WR, TE), 1 D, 1 K

    My team:

  • QB: Cam Newton, Matt Schaub
  • RB: Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Jahvid Best, Fred Jackson
  • WR: Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith, Percy Harvin
  • TE: Jimmy Graham
  • D: Chicago
  • K: Josh Brown
  • AJ, VJack, and McFadden are must starts every week. If Steve Smith keeps it up he might fall into that category too. So two of out Jahvid Best, Felix Jones, and Fred Jackson are just sitting on my bench. This week I have a very tough decision between Best @ Min or Jackson vs NE(feel free to chime in there). Should I look to trade a RB? Maybe something like Schaub + Jones/Best/Jackson for Brady/Rogers? Or should I look to upgrade at TE(tbh I'm not even sure who I'd want to target)? Or maybe even go after one of the top tier RBs(Ray Rice?)

    BTW, I'm 0-2 in my only other league, so not getting carried away with the bragging. Funny thing was I liked my team in that league much better than this one after the draft, lol.

    Here was my reply:

    Hey Assani, Welcome.

    Assessing a team after 1-2 weeks can be a dangerous proposition. I wouldn't get too smug (not that you are) nor would I be looking to selling high on anyone unless I liked what I got more.

    Trading Fred Jackson or Felix Jones might get you decent returns, so no harm in shopping them. FJax will wear down and Felix is already banged up. Just keep in mind that bye weeks can really sting, and there's a ton to come.

    Good luck.

    The teams who have gotten out to a fast start can afford to take a calculated risk on a deal to make their very good team a dominant one. Go for it.


    Question 3

    The third question this week comes from "BeerLogic", who has the opposite issue as his team hasn't won yet. What types of deals make sense here? Read on:

    Hey Jeff,

    10 Team PPR redraft league 17 roster spots

    Start 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex(RB/WR/TE), 1 PK, 1 D/ST

    Scoring 6 per TD, 1 per 25 yd pass (+2 300 yd bonus), 1 per 10 yd rush/rec (+2 100 yd bonus), 1 per reception

  • Give B.Jacobs, S.Smith
  • Get S.Jackson
  • Current Roster

  • QB: T.Romo, C.Newton
  • RB: A.Foster, F.Jones, F.Jackson, K.Moreno, B.Jacobs, D.Carter
  • WR: H.Nicks, M.Wallace, S.Smith, AJ.Green, B.Gibson, M.Floyd
  • TE: J.Finley
  • PK: M.Crosby
  • D: Titans
  • Other Guys Roster

  • QB: B.Roethlisberger, R.Fitzpatrick
  • RB: R.Rice, S.Jackson, A.Bradshaw, D.Sproles, W.McGahee
  • WR: R.Wayne, B.Lloyd, N.Burleson, D.Bess, E.Bennett
  • TE: A.Gates, D.Keller
  • PK: S.Gostkowski
  • D: Eagles
  • I've been shopping Newton and Smith to help my RB situation with Foster being sidelined (trying to sell high). But haven't gotten too many serious offers. I made this offer originally last week, was rebuked. Then had it offered back to me this week. Given my current injury situation I am leaning towards not taking the deal. And counter for McGahee (although not sure about what to offer). Am I worrying too much about the short term (next 2-3 weeks) and all those nagging injuries on my roster? I'm 0-2 and a little worried the season is going to get away from me. Once Jackson is back at full strength this seems like a no brainer to me. I am just worried about how long it takes for him to get to that point.

    From a general strategy point of view is it too early to make such a high risk/high reward trade. Or is it better to roll the dice and hope better market develops for some of the sell high guys?

    Another good question. Here was my reply:

    Hi BeerLogic,

    No, you have to win a few games for the season not to get away. 0-4 or 0-5 would be bad.

    Trading a QB in a 10-team league is nearly impossible, since there's plenty of good ones.

    Honestly I'd hold Jacobs and plug him in vs. PHI this week as he always burns the Eagles - then sell high.

    Good luck.

    Early deals are tough, but remember that you drafted these guys for a reason. Take an honest assessment of your team. Have you barely been losing, or where they blowouts? Did you post a competitive score but face the highest scoring team? If that's the case - hold on and hope for the law of averages to take over. If not, shake it fast.


    Question 4

    The fourth question this week comes from "renau001", who has a great trade offer on the table but he is thinking that he wants to make a counter. I tell it like it is:

    Trader Joe,

    I am in a 12-team, 0.5 PPR, re-draft league.

    Starting positions are QB, 2WR, 2RB, TE, K, DEF

    14 total roster spots.

  • Have been proposed Matt Stafford for Fred Jackson/Dallas Clark.
  • Thinking about a counter of Matt Stafford/Jahvid Best for Fred Jackson/Josh Freeman.
  • Would appreciate you're thoughts on the trade and counter.

    I see the counter as being pretty fair, would improve both starting lineups while reducing bench strength but not leaving myself shallow at running back as the trade would.

    My team:

  • Josh Freeman
  • Joe Flacco
  • Ray Rice
  • Matt Forte
  • Fred Jackson
  • Mike Tolbert
  • Hakeem Nicks
  • Santonio Holmes
  • David Nelson
  • Denarius Moore
  • Dallas Clark
  • Greg Olsen
  • Jason Hanson
  • Tampa Bay
  • His team:

  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Matt Stafford
  • Eli Manning
  • Vincent Jackson
  • Miles Austin
  • Kenny Britt
  • MIke Thomas
  • Lance Moore
  • Darren McFadden
  • Jahvid Best
  • Knowshon Moreno
  • Ed Dickson
  • Alex Henery
  • Chicago
  • Here was my reply:

    Hi renau001,

    I'd take the deal as it stands. There's bonuses you're overlooking to making the move - such as a QB1 bump and a freed up roster spot (trading two for one frees up a space).

    With 12 teams and only 14 roster spots, that's only 168 players rostered across the board - which means the waiver wire pool should be deep.

    Asking for more (adding Best and replacing Clark with Freeman) probably sounds fair to you - but consider his team. He's fine with 1 QB with Rodgers and needs a TE (Clark). Take the deal and run with Stafford, and then shop for RB depth on the waiver wire.

    Good luck.

    Making a counter offer can be a dangerous proposition. You could lose the first offer, and you might tick off that owner. You also might look greedy. Some owners - and something more of them should do - present solid offers out of the gate so as to not waste time. If the deal is fair and helps both teams, just do it. You don't want to lose that deal.


    Question 5

    The final question comes from "Warmongers" who is in a small league and is having trouble finding roster room for all the waiver wire talent:

    Hi Jeff,

    So, in my 10-team league I see the following gems on the waiver wire: LaDainian Tomlinson & Brandon Jacobs. I would love to add at least one of them (leaning toward LT) to my already pretty deep roster, especially with Week 5 byes coming up (all but Mark Ingram are on byes!), but having hard time deciding who to cut. Here are the options that I see in order of my preference:

  • Mike Thomas (Jax passing game has been non-existent)
  • Ricky Williams (Un-cuff from Ray Rice)
  • Dexter McCluster (Yet to see the much promised potential realized)
  • What do YOU think?

    10 Team Redraft PPR League (CBS Sports, which means McCluster=WR)

    (QB/2RB/3WR/TE/K/DEF, scoring for the purposes of this question is pretty standard)

    Roster:

  • QB: Romo, Fitzpatrick
  • RB: Ray Rice, Tim Hightower, Mark Ingram, Felix Jones, Ricky Williams
  • WR: Hakeem Nicks, Vincent Jackson, A.J. Green, Percy Harvin, Dexter McCluster, Mike Thomas
  • TE: Gronkowski
  • K: Henery
  • D: Packers
  • And my reply:

    Hi Warmongers,

    This is a GREAT question, and a topic that isn't discussed enough. You're in a smaller league (10 teams, 16 spots) so that's only 160 players - and just 144 non-kickers and non-defenses. That makes the waiver wire look VERY deep. This problem is even bigger for fantasy players who often play in bigger leagues (such as 12 team, 20-roster spots).

    A few things:

    1. Handcuffs are almost never worth it when rosters are this small. see the "VERY deep" waiver wire. If someone gets hurt, there's going to be a guy there comparable to most RB2s / handcuffs anyway.
    2. If the free agent pool looks deep, be CERTAIN that anyone you pick up is going to have enough upside to make it into your starting lineup. Otherwise you're just churning your roster for no good reason. For example, Tomlinson looks good, but are you playing him over Ray Rice or Tim Hightower, or even Mark Ingram or Felix Jones? Why churn for a RB4/5?
    3. Byes are coming. That means you'll have to free up spots (or just add/drop) to cover those holes, especially where you're not holding a backup (TE/K/D). Try and get players that don't share a bye and have a "utility" spot to backup all 3 of those spots.

    Good luck.

    Sometimes there is real talent available on the waiver wire, and other times it really is talent that belongs on either someone else's roster or in free agency. Getting calibrated to what players are rosterable and what it takes to displace a rostered player in a smaller league can take time - but you need to understand that studs rule smaller leagues. Keep that in mind with every transaction.


    So that will do it for the Week 4 edition of Trader Joe's, and I sincerely hope that I helped some of you owners out there to think about some trades and new ways to improve your team. Until next week, I'll see you at Trader Joe's.


    References

    Trader Joe's from the Assistant Coach Forum at Footballguys.com.
    The Dynasty Draft Pick Calculator, written by Jeff Pasquino. First introduced here.
    Tricks of the T.R.A.D.E., written by Jeff Pasquino.

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