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Beginner's Guide to Fantasy Football: Section IX

A guide on how to improve your roster post-draft

"If a trade between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it. Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another." -- Milton and Rose Friedman

In the last section, we took a look at how to properly analyze your fantasy roster following a draft to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your roster. We also touched on using the Draft Dominator to break down the strengths and weaknesses of the other squads as well. This section will take a look at the two ways you can improve your roster before and during your fantasy season. Part A will break down trading in fantasy football, how to target potential trading partners and how to ultimately close the deal. Part B will brush upon the free agent market and how to target potential breakout players available via the waiver wire.

The Art of the Deal

Step 1: Evaluate your team weaknesses

No matter how strong of an owner you are when it comes the fantasy draft and waiver wire pickups, there are always improvements to be made to your roster. Take a good look at your squad and determine what needs to be added to reach the top and stay there. Perhaps one more starting receiver or a better quarterback will put you over the top. Discover exactly what you need to improve. We will use the example from the prior section here.

Example roster from previous section:

Pos
Player
Team
Bye
QB
Eli Manning
NYG
11
QB
Joe Flacco
Bal
8
RB
C.J. Spiller
Buf
8
RB
Vick Ballard
Ind
4
RB
BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Cin
8
RB
Mikel Leshoure
Det
5
RB
Pierre Thomas
NO
6
WR
Dez Bryant
Dal
5
WR
Andre Johnson
Hou
8
WR
Victor Cruz
NYG
11
WR
Kendall Wright
Ten
11
WR
Vincent Brown
SD
7
WR
Stephen Hill
NYJ
9
TE
Greg Olsen
Car
6
PK
Matt Bryant
Atl
7
DT
Houston Texans
Hou
8

Your league starts 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, and 1 TE. You have a solid QB duo, tremendous WR strength, a question mark at RB2 and solid starters with no depth at tight end, kicker and defense. Furthermore you have a potential problem at receiver with three off on bye during week five. The obvious move for this owner is to move one of his big name receivers with a week-five bye in order to strengthen his running back spot.

Step 2: Breaking down your opponents' rosters

There are not many foolish owners anymore in fantasy football with all the information that is available to help the casual owner. Therefore it is crucial to find an owner desperate to add talent to a particular position on his team. Find an owner that is weak in a position in which you have a wealth of talent and you are well on your way to completing a deal. Just remember that the only deals that will be made in this day and age are the ones that help to strengthen both squads going forward. Don't try to cheat your fellow owner and fleece him in the deal, but rather go for fair value.

Potential trading partner: One owner has good running back strength in Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, David Wilson, and Andre Brown, good quarterback strength in Tom Brady and Matt Schaub and a solid tight end in Aaron Hernandez. However this owner has very poor receiver talent in Miles Austin, Lance Moore, Emmanuel Sanders, Tavon Austin, and Brandon LaFell. Let's say for the sake of this study that to make things worse, Lance Moore is injured and out for the year. He has lost two games in a row and having four strong running backs doesn't help him when his receiver corps is in shambles. At this point, he will likely be more than willing to trade a running back for a strong receiver.

Step 3: Approach the Owner

You have identified the owner who will be the most likely to deal with you. Great. Now what? This is the most important part of the trade. You need to approach this owner and propose a deal to him. It has to be good enough to grab his attention but not so strong that you ultimately hurt your own chances to win the league. You are going to have to offer strength to get strength back so you need to decide which player you ultimately want to offer up via the trade route.

Make the deal look as fair as you can to begin with or it may kill any trade talk between the teams. Also make sure to stress the fact that it doesn't do him any good to have two of his running backs sitting on his bench. In addition, you are aware of your deficiency at receiver and how unlikely it is he will make a run to the title without improved receiver play. A great strategy is to drop a 'name' player on him that is a known commodity but not likely to start on your roster.

"Hello Owner X, this is Chris of the Footballguys. I was looking at your roster and noticed that you are in big trouble at the receiver position. I happen to have an overabundance of talent at that spot and perhaps we can reach a trade that can help both of us get to the playoffs.

I will give you Victor Cruz and Mikel Leshoure in return for Matt Forte and Emmanuel Sanders. This is a trade that immediately makes both of our rosters stronger going forward. You can still start a great duo at running back in Adrian Peterson and David Wilson, and adding Cruz to the mix will give you a legitimate WR1 that your roster solely needs while a get the RB1 that could make my running back starters most explosive going forward. Let me know what you think."

This will not be an easy trade offer for the owner to accept. Forte is a top fantasy weapon while Sanders is a good but not the best option at receiver. He is likely to counter with a Dez Bryant or Andre Johnson substitute for Cruz, but being desperate he may indeed agree on the original trade offer. It all depends on the owner and their tendencies. If he does counter with an offer like the one suggested, it can be accepted, improving the talent at running back, or an owner can play hard ball and stand firm, hoping the desperate owner will buckle.

Final Steps

What you write to the fantasy owner should not completely mirror your own thoughts. This owner is desperate and he knows he must upgrade his receiving core. The reality is getting an elite RB such as Peterson for a receiver would be a major coupe and he knows that as well as you do. However he must upgrade his receiving core to have a chance at playoffs so there is a very strong possibility that a trade gets done here.

Changes to Starting Lineup After Trade

Starters Prior to Trade
Starters After Trade
QB
Eli Manning
NYG
QB
Eli Manning
NYG
RB
C.J. Spiller
Buf
RB
C.J. Spiller
Buf
RB
Vick Ballard
Ind
RB
Matt Forte
Chi
WR
Dez Bryant
Dal
WR
Dez Bryant
Dal
WR
Andre Johnson
Hou
WR
Andre Johnson
Hou
WR
Victor Cruz
NYG
WR
Kendall Wright
Ten

Looking at the starting lineup before and after the trade, it is clear to see how wheeling and dealing can help your fantasy team reach the ultimate goal - your league championship. Many times it takes determination to make a trade like this happen. However the end result is so fantastic that it is well worth the frequent e-mail, phone calls or banter back and forth when trying to wrap the deal up. The key is to always make the deal look as great as you can to the other owner while getting exactly what you want on this end. The "Art of a Deal" can be the difference maker from being an also ran to the Kingpin of your league. Give it a go!


Preseason Free Agency by Will Grant

Free agency will be discussed in greater detail in Section X. However, in the preseason, it should be approached a little differently. When trying to fill a preseason gap, there are a couple of things that you need to focus on.

Teams with training camp battles should be your main focus. If the rookie has a chance to beat out the veteran starter by the end of camp, you need to keep an eye on the situation to see if someone emerges as the clear favorite. Grab them before they are named the starter. This way you stay ahead of the pack. Focus on your area of need, but don't be afraid to increase an area of strength as well. If you can add another quality player to your squad, you can leverage this depth in the future to trade with a weaker team.

If a team loses a starter to injury, even a short-term one, you need to be ready to pounce. Grabbing a short-term backup can help you trade with the team that holds the starter, or give you a quality starter for a good part of your season. Taking advantage of a player's injury may seem like a dark approach to the game, but injuries happen all the time in the NFL. It is something that every team owner needs to deal with throughout the season.

Above all else, remember why you drafted these guys in the first place. If you really think a particular player is going to be someone special, don't cut or trade them unless you really have to. A lot of things can happen during the early part of the season, and it may be better for you to ride the bumps and see what happens in the long run.