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Basic Training Part 9b - The Art of the Deal

Everyone knows how important the fantasy draft is to building a successful fantasy roster. Yes, luck does have something to do with how the season turns out and the waiver wire pickups can and usually are huge for the savvy owner. However one of the most essential and often neglected factors that can establish fantasy football success is to pull off a successful trade for your team. 'The Art of the Deal' will take a look at ways to ensure your trade is advantageous to your team while not putting your opponent on his way to the championship.

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 will put you over the top or a better quarterback. Discover exactly what you need to improve.

E.g. - Your league starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, and 1 TE. You have a solid quarterback duo (Aaron Brooks and Trent Green), six very good running backs (Shaun Alexander, Fred Taylor, Rudi Johnson, TJ Duckett, Kevan Barlow and rookie Cadillac Williams) and two solid receivers (Chris Chambers and Steve Smith). However you waited too long on selecting your third receiver and as a result your other receivers likely have very little value as starters in a fantasy league AZ Hakim, Todd Pinkston and Terry Glenn (hopefully you'll never end up with deadweight such as this trio) and your tight ends are quite poor (Bubba Franks, Teyo Johnson). Looking at this roster, it is important to add some talent to your receiver/tight end core.

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.

E.g. - One owner has five excellent receivers in (Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Nate Burleson and Joe Horn) but his running backs are ghastly thanks to injury and neglecting the position during the draft (Jerome Bettis, Kevin Faulk, Emmitt Smith and Lee Suggs). He probably is pretty desperate to trade one of his stud receivers for a solid running back. Having 4 super receivers doesn't do him much good when 1 is always sitting on the bench. In addition, this owner has 2 solid tight ends on his team in Randy McMichael and Alge Crumpler.

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. If he needs a starting running back, offer him one who has played the easy part of his schedule and is into a challenging run of games. Or perhaps a player that isn't very durable and is due to suffer his yearly injuries. 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 one of his receivers sitting on his bench. In addition, you are aware of your deficiency at the tight end position and may be able to kill two birds with one stone. A great strategy is to drop a 'name' player on him that is a known commodity but not likely to start on your roster.

i.e. "Hello owner X, this is Chris of the Tuffguyz. I was looking at your roster and noticed that you could use an upgrade at the running back slot. I happen to have an overabundance of talent at that position and perhaps we can reach a trade that can help both of us get to the playoffs. How about I send you RB Fred Taylor who as you know is capable of big things in any given year. You have tons of receiver depth, which happens to be an area I could use an upgrade in. I am not sure I should be offering a good running back for a receiver but I need to do something here. Tell ya what, send WR Andre Johnson and TE Alge Crumpler my way and I will depart with Jones. Heck I may as well thrown in a tight end for you to use as a backup as well in Bubba Franks.

Final Step: Finalize the deal

So to summarize, I will give you RB Fred Taylor and TE Bubba Franks in exchange for WR Andre Johnson and TE Alge Crumpler.

This is a deal that can really help both of our squads. It will give you a legitimate running back threat in Fred Taylor and a decent backup at tight end for your bye week when Randy McMichael is off. In return I am getting an upgrade at receiver and tight end with players you can easily replace with other players on your roster. I really believe this deal could be crucial for both of us to reach the playoffs.

Now to the owner with a horrible duo at running back, this deal to land a good fantasy threat in Taylor is hard to ignore. It will help his team out to make this deal.

However, you are still set at running back with 2 star players starting for your squad as well as capable backups in place plus you are adding a big-time starting receiver and a top six tight end. The deal if you can pull it off makes your title objective that much more likely to happen. Really take a hard look at the schedule for the rest of the year as well. The best deals are made when you take the time to see what the next stretch of NFL games look like for a team. A player who started hot can fade quickly when going against top teams.

Looking at my 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-mails, 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!

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