Your Guide To Fantasy Football Trades

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In fantasy football, the most important component to building a team is the draft at the beginning of the season. After the draft, though, the next most useful way to improve a fantasy football roster quickly is to make a trade. With fantasy football trades, owners can add players at positions where they have surplus talent in exchange for players at positions of need. Let’s run down what fantasy football trades consist of and what fantasy owners need to be mindful of when doing their deal making.

How do trades work in fantasy football?

Trades in fantasy football work similarly to trades in real sports leagues, the main difference being that fantasy owners are not able to include cash considerations or draft picks in future seasons in order to get deals done. Instead, players usually have to trade an equal amount of players to make things match up from a roster perspective.

There is no limit to which positions can be traded for in fantasy football, as owners can trade everything from quarterbacks and running backs to defenses and kickers. The only limitation is that owners cannot go over their maximum roster size determined by their league’s rules.

The biggest challenge in fantasy football is often proposing a trade that is beneficial for both the owner proposing it and the person it is being offered to. Without that mutually beneficial component, there is no reason for both parties to agree to a deal. Therefore, owners need to make sure that their trade proposals make sense for everyone involved.

How to trade in fantasy football

The first thing an owner will want to do is decide who they want to trade with. This is typically done by looking at the rosters of other teams and deciding which player or players you are interested in acquiring. That is where the hard part begins, as owners are then able to decide which of their own players they are willing to swap in exchange for the players they want from other rosters.

After identifying a trade target, and who to part with to acquire said target, it’s time to propose the trade. From there, the owner of the other team can either accept or decline the trade, or come up with a counteroffer.

Once a trade has been agreed to, the league commissioner must formally approve it. Most leagues give the commissioner sole discretion to simply approve or deny a trade. Some leagues allow every team in the league to vote on whether or not to ratify the trade instead, but this is not all that common.

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Example of a fantasy football trade

As an example, let’s say that you identify a running back that you want to add to your team from a roster that is deficient in wide receivers. You can pick the running back from that other roster and offer one of your wide receivers in exchange.

If the trade is accepted, and approved by the commissioner or the rest of the league, your team will receive the player you traded for. The player you offered in the trade will be sent to your opponent, and both teams will continue competing over the rest of the season.

Things to consider when making fantasy football trades

The number one question when it comes to fantasy football trades is “should I make this trade?” There are so many factors to consider when evaluating offers or formulating your own. The most important thing to consider is whether the trade offer in question is mutually beneficial while still being worth it to your team.

On the rare occasion, you will offer or be offered a trade that is disproportionately beneficial to your team. But in most cases, you need to give something of value to get something of value, and you will want to make sure that you are not caught trying to completely rip off your fellow fantasy owners. There are two reasons for this:

  • First, the likelihood of a fantasy football trade gaining commissioner/league approval when the offer is lopsided is slim to none.
  • Meanwhile, your reputation when offering further trades suffers when offering a lopsided deal. Even if you offer more balanced deals in the future, owners are likely to see you as someone who is trying to rip them off if you give them a bad first impression in the trade market.

Of course, your league may have an owner that is more susceptible to accepting lopsided offers than the average fantasy football player. But it is all about getting a feel for how the other owners in your league operate and how you can make things work as well as possible for you.

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Who to trade for in fantasy football

When it comes to who to trade for in fantasy football, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, it depends on what the needs are of each individual team. Some teams have immediate needs to fill a position in their starting lineup, while others are simply looking to bolster their depth in different areas on their bench. Who to target in the trade market requires fantasy owners to do an audit of what their needs are and how best to meet those needs.

The roster construction of each team in your league also has a lot to do with which players you should trade for and which players are attainable in the first place. If there are rosters that have immediate needs for players at a position you have depth in, you may be able to get some value by exploiting their needs for your own benefit. 

How injuries impact the fantasy football season can have a lot to do with which players are available in the trade market and which teams need to make deals on various timetables. For example, a team that loses its top running back or its lone quarterback for the season due to injury will likely be more aggressive in the trade market than a team whose injuries have been mostly relegated to bench players. While injuries are an unfortunate part of football, they can greatly impact which teams have needs and what they are willing to part with to fulfill them.

When is the fantasy football trade deadline?

The fantasy football trade deadline can vary wildly depending on your individual league’s settings. Every fantasy football site sets a default trade deadline date, which is typically in November or early December. But league commissioners can change that date to suit the needs of their league. Some commissioners even allow trades all the way through the end of the regular season for teams that are still alive in the playoff race.

To find out when your league’s trade deadline is, you can check the league settings within your league dashboard. This is something worth taking a look at early in the season, to avoid missing out on the ability to put trades together before the deadline arrives.

Can I cancel a trade in fantasy football?

For the most part, it is not possible to cancel a trade when it has been accepted by both parties. Trade offers can be canceled before they are accepted by the second party, but the only ways that trades can be canceled after being accepted are via league veto or by both parties speaking to the commissioner and having the trade manually canceled after the fact. This is a rarity, as the parties involved in a trade both have to accept for the trade to go through, and both owners usually have to live with the consequences of that decision.

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