I’ll Be Damned: Losing the Trade

Hey, it's Enrico Pollazzo!

Greetings, fantasy basketball junkies. It’s February, the Super Bowl is over, and you’ll notice most of your buddies shifting their focus to baseball. I don’t blame them. There’s nothing better than preparing for your fantasy baseball draft. I’d much rather be doing that than writing another hoops article.

But we still have two-plus more months of basketball, and gosh darnit I can multi-task. I live, breathe and puke up this stuff, so by now I’m operating on hoops cruise control. If you are as committed to winning your league as your presence at this website probably attests (just go with it), you will stick to your routine and see this season through.

This week I’m going to chit-chat about trades, and what kind I think you should make. The intro above matters, in that you can probably pull the wool over the eyes of anyone in your league whose brains are on baseball cheat sheets. These people can be your fantasy friends, and you should deceive and take advantage of them like any good friend would.

But if you need to deal with anyone who A) respects you and your fantasy reputation or B) knows what they are doing themselves, you have to rethink your strategies leading up to your trade deadline. I’m talking about Losing the Trade.

Do you guys find it as impossible as I do to make trades in any of your fantasy leagues? Everyone thinks I’m out to rip them off. Everyone tries to rip me off. Sometimes an offer will stand unattended for days before I have to cancel. Emails aren’t returned.

Since I love wheeling and dealing, and also since I love winning, I have to make some concessions. I am not afraid to dangle my superstars, not afraid to make huge multi-player blockbusters, and not afraid to lose the trade.

It’s okay to go ahead and get fleeced. There are many ways this can be accomplished to your benefit:

1) By this time of year, you should be attacking categories or positional need, and your best players don’t always address the ways you can win. They’ve gotten you to this point, but you might need different kinds of players to take you the rest of the way.

2) You should have a good feel by now for the strengths and weaknesses of the teams in your league. Use this to your advantage, and try to trade with teams that are either out of the running or can’t hurt you with what you give them. Don’t trade Kevin Durant to someone who can pass you in points, or someone who can use him to beat you next week in a head-to-head league. But absolutely trade him or someone like him to a team that is weak in scoring.

3) Better yet, trade Durant or someone like him to a team in your league that can hurt your real competition in key categories or in a future H2H matchup. You might be reluctant to move your best players, but if you do pull the trigger make sure they keep working for you long after they are gone. Look at each category in your roto league closely, and in H2H leagues check the remaining schedule before the playoffs.

In the Damn Lies rotisserie league, I traded with a struggling owner who, for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call “Lom Torenzo”. I gave Lom Gerald Wallace and Darren Collison and received Dorell Wright and Tony Parker. The trade has worked even though I gave up my second- and fourth-round picks for players many felt were overachieving. I worked the reverse of the buy-low by selling low to a savvy owner who almost couldn’t refuse, because he knew that Wallace and Collison would play much better in the second half. Me, I got real movement and/or stability in several categories and have since gained several points in the standings. As a bonus, Lom can’t say that I ripped him off as he potentially got the two best fantasy players in the deal.

The goal isn’t to always buy low. It sounds good to do that, but the reality is that many fantasy owners are hip to that game. It’s not easy to rip someone off, and you shouldn’t try. You want to help yourself first, hurt your immediate competition second and worry about what happens to the team you trade with last. With that in mind, why not sweeten the pot for them? Make them an offer they’d be stupid to refuse, and if they move from eighth to sixth place because of it, what do you care?

This whole thing is just another way of saying you have to give a little to get a little. I get asked a lot about whether or not someone should trade so-and-so straight up for so-and-so. The answer always depends. Don’t worry about making the perfect trade. Work the categories, shore up your weaknesses, and plot out your plan for victory carefully. Who cares if the trade you make looks good on paper? Get the attention of owners in your league by giving them the feeling that they won the trade. They’ll be more willing to work with you in the future because of it, and you’ll be more likely to win a championship, as long as you respect their privacy when writing about them on a blog. Right, Lom?

I’ll Be Damned is a weekly look at the fantasy basketball landscape written by Jeff Andriesse most weeks, a room full of monkeys on typewriters the rest. If you have a question for Jeff, or a few extra bananas, get in touch with him through the Contact Us link at the top of the site or by asking him a question on Twitter.

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2 responses to “I’ll Be Damned: Losing the Trade

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