In some leagues trades happen all the time, with the transaction report looking like a scene from Wolf of Wall Street. In others, it looks like one of those wide desert shots in Breaking Bad. In most leagues you might find trades to be possible, but not necessarily common. In any case, the trade deadline is here, so it's time to decide if you want to make a deal or not.
But wait, you say: The deadline is still weeks away in my league. It's true that the hard deadline is probably a bit in the future, but the soft deadline, the real deadline, is here. And if you want to get a deal done, now is the time to start.
I don't know how long it took to move Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers, but it probably took more than a couple of texts. There's usually back-and-forth communication, trade parameters that shift over the course of several conversations, and maybe some drama as deals are on, then off, then back on again. It can take weeks to hammer out terms of a trade that satisfies all parties. And even then, after all that work, it might fall through. A better deal might come up, or one side changes their mind, or feels like they aren't getting enough in the deal. Whatever it is, a lot of work goes into make a trade.
I understand that we're talking about billion-dollar organizations in the NFL, so it might be different in a fantasy league. But you know what? It isn't. Fantasy managers are just as eager to get fair value, acquire the player they want and make sure the terms of the deal work for them. Aside from a team of attorneys looking over the terms of a contract, I doubt they're any less protective about their position. In some fantasy leagues, trades are even rarer than in the real one. But that doesn't mean there aren't negotiations going on all the time. They just don't usually amount to anything.
And why is that? Were they just playing manager and wasting time? Are they dealing with an unreasonable trade partner? Did they have a last-minute change of heart? Maybe, but I think the answer is a lot simpler: They ran out of time. Give both sides a few more days and something might have gone through. That’s why I say you need to get the ball rolling now, so you have time to go back and forth and work through the process that leads to a deal. It’s not a guarantee, but if a trade is going to get made, having enough time to conclude the negotiations won’t hurt.
There are exceptions, of course. If you see a team with an obvious need, and you’re willing to let someone go for a good price, it can get done quickly. It sure didn’t take long for James Robinson to head to the Jets this week. In that case, the Jaguars got rid of a player they didn’t need anymore and the Jets are in contention, so both sides were motivated to trade. If a situation like that comes up, it won’t take long. But in most cases, you’ll be happy to have the extra time.
If you want to unload a player, please don’t put someone “on the block,” if that’s an option in your league. All it signals is that you’re desperate, and please send absurd offers your way. I advise you to seek out teams that might want your player, and/or have some depth at the position you need to fill. Look for a good fit and reach out to them directly. You might identify three or more potential trading partners, which is another reason why having some time works in your favor.
Also, make sure you know why you’re making a trade. Are you just switching your headache for someone else’s headache? As I’ve mentioned before, don’t do something just to “do something.” It has to make sense to you. You don’t have to be right all the time (nobody is), but you have to see the logic you were trying to follow.
Finally, you’ll need to accept that the trade might not work in your favor. You might even look back at it as a mistake. The Seahawks are in better shape than the Broncos despite unloading Russell Wilson. The Colts seem content to let Matt Ryan sit, healthy or not, and let Sam Ehlinger finish the season as the starter. And while the Browns are thinking long term with the Deshaun Watson trade, it looks like he’ll come back to an out-of-contention team this year and could be facing more legal issues. Sometimes trades don’t have the effect you wanted as quickly as you wanted.
But that’s okay. If you make a trade you like, you can live with the consequences. It’s much harder to watch your team fail knowing you could have done more, or didn’t pull the trigger despite feeling good about the deal. We all face tough management choices from time to time. That’s part of the fun. Just make the best decision you can, and give yourself enough time to make it. When it comes to trades, that means now. Good luck this week.
Are you working on a trade right now? How long does it take to get a deal done in your league? Have you ever made a trade and have it immediately pay off, or cause instant regret? Share your thoughts below.