For more fantasy analysis, check out Mastersball.com.
The past couple of weeks we have talked a lot about the so-called dump trade, where one side acquires talent to help in future seasons while the other fortifies a run for the title in the current season. Building for the future is an integral element of keeper and dynasty leagues. But as has been discussed, there is no real way to determine equity in these sorts of swaps. Fair is dictated by the market. As well as how adept some are at haggling and how susceptible some are to forceful, convincing sales pitches.
But here is the problem. There needs to be a fine balance between being as greed and the general well-being of the league. You can build the strongest team foundation possible, but in doing so, if you have alienated the league to the point its stability is compromised, your efforts might go for naught.
Ideally, your league is unanimous with regards to accepting the level of dump trading. So long as everyone is on the same page, there is no such thing as a bad rule or bad league dynamic. Moreover, practically speaking, your league should have rules in place that minimize the subjectivity involved with an equitable dump trade. Perhaps you deploy a salary cap or use the old school asterisk method to temper dump deals.
With that said, there are still some precautions you can take to help keep league peace. Announcing your intentions to deal away your non-keepers for future help gives everyone a chance at your assets. Granted, this may put you at a competitive disadvantage of others who have superior talent to deal and are then moved to do so, which likely will affect the quality of keeper you get in return. But as was suggested, it is all about balance. What good does it serve to assemble a killer keeper list if the league dissolves?
Something else you can do is spread the wealth. Instead of dealing the majority of your talent to one owner, target a few different owners. Too many dumpers want to get it over with and move on. They find a dance partner, identify a couple of keepers and open the vaults. You should at least make an attempt find multiple trade partners.
You may recall last week, the advice was not to hesitate to give up multiple players to get a stud keeper. The above may seem like a contradiction. But remember, the key is balance. Giving someone carte blanche to your roster for a great keeper and a marginal one is not advised. Instead, try giving up two or even three players for the single keeper and do the same with another squad. This is better than a six-for-two with one owner.
This actually segues into a pet peeve of mine. One of the common misconceptions of opponents of keeper leagues is the perception that one deal decides the championship. If this is the case, the league did a poor job. A keeper league should be decided after a series of deals and counters, with several teams building and several teams competing. Ideally, the split is 50/50, but some teams usually get trapped in no man's land, their indecisiveness either way leading to no money finish and a paucity of keepers for next season. In fact, I actually believe it is incumbent upon those closest to the top to put a scare into the leader, even if the chances of catching them are nil. Think of it this way, the owner is still going to possess the same keeper list they have now. If you do nothing, you will face the same uphill battle in front of you now. You may as well try to put a dent into their foundation, even if it means weakening yours a bit. Yeah, maybe this is a bit over the top, and I did say it was just my opinion.
OK, back to reality. The lesson is that there is a fine line between ransacking the bottom feeders and sabotaging your league. Yeah, this is extreme. Truth be told, I lean toward pillaging but I do so with the provision that I don't want to force too much ill will on the league. There is a gentle balance. Tread carefully.
Todd Zola recently merged Mastersball.com with CREATiVESPORTS.com where their combined staff features some of the most successful fantasy players in the industry. Todd's focus is strategy and game theory. He contributes to the Mastersball subscription packages as well as a free blog and is a frequent contributor to the site's public message forum. Todd is a veteran of Tout Wars and LABR and has multiple first place finishes in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship and deep down, favors in-season salary caps as a means to help control dump trades.