February 13, 2012

In this week's strategy session, we're going to be discussing trading in fantasy basketball and how to utilize it as a tool in order to win in your fantasy basketball league. While the majority of managers tend to prefer to work the FA pool, trading with other teams is a very potent method to improving your chances for securing that coveted podium spot at season's end.

Who are the best people to trade with?

1. Generally, teams at the bottom of your league's standings are the most receptive to making drastic changes. These teams normally are plagued with injuries and may be willing to let go of one or more of their top guys in exchange for some warm bodies (healthy, productive players). Conversely, teams at the top of the standings are less inclined to make big moves as they tend to not want to fix what isn't broken, so to speak.

2. Take into consideration the player or team preferences of your opponents. Managers who, for example, are Celtics fans, would be more receptive to receiving a Celtics player in exchange for giving up a slightly more productive player.

3. Communicate. Opportunities don't always present themselves as easily and as conveniently as we'd prefer. Send out e-mails. Touch base and ask a manager what players he is open to trading and ask him what categories he wants to bolster. Remember that not all managers may be actively using your league's built-in trading block system. By being an active communicator, you make every manager in your league a potential trade partner.

Three important things to consider when proposing and reviewing trades:

1. Overall Value -- This is important, especially when more than two players are involved in a transaction. Accepting two mediocre players in exchange for your All-Star caliber player may not work out for you, but receiving two players who are each producing second- to fourth-round value may be more useful to your team than your current first-round pick. Your team's depth is something to consider while assessing the impact of multi-player deals. It's always a good idea to research how players have been performing during the season as a whole and juxtaposing that performance with recent 7-day or 14-day values. Using a player rater for this research is a good idea.

2. Fit -- Just because you are able to trade for, say, Dwight Howard, in your league, it doesn't mean you should. Your team may actually be valuing FT% as one of its strengths and Howard's pros may not be worth the con he brings in that category. Target players who play to the strengths of your team. This is something that should be considered when you value players as assets in a transaction.

3. Risk -- Be sure to factor in some kind of valuation to the risks that accompany certain players. Players who are currently playing through injuries that have the potential to get aggravated and players who been proven to be historically injury prone should be valued less. When you're trading for Andrew Bynum or this season's Luol Deng, know that acquiring these players come with the risk of their production and equivalent "stock value" to crash.

Understanding "Buy Low" and "Sell High"

Since fantasy basketball boils down to a commodities investing and trading game that just happens to have an NBA setting and theme to it, rules and strategies that govern investments also apply to it. One of the umbrella concepts when it comes to trading is the "buy low, sell high concept," which means to give up as little as possible in exchange for better future returns on investment and getting as much value in exchange for uncharacteristically high-performing commodities.

On paper the concept is easy to understand, yet applying it to actual trading in fantasy basketball is easier said than done.

The most important thing to consider is to have solid fundamentals in assessing a player's projected production for the remainder of the season. Player "X" may be in a slump at the moment (4-5 games), but it happens to almost everyone outside of the prime, blue chip guys. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. How was the player performing prior to the slump?2. Is he currently dealing with an injury? Do some extra research.3. Is he a "second-half of the season" type of player who tends to be more productive post-all-star break?4. Is the player at risk of being traded in real life?5. Is the player's team in the market for making major moves and thus roster changes?

If your answers to those questions lean toward a positive outlook, that player is a prime buy-low target.

On the other hand, players who are being productive while some teammates are missing games due to injury are generally perceived to be sell-high candidates.

When making a trade proposal remember, "Greed will get you nowhere!"

Your best chance to consummate a successful deal is to remember that it must be a win-win kind of situation for both parties. Low-ball offers tend to irritate other managers. He wants to win as much as you do. Propose offers that make sense for both teams. Having the factor of salaries in the most common fantasy sports formats is something that should be taken advantage of as far as landing a fair deal is concerned. No, there aren't any Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol deal scenarios that are viable in fantasy. Since not all teams have similar strategies, find a trade partner whom you can help and who can help you in return.

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