How to Evaluate a Fantasy Football Trade

Every league has its issues, but I’ve never come across a league that didn’t have a problem evaluating trades. Whether you’re trying to figure out what to offer another team or debating whether a trade is “fair,” there is no perfect method.

Every league is different — different sizes, different scoring systems, different starting rosters. And every team manager evaluates players in their own way.

As a result, no one can agree completely on whether a deal is fair. That’s why every trade is a negotiation, both with the team you trade with and the league itself.

Of all the questions I talk about with fantasy football buddies, even the ones in other leagues, I get the most questions and discussion about the fairness of trades or whether a trade offer makes sense.

And so I thought it best to share a couple of tools that I use to evaluate trades in a completely neutral way. These tools are completely free, and once you try them, I think you’ll find they make assembling a trade offer easier as well. Rather than calling up a buddy and having to talk through trade options in your head, these tools can help you find what should be considering a good offer before you go to the bargaining table.

But before we get to the tools, a quick aside on vetoing trades.

WHEN TO VETO A TRADE

There are several schools of thought when it comes to vetoing a trade. The two extremes are the most common.

On the one hand are the folks who say a trade should never be vetoed as long as it’s agreed upon by both trade parties. In that system, it’s up to the league to kick out any members who abuse the trading system or who get taken advantage of in trades all too often.

I don’t believe in that practice much because it opens the floor for complaints and because throwing a member out of a league is never a painless process.

The other end of the spectrum requires the league to vote to approve all trades, which gives any league member the right to veto any trade for any reason. These leagues get riled up over the slightest trade variables, and it can really ruin a good fantasy football league when trade arguments get heated. League members will always abuse the veto.

I think the ideal system is somewhere in the middle, but here’s my general rule of thumb: you should be able to defend your trade to the rest of your league with solid reasoning. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be making the trade.

Buy lows and sell highs are going to happen. Really, they’re encouraged by even this fine fantasy site. So don’t get caught up in the heat of an argument over trades that may help a good team get better and lose sight of how a trade helps both teams.

That said, it’s often helpful to have a neutral third party to evaluate trades. Not only do a neutral opinion help you decide what a reasonable offer would be before you send it, but it’ll also help you look at a trade from an outsider perspective if you’re a commissioner or if you’re trying to decide if a veto is necessary.

2 TOOLS TO EVALUATE TRADES

Paid tools and league-site specific tools (Yahoo!, etc.) exist, but I have found these two free tools to be perfectly satisfactory. And for the purposes of this article, I’ll stick to the free ones that anyone can use.

1. My standby for the past two seasons has been KFFL’s Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer.

KFFL Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer

It’s not much in the looks department, but KFFL’s trade analyzer gets the job done. You simply enter the players on either side of a trade, choosing the range in the alphabet in which their first name falls to shorten the list of names to choose from at each spot.

Unlike other tools, KFFL does a little more thinking for you by also taking into consideration the starting roster and size of your league.

It feels a little more complete to provide this sort of info when evaluating a trade, but I still wish that KFFL would consider incorporating a FLEX position as an option on the roster. So far, I’ve simply ignored flex postions as a part of my starting roster when entering the form, but for leagues in which you start 2 RBs and a FLEX position, having that third running back to start in the FLEX can be extremely more valuable.

KFFL doesn’t ask for any type of scoring notes, but neither does the other tool I’ll talk about. It starts to get really tricky to look at trades once you start talking about various scoring systems, so I understand the reasoning behind not including it. But if it ever did…that would be awesome. If the league uses PPR scoring, for example, wide receivers would be much more valuable.

I really do like what KFFL brings to the table. The output they give to evaluate a trade tells you not only the most valuable pieces being exchanged, but who’s “winning” the trade and how severe the difference is. In the end, KFFL will give you a definitive answer on whether Team 1 or Team 2 should reject the trade or approve of it as a very fail deal.

KFFL Trade Analyzer Output

Analysis of Frank Gore for Darren McFadden and Plaxico Burress

In my experience, KFFL tends to be pretty conservative on how it rates players, not giving much credit to players on the rise as compared to a stud who’s not performing up to their expected level. But I still love you, KFFL. Good work.

2. The new kid on the block that I’ve also been using late this season is Fantasy Football Nerd’s Trade Analyzer.

Fantasy Football Nerd Trade Analzyer (Beta)

It’s only in beta — and to be honest, maybe I shouldn’t be telling you about it yet — but I already find what Fantasy Football Nerd is building very useful.

FFN’s tool is much faster to input players with a search box and arrow buttons to place a player on either side of an offer. Once players are entered, the analyze button gives you an almost instant answer on who has the better end of the deal.

Since Fantasy Football Nerd doesn’t take into consideration any data on league size or starting positions, it’s hard to say that its trade values are as complete as KFFL’s trade tool, but it is nice to get the quick answer, even if it’s a quick and dirty answer.

I also like that they give a numerical value on exactly how much more valuable the winning side of the trade is.

Fantasy Football Nerd Trade Analyzer Output

Sample analysis of trade of Frank Gore for Darren McFadden and Plaxico Burress

Also on the plus side, the Fantasy Football Nerd tool lets you know that the winning side is getting “the better end of the trade by XX points over the course of the rest of the season.” So you know that their trade tool is looking at how a player will do the rest of the season and not just how they are currently valued. The rest-of-the-season (ROS) value is always what I care about more in a trade than how much a player is worth at that given moment.

Then again, some people may not want something like this out there giving away that “buy low” and “sell high” edge.

HOW TO USE THESE TOOLS

I find myself using both of these tools on a regular basis to put together and judge trades. Fantasy Football Nerd’s analyzer is a nice, quick way to build a trade when you’re trying to put together an offer, and once you’ve got the basic idea together, KFFL is what I feel is the most fair way of judging whether the other owner will think you’re crazy or not for sending it.

KFFL’s analyzer is also the best indicator as to whether the other owners in your league will burn you alive for making that trade. But don’t take it as gospel since KFFL can be a little stingy when it comes to studs versus up-and-comers, as I said before.

As a commish, I’d make KFFL’s Trade Analyzer a regular part of my tool set. When the league starts to get upset about a particular trade, it can sometimes quiet the masses by providing a soothing, “This trade is fair” response. It can also help in challenging an owner to defend a trade when it seems more sloppily assembled.

If you can’t defend a trade by discussing player values, you don’t deserve it, and these tools should help you make a great deal.

For those of you not so concerned about fairness as you are about winning (okay, all of us), I’d definitely bookmark Fantasy Football Nerd’s Analyzer to quickly survey any trade offers you receive and figure out whether to accept.

While it’s in beta now, the FFN analyzer is only going to get better, and Fantasy Football Nerd has already demonstrated a great ability to synthesize a number of opinions and give an unbiased consensus opinion through their weekly rankings.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK

Neither of these tools are perfect, and as each evolves, I’d love to hear your feedback on which works best and if you have any interesting ways of using them. I’d also like to hear about any other tools you use when evaluating trades or putting together a trade package. Tell me all about them below in the comments or drop me a note.

Happy trading!

The League S02E09: Never Use Your Friend as an “Expert Witness”

We never have gotten to see the league members in their unnatural environment: their jobs. Sure, in Season 1, we saw Kevin and Ruxin negotiate a plea bargain and a trade of the No. 1 overall pick, but we never saw them in court.

Pete’s been in an office, but we’ve never seen him working. And Andre’s been seen in scrubs and in commercials, but he’s never performed a surgery on the show.

We’re in for a treat this week, as the league decided it was “Take Your Fantasy Football Leaguemates to Work” Week in “Expert Witness.”

Taco is at Kevin’s trial this morning. It seems his cable’s out so he’s subbing out “Judge Joe Brown” for Kevin’s workplace, plus popcorn. But Kevin won’t have it, and the judge will have even less.

At the bar, Ruxin explains his big case. A fugly got in a car accident, sued the brake company, and used the money to pay for her plastic surgery. Now, as a super hotty, she’s suing for emotional distress. It’s in the bag, or so Ruxin thinks. In Ruxin’s own words, they “paid for her own personal episode of The Swan.”

His secret weapon is his “work flirt,” the judge for this trial.

This launches a discussion of “work flirting” as a practice. Ruxin swears by it, but Kevin completely shut his “flirt thrusters” down when he got married. Pete explains that he “strained a testicle” by not keeping his flirt muscles active during his marriage. Sounds painful.

After that PSA from The League, I have to be a little worried. I’m engaged and my flirt thrusters are completely shut down. In fact, they have been for years. So hopefully, I’m never forced to spring them back into action. Am I the only one? Do any married guys out there have “flirt thrusters” on full throttle?

Hearing about Ruxin’s case, Andre adds that women who have plastic surgery lead better lives. It’s the discovery of the century: Hot women have it easy. Who knew?

In what will never be seen as his finest hour, Ruxin seizes the moment and asks Andre to be an expert witness in his case. Andre gets far, far too excited about it. First warning sign!

Andre proceeds to start a conversation about sausage places downtown, which gets Pete involved. If you’ve followed the show, you’ll know that Pete often likes to steal Andre’s thunder via one-upmanship or trade rape. He lets no moment pass when he might be able to make Andre feel like less of a man.

Pete claims his sausage joint is the best, and he invites the gang to eat at HIS place, his treat, so that they can see how right he is, which infuriates Andre to no end.

Back at home, Kevin finds out that Peyton Hillis is out this week. What?!? Oh, right. This is fictional. And it’s not like I own Peyton Hillis in any of my leagues anyway.

It’s not like I would care if he’s hurt and not racking up double-digit points for his owners this week in fantasy football. It’s not like I’M BITTER about that, after having thought of him as a great late-round sleeper and then neglecting to lock him up in the early part of the season. NOT. BITTER. AT. ALL.

But Kevin makes the mistake of revealing his need for a running back in front of Jenny, who happens to have the first priority on the waiver wire this week. Poor, poor Kevin. Never talk about your waiver wire needs in front of another owner unless you know, for certain, that they have a later pick than you. In fact, just never talk to another owner about the waiver wire.

Enter collusion. Kevin himself proposes a bribe: Good sex for Mike Bell, Hillis’ backup. Jenny counters by forcing Kevin to do all of Ellie’s thank you notes in order to earn the right to pick up Mike Bell. And it’s a deal.

By the way, did you notice how Jenny’s drinking a beer and holding the remote to the TV while Kevin sits on his laptop and begs for a draft pick in this scene? Clearly, Jenny wears the pants in this relationship…but we already knew that.

Back at the courthouse, Taco catches up with the courtroom artist to get a play-by-play of the day he missed. Ruxin ducks away from having to talk to him and runs right into his “work flirt,” the judge. He lays it on thick for her, as usual, before blowing off Taco and getting back to work.

At Kevin’s house, Ruxin and Kevin have Andre in Kevin’s mancave garage trying to talk him through how to be an expert witness. Andre wants to wear “To Catch A Predator” glasses, against the advice of Kevin and Ruxin. They have to coach him out of using “double guns,” to stop trying to play humble on the stand, and on how to tell the truth no matter what. But the pressure becomes too much for poor Andre. He goes into a blinking fit.

Jenny reminds Kevin to do Ellie’s thank you cards, and Kevin’s immediate acceptance makes Ruxin suspicious. Rightfully so. Ruxin goes on a rant and sniffs through Kevin’s computer, but no luck. He can’t even find an answer in Jenny’s underwear. Is everyone in this episode trying to come off like a sexual predator?

Andre confesses to Kevin that he needs a trade and reveals that he plans to persuade Taco to trade with him. Against all odds, he thinks his sexual predator powers can bend Taco to his will. *Shivers*

The gang gathers for pizza, and Andre brags about having eaten an entire “Wide Load” pizza. Pete, seeing another opportunity to steal thunder, asks Andre if he’s ever tried the “Holy Stromboli.” Pete claims that he’s eaten the entire thing. Twice.

Taco interrupts this sad little game to reveal his love affair with the courtroom artist. She drew him a sex sketch. Now he has to send her one of his own.

Brett Favre must have really good freehand skills.

In hopes of swaying Taco to trade, Andre volunteers to sketch Taco naked. Raising the stakes, Kevin volunteers Andre to shave Taco’s shaft for him since he’s done it as part of his job as a plastic surgeon. That’s the dark side of plastic surgery, kids.

In Ruxin’s office, Pete recognizes the brake lawsuit girl. She used to work in his office.

Pete wants a hook-up, but Ruxin, once again, has a not-so-great idea. He wants to put Pete on the stand as a second expert witness.

Ruxin, even I see how this one is going to fail.

When Taco shows up for his sketch, he finds Andre in a Professor X-looking head massager. It freaks Taco out, but Andre doesn’t have to do much to make that happen. (See: Nosferatu vs. Andre)

Andre dives further into the depths of super-creepy artist mode and sketches Taco down to his junk. It’s both magical and disturbing as they discuss the wilt and the bend of his member, but segueing right off of that horrific conversation, Andre pitches a trade to Taco. Having already logged into Taco’s account, Andre pulls out a laptop to seal the deal. It wasn’t too easy to crack Taco’s password since his team name is “Password is Taco.” Uncreative and easy to crack. Double foul.

The deal they strike is David Akers for Ray Rice, and Taco accepts. This trade is why we have to have vetoes, people. That’s a terrible deal. But it’s not my place to veto trades in The League.

In watching Andre make the trade, Taco brings his junk front and center in front of Andre’s face. It pains me to describe it in full detail, but Taco ends up giving Andre a shoulder massage from the front. So he does do something from the front after all…

When Pete comes in to pick up Andre for a movie, this massage scene Taco has trapped Andre in, of course, looks like a blow job. Game, set, match, Andre.

At the trial, Andre’s nervous, and Pete’s arrival to “steal his thunder” again doesn’t help him.

Ruxin takes the asshole approach to questioning the victim of the brake accident, otherwise known as being Ruxin. He plays it cool and tries to make her look like a hot girl complaining about the pains of being attractive. It works to an extent.

But the case really starts to come apart when Andre takes the stand claiming to be “Slim Shady” and employed as an “expert witness” with the double guns. Ah, the double guns. He even brings out the pedophile glasses and the pedophile jokes.

Andre’s pit stains don’t sway the jury as Ruxin had hoped.

So Ruxin moves swiftly to his next witness, Pete.

Pete’s testimony goes a little more smoothly until he admits to having called the plaintiff “Das Dinga” before her plastic surgery transformation, accented by Ruxin’s thing-like screech at the jury. So much for getting a date with the Das Dinga 2.0, Pete.

At the tail end of his testimony, Ruxin puts Pete on the spot about whether Kevin colluded with Jenny to get Mike Bell. Under oath, Pete can’t lie, and the court erupts with Kevin, Andre, Pete, and Ruxin screaming at each other.

Ruxin’s brought back to the judge’s chambers, and to win his trial, he’s asked to fulfill the flirtation he’s perpetuated with his “work flirt.”

Meanwhile, the courtroom artist tries to tell Taco that her husband is coming. Like with most things, Taco doesn’t connect the dots. When the husband storms in, he gets caught trying to slip out.

In trying to hit Taco, the husband throws a piece of evidence straight into Das Dinga’s new nose, and then chases Taco into the judge’s chambers, where the league finds “Dog Ruxin” taking his licks from the judge with a bone in his mouth.

At the end of an eventful day at the office, the gang takes Ruxin to prove he can eat the “Holy Stromboli” just like Pete did.

Turns out, Pete never did it. He just made it up to steal Andre’s thunder. Poor Andre.

Memorable quotes from Episode 9

RUXIN: “Dude, when you’re married, you have to keep a work flirt. It keeps the flirt muscles limber. Otherwise, you tense up. You could pop a hammy like Pete did when he got divorced.”

TACO: “If I ever got plastic surgery…ASIAN EYES.” [Pointing at his face]

ANDRE: “Ohhh, we’re gonna go out to lunch with my bro-bros!”

PETE: “I’m not stealing your thunder. I merely escorted them to a more interesting storm.”

JENNY: “Do you not try your best now?” [on Kevin's sexual efforts]
KEVIN: “I will give you 100 percent for four minutes, and then like 60 percent for five minutes after that. And then after that, you’re on your own.”
JENNY: “You naughty little commissioner.”

RUXIN: “I don’t know you here.” [Said to Taco as Taco tries to say "hello" to Ruxin in the courthouse]

RUXIN: “My guess is a country entirely populated by fans of Aerosmith.” [on what country Andre's proposed outfit for his court appearance would represent]

RUXIN: “Oh, good, so you look like a crafty sexual predator.”

RUXIN: “Your wife asked you to do something, and you did it on the first ask. It takes my wife three asks before I’ll do something menial like take the trash out. And we have a loving marriage.”

RUXIN: “They brought me in for an evaluation in middle school, but I left before the psychiatrist could give me his final diagnosis (whispering) ’cause he had it out for me.” [on whether he'd ever been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia]

JENNY: “Sad little man, NO!” [while slapping Ruxin's hand away from her underwear]

TACO: “I don’t use front anything.” [on why he didn't come through the front door]

RUXIN: “She really captures your inner hobo.” [on Taco's portrait by the courtroom artist]

RUXIN: “How many shafts do you think you’ve shaved?” [to Andre]

RUXIN: “I could watch you flick it…?” [to the judge, when asked to beg like a dog]

TACO: “Nothing happened, okay? We just had sex.”

[ Jump to Episode 10: "High School Reunion" ]