Tools of the Trade
By Zach Owen
Hello everyone. I only have one trade for you this week. This person reached out to the Twitter void for some information but hadn’t gotten any feedback (after an hour of posting). Basically they’ve been offered a pretty even trade but it’s always these close ones that are hardest to pick a side on.
"@KyleYNFL what is the best way to analyze a trade? I have an offer for Barkley and receive Adams. I've run this through every analyzer and it shows this as relatively equal. I've already got Elliott, Ekeler, and Henderson, but my best WRs are Evans and Woods. Dynasty Lg. Thoughts"
I gave them some quick advice but Twitter is not the platform for answering this type of question. So I wanted to take this week’s article to talk about it in more depth.
First, I’ve talked about my opinions before on trade analyzers but I’ll repeat it here again since they specifically mentioned them. Trade analyzers can be helpful but also can be dangerous if you put too much weight into them. They are often based on one analyst’s or a small group of analysts’ opinions on players. From a data perspective, a small sample size like this can be very misleading since outliers are harder to spot.
This is even more harmful considering all this data is opinion based. As much as analysts like to “have a process” (I do too), rankings are just opinions at the end of the day. Some opinions are based on stats, others are based on film, others are based on gut feeling, and most are based on some combination of these. At the end of the day though, they’re still opinions. If they weren’t we’d all have the same lists and fantasy wouldn’t be as fun.
The one trade analyzer that avoids the small sample size issue (that I know of) is KeepTradeCut. If you aren’t familiar, it crowdsources player values by polling people when they visit the site. This has its pros and cons but, in my opinion, it has one major issue in common with most other analyzers.
Trades require context but trade analyzers operate in a vacuum. They’ll usually give you some decent options to pick from (1QB vs SuperFlex “SF” vs 2QB, various levels of points per reception, etc.) but they don’t cover everything. They often don’t account for rebuilding teams vs contending teams, player scarcity (How many WRs do you have to start? How many flexes? How many teams in the league?, etc.), or what your current team makeup is (WR needy, deep at RB, etc.). All of these are pertinent to trade decisions which most trade analyzers don’t account for.
All that being said, trade analyzers are great for one thing and that’s being a sanity check. They are a quick and convenient way to get feedback on any trade. You need to make sure you look at multiple, reliable trade analyzers though. Then you can know pretty quickly if the trade is at least in the ballpark or not. But that’s it! Then comes the next step: adding context.
Again, the original poster went through a bunch of trade analyzers and they all told them trading Saquon Barkley for Davante Adams is a pretty fair trade (which I agree with). So if both sides are pretty equal, what side do I take? This is where you add context. Basically, which side of the trade actually makes my team better? This is often NOT an easy question though. Since this is Dynasty, adding in picks (aka Mystery Boxes) makes everything even more difficult. I find that approaching trades and “what my team needs” piece by piece helps me.
First, are you rebuilding or contending? Obviously you want to aim for younger players in a rebuild. You should specifically be trying to acquire young QBs and WRs since they will be in the league for longer. Contenders on the other hand need players that are scoring points this year no matter what position. If you can get a couple more years out of them, great. Even better if you have the young stars like CeeDee Lamb, D’andre Swift, Josh Allen, etc. that are young but also scoring tons of points. Obviously these are going to be the most expensive players for that exact reason.
Next, how many of each position do you start? How many managers are in the league? Position scarcity can definitely affect player values the more of a position you need and the more managers need them. 1QB vs SF is the most common example of this value difference. QBs in SF are much more valuable than in 1QB leagues. I’d say easily twice as valuable in some cases. For example, in a 12-team SF league which is pretty standard, each team is not going to have 3 starting QBs (36 total) since there’s only 32 starting QBs in the NFL. This goes for all the positions though. Eventually there is a cap on the available starters which affects values. Starting QBs and TEs are very scarce. In leagues where you need to start multiple, the prices of the best players are going to shoot up. Starting RBs are pretty scarce too but not to the same degree. WRs won’t be affected as much since there are so many startable WRs in the league but it still does matter to some degree.
The last bit of context I’m going to cover is team need, particularly for contenders. Rebuilding teams have plenty of time to fix holes (typically RBs), so just focus on getting the best players you can. Contenders need as many of their players to score as many points as possible right now. Contending teams should always be trying to address positions on their team where they are lacking, as long as it doesn’t hurt your team overall. That means that getting a 3rd startable RB is not going to be as important as your 1st startable WR. Address your immediate needs first, then start looking for depth. Now this shouldn’t heavily affect your values of players. Just because you need a WR, that doesn’t mean you should sell the farm for any old WR. The goal at the end of the day is to make your team better. Never forget that.
So given all that, I finally want to give an opinion on the trade from the original Tweet. They don’t give much information about their team but I can make some decent assumptions. First, their team seems like a contending team. Most of the players listed were older (Elliott, Ekeler, Evans, Woods) and are in their prime to score points. They each should have a couple years left to play but they aren’t the super young players you rebuild around.
Next is the team makeup. Unfortunately they didn’t give any specifics on how many of each position they have to start or how many managers are in this league. So I will assume a normal team setup and normal sized league which won’t really affect the decision at hand. Hypothetically if they needed to start 3RBs or if it was a point per carry league, it might change things.
Finally, what does their team need? If they were to trade Barkley, they’d be left with 3 startable RBs this year. That’s usually the number I aim for in a 2RB league. It gives me two weekly starters and a flex/bye week fill in. So they are pretty set at RB as far as I’m concerned. Their WRs on the other hand could definitely use some help. I’d at least want 3 starting WRs but I’d often be aiming for 4 or 5, especially in any sort of point per reception league.
So if it wasn’t obvious by now, I’d want the Adams side of this trade 100%. Adams is definitely a player for a contending team and this manager needs WR help so Adams is the perfect fit. I’d also consider trading for some cheaper contending WRs too like Brandin Cooks or Adam Thielen to help push them over the edge.
Thanks for reading and I hope this helped. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @NeutralZoneFF if you have any Fantasy related questions.
Zach has background in data analysis. That coupled with his interest in sports made this the perfect hobby. Zach is always looking to learn more and try new league settings and scoring. His main interests right now is mastering the ins and outs of IDP.