This was the greatest NFL offseason of all time. Russell Wilson was traded to the Broncos. Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. Davante Adams to the Raiders. Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper to the Browns. Matt Ryan to the Colts. Robert Woods to the Titans. Khalil Mack to the chargers. Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders (soft name tbh). Dominic Elwood was drafted by the Oilers. Breece Hall to the Jets. For us, the NFL is degenerating, life is good. Yes – if you read an article about fake football in May – you’re degenerate… but it’s cool. Join the club…we’re all friends here.
In this article, I present a handful of off-season trading theories that I think will work in most cases. Like 60-70% of the time. This is my personal guarantee* (*not subject to litigation). After all, a 60% win rate in gambling is incredible. And fantasy football is very similar to… well.
Before I get into my trading theories, I want you to know that you do NOT need to be interested in college football or know much about beginners to be successful and have fun in dynastic fantasy football. You just have to adjust your strategy.
How to address beginners
Hands up, I don’t know beginners very well (I’m asking guy TFFB writer Marvin Elequin for advice – he’s top notch). For some reason, I don’t follow college football that much. Don’t get me wrong, I like to catch a game here and there…but pretty much all of my athletic energy is in the NFL. Also, there are a lot of people who are really good at beginner analysis, so I just listen to them. I do the same thing when I’m trying to fix something around the house – watch a few YouTube videos before I grab my tools and get to work.
To be honest, I tend to approach rookie drafts and trades with rookie/rookie picks at the macro level. I love articles that cover rookie production over a wide period of time. I think about rookies from an “average tier” perspective, and then adjust opinions on specific players based on analysis from analysts I trust. One of my favorite reference books is an Evergreen Dynasty article written by the legendary Mike Tagliere (RIP): What is a Dynasty Draft Pick actually worth? It looks back on 12 years of rookie production in the NFL. Another great one was recently posted by Marvin Elequin: Experience-adjusted college production and its impact on prospect hit rates.
Here’s an example: A year ago when I made a trade for the 1.06 pick at the start of the rookie draft of a Superflex Dynasty league. The first four picks were quarterbacks. Meanwhile, the manager with the 1.06 pick also had Deebo Samuel… and I had been trying to trade for Deebo for a couple of months (unsuccessfully). We ended up making a deal where I traded Calvin Ridley and a future 3rd for the 1.06, Deebo Samuel and a future 2nd. The deal was closed when the person at pick was 1.05 on the clock and Najee Harris, Ja’Marr Chase and Kyle Pitts were on the board. I didn’t know the players well, but I knew and trusted many smart analysts who touted them all – so I figured if I ended up with one I’d be fine. I ended up taking Ja’Marr Chase. So I ditched Calvin Ridley and ended up with two elite students in Deebo Samuel and Ja’Marr Chase last season (plus an improved future pick). Back then, this trade felt much smoother than it seems today. This is how Dynasty Fantasy Football works. The way to great advantage is to take risks. It doesn’t always work out, but I’d rather play to win than not to lose.
Dynasty Trade Theory 1: Swap older elite RBs for young proven players +
Running backs are short-term assets in the dynasty. The elites are worth their weight in gold, but they’re usually only elite for a few years. If you don’t believe me, look at the dynasty rankings from two years ago: Kenyan Drake, Devin Singletary, Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell were all top 20 dynasty RBs. Skilled dynasty managers can gain a great advantage by selling one of the elites 1-2 years before they decline. It doesn’t always work out, but even if the elite RB continues to produce at an elite level… you usually get a relatively fair return. And if the player refuses? You look like a bandit. A great example of this is a few years ago when Andy Holloway famously traded Todd Gurley for a haul – including Dalvin Cook.
Elite RBs are the most desirable players in the redraft for a reason – Elite RBs offer the greatest positional advantage compared to any positional group (more on that in this long-running article I wrote a few years ago: The largest position values in the past decade). This elite production combined with limited durability means that Dynasty teams able to “win now” should trade against elite RBs and try to capitalize on their “Superbowl window”. If you have an elite, senior RB that you want to trade for some loot, first look for the top 4 teams in your league to try and find a trade partner.
I live by the theory that you should only trade a true differentiator if you get at least one proven player in exchange. It’s always nice to mix in a rookie or rookie pick into the pack to move up. I also want to stress that you should never trade a Dynasty top 10 player unless you get a great package in return. To be clear, I’m not saying to trade CMC away immediately. I am saying that you should examine trade options to see if anyone in your league is willing to offer transport for CMC.
Older elite running backs I would consider (for a haul): CMC, Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara.
Climbers I like: JK Dobbins, Breece Hall, Travis Etienne, AJ Dillon, Tony Pollard.
Sample trade: Trade CMC and a future 3rd round pick. Receive JK Dobbins, Skyy Moore, Michael Gallup and a future second-round pick.
Dynasty Trade Theory 2: Trade Older Elite WRs for Sophomore WRs
Wide receivers are long-term assets in Dynasty. Elite is like stepping on a crusty leaf. For about eight years. Elite WRs don’t score as many points or have the same level of consistency as Elite RBs, but WR longevity is so desirable in Dynasty. For this reason, I usually go RB-heavy in Redraft leagues and WR-heavy in Dynasty leagues.
Last summer, our very own Jason Moore and Matt DiSorbo teamed up for an in-depth study of performance indicators for young NFL players: The Sophomore Bump & Breaking Down the Door of ADP. They discovered that second-year WRs with an average draft position (ADP) between rounds 4-8 surpassed their ADP 70% of the time. This stat is based specifically on data from the Redraft Fantasy League… but it basically tells us that sophomore WRs who produced in their rookie season often take a step forward in Year 2. As in… more than most people expect. But it’s hard to trade against young, productive players in the dynasty! If you’re a Dynasty veteran, you already know this. So how can you target them in a trade?
Similar to Trade Theory 1 about RBs, one of the best ways to get an elite young WR is to trade a more seasoned player. It’s not always bad to be on the “2-side” of a 2:1 trade. As always, don’t force trades or undercut your elite fantasy players.
Older elite wide receivers I would consider (for a haul): Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, and Mike Evans.
Climbers I like: DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Rashod Bateman, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Elijah Moore.
Sample trade: Trade Davante Adams and a 2023 second-round pick. Get DeVonta Smith, Chase Claypool, and a 2023 1st Rounder.
Dynasty Trading Theory 3: Keep It Simple, Stupid
Ultimately, we play fantasy football for fun, don’t think about it. If there’s a player you like, trade for them… even if people on Twitter say you’ve “lost” the trade. Also, there is so much chaos and randomness in fantasy that we really never know who “wins a trade” until a few years go by. It’s really fun to have your favorite player on your fantasy team – so trade for them. Also, you can “lose a trade” and still improve your team. The perfect example of this is swapping out injured players or rookie picks for players who are currently healthy and productive.
Every fantasy gamer has ups and downs. Try to collect and get your shots if you can!