Trade Strategy - Part 4: After the Trade
In Part 4 we’ll cover key steps that are easy to overlook because they happen after a trade is complete. How a trade is perceived by you and your leaguemates in the weeks to come can impact future deals. React appropriately, or your trade partners will disappear.
People love to tell casino stories. My cousin wins at roulette by betting her birthday numbers, my friend has a system for identifying a slot machine that’s about to pay out, and my co-worker blows on the dice to win at craps. With so many people winning, it’s a miracle the poor ol’ casinos even stay in business.
Obviously, that’s only half of the story. People don’t retell their 12 hours of futility, bleeding away $100 at the nickel slots or revel in losing half of their money playing the pass line at the craps table. If they did, they’d chalk it up to bad luck — and have boring stories to tell.
Why do people own their successes, yet blame their failures on the uncontrollable forces of luck? Psycologists refer to this as self-attribution.
I’ll reference the book Scorecasting again, in which Moskowitz and Wertheim analyze this luck-related bias in their chapter, “Are the Chicago Cubs Cursed?” Whether it’s your stock portfolio, your favorite sports team, or even your ability to avoid driving into a pothole, they observe that “in many aspects of life, we are quick to claim success and reluctant to admit failure.”
You wouldn’t happen to know someone like this in your fantasy football league, would you?
Fantasy sports are rife with self-attribution magnified by ample trash talk. Fantasy mangers love to shade the gray area between skill and luck to favor their intelligence. It’s expected, unavoidable, and what makes fantasy fun.
However, is it more fun to gloat about a successful trade or to win a championship? Is it more fun to remind your leaguemates about the blockbuster deal that propelled you to one championship, or would you rather build a dynasty of success?
This isn’t just about being classy. You have to take a big step beyond acting like you’ve been in the end zone before. If you want to be a fantasy winner year after year, listen to your boastful self-attribution instincts and do exactly the opposite.
Publicize Your Failures
Publicizing your completed trade can be as important and the trade itself. Remember the trade reputation bank account we talked about in Part 1 of this series? Unlike typical “banker’s hours,” our reputation banks are always open. Even if you’re in a redraft league, your reputation is still at stake during the offseason. Take every opportunity to make deposits instead of withdrawals.
Every bone in your body wants to brag about pulling off a big trade or flaunt your newly acquired players when they blow up. Don’t do it. That’s a withdrawal from your bank account.
Instead, turn self-attribution upside-down. Congratulate others on their successful trades with you, and connect it to their fantasy management prowess. If possible, do this in front of your leaguemates. Gracious actions yield deposits.
Don’t bring up trades that played out to your benefit. Downplay them if someone else brings them up, and never tie your success to your own intelligence. Attribute it to dumb luck or the fantasy gods smiling on your uniformed roll of the dice.
I realize that these suggestions are a bit crazy because they’re completely counter to what most people want to do. It’s borderline herecy that flies in the face of how most people perceive and enjoy fantasy sports. Suppressing your desire to taunt your leaguemates will be tough, but it’s a small price to pay for a long future of receptive trade partners.
Reversing your trash-talking instincts is made even more difficult by the fact that people can smell a faker a mile away. It forces you to adopt a more positive mindset in order to deliver a genuine response.
If you approach a trade thinking, “How can I trick someone into giving me a good deal?” then you will fail. If you try to help others, you will succeed. You have to embrace the idea that another team will share in the benefit of trading with you.
Get on the same side of solving a problem with your trade partner. Don’t pull each other in opposite directions. Put your heads together to find a way to improve both of your teams.
Forget the Past
Of course, many fantasy footballers don’t subscribe to my “nice guy” approach. Those managers are sure to remind you regularly of your terrible trades. If you let them get to you, it will negatively bias whom you put into your starting lineup.
Sometimes your bench players start outscoring the guys you traded for, but you refuse to bench your trade acquisitions. You want to look intelligent for making the deal even though the guys on your bench are the smarter start.
This is most tempting when you’re in a head-to-head matchup against the person who traded the players to you. “I’ll show him who got the better end of this deal,” you might think.
Heed Admiral Ackbar’s warning. Don’t fall into this trap.
If you clutch to players you traded for, you are giving your opponent an advantage. Let the past stay in the past, and don’t let the trash-talkers get under your skin. Always evaluate what you have in front of you without being biased by the ways that you acquired players. This is easier said than done, but it’s crucial to your success.
We’ve learned in this series that an expert fantasy trader is a trustworthy, unbiased, empathetic listener and a positive, humble, self-aware communicator. These skills will help you win your league and eliminate some of the frustration typically associated with negotiating trades.
More importantly, I’m always trying to improve in these areas of my life because the benefits are much broader than improving my fantasy success. Much of what I’ve outlined in this series can be applied to work relationships, friendships, and family life. I’m not saying you should try to apply Value Based Drafting to your daily routine or vulture undervalued food from someone else’s plate at the dinner table. Just try to treat others the way you’d want to be treated — and be sure to return borrowed “Legend of Zelda” video games on time.
I love connecting with people, and I also love winning. Fantasy football trading brings those two passions together in a perfect, nerd-tastic way. When a trade allows me to grow closer to my leaguemates and improve my chances of winning at the same time, it’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved. I hope that you and your leaguemates can use the philosophies in these articles to experience trading in a similar, positive way.
This concludes my four-part fantasy football trade strategy series. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it. Best of luck trading your way to a championship this season and in the years to come.