Nobody's fantasy team is perfect. Over the course of the season, some players will pull a Dennis Pitta, some a Percy Harvin, and, most disappointingly, an RG3 right around fantasy playoff time. No matter what the reason, roster changes need to be made throughout the season. You may make these changes through waiver wire pickups or through trades. Trading is inherently harder because it involves other managers.
Trading is a crucial skill to take advantage of other managers, giving you the best chance to conquer your league. But trades have to work both ways, and stalemates between opposing managers kill potentially fruitful deals for your team.
We've all been there: you want Runningback A, and your foe wants Wide Receiver B but only if touchdown vulture Player C is thrown in. You counter with a separate deal, and the whole process is moving more slowly than traffic out of M&T Bank Stadium after a Monday night football game. But while taking more time might prevent you from watching the rerun of Entourage, here's the skinny:
An ultimatum will only work if the other person has made a significant investment of his time and energy.
Nobody wants to spend their time for hours working on a trade, only to come out with nothing. This does not just apply with fantasy sports but to any negotiations. Too often people propose trades through e-mails and are upset when their trades get squashed. The opposing manager has not invested any time or effort in making a trade, so he's not really losing anything if he rejects the trade!
I recently discovered this trend when it happened in one of my own leagues. Seeking to improve my sputtering runningbacks, I had my heart set on obtaining Doug Martin from one of my best friends. At the time, I was in second place in my league, but my runningbacks were anemic, having suffered many injuries over the course of the season. My friend's team was mediocre and desperately needed some good wide receivers. I just happened to have Calvin Johnson, Randall Cobb, and Dwayne Bowe. Needless to say, I was willing to part with one of my star receivers for a good runningback. I sat down at my computer one Sunday when neither of us had anything to do and began negotiating for hours on end, proposing what seemed like thousands of permutations of the same basic trade. We were both getting slightly frustrated after hours of talking having not finalized a deal.
"OK, I just want to get a deal done" my friend said.
"Gotchya" I thought. My eyes widened, as I saw that my persistence was paying off.
This entire time, my friend insisted on me including Calvin Johnson as the one receiver who was part of the deal. While I was certainly willing to part with him if the deal was right, I wanted to include a Dwayne Bowe and give up a secondary piece. Finally, I proposed him Dwayne Bowe and Ahmad Bradshaw for Doug Martin.
"This is my final offer." A few seconds later, he accepted.
Why did my friend eventually give in and accept Dwayne Bowe instead of Calvin Johnson? Because after hours of negotiating, he did not want his entire Sunday to go to waste. I, on the other hand, was willing to waste my Sunday. (There's nothing wrong with talking football trades for hours anyway). But, because he exposed slight desperation on just getting a deal done, I knew I had the upper hand. I felt empowered. I was willing to keep my team as it was if I didn't get a trade I liked, but he wasn't. There was little chance that he would have accepted that deal if I had merely proposed it over e-mail. He was probably thinking, "I've invested 5 hours talking about a trade, and I might not be able to get a better deal with somebody else, I might as well just accept his trade."
The trade worked out quite well for me. While the trade took place after Doug Martin’s explosion against the Raiders last year, he still propelled me to a championship in my league.
Maybe you need to make a trade to prepare your team for the playoffs. You must be willing to invest your time and be willing to outlast the other person without giving in to their demands. Don't go in with the attitude of needing to make a trade. The day you feel like you need to make a trade is the day you make a bad one. So be cool, and be willing to talk for hours in order to get the trade you want. Even if you don't have all day, making your adversary think you are willing to wait for the Browns to win the Super Bowl before consummating a deal will give you the upper hand in negotiations. Whether you complete the transaction in five hours or five minutes, your roster will be better, and your time investment will be worth it when you're hoisting that trophy.