Dynasty Fantasy Football: How to Evaluate a Trade

How to evaluate a trade in dynasty fantasy football

By: Joe Mason @JosephMason94

Dynasty fantasy football has become one of the most popular fantasy league formats within the fantasy community. It gives you a sense of ownership and with it comes the responsibility as that of a real NFL general manager.

Trading in dynasty can be intimidating, but unlike your standard redraft league, trades in a dynasty league has implications for a number of years with the potential to either make or break your squad. At times a player’s value can fluctuate more than the New York Stock Exchange, requiring the most dedicated owners to always stay on top of league news, player contracts, player age…etc. I have been on the winning and losing side of a number of dynasty trades over the years. With that pleasure and pain, I’ve experienced, I’m here to give you the key specifics you should focus on to help you become better at trading in dynasty fantasy football. 

A Players Value

Trading in dynasty fantasy football is all about understanding a player’s value. Sure, trade calculators can give you a general understanding on if you win or lose a trade, but sometimes they are outdated and trades you make should really be specific to your team. So, what factors should you consider when assessing a player’s value? 

Contract

While this doesn’t seem to correlate to on-field production, a player locked into a contract of three or more years should give dynasty owners a sense of security. Player holdouts have become increasingly popular over the years and having your top guy such as LeVeon Bell in 2018 miss out on the season to get paid can really hurt your squad. This is another reason why it’s important to hold other teams running back handcuffs. They may produce for you, or you can flip them to the team that has a starter holding out for a nice return. 

Supporting Cast / Coaches

For supporting cast, this primarily applies to the skill position players where a QB can make or break a player’s production. Take into account Ezekiel Elliot for the 2020 season and his splits with and without Dak Prescott in PPR. 

The targets per game are big here, especially for the running back position. A quarterback can have this type of impact on your skill position players so it’s important to also monitor their QB’s contract situation. 

Coaching in every sport is important, but in football I believe coaching has the biggest influence on the game. Coaches have certain tendencies that can help you predict how free agents or rookies can perform in their new home. 

Appreciating vs. Declining Asset

Dynasty is all about the fluctuation of player value and knowing when to buy and when to sell. More often than not you want to acquire players who have potential to increase in value.

A big factor in determining this for every player is peak production age by position. Jonathan Bales, author of “Fantasy Football for Smart People” (2013) found the age of decline for each position.

Quarterbacks peak around the age of 30 and have the longest shelf life of the four positions but can be relevant into their late 30s. Tight ends take the longest to develop and peak at 29, but there is a steep drop off once they hit their ceiling.

Wide receivers peak around age 26/27 and can sustain value into their early 30s. Running backs have the highest turnover out of the four positions and tend to peak at age 26.

Once a running back is off his rookie contract is when I tend to sell high. They most likely have hit their ceiling and will only decline in value going forward. While age is important in a dynasty, the main goal is to win a championship and build a team that can contend year in and year out.

Don’t let age weigh too much into your trades but be aware of the age where you tend to see a decline in production. Now with this information, I gave you, go see if you can move your age 26 RB1 from this year for a much younger RB2 while maybe picking up a young WR that underperformed this year. Your team over the next few years will thank you. 

Finding a Value and Pursuing It

D’Andre Swift was the top running back on many analysts draft boards before the 2020 NFL Draft. A first-round talent, Swift ended falling on day two in the second round to the Detroit Lions which most people considered a bad landing spot for running backs.

The Lions owned a league-low three 100 yard-rushing games since Reggie Bush did it on Thanksgiving in 2013 against the Packers. Kerryon Johnson owns all three of them with two in 2018 and one in 2019.

Swift ended up being the fourth or fifth rookie running back taken off the board in rookie drafts in favor of those with better landing spots. If you owned a mid-rookie first, you may be lucked out and snagged him. If not, you only had a short “buy window” before he was no longer a value. 

A great way to assess a player’s value is by tracking their ADP. If you believe that a player will be going above their ADP one year from today, you can consider this a “buy window”.

As talented a player as Swift is, his ADP should have been rounds 3-4 right next to another top rookie RBs. Swift hovered around the sixth round before the season and after a slow start, he dropped to an ADP of round 7.

If you were watching the Lions games each week, you could easily tell he was the most efficient back between him, Adrian Peterson, and Kerryon Johnson. On November 14th before week 10, the Lions named him the starter and his ADP never looked back. 

To recap, use the factors I called out above to help you form an opinion on a player. Then, if they have a chance to appreciate in value, they would make a nice dynasty target for your squad. The fastest way to improve your dynasty squad is by winning trades and these key items above can help you get there.

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