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updated: 9/4/2014 8:15 PM

Some tips for when fantasy football trade winds blow

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  • Cam Newton, who will be a gametime decision on Sunday, is a risky play according to fantasy football writer John Dietz

    Cam Newton, who will be a gametime decision on Sunday, is a risky play according to fantasy football writer John Dietz
    Associated Press


Sitting down to breakfast the other day, I heard a "buzz, buzz" coming from the table.

Turns out it's my son's cellphone with a trade offer coming through: "Dietz, I will give you Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston for A.J. Green."

He, of course, asks me if it's a good trade, but my policy with Connor is pretty much to let him navigate the fantasy football world on his own.

Prepare for the draft. Know your league's rules. Evaluate trade offers the best you can.

I'm OK with handing out a little advice -- like at the draft, I told him to wait, wait, wait to take a quarterback.

So of course he grabbed Cam Newton two picks later.


Of all the things that happen early in the fantasy season, though, it's this "hey, let's make a trade" mentality that really boggles my mind.

You drafted your team for a reason. Own it. Covet it. Roll with it.

After a few weeks, if a key player gets injured or all of your running backs end up in roles you never dreamed possible, then start floating some trade offers around.

Some newbies out there (and even some veterans) may be wondering, what are the keys to pulling off a successful trade? So glad you asked.

• First, it should be realistic. Nobody's giving you A.J. Green for Stevan Ridley. That's what makes the above offer a decent one. Maybe Connor's other wideouts are just absolutely awful, which means it might make sense to take two solid WRs in place of one stud.

• Next, your first offer -- while being realistic -- should also favor you slightly. This way, you are more apt to accept a counter-offer.

• Third, a really good trade helps both teams but also stings a bit. The rest of the league should be saying, "Wow, both of those teams are so much stronger now."

• Fourth, deal from strength. At some point, you are going to realize you have a glut of amazing wide receivers. Or you have a quarterback who is lighting it up (think Nick Foles last season) but not starting because that guy is Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning. These players aren't doing any good wallowing on the bench, but if they can help someone else, dish them off and improve in the process.

• Finally, some advice for you keeper-league players who fall out of the playoff picture. Your best move is to look at fantasy playoff teams and identify players who aren't quite superstars but might be close (think Joique Bell, Giovani Bernard or Montee Ball). Or maybe someone (Percy Harvin comes to mind) who is hurt but figures to come back and be very productive the next season. Even your 3-7 team has some usable parts, so trade your best player or two for an up-and-coming star. It's a great way to give yourself the best possible chance to have a monster season the next year.

The drill:

Longtime readers know what comes next: the Good Bets and Bad Bets. Remember, these will be filled with fringe players, unless I have a gut feeling that a superstar is really going to have a tough week. Don't sit your studs for these fringe good bets, but this should give you a road map for what to do with those middle-of-the-roster guys.

Right now with Week 1 upon us, play the guys you drafted as starters. They should outperform picks from the ninth-15th rounds.

Good luck this season and remember to have fun. We want to win, but it's a game after all and not worth losing friendships over.

Good bets

• Bills RB C.J. Spiller at the Bears. We all remember how bad the Bears' run D was last year, right? Things won't be a whole lot better in 2014.

• Jets RB Chris Johnson vs. Oakland. Bad news first: Johnson has been abysmal in the last three season openers. We're talking a grand total of 15 fantasy points in standard leagues. He's got a ton to prove, though, and my guess is that he brings it early this season in a city that doesn't accept weak efforts.

• Niners RB Frank Gore at Dallas. Can't ask for a better opening opponent than the sievelike Cowboys.

• Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin at Jacksonville. All the Maclin doubters will be jumping on the bandwagon soon enough.

• Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders vs. Indianapolis. Final score of this one may be in the 38-35 realm. Sanders easily hits double-digit fantasy points.

• Giants QB Eli Manning at Detroit. You may be cursing this pick through three quarters, but Manning will find a way to put up 280 yards and 2-3 TDs in a high-scoring affair.

Bad bets

• Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown vs. Cleveland. This will be a grind-it-out, 1970s-type football game. Think 16-13 or 17-14. Points will be tough to come by so check your options.

• Bills WR Sammy Watkins at Bears. Buffalo may run wild at Soldier Field, but I wouldn't expect much out of their rookie wideout just yet.

• Skins QB Robert Griffin III at Houston. If you took RG3 as your slam-dunk starter, roll with him. But if you have a comparable option, I'd go that route this week.

• Cowboys QB Tony Romo vs. San Francisco. Only four teams -- Tennessee, Seattle, Miami and Carolina -- allowed fewer passing TDs than the Niners' 19 in 2013. Romo's upside is quite limited in this one.

• Panthers QB Cam Newton at Tampa Bay. Cracked rib. Questionable. No solid, proven wideouts. No thanks.

• Browns TE Jordan Cameron at Pittsburgh. Again, low-scoring game here. Not seeing more than a 5-6 points out of Cameron.

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