A Trade I Made

I consider my league mates friends and try to keep conversations honest and open. This game requires a little tact though and a poker face is needed from time to time. Even when I am looking for fair trades I know if I tip my hand the other owner might try to take advantage. I know I will try and get a little extra value if the opportunity presents itself and I expect others to do the same as part of the game. This being said, the key to keeping good relationships through this dance is always trying to keep transactions mostly fair and even. Just because you can take full advantage of something does not mean you should, skimming a little extra value is fine. Also, nobody wants to deal with commissioners or owners crying collusion. 
Now, on with the story.

This last week I made a trade in a 2QB league. This league also gives 0.2 ppc and 1.25 ppr to runningbacks and he his main guys were Devonta FreemanMelvin Gordon and Derrick Henry. The running backs are who I really wanted but I didn’t want to tip my hand.
I was eyeing Devante Adams and started by offering Odell Beckham Jr. for Adams and a runningback of his choice. My hope was to get Freeman but after some thought he let me know he was more interest in my quarterbacks. This made total sense because I had Kirk Cousins, Jameis Winston and Alex Smith with Patrick Mahomes. He had Ben Roethlisberger with Landry Jones and Carson Palmer. Losing Colin Kaepernick in this league hurt him, those rushes are huge. For me, I think Winston is a first or second round start up value, so without getting another stud player I would take in that range I couldn’t do it. Potentially I could have done Winston for Freeman or Gordon but I didn’t want to trade Winston in the first place and did not put it on the table. So I started the offers with Cousins as my main piece. I offered Cousins for Adams and Freeman. Then before he could respond I was feeling like I needed to add a reciever to the group to make it fair so I let him know I could throw in a wide reciever three type guy.

At this point in talks I still didn’t want to seem too anxious about getting Freeman or Gordon because I was totally fine with “settling” for Derrick Henry. Henry may still have another year as the number two guy but I think he has great potential and I am willing to wait. Since I was not giving up OBJ I didn’t need to get Adams and could shift talks toward the running back as the main asset on his side. I offered Cousins for one of his top backs plus something little. Leaving which back and the little piece up to him. This league might have ppc but in a twelve team 2qb league, quartback is still king to me. His reply was honest and valuable, here is where I had to look in the mirror. 

Sometimes we need to recognize our own bias towards players on our teams. I could see my bias towards Cousins. He let me know he’d rather give me back one of his older quartbacks and a guy like Doug Baldwin because he felt his runningbacks deserve a premium. He wasn’t wrong, I just knew we were gonna be a little bit further apart than I liked to be in a trade. So I offered to “step down” to Henry and he let me know it would be easier to get a deal done this way.

He let me know he was uneasy about Cousins potential to leave Washington and the uncertainty which would follow. His initial thought was Winston for Devante Adams and Derrick Henry but he didn’t think it would be enough on his side. The open dialogue we were able to have with each other was very helpful for both of us. Sharing an honest thought process, if kept short, can be useful and is still polite conversation. This is not the same as when someone sends paragraphs about why they are sending an offer and why it should be accepted. Those kinds of things are rarely accepted with anything more than a laugh and decline. Keep it simple. 

I countered with Cousins for those two players, Adams and Henry. I also put in a note saying I could add Golden Tate or Jordan Matthews if it would help soften the blow of losing Adams. He added Matthews to the deal and it was done.

I went through all this and you may be sitting there wondering why I didn’t just send Winston for Gordon. This is a fair question. My answer is I do not like to buy players at their ceilings. I believe Henry will gain value over the next 12 months and his production will go up substantially from here on out. Did I buy Adams at his ceiling though? I do not think so. He is still a third round pick in normal start ups who could easily jump to the start of the second when he has another great season.

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Saving History

As I sit in my front yard on this day of Independence, half watching my girls play in their pool and half looking for potential #Dynastytrades, I think about history. History is such a part of us, it is the nature of time. It is a dynamic part of a relative concept we all participate in. In a year Google will remind me what my family and I were doing with a collage of pictures.

What does this rambling have to do with fantasy football? Not much. History however has a lot to do with fantasy football and strategy. If only Google could remind me about interactions with other owners. Offers I made that had been rejected or offers I recieved and rejected at the time would be helpful. There are already plenty of resources for NFL player and team history. When it comes to trading though, remembering how an owner acted before is much more helpful for deciding how to go about things now. For this reason I go back into Hangouts, Twitter DM and email. Skim through old conversations looking for a tell or how owners felt about players and team construction. Some people keep notes, I don’t. I probably should but it is time I don’t want to spend. Maybe this will change as time goes forward, I don’t know. 

There may be more coming on this but right now I am gonna jump in a kiddy pool. Happy fourth, be safe my friend.

Observation 22

Most of us have evolved into playing with some form of PPR scoring in our fantasy football leagues. There are various versions of PPR and depending who you talk to there are various reasons why. Full point PPR is the most common I see, though half-point is pretty popular as well. Then there is tiered PPR and TE premium where it can vary by position in an effort to adjust positional value. The one common thread is all camps believe receptions are important. The NFL would agree. The team can not move forward if when the quarterback targets a receiver, they do not catch the ball.

We are all in agreement receptions are important and some leagues (which I am in favor of) are including Point-Per-Carry. This Observation is not about PPC though, it’s about why we should be playing with Point-Per-First-Down. Typing it out like that seems so long, I feel like PPFD is long also but it’s what we will use.

I would argue first downs are one of the most important parts of the game offensively. They are the goal of many plays within the game of football and every position is trying press down the field for the next first down. So why do we acknowledge how important receptions and carries are but not first downs? Part of the problem is many of the main fantasy sites do not offer it as option. I must also recognize the large majority of players are in redraft and not dynasty leagues which are known to be more progressive. There are people out there still playing standard and TD only leagues, so it’s really not too shocking when I think about it. The more shocking part is people still playing standard… stop, just stop it… I digress.

One of the arguments against PPFD is making certain players too valuable. Do we not want to make players who are valuable in the NFL valuable in fantasy? This was the whole reason for PPR and PPC. Look at Jarvis Landry in PPR league vs Standard. According to SportingCharts.com

League leaders in Receiving First Downs generally have in the neighborhood of 70 in any given year.  The majority of all successful receptions result in first downs, so most players have a First Down % of at least 50%.  A notable exception to this is running backs who catch a lot of short passes out of the backfield, as they’re more likely to have receptions that for 5-8 yards, on average, and are much less likely to result in a first down.

I will refer back to Sporting Charts but let’s take a look at two leagues; both with full PPR scoring and 0.5 PPFD. I do not use full-point because I want it to be a bonus and not the same value as a player going for ten yards. When changing scoring, I like it add value to my watching experience as well as match real NFL value. (Personally I think I’d want half-point for both, given a majority of passes result in a first down, but I am using data from leagues I currently play in.)

The top performers do not change very much. QB is slightly moved around because of rushing for first downs. One player who was brought up on twitter was Julian Edelman, we can look there first. He only played 9 games in 2015 but pulled in 61 receptions, 37 for first downs. In PPFD he finished 19th overall and without he finished 27th. Looking at just wide receiver though, he was 6th in both. To draw contrast in the same time period, Antonio Brown goes from 3rd to 8th and Mike Evans goes from 20th to 23rd. So who falls out of the top 8 of PPR? Quarterbacks.

The changes to wide receiver are not huge though, let’s look how each position fills the top 100.

1-50

  • QB 23 in PPFD and 24 w/o
  • WR 16 in PPFD and 16 w/0
  • RB 6 in PPFD and 6 w/o
  • TE 5 in PPFD and 4 w/o

1-100

  • QB 26 in PPFD and 28 w/0
  • WR 40 in PPFD and 40 w/o
  • RB 25 in PPFD and 23 w/o
  • TE 9 in PPFD and 9 w/o

Taking a look at the overall distribution, not much has changed. Adding PPFD just adds to the fun, it does not change much in positional distribution except maybe the devalue of quarterback. The easiest way to fix this is by playing in Superflex or 2QB, something we should all be doing anyway.  It seems to me the biggest change will be in the value of individual players, which is another way to get a leg up on your opponent.

I will need to dive more in depth to individual players, which will come in the next Observation.

Observation 21

My second to last rookie draft started this weekend and leading up to it I was working whatever deals I could. To provide some context it is a 16 team IDP league with start 1QB 1RB 3WR 1TE but two regular flex spots. Given the 3WR and 16 teams, one flex is basically a second RB. Also, this league generally does not value rookie picks highly. I wanted to talk about an approach used on me and how recognizing it helped me get the deal I wanted, offered to me.

Some owners like to make huge deals. Throwing in players and picks on both sides with sometimes up to 16 total pieces in the trade. I’m not one of those people. I like to make trades with maybe eight total pieces and capitalize on those who build differently than I do. When it comes to the massive trades it can be a lot to break down and I see it as a tactic leading to minor improvement or for confusing an opponent into giving up more than they realize. It is also possible I am too dumb to deal with it, but I like to think I am at least average.

I offered an owner a trade where the main piece I wanted was 1.03. It started as:
Lamar Miller                  Abdullah
1.09.                               Yeldon
3.09                     For     1.03
3.13                                4.12
4.09.                               5.02
You are thinking, dude just said he likes smaller deals then he sends this? I had received other offers before from this owner and noticed he liked bigger deals so I started with one. A massive deal was offered back to me which totalled 14 pieces between the two teams instead of my 10.

The key pieces were me giving up Lamar Miller and 1.09 for Abdullah and Yeldon. They left out the 1.03 but included a plethora of thirds, fourths and future late picks. After offering a slightly smaller trade and adding the 1.03 followed by another large counter without it, I specifically asked the owner for a smaller deal. I do like Yeldon and Abdullah a lot, so I was interested in them but it kept feeling like I was giving up too much when Lamar Miller is likely a top five running back. I also did not like trying to work out the larger deal and needed him to get on my level instead me trying to be on his.

Bare with me while I digress for a second. The owner told me a little about them through the process and we built a bit of a report. This is a key thing. It is much easier to come to an agreement with someone you like and feel comfortable going back and forth with. I don’t know if he feels this way, but it helped me.

This is true in real life interaction too. We are more prone to work with and associate with people we have some level of trust or respect for. It is a basic animal instinct. Think of a dog you see on the side of the road. If you are like me, you stop and check the collar or to see if the owner is close. The dog doesn’t immediately come over though because at first it is scared or at least guarded against strangers. It knows it doesn’t know what our true intention is. So we get on their level and speak in a calm voice. We try to look friendly and helpful. This basic animal tactic can be applied to meeting new people, potential clients, co-workers, anyone we come in contact with. Until we arrive on the same level, they have no reason to deal with us.

Back to the trading… so he works it into a smaller deal and gives me what I wanted in the first place. Where I gave:
1.09           1.03
1.12   For  2.09
4.09           4.12
5.09           5.02
This smaller trade was much easier to swallow as a trade up from my later picks to the 1.03 where I could get either Coleman or Doctson.

Here is where recognition of the type of owners you are dealing with comes into play again. I told him I wanted a smaller deal and the 1.03. My trade partner recognized how I make trades on a smaller scale than what he would like. He sent the offer with just picks and I almost auto accepted it. Then he immediately sent a second offer where he dealt me Abdullah and Yeldon still. The second trade was me giving:
2.09           Yeldon
3.09  For   Abdullah
3.13.          ’17 3rd
’17 4th
Notice he took the 2.09 back? I know he did, but wondering if he thinks I did. Also notice I can now get two running backs I really like without giving up Miller? Since the rest of the league does not value rookie picks much I have more Capitol in “proven” players as well. My draft picks will be minimal which is a bummer in IDP leagues but I am getting what I wanted and giving up less value but more pieces than the initial trade offer.

By building a report we could go back and forth several times without getting heated. We kept the chatter short and to the point but still let each other learn about the other. I had to force him to get down on my level instead of playing up to his. You need them to feel safe out of their comfort zone.

Podcast 10

Now that I am an official member of the Intentional Grounding podcast you can hear me instead of just reading. I have always consider writing to be my medium but have been enjoying this new path. I hope you like it and please feel free to give me any tips, advice or constructive criticism.

In this episode we talk about the things we enjoy about being commissioner and the things we hate. We also give our buys and sells of the week.

Observation 20

A thorough and complete set of By-laws makes all the difference in a league. If your league does not have any, be prepared for it to crumble or at the very least have some rough times. I have run into a few instances of rules being tested and broken, both as member and commissioner.

I commission two leagues, my home league and a Saved by the Bell themed league. The two things I hate most about being commissioner is finding new owners and collecting money. I urge everyone to check their rules for taking on new owners and how fees are handled. Here are a few things to look for:

1. If an owner already paid but has left or is leaving, do they get a refund?
2. Does a new owner get any compensation if the orphan has no first round (or any) draft picks?
3. If there is more than one Orphan:
  A. Can they have a dispersal draft?
  B. Are players and picks available?
  C. Can they trade dispersal draft picks?
  D. Can non-orphan teams join?
4. How much are league fees?
5. Are fees due on the same day every year or does it change? (I recommend being due 3 weeks before the rookie draft)
6. Do owners have to pay additional fees in order to trade future (past the next draft) picks?
7. What is the consequence for paying late and are late payments allowed? If so, at what point are they not allowed?

The answers to those questions should make for smooth sailing in your leagues. Answering them in my leagues certainly has. The rules should be complete as possible but also understand they are fluid to an extent. Things change and new issues come up. For this, there needs to be a way for implementation of new rules. Can you answer these questions:

1. Are new rules brought to vote or does the commissioner decide?
2. If they are brought to vote, how many members are needed for it to pass? Is there a different number for the off-season and in-season?
3. Are there dates set for when new rules are implemented or are they immediate?
4. Can rules be brought to a vote at any time or are there dates set?

Here is brief over view of how my leagues work:

New rules are voted on by the whole league. In the off season rules need 8 votes to pass. New rules voted on between the end of the post season and July first are not implemented until July 1st. After July first rules need a unanimous vote or they do not take affect until the end of the coming post season. If a vote is unanimous after July first it starts immediately, this does not apply before July first.

I hope some of this can clear up things in your leagues before bad things happen.