Six Trade Deadline Tips: Hearing 'No' is a Good Thing

The importance of negotiation in achieving trade success.

I’ll admit it. I’m guilty.

I’ve gotten trade proposals, laughed at the owner’s audacity to ask for some of my best players for his bench guys, hit reject, and moved on with no response.

This isn’t how it should go down.

Ideally there would be bargaining, negotiation, and compromise to find common ground and work out a deal that helps both teams involved.

But the title says “No” is a good thing? Yes. It is. I’ll get to that later. Just hang with me here.

With the trade deadline fast approaching (if not already passed in some leagues), trade talks will heat up considerably. Every team from those on the bubble of playoff contention to first place will be looking for ways to improve their teams and their chances at the crown. But the aforementioned scenario will play out far too often in leagues across the country. How can this pitfall be avoided? Let’s get into the psychology of negotiation for a little help.

You Have to Listen

In an article from Psychology Today, the author emphasizes that, in any kind of negotiation, you must “listen first.” Open lines of communication are the foundation to success in negotiation.

In fantasy, just because the first deal to be proposed is not desirable, does not mean that owner should be dismissed. It should be seen as an opportunity to improve your team because the other owner has made it known they wish to improve their own team. So rather than hitting the reject button and forgetting about a deal, think about countering. Because by simply rejecting, you lessen the chances that owner will want to work with you later.

”Help Me, Help You...”

We’ve all joked about this classic one liner from Jerry Maguire. But this quote can't ring any truer than here in a fantasy football trade negotiation. So, after hitting that reject button and countering, don’t focus on what you want, but focus on their weaknesses first. By doing this, you can see if you are strong in that area. For instance, if they’re thin at running back and you have depth at the position, this should be the foundation to a trade. Trade partners should not be looking to “win” the trade but to help each other. Trading shouldn’t be a competition.

Target These Weaknesses

To add to the point above, you should rarely target specific players when trading. If you're trying to get rid of someone - say, Jordan Cameron - don't think, "Who can I get for Jordan Cameron?" Instead, think, "Who could use Jordan Cameron?"

You're going to get the most bang for your buck when targeting other team weaknesses, providing a solution for those weaknesses. All the while, you'll be getting rid of the player you don't really want anymore.

There is Beauty in the Word 'No'

In the article from Psychology Today, my favorite quote is where the author says: “If you never hear 'no,' when you negotiate, you haven't asked for enough.”

We find this is true in fantasy when we send off a trade offer, it’s accepted, and we start to question if we gave up too much for it to be accepted so easily. “No” can be a good thing. Instead of having the “no” mindset, think “No, but...”, always coming back with another possibility. This is where common ground is found and a deal is worked out so that both owners may come away happy with the deal.

Target the Losers

Personally, when looking to open up trade talks, I like to start from the bottom, up. First, I look to the teams in last place. If they’re still paying any attention to their team, they’ll be much more likely to give up a stud. What's it matter for them?

From there, I look to the bubble teams. Because they're on the brink of making the playoffs, they may be more willing to make a deal that puts them over the edge. Use the lesson above and target their weaknesses, bringing more value to your own team.

2-for-1 Trades are Best

Always look for 2-for-1 type trades. Again, it's important to look at trading depth for starters. At this point in the season it does almost no good to have quality players on your bench. It may look nice having a roster full of big names, but if you can't start them, it doesn't help you win. Package these quality players together to acquire one stud.

In a couple leagues of my own, I have both Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas. If I had the flex option, this could be a great situation. Instead, we can only start one tight end, so I'm currently in negotiations to package one of these top tight ends and a low-end running back for Calvin Johnson.

At this point in the season, it's okay if you give up a little too much if it results in an improved starting lineup. Again, depth can begin to become more of a hindrance than an asset. Depth was the purpose of the draft and early waiver wire weeks. Now that we're through the bye weeks, it's time to cash in that depth and look to set your starting roster for the playoff run.

Remember, we're always around in the Questions section for any questions you may have. We here at numberFire have a bevy of top-notch writers that want to do the best we can to get you get that championship.

Best of luck and happy negotiating