Evaluating Keeper League Trades

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor) on Aug 6, 2012

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

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One mistake that I consistently see from new keeper league owners is trading away too much value in terms of draft picks to upgrade one of their keeper players.

Let's say that you're in a standard scoring keeper league where you keep four players year-to-year. Using our Top 200 rankings, you can get an idea of each player's worth. Your 4th keeper is Steve Johnson, who is approximately the 50th-most valuable player in the league that starts two running backs and two wide receivers. So he's a borderline keeper, given the league settings and scoring system. One of the other owners in the league offers you Roddy White for your 1st round pick. Do you take the deal?
An inexperienced owner may believe that since White is a 3rd-round pick in redraft leagues, he's definitely worth a 1st-round pick in a keeper league (which is really a 5th-round pick since each owner keeps four players). But when evaluating a keeper league trade, it's important to look at the incremental value that you're getting by keeping Player A instead of Player B. In this scenario, White is the 29th-most valuable player heading into 2012 drafts, so he is definitely an upgrade from Steve Johnson. But in this case, the additional incremental value is not worth giving up your 1st-round pick.
According to the Player Potential Grid, used heavily by 4for4 founder Greg Alan, Johnson has a value of 179 points compared to White's 290 points, for a difference of 111 points. Keep in mind these are not fantasy points, just points applied to player ranks and draft picks heading into a draft. Scrolling down we see that the 65th pick is worth 110 points. That means that upgrading from Johnson to White is worth about the same as pick 6.05, or pick 2.05 in your league, due to the four keepers. So the other owner is asking for too much in return for White, especially since he doesn't carry a lot of long-term value due to his age. If the deal were for Victor Cruz or Jordy Nelson, at least he could play the youth card.
But White is worth a 2nd-round pick in your keeper league, so offer the other owner a 3rd-round pick and try to get the better end of the deal. If the other owner balks and you still want White, you can eventually agree to a 2nd-round pick and know you got a fair deal.
Filed Under: Preseason, 2012

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