Evaluating NFL and Fantasy League Trades
Greg Alan, 4for4 Founder
I'd like to share one of my favorite analysis charts. It's called the Player Potential Grid.
Over the years I've found it to be a rather handy reference guide. I really like this chart because it was designed to incorporate several intellectual properties. It mirrors a number of principles I've often heard cited by NFL coaches and GMs.
Perhaps most exciting, when you leverage the grid with artful planning, it has a variety of applications.
It can help you...
- evaluate NFL trades that include draft picks over one or multiple years
- evaluate your own league's keeper trades
- quantify, estimate and compare keeper league potential value
- improve your keeper rankings
- examine trades in redraft leagues
The grid is big. It covers 125 player rankings (draft picks) and it offers a three-year outlook as well.
After the grid below, I'll go over a few examples on how it can be put into action. In addition, I'll highlight one of its best properties.
|Round 1||This Year||Next Year||In Two Years|
|Round 2||This Year||Next Year||In Two Years|
|Round 3||This Year||Next Year||In Two Years|
|Round 4||This Year||Next Year||In Two Years|
1) A Basic NFL Application
The team with the #2 overall pick this year gets an offer from the NFL team selecting 11th. They offer their 1st round pick (11th overall) and their 2nd round pick (43rd overall) for the #2 pick. Should the team with the #2 pick do it?
Consulting the grid shows the #2 pick is worth 1100 points. The 11th pick is worth 600 and the 43rd pick is worth 215 points. Since 1100 > 600 + 215, all else being equal, the team with the #2 pick should not trade down.
2) How the Pros Do It
Jimmy Johnson was a magician on NFL draft day. He worked draft trades in record time and they almost always went his way. After he left the NFL, Johnson shared one of his favorite rules: a 2nd round draft pick this year has about the same value as a 1st round pick selected next season. In general, Jimmy was saying delaying a pick by a year is equal to moving up 32 picks the following season.
Consulting the chart shows Jimmy is spot on!
Example: A middle 2nd round pick this year (48th pick overall) has a value of 188. A middle 1st round pick next season is very similar. It has a value of 195. So, according to the chart, Jimmy was able to spot a fair trade in seconds just by following his rule of thumb.
Next, lets use the chart to evaluate your fantasy situation using existing NFL players.
3) Should You Pull the Trigger?
Should you trade a fantasy stud with a limited career to get a much younger player who looks to be on the rise?
For arguments sake, say you think RB X will be the 20th best fantasy weapon this season. However, you also think he's going to wind down, get hurt and/or perhaps even retire after this season.
On the other side, say you think young upstart QB Y will be the 100th best fantasy weapon this season. But, you believe the youngster will become the 50th best player in next season and the 25th best fantasy player two years from now.
Everything else being equal, should you trade RB X before the start of this season for QB Y -- given the above assumptions?
Some of you are saying, 'DO IT!' others, 'NO WAY!'
Regardless of your opinion, how are you forming it?
Let's just assume we all agree on the above RB X/QB Y assumptions (and I realize some of you don't).
The real question is: Should you do the trade if you believe those assumptions?
Time to consult the Player Potential Grid.
The chart shows it's actually better to keep RB X under those assumptions. Doing the math, it breaks down like this:
RB X = 400+0+0 = 400
QB Y = 39 + 80 + 105 = 224
RB X > QB Y (so keep RB X)
Clearly, only time will tell if this holds true. But in any case, I often find it comforting to consult an objective method.
Moral of the Story: It's great to win down the road, but let's be real. NFL teams and fantasy owners alike prefer to win now, not later.