Mark: Gentleman, thanks for taking the time to talk with me about one of the most critical parts of a successful fantasy football season, executing trades. I would like to point out to the audience that I hold these two gentlemen in the highest of esteem. This recognition may serve as the pinnacle of your fantasy football lives, does it not?

Chris: You’re absolutely right. Almost every move I make in my fantasy football life and real life, in fact, is made only after asking myself, “Would Mark approve of this?” Your respect means everything.

Brent: I can’t believe I’m taking the time to do this…

Mark: Moving on…when do you start looking to make changes to your team? When does a manager doing poorly need to make a trade? When should a successful manager begin to upgrade his talent?

Brent: I am always looking to make upgrades to my team. Early in the season (or even before) I will send a ton of 2 for 1 offers as the number 1 guy. It is always good to consolidate a team early while opening up roster spots for early season free agent pick-ups (e.g. E. Decker, D. Nelson, D. Thomas, and S. Ridley).

On the flip side if your team as less than 3 wins at this point, it is time to start looking to make trades to add depth by dealing 1 stud for 2 solid producers (but don’t panic if you’ve just been unlucky). Sometimes it’s good to just shake up your team as well. Fantasy football momentum does exist and sometimes you just need to add some hungry players eager to prove their worth to a new manager.

But no matter what position you are in the standings, every manager should always look to sell high or buy low. A lot of times guys do not want to sell overachieving players because they’ve developed an attachment to them. Late round pickups that have performed at a high level like Darren Sproles have become “their guys” and are now indispensable. This is a shortsighted strategy.

Chris: No joke. Dudes have more loyalty to their fantasy football players than they do their wives/girlfriends.  And anyone who has played multiple seasons has experienced that late season slump of a stud who becomes forever blackballed from your team. You’ll end up hating that player more than that girlfriend who cheated on you because “you paid more attention to your mobile fantasy app.”

What is my point? Sell! Sell! Sell! I generally agree with Brent but I think by now if you are in a deep league and are sitting with less than 3 wins, you’ve waited too long and need to urgently make moves. The chances of your crappy team, which was initially stacked with Jamal Charles, CJ.7K, and Andre Johnson, making the playoffs are nil. Brent and I are basically saying the same thing but I’m saying you need to start freaking out like Mark in a Phil Mickelson funhouse if your team is garbage.

Mark: I’m already in my Phil Mickelson funhouse (my wife finds it hard to sleep there sometimes. I find Lefty’s gentle gaze from my ceiling comforting). Anyway Chris, your ability to simultaneously improve your fantasy team while infuriating your league mates is legendary. It almost seems like you inflict psychological warfare on potential trading partners. How do you get so many trades that seem so lopsided in your favor?

Chris: The first thing you need to do is get to know your enemy – because you want them to be convinced that you are their best friend and savior! I take a look at someone’s draft results, current team, and the breakdown of how each of their matchups went this year. Then I build a rapport using traditional means like empathizing with them on their bad luck and other tough breaks. You know, size a fool up. Are they the angry low-balling type or are they willing to throw trades back and forth with relative congeniality? If a guy is trying to get my Vick by offering me nothing but his bench garbage then I politely blast him and his mom/wife/girlfriend on our message board to let everyone know what a poor sport and inexperienced lover he is. I also usually tell a guy straight up who I am attracted too. Err, I mean want in my fantasies. On my fantasy football team team…whatever…This way I can filter out the guys who really want to make a deal!

Here’s an example of the way I handled chasing CJ.7k in two different leagues. I asked both CJ.7K owners, “Are you going to weather the storm and see if he turns it around? I want him.” One person said weather the storm and the other said it depends on what I’m offering. I left the first guy alone (after comparing the attractiveness of my girlfriend to his of course!). I began to send to the other guy a list of players each week and said, “Pick any three.” Eventually he found what he liked. Good news is we made a trade. Bad news is .7K may end up being a stretch the way Johnson is going…until he goes insane starting at week 10 and my playoff bound team begins to look invincible! And you know what else? Captain “Weather the Storm” will be reaching out to me after one more CJ.7K dud. So I’ve succeeded in respecting his wishes to be left alone while positioning myself to benefit from his eventual frustration when he needs a friend/trader (this technique also works when girls who have recently been disappointed by their boyfriends. Fantasy football may not be real football…it’s more than that…it’s real life…).

Brent: I certainly agree with everything you wrote about fantasy football. Thankfully I agree with nothing else. I’m not sure I ever want to be in the same room as you. Mark, where do you find these guys?

Mark: Craigslist personals…please answer the question.

Brent: Well, I would like to highlight a nugget from Chris’ comments – give the other owner the options. If you are consistently a good fantasy football manager (or the owner of a dedicated fantasy football website!) the other owner you are trying to deal with thinks “Well if Namejko wants him, he must be good, so I am keeping him.”  Far too often I have made out on the upside in trades so it’s sometimes tough to lure someone into trade talks (humblebrag alert!).

Like Chris alluded to, I have gotten around this inconvenience by providing the other owner with player options. For example, if a team badly needs running back depth and has a quality quarterback I will send my middle of the road QB and say “you can choose out of any of these three backs” which lets them take ownership of the trade. When people design a trade (or anything really), they develop a higher stake in it and don’t want to see it fail. But, it is important to alleviate concerns that their less productive quarterback will be more than made up for in improved RB play.

Mark: Brent, stick to bragging, you aren’t fooling anyone with your insincere humility (but your boyish charm is irresistible!). Let’s give the readers some practical advice. If you are a Calvin Johnson owner and are weak at RB, name some 2 for 1 trades that would be fair value if you are short on RBs.

Brent: Since you are giving up arguably the best player in fantasy you should be getting a good deal back in return. Expect nothing less.

Target a big time player whose name isn’t as well known. Mike Wallace is a nice guy to go after who can backfill Megatron. FST had him as our 4th overall WR but many sites had him barely in the top ten. That’s real bragging there friend. People continue to look at preseason ranks for some and draft positions for reasons that escape me but you can use that to your advantage here. Try for him (only a slight downgrade) and an RB with upside (Daniel Thomas type) or an underperformer like Peyton Hillis. Post articles about Hillis’ contract issues, health or timeshare with Hardesy. Tell the owner you are willing to take a “chance” with Hillis since you are struggling. Make it seem like you are the one taking the risk.

Of course this is all in theory. The first thing you need you do is target a team with RB depth and then build your trade from there using the resources in FST forums. Everyone wants Megatron so ask for a lot and concede very little during negotiations (I sound like that damn Yankee Ulysses S. Grant!).

Marcus? Not doing so well in a league where you have Calvin huh?

Mark: Indeed…you know me too well…it’s like we’re woven together into the fabric of space time (full disclosure…I started Brian Leonard this week. Lesson is as always, do neither what I say nor do)…Chris, I’ll throw another Johnson question to you (we all know how much you like to accumulate Johnsons). Who would you look for if you were dealing A. Johnson? Thank you ladies and gentleman, I’ll be here all night!

Chris: Andre Johnson is definitely a sell based on his hammy, Arian Foster, Shaub’s highly suspect play and the Owen Daniels/Kevin Walter red zone tandem (white guys in the red zone!). Quietly email (is there a way to send loud emails?) the deeper teams in your league and ask them what they are willing to part for Andre Johnson. Remind them that they are not only getting his numbers, they are getting this guy.

I think any combination of the following guys should be pursued (pick 1 from each category but you may have to offer more than A. Johnson…that’s what my girlfriend said and she doesn’t even play fantasy football!):

WRs: D. Bowe, S. Smith (I think we can stop clarifying which S. Smith and M. Williams from here on out), J. Maclin and Dez Bryant.

RBs: B. Wells, J. Best, F. Gore and Matt Forte

Waiver Wire Garnish: Victor Cruz, Pierre Garcon

Remember, you are dealing away one of the best and most consistent WRs in fantasy football. He’ll come back sooner rather than later. But also keep in mind that time is not your friend this late in the year. Get A. Johnson shakin!

Mark: And with that final hack pun I would like to thank Chris and Brent from taking the time out of their busy days to discuss the finer points of fantasy football trade strategy.

Chris: I’m a nighttime security guard. I wasn’t exactly squeezing you in.

Brent: And I’d like to thank you for confirming what I already knew: Both you AND your friends are complete degenerates.

Mark: You’re welcome!