In redraft leagues, making trades can be difficult. The players that people draft are going to be players that they like, and therefore are going to be less likely to want to trade them right off the bat. Plus, in one season, time can run out quickly in order to buy low on a given player.
However, this is not the case in dynasty leagues, where year-round roster construction and future rookie draft picks enable a landscape for trading all 365 days.
Closing yourself off from making trades is something that you can get away with in redraft, but in dynasty, you’re doing yourself a disservice not just from arguably the most fun aspect of the game, but your roster is best served when you don’t close off any avenues to make your team better. Odds are, your dynasty league mates are looking to take every opportunity to improve their lot, and for that reason, you should too.
But it’s not just trading in general that can give your squad an edge. There’s an argument to be made that not just trading but trading more than your league mates, gives you an edge, as long as the trades are sound, of course.
ATTRIBUTES INHERENT TO DYNASTY LEAGUES THAT ENCOURAGE TRADING
The typical amount of teams in a dynasty league is 12. With 12 dynasty teams, there are 12 unique roster situations, 12 different opinions on player values and roster construction, and various levels of positional depth and draft capital.
Where one area of your roster is strong, there are likely multiple teams in your league that aren’t, and vice versa. But say that you’re even the most comfortable of contenders, chances are that there’s still interest in your players or draft picks that may net your team increased overall value to trade away, and even the best teams shouldn’t close themselves off to testing the trade market.
And as you make a trade to improve, say, your running back room, then that makes a different position the next priority. For example, wide receiver, you can move on to chatting with teams with strong receiver rooms to see what might be able to get done.
Dynasty players’ continuous roster adjustments lend themselves to a fluid environment of ever-changing values and strategies, and therefore, opportunities to recognize and capitalize where your team can be served best.
Where and how to recognize those opportunities is a more specific subject than I’ll dive into here. For this article’s sake, what I bring up is to point out the advantage of volume trading on a general scale. It’s possible this has already been said in a similar way, but in my mind, there’s a foundational basis for my advocation for volume trading, and I call it:
THE RULE OF 11
In theory, when you trade with one of your league mates, each side is (or should be) gaining value. The value gained being theoretically equal, if you make one trade with each of the other 11 teams in your league, then you have increased your team’s value 11 times more than you have helped your league mates.
Clearly, the value gained isn’t going to be equal, but conceptually, there is an average. Some trades will be above the average, some below. But as long as the trades are sound, even if you don’t hit a W on all of them, hitting on most of them will equal an increasingly higher net positive the more you trade.
And really, trades that skyrocket your team’s value shouldn’t be expected. It’s about the small moves, the long game. I put my money where my mouth is concerning the long game this past off-season in the Roto Street Journal Superflex Dynasty League, taking an aging contender and volume trading it into a middling, but promising young squad with lots of upside.
MY ROSTER: END OF 2022 SEASON
QB: Dak Prescott
RB: Breece Hall
RB: Josh Jacobs
WR: Jaylen Waddle
WR: Mike Evans
TE: Travis Kelce
FLEX: Dalvin Cook
FLEX: Antonio Gibson
FLEX: Raheem Mostert
SF: Matthew Stafford
Baker Mayfield, Taylor Heinicke, Mike White, Mitch Trubisky, Rashaad Penny, Latavius Murray, Cordarrelle Patterson, Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu, Zonovan Knight, Kadarius Toney, Allen Robinson, Sterling Shepard, Rashid Shaheed, David Njoku, Noah Fant, Harrison Bryant, Tyree Jackson
2023: none; 2024: 1st, 3rd, 4th; 2025: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
MY ROSTER: AUGUST 2023
QB: Anthony Richardson
RB: Breece Hall
RB: Josh Jacobs
WR: Marquise Brown
WR: Kadarius Toney
TE: David Njoku
FLEX: Javonte Williams
FLEX: Elijah Moore
FLEX: Rashod Bateman
SF: Jordan Love
Trey Lance, Baker Mayfield, Zach Wilson, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Israel Abanikanda, Jerome Ford, Ty Chandler, DeWayne McBride, Kene Nwangwu, Deneric Prince, Jaleel McLaughlin, Cordarrelle Patterson, Marvin Mims, Rashid Shaheed, Mike Gesicki, Isaiah Likely, Logan Thomas
2024: 3rd, 4th; 2025: 1st, 2nd; 2026: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
So, how did I get here?
LET THE TRADING BEGIN
February 23rd to JimboSlice: Dak Prescott/Dalvin Cook/Travis Kelce/2024 3rd/2025 2nd for Daniel Jones/Geno Smith/Javonte Williams/Darren Waller/2025 1st
March 26th to Kendall Brown: Mike White/Noah Fant for Isaiah Likely
April 1st to Matt Duckworth: Geno Smith/Matthew Stafford for Jordan Love
April 3rd to JimboSlice: Mike Evans/Rashad Penny/Sterling Shepard/2024 1st for Marquise Brown/2025 2nd
April 21st to The Wolf: Darren Waller/Raheem Mostert for Mike Gesicki/Jerome Ford
April 28th to Sean Keegs: Antonio Gibson/Taylor Heinicke/2025 1st/2025 3rd for Treylon Burks/Elijah Moore/Zach Wilson/2025 2nd
May 23rd to RXenos: Jaylen Waddle for 2023 1.02
June 12th, RSJ Rookie Draft Day: Drafted Anthony Richardson with 1.02, traded 2025 2nd to JimboSlice for 3.01 (Israel Abanikanda) and 2024 3rd
June 16th to The Wolf: Daniel Jones for Trey Lance/Marvin Mims
June 29th to PapaTunes: Treylon Burks/2025 4th for Rashod Bateman/DeWayne McBride
I was a part of ten of the nineteen trades between February 23rd and today. With low draft capital already, I “retooled” my roster with youth where I felt the value was right, rather than a total rebuild.
FACTORS THAT ENABLED THIS VOLUME TRADING
Sometimes volume trading means letting go of a player before they even get a chance to see the field for you. In my case, those players are Daniel Jones, Geno Smith, Treylon Burks, and Darren Waller. Youth-building played a factor in moving Geno and Waller.
While youth-building was a driving factor in my trades, the various needs/wants of my trade partners are displayed through this list of ten deals. Kendall Brown and Matt Duckworth were looking for QB depth. Sean Keegs was looking to bolster his RB room and had a surplus of WR depth while I had more of a deficit. JimboSlice was a contender looking to further bolster his roster to contend with our league’s current frontrunner, Jackson Barrett. Wolf’s buying into the Giants, became high on stacking Daniel Jones with Darren Waller, and as a contender, had less reason to wait for Trey Lance than I did. The trade with RXenos was purely a value trade on both sides, with the rebuilding RXenos liking Jaylen Waddle more than any of the top 2023 QB options, and myself looking at an opportunity to draft my choice of QB.
All along the way, there are plenty of spots where the trades I made could result in an L for me, but what’s undeniable is the overall value gained from taking an aging contender, which was not a top contender, and transforming it into a roster with a ton of upside, and some breathing room where not every player I acquired has to succeed in order for the team to have success.
It happened through avoiding having too narrow of a vision for my squad, going in a general direction without closing off avenues to value. Should the overall strategy of this team need to pivot, it’ll be time once again to review where my surpluses are other teams’ deficits, making a ripe trading environment. And, never shutting off a trade discussion that might offer value in general.
THE DANGERS OF TRADE RELUCTANCE
In 2022, I watched three contending teams make in-season trades that bolstered their 2023 rosters, one team for the long-term, and that kick-started my pivot into retooling. Trade reluctance would have left my contending team worse off in 2023 due to my inaction to try and keep pace with the other contenders. Only pulling off five of the ten aforementioned trades could have left my team with lingering aging vets on a team less prepared to contend, as well as failing to have the future upside that a full retooling was able to afford me.
If you haven’t fully bought into the world of trading in dynasty, or haven’t explored every aspect of it that can boost your roster, I hope this article helps open things up and gets ideas for opportunity flowing.
Trade strategy, among a plethora of other topics, permeates the RSJ Dynasty Dive on the Roto Street Journal YouTube channel. Check out Emery Dinsmore and myself @RSJDynastyDive on Twitter/X/whatever, as we aim to keep your minds churning, and your values and strategy fresh year-round.