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No Time to be Gun Shy
July 29, 2003

There's about a third of the season left, so unless you are at the bottom of your fantasy standings, you probably have a chance at some money.  However, don't fool yourself into thinking that your 6th place team will suddenly turn it around and become a 2nd or 3rd place team 8 weeks from now by standing pat.

Look at the scoring categories and assess your strengths and weaknesses.  This is the perfect time to deal your overwhelming strength for several glaring weaknesses you might have.  You never want to give away more than you get, but at this point in the season, it's more important to fill the spots you have the greatest chance to gain in exchange for your best strength, even if the trade doesn't look as sound on paper.

The most important aspect of assessing your weaknesses is recognizing where you can gain the most ground.  If you are 9th in RBIs, but the 8th place owner has 100 more RBIs than you, it doesn't make sense to trade for "RBI guys."  However, if you are in 5th, but are only 14 RBIs away from 1st, obviously one extra big stick in your lineup could pay big dividends in your fantasy scoring.

For example, suppose you are in first in stolen bases and hold a sizeable advantage over even the 2nd place owner.  Your strikeouts, however, fall in the middle of the pack, although another power pitcher could put your several spots ahead.  It would behoove you to seek out the owner with the Kerry Wood type pitcher and offer him your best SB player and a non-strikeout pitcher of slightly less caliber.  A trade involving Dave Roberts and Jamie Moyer for Kerry Wood might look poor on paper, but if you can plug the outfield hole with a serviceable player, Wood's strikeouts the next 8 weeks might put you over the top and you shouldn't lose much in the other pitching categories.  While your lead in SBs may dwindle, 8 weeks should be enough time to hold off your competition, preventing you from losing ground in that category.

One more caveat exists in late season trading:  always make sure the owner receiving your players is not in a position to gain ground on you directly or indirectly.  In fact, you can use this strategy to your advantage by trading your talent to another owner who can catch your competition in a category but still fall short of catching you.

Of course, this strategy only holds if you have an exceptionally strong category or two.  If you are well balanced and not dominant in any category, your late season trading will require more thinking and risk taking.  Remember this though:  if a player performs one way through two-thirds of a season, he will likely perform in a consistent manner the rest of the way.  In other works, as mentioned earlier, that mediocre team of yours will not suddenly become giant killers unless your squad was previously injury riddled.  Money and prizes are not typically awarded to those finishing in the middle of the pack, so don't be afraid to take chances.  Sixth place is no better than tenth.  Good luck the rest of the way and happy trading!