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Fantrax EPL: Conquering Trade Fear

It was trading that brought me here to Fantrax. Yes, my colleagues may have sold me the dream of a better scoring system, the fact that lineups can be changed during the gameweek and the joys of a draft day or the drama of playoffs, but it was trading that lit the fire in my heart. The idea that you can outsmart an opponent in such a visible manner based on a hunch, or trade your way up in value to building a Team of the Year-worthy squad over months of negotiations, is something that lies at the core of how I enjoy Fantrax; as such, I would be remiss if I wrote about anything else for my first article!

Thank you to Jacob Stephenson (@25JStep) for submitting this article.


Introduction


So how do I plan on tackling this topic? There were, of course, a few obvious options:

  • Walk you through my best trade hits, but where would be the fun in that?

  • Discuss trading tactics and approaches you might take? I think by this point we all know that a 2-for-1 is generally good value, and these articles have been done to a great standard and can be found in the TDS archive.

  • Maybe take some current trades I’m looking at going into the final part of the 22/23 season? A lot of leagues have trade deadlines, and this will only fit the bill if you happen to share players that I’m discussing.

For me, the risk of trading in Fantrax is the fear of being outplayed, and not wanting to be the subject of a wave of abuse in the group chat as you suffer the consequences in the following gameweeks. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate… you get the gist. There’s also a side-effect of great content around trading. The availability of player rankings and other ‘trade help’ create a tendency for group think - to hand over all our decision making over to them, insta-declining a trade that, according to the experts, might leave us with a lower ROS ranking.


I want to tackle this trade-fear head on, and to do so I’ve combed my way through various leagues to find some recent trades that you might on first glance scroll past thinking the following...


“THAT’S AWFUL”


“WHAT WAS HE THINKING?!”


“I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY’D TRADE X FOR Y”


I’ve taken a look at the players involved and the rosters behind the trades. In each case, I’ll see whether there’s more than meets the eye in the transaction. The goal? Readers may find themselves a little more brazen in their trading approaches, more willing to act on that gut instinct, and take a leap of faith in the hope of success!


Trade Analysis


Patrick Bamford for Joelinton

“Patrick Bamford hasn’t scored all season!” the 10th place team roared. “Goalinton has got more points than the Leeds team combined!” 11th place complains. Yes, we’re starting with an absolute cracker, and it’s one of the worst trades you’ll see at first glance with the outlook not brightening much when the stats show that Joelinton has averaged 18 points in each start since. But let's dig in a little deeper here and see if we can find some reasons to justify why this trade might not have always been destined for a one-sided disaster.


First, here's some background. Team B has Declan Rice as a MID2 and Bamford sitting on the bench most weeks as a forward whose returns are hard to trust. It’s really a no-brainer to accept the trade from this manager’s point of view, despite Joelinton’s lack of recent form at GW29. Almiron has been recently injured and and folks are bullish about big Joe. Why on earth would Team A want to ship off our favourite misaligned midfielder to bring in the best-known privately educated PL striker? Well, they clearly have an issue up front with Callum Wilson leading the line (at GW29, Alexander Isak was lurking dangerously in the wings ready to decimate those minutes). Meanwhile, their midfield is a wonderland of choice with the likes of Odegaard, JWP, March, and an in form (at the time) Doucoure at MID6. Clearly, there’s an imbalance in the squad that needs to be addressed. Patty B is on the way back from injury, and with Leeds scrapping for their lives (remember, we’re at GW29 here), you can see why Team A wanted to take the gamble with Bamford scoring in GW27 and Leeds scoring 4 in GW28. Manager A’s decision-making may not have been in line with all our projections, but you can definitely see the thinking behind this play!


Alternatives? Well, looking at the options available to Manager A here, maybe they would have been wiser to trade a more valuable MID for a more sure-fire striker, and held onto Joelinton to see the impact of the Almiron injury. But I guess we’ll never know… What we can say from this trade is that they don’t seem to have suffered too greatly as a result, maintaining their position in 2nd up until this current point in time.


Heung-Min Son for Alexis Mac Allister

Ok, this trade might not be as wild on its face as our first example, but I think there would have definitely been some questions asked in the league once they saw Team B (who rostered only Son and Havertz) trade out Son and add Mac Allister to an already strong midfield (pushing Joelinton to MID4). On the opposing side, Team A has plenty of mids and a forward line that is devoid of any quality at all, with Welbeck holding down the fort alone. Once again, this is a no-brainer for our manager here despite Spurs being Spurs – Son had returned a G/A performance in 4/5 of his last games and returned to some good scoring form.


So why would Manager B ditch his in-form striker for a player that hasn’t quite matched the same scoring rate this season? Well, firstly you’d be well forgiven for thinking that Spurs season is a mess. That’s true, but given Son’s scoring this likely isn’t the main reason. Brighton had 3 doubles between the point of trade and the end of the season, and ultimately I think that will have been the key factor. Team B was surely gambling on some heavy returns in these doubles to move up the table, especially if there are play-offs in GW36 onwards (when Brighton doubles again). Roster balance may well have suffered (and looking at the GWs since, there was no planned trade or waiver to bring in an alternative forward for Son) but points are points, right?


As it happens, Son has outscored Mac Allister since, and at the time of writing Alexis didn’t even manage a start in the first game of the GW34 double (Manager B didn’t risk starting Alexis, so missed out on his Thursday night haul of 23 points vs United, which evens out the statistics in the table above). But this trade offers another quirk that I’m keen to stress in this article. Despite the extra points gained, Manager A has dropped from 10th to 11th, and Manager B hasn’t moved at all from 7th – proof that suffering as a result of a trade doesn’t always instantly put you into a downwards spiral. There’s still a few gameweeks for Alexis to come good for Manager B - including DGW 37 - so don’t be afraid to take those risks!


Matheus Nunes for Jadon Sancho

Sancho’s just been traded for an open roster spot here, no? That manager has just been gifted an M/F option scoring at almost double the rate of Matheus Nunes!! Alright, alright, settle down, everyone. Let’s investigate.


Team B – sitting high in the table, looking a sure bet for 6-man playoffs with a relatively strong squad but with some room for improvement in midfield as Kulusevski has not been a sure-fire starter for Spurs. Once again, this is our easy no-brainer side of the trade. But why on earth would Team A trade away a United player with a GW34 and GW37 double for someone slotting into a MID4/5 position in their team? The key here lies in the gameweek in which this trade took place. GW32 was a blank for Sancho, and this trade took place at 14:13 – so clearly our manager is hunting for starters. To add to this, we’re looking at a 6-team playoff situation here and our manager is sat in 7th. It’s clearly a short-term play – who needs a double in GW37 if your team is useless by then?


Looking at GW32, Nunes scored 10 points, and our manager secured a win in that gameweek. So you can argue the pay-off is there. Are there any alternatives in this case? It’s hard to look at the pool as it may have been at that point in time, but I’m certain there would have been some other stream options to return 6-10 points, whilst leaving Sancho to the waiver-gods rather than with an opponent near the top end of the table! That being said, if Manager A secures a place in the play-offs, he won’t care one bit given the lottery of one-off gameweeks.


Wout Weghorst for Harvey Barnes

This is our final trade, and I’ve left myself with a seriously big task. How can you justify bringing in a man who hasn’t scored any goals for his current club and isn't a guaranteed starter? In fact, he’s started once since this trade with a return of 0 points and a total return of 6 points from his sub appearances. Ouch. Well, their forward line is again seriously lacking, with Havertz as the FWD2, and midfield is looking good in comparison. The four players listed above, whilst not completely reliable, provide a great sample of upside to choose from with the potential for additional streams each gameweek. They’re sitting in 2nd so potentially can afford a risk or two. Our other party is short in midfield, and is probably keen to offload Wout at any opportunity so we can gloss past their acceptance without too much further consideration.


Upon further analysis, I think this trade is the grand sum of the other gambles we’ve seen from our plucky trade-happy gaffers:

  • A move for a forward suits Manager A, and he can afford to lose a MID from a team sliding towards the relegation zone.

  • The forward in question has DGWs in the future – those extra games could be the difference between 1st and 2nd.

  • Barnes was dropped from the XI for this GW. The trade took place at 14:07 - after line-ups were announced - and with the stakes as high as they are in this league, every win is crucial!

Since this trade, Manager A has managed to stay in 2nd , and Manager B has dropped from 7th to 8th so Manager A’s fast and loose approach must have paid off in other areas! Once again, I can only argue that being bold in your approach is the way to go in Fantrax.


Conclusion


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting readers to close this article, open up Fantrax, and offer their best midfielder for Havertz on the basis that Chelsea have a double in 37 and they only have two starting forwards. But what I would hope is that everyone looks at these trades and sees that while they may look foolish on paper, you shouldn’t necessarily be discouraged. For all the talent TDS has in projecting points and providing great statistical material, football is a low-scoring & unpredictable game, where punts can often pay off. Only you know your roster and your situation – so back those trade proposals you’ve set up and start clicking that send trade button a bit more often rather than automatically opting against it!


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