The round is over!


Just let that settle-in, kick back and take a deep breath…


We’ve all experienced a big weekend; our teams won or lost, and Fantasy took us through an emotional rollercoaster. But, even though it seems that the clouds are clearing, beware the storms building on the horizon – trade rage. 


Trade rage is any irrational urge to trade without properly assessing the facts and failing to think long term. Mostly, it involves trading out one of your players who has a shit match. Trade rage can lead to successful trades, but will more often lead to bad trades. Then, to resolve the bad trade, trade rage tempts you to do it again. At the bottom of this rabbit hole is a shattered team, with no cash and no trades. You’ll probably be selling your body for crack by then.


Even when you think you are being an informed and rational being, it is still easy to slip up. Temptations await you at every turn – that cash cow you missed out on who just went huge, or that gun who started round 1 with a 40. So, to help you avoid making mistakes, here are the “guidelines” for making a trade. Whenever you make a trade run through these points to make sure you really need to pull the trigger, or if it’s just the rage talking… 


First up, you have to realise that a trade has two sides. You will be removing a player, and gaining a player. You can benefit from both of these sides, by buying a player who is a gun or on the rise, AND, by selling an injured player, or mid-range player who has plateaued in value or is losing money. By aiming to benefit from both sides of a trade, you minimise the risk of it going bad. A miscalculation on one side of the trade still leaves you with the benefit of the other side. 


So, the real question you have to ask yourself before trading is; what is the upside of both sides of this trade? If you can’t identify what the upside is, you probably should not trade. 


Here are the other mantras that are necessary to cite before pulling the trigger.


There are always more cash cows

At the start of the season, it seems like every cash cow could be the last. But, as the season rolls on, you realize that every week will produce a new must-have. You can’t buy every one, so don’t spend a trade to chase the latest cash cow sensation. Wait until you need to get a cash cow (e.g., downgrading a ripe cow), and you’ll often find that there is someone to fill the need. 


Don’t trade guns.

Just because a gun scored below their BE, they need to be trusted. One added value of having guns “locked in” is that they are positions that no longer need trading. Every time you bring in a gun, you are saving trades in the future. Stay strong. 


How long is the injury and how many points can your backup score? 

If you have a gun out for 4 weeks, and your backup will score 15 points less, that means you are only 60 points behind. Is that trade worth 60 points? You need to think about this whenever a gun gets a non-season ending injury or suspension. Also, remember that many players manage to return early, so the “official” return date may not be final, the exception to this is Cam Munster who doesn’t even need to be on the injury report to be out for four weeks (damn you Cam Munster and Craig Bellamy).


Think about the byes. 

After the first few rounds you need to start thinking about byes. A cash cow is great, but a cash cow that will ripen just after Origin, and play in some tricky bye rounds is brilliant. In the same way, if a cash cow has ripened before the byes, but is good for tricky bye rounds, then keeping him for a few more weeks, even if he loses some value, may be a good strategy. 


Long term strategies 

When thinking about trades, you should also consider how your trades will be used across the entire season. Remember, you have a limited number, so you need to abstain in some rounds. There are two extreme strategies that are often employed. 


Go Hard 

The first is to trade as much and as often as required to keep your scores in the top bracket of teams (that doesn’t mean trade rage!). This could involve running out of trades soon after Origin, and coasting into the final rounds. But, it assumes that your team will already be doing so well, and everyone else will also be crashing, so a late season fadeout will not hurt too much. It is also based on the notion that having guns in your team ASAP gives you time to accumulate points across more rounds, as compared to bringing them in later, when less rounds are left.


The downside is that if you are not in the top teams when trades run dry, your final rank will be the embarrassment of all of your offspring and ancestors. It is a boom or bust strategy, and is probably the only way to really win the comp. But, it has left many teams on the scrapheap after round 20.


Save for injuries 

Ultimately, injuries always decimate teams in the Origin and post-Origin period, so pretending they won’t happen is just madness. Many a late season climb has relied on having good bye planning and a few extra trades in reserve. For example, The Defensive Centre managed to move from 10k to 1k from round 11 to round 26 in 2015. He’s a fastidious trade saver, which is also why his seasons start slow, with the go hard mob taking the early lead.


To bye plan, or not? 

Many coaches will have some experience with running a H2H team and an Overall team, and by round 26, their H2H team is rushing up the ranks, leaving their Overall team for dust. Some coaches have concluded that this means bye planning is a wasted effort. See more above, but fundamentally in most seasons, coaches whose Overall teams are overtaken by their H2H teams are just bad at bye planning. 


What should you do? 

Of course, every team will fall into some place among these extremes. You need to navigate your own course, and find the strategy that suits you best. Some years might benefit one strategy over the other, but you probably won’t know until after the season finishes. That’s the best bit about Fantasy, you are an expert when the season is already over...