Follow these Guidelines to win your Fantasy Football League in 2014!

Through a sea of junk email, a message appears in your inbox like a beacon in the darkness: "You have received a Fantasy Football trade proposal". This moment of infinite possibility is usually the highlight of the Fantasy Football trade process but generally, the initial offer ends up being rather pitiful. What follows is mind-numbing research, the gnashing of teeth, counter-offers, and finally the decision. Or maybe you have struck gold and another owner in your league is desperate enough to send you a trade so one-sided in your favor that you will be able to simply click the "Accept" button. However, this type of open-and-shut initial offer rarely happens. Motivating you to carefully wade through all offers is the knowledge that the waiver wire is limited in transformative power and trades can truly turn around a season. To execute a season-changing trade you must combine the art of negotiation with the sciences of economics, information technology, and data analytics, while mixing in just enough gut instinct.  Or you can just read below for my ten fantasy football trading tips, gleaned from ten years of fantasy football experience:

1. Level set

It may go without saying, but you can't make a trade without knowing the rules and scoring settings of your particular league inside and out. Do receivers get a Point per Reception? Are quarterbacks penalized for throwing interceptions? Are you in a league that allows keepers? This is basic knowledge but essential prior to making any trade.

2. Watch the games

Going by the box score alone can be misleading--make sure that when trading for a player that you can vouch for his actual talent and not just a fluky statistical anomaly.

3. Don't play the "Name Game"

Do your research! Don't be lazy and trade for players because of their big names. Theo Epstein, the great architect of the Boston Red Sox, and now Chicago Cubs, once said, "you should pay players for their future performance, not their past performance". This is also true in Fantasy Football trades. Often, when big name guys are offered to you it is because they are past their primes (or worse, battling an injury) and other owners are hoping that you see the name and jump at it without researching how they've actually performed on the field this year and examined their future prospects. Great examples of this right now are Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White, and Keenan Allen. Don't get sucked in by a name.

4. Surplus & scarcity

Like any good negotiation, you don't want to go into any trade with a perceived weakness or hint of desperation. Instead, use another team's limitations to your advantage. You must research every other roster in your league to find potential scarcity, and then exploit it with your surplus. For example, if you have four top wide receivers on your team but can only start three, search out those teams in your league that are thin at the wide receiver position. On the flip side, if you find yourself in the position of being scarce at a particular position, don't sacrifice quality to fill it. When trading, do your best to trade for the player and not the position. The more quality players you have on your team the better you will be positioned in the future to fill all of your positional needs through increased surplus.

5. Be cautious when using the popular "Buy Low, Sell High" approach

When used correctly, this can turn around your team and season. But beware, as it can be volatile and unpredictable. Often it is very difficult to predict when a player's season will turn around for the better or the worse, and successful utilization of this approach depends upon that particular skill. Research on injuries, opponent’s tendencies, and bye weeks can help reduce the uncertainty. I'll have more on this approach with specific players to target in weeks to come.

6. Reduce variability

Whenever possible, trade players from bad offenses for players on good offenses. For example, take the second receiver from a great offense for the first receiver on a bad offense. This gives you a "higher floor" and provides greater week-to-week consistency.

7. Be Patient

If you like a player's potential, wait until the player's coach agrees with you and gets him on the field. Be wary of trades for rookies and younger players until they've shown some of their potential where it counts.

8. Bundle

You can often get a "throw-in" player to complete a trade if you involve multiple players (e.g. trading two players for three). The more complicated you make the trade for your trading partner the higher the chance you have of winning the deal and finding value that isn't available on the waiver wire.

9. Start slow

When initiating a trade, start with a lower offer than you'll ultimately make as you move through the process. If your first offer is accepted, you should fear that you offered too much. A fair trade should have at least one counter-offer.

10. Going with your gut

When you go with your gut, you will be right fifty percent of the time. You might as well flip a coin. Be mindful of decisions that aren’t made with objective fact to fortify them.

Follow these rules and you'll be off to a good start. I'll be back on a weekly basis with additional tips and specific trade targets for the remainder of the 2014 season. Shoot me an email if you have questions and good luck!

Matt Forte
Credit: Wiki

11. Don't trade Matt Forte