One facet of fantasy sports that frequently rises up and rears its ugly head is the subject of the trade veto and how and when it should be used. Opinions vary on the subject, but I’m going to try and cover some of the primary considerations on the use of the veto power.
Many seasoned fantasy vets prefer a laissez-faire, or hands off, approach. The best commissioner is usually the one who you barely notice is there, rarely becoming involved unless there is a serious reason to. Too often people get hung up with micro-managing every single thing that takes place in the league.
Managers veto vs. Commissioner veto
There are two generally used approaches for approving trades – one is where all the managers get to vote on trades and the other is where the commissioner has sole authority.
There are several weaknesses in letting managers vote on trades. One of the problems is that the process is usually anonymous. Many managers are much more likely to veto a trade if they can do it anonymously and don’t have to give an explanation for their actions. Often the veto is used for all the wrong reasons (and sometimes it isn’t used when it should be because some managers can’t be bothered to cast a vote, or in the case of abandoned teams in the league making it hard to get a majority vote). Managers veto because they think the trade is lop-sided, or because it’s not a trade they would make, or because they feel it will make one of the teams involved become better than theirs. If your league is going to give the managers the veto power, they should be made to publicly express the reasons the trade should not go through. It’s often a good rule that the commissioner has the power to reverse any vetoes he feels are unjust, preferably with an explanation for why he feels it should be reversed.
In several of the Café leagues I play in, trade approval is solely the purview of the commissioner (some leagues have two commissioners with the assumption that two heads are better than one). This system works best in leagues where managers know each other reasonably well from having played together for several years in one or more leagues. But even though the commissioner is responsible for approving trades, this system functions best if there is an avenue for managers to openly question the commissioner’s action in approving or disallowing any trade.
You need to be aware of the rules in the league before joining to ensure all exigencies are satisfactorily covered – if not, ask questions.
In this section I’ll try and cover some of the issues regarding the veto, in point form for ease of reading and discussion. Many people feel that no trade should be vetoed unless there is collusion involved – while that’s a good general rule of thumb, the issue is a little more complicated that that.
• The primary reason for vetoing a trade is when there is clear evidence of collusion – as long as both owners are honestly trying to improve their teams, than trades should be allowed to go through unfettered
• One question that seems to come up on a yearly basis is on the subject of “loaning” players. Basically this occurs when a manager needs a tight end for example due to a bye week and another manager who has an extra tight end agrees to trade one of them to him with the provision that the player is traded back him in the following week – make no mistake, this is COLLUSION – the managers are entering into an agreement that only benefits one team. There is no doubt that this should be vetoed.
• Too often managers get hung up on whether the trade is fair or lop-sided. First off, in most leagues there is no rule regarding stupidity and it’s not your job to decide how others should play the game – let others play the game as they see fit. Fairness is in the eye of the beholder and what the various managers in a league feel about a player can vary greatly (for example, over the first four weeks of this 2012 season fantasy players’ opinions on running back Chris Johnson couldn’t be more disparate with some thinking he is all washed up and others who feel he’s set to break out any time now). It’s not your job to decide what is fair.
• To continue with the issue of lop-sided trades, often what may appear unbalanced does make sense when one digs deeper and examines the trade. For example take the case of a manager trading a solid WR for a TE who doesn’t put up nearly the same numbers on a weekly basis. Under a microscope you’ll probably find that the manager trading the WR is loaded at that position and is leaving points on the bench every week when in fact that player would start on most other teams in the league – so if it improves his team at the TE position then it makes sense, even if the TE doesn’t produce as many points – and no doubt the manager trading the TE is getting an upgrade at WR so both teams are in fact benefiting from the transaction.
• As mentioned previously, there’s no rule against stupidity. That said however, one thing that I find extremely offensive is when an experienced manager tries to rob blind someone who is new at fantasy football. When this occurs, there are a couple courses of action that you can take. One is to simply veto the trade and give the experienced manager a stern rebuke that such actions will under no condition be allowed in the league. A somewhat less intrusive reaction is to discuss the trade with both parties involved, in particular advising the rookie owner on how to determine the value of a player (such as posting the trade here at the Café for feedback). I think we need to help rookie managers learn the tricks of the trade without getting fleeced to make fantasy sports fun for them, making them more likely to stick around and become a regular fantasy player – that can only be good for the game.
• In keeper and dynasty leagues the concept of fairness goes out the window as compared to redraft leagues. Some managers will be trying to strengthen their team right now while others will be more concerned with the future and are interested in young players with upside and draft choices. One rule I’m pretty adamant on in dynasty leagues is that draft picks can only be traded one year into the future – for example, right now in the 2012 season, only 2013 draft picks can be traded, not 2014 or beyond. The reason for that is fairly simple – I’ve seen too many examples where a manager has traded away draft picks for the subsequent two years and when his efforts fail to build a competitive team fail he simply walks away and abandons the team. It’s tough enough to find a replacement owner for a team that has squandered its draft picks for the following season, it’s almost impossible to find one for a team that has traded away its picks for the next two or more years. But, that’s my personal opinion and many fantasy leagues are successful in spite of allowing trading of draft picks more than one year in the future.
• While some disagree, I am opposed to trades that threaten the competitive balance of the league. I’m not talking of simple one-sided trades here, I’m referring to things like a vengeful owner trying to get back at the league for some perceived wrong by making a ridiculous trade by letting stud players go for fire sale prices – this fails to pass the litmus test of both owners trying to improve their team. It basically fits the definition of dumping which should never be tolerated.
• Obviously if the commissioner is going be the sole person deciding on whether trades go through, it’s nice to have some knowledge of the commissioner and how he likes to run things. There needs to be rules in place for disputes and how to resolve them – and if the commissioner is involved in a trade, obviously someone else in the league needs to rule on the trade and that should also be provided for in the rules. You don’t want situations to arise that can tear the league apart.
• If a question arises as to why a particular trade should be allowed to go through, it can often be dealt with by simply and courteously asking the managers involved to explain their motivation in making the trade. We don’t see things through the same eyes and usually they have a valid reason for the trade that may not be obvious to all, and in fact may not make sense to all.
• Normally if two managers decide the trade they are making is fair then that should be good enough for the rest of the league if there is no evidence of collusion.
• Too often commissioners and managers want to try and tell everyone how to run their team – they need to butt out and let people manage their teams as they see fit and to the best of their abilities. In the end, it’s still just a game, so let’s keep it fun for everyone – and when it’s no longer fun, walk away.
To put it succinctly, a trade needs only to meet two criteria – that no collusion is involved, and that both teams are trying to improve their team.
Note: Instead of writing this as an article, I felt it would be more beneficial to make it a post in the Commissioner's Corner forum since the topic comes up on numerous occasions. Because of the timelessness of the subject, I felt it advantageous to make the thread a “sticky” (ie – it will always be at or near the top of this page so as to make it easy to find).
Also, the prime value of this thread will be realized with the comments and opinions of others here, both pro and con. Please feel free to express your opinion on the subject as this will only improve the value of the information provided herein.
So let fly the slings and arrows…
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