At this point in the year, many leagues have trade deadlines. This is to prevent the teams with no shot at making the playoffs from trading their best players to those teams which are still in contention and thus altering the competitive balance of the season. In redraft leagues this policy makes sense. What do the bad teams have to gain? But in keeper and dynasty leagues you may still have the opportunity to improve your team through a trade no matter which side of the playoff divide you may be on.
If it looks likely that you'll make the playoffs, it's time to dump the dead weight. Any players that stand little chance of making your starting lineup over the next few weeks need to go. Perhaps you're still holding that handcuff running back or the wide receiver who is about to "break out." Get rid of them. If they haven't broken out yet, you'll never trust them in the playoffs. Your job right now is to maximize the potential output of your team over the next four weeks. In order to do that, you need to forget about tomorrow and play for today. Plan to win now. Your never know when your star tight end will get indicted for murder over the summer.
The classic method of winning a trade is to offer multiple mediocre players for a single stud. The reason this method never works for the team getting a package of players has to do with replacement costs and roster limitations. First of all, it's not a 2-for-1 trade. The team receiving the two players must drop someone in addition to replacing the player they traded. Secondly, you cannot replace the points scored by Calvin Johnson by starting two WR in his place. So, don't fall for this trick. Demand more than bulk.
The way to trade fairly at this juncture of the season is to swap youth for experience. Potential has value in keeper and dynasty leagues. Teams in contention should try to acquire someone like Wes Welker. Welker is getting older and has a history of concussions, but he's a pass catching machine and he's in a potent offense. He can definitely improve your starting roster over the remainder of the season. Don't be afraid to trade Nuk Hopkins or Giovanni Bernard if they are not part of your winning strategy this year. Too often we fall in love with our prospects and fail to account for the risk they represent. As the saying goes, potential gets coaches fired.
On the flip side, missing out on the playoffs also gets coaches fired. If you missed the playoffs, shop your older experienced players like Antonio Gates and Frank Gore. You may be able to start a bidding war between the contenders that produces a player that will help you down the road. Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.
Thankfully, it's the final week of dealing with teams on a bye. Philly, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Seattle all have the week off before the Thanksgiving holiday. While you won't have the Eagles passing defense to beat up on, you can still exploit the equally terrible passing defenses of the Vikings, Lions, and Cowboys. Start wide receivers and quarterbacks on the Packers, Buccaneers, and Giants. Likewise, the terrible rushing defense of the Bills is not playing so look to start Zac Stacy against the Bears, Ben Tate against the Jaguars, and Frank Gore against the Redskins.