Commentary

Grand Theft Roto: And the GTR goes to...

Updated: November 26, 2008, 1:59 PM ET
By Shawn Peters | Special to ESPN.com

"Wow Peters. Great idea trading Cedric Benson for Dunn. Who in this lifetime would be dumb enough to give ANYONE for Cedric Benson????????" -- Convo_Stud (ESPN Conversation)

"Benson's fantasy playoff schedule looks pretty good to me and who knows what Tampa's gonna be doing with Cadillac back. Also Dunn gets next to zero goal line carries whereas Benson is somewhat of a goal line back." -- Bucnastynate (ESPN Conversation)

Consider this "Exhibit A" in the defense of the Grand Theft Roto crime family.

This is my fourth year writing GTR for football, and every season, I try to find different ways to make it clear that the aggressive, trade-inclined fantasy GM should never stop prodding the market and seeing what is possible. My mantra is, and always has been, that there are two sides to every player and every deal, and thus, if you can see any angle why the other guy might want to say yes, you have to make the offer.

I try metaphors, theories, and even the occasional parable. But nothing I can come up with will make it any clearer than what you, the readers, proved this past week. I solicited your best deals, steals and fantasy felonies, and you sent in hundreds of e-mails full of unbelievable deals, and when I write "unbelievable," I mean there were a few I literally didn't believe. Here are some top contenders in a few categories.

Early returns

I've always said the biggest steals come early, when everyone thinks they have a crystal ball. Here are five deals that prove the really early bird gets filet mignon, forcing the next bird to eat worms.

"I got Matt Forte for Sammy Morris and Reggie Brown by telling the guy how Brown was going to be the number one in Philly once he got healthy, Morris was going to be the number one in NE with Brady hurt, and that Forte only had one game under his belt."
Kyle in Wilmington, DE

"Thanks to ESPN's hype of Santonio Holmes having a breakout season, I was able to trade him before week one for Megatron and 'Hi, my name is Lendale … and I have a TD problem'"
Kevin in Katy, TX

"My Grand Theft Roto this season would have to be before the season started where I traded Edgerrin James to receive Chris Johnson and Vincent Jackson."
Michael in Canada

"Before Week 2 I traded away Chad Johnson and got Thomas Jones AND Lee Evans in return."
Steve B. in Overland Park, KS

"During Week 2, I had three quarterbacks: Matt Hasselbeck, Kurt Warner, and Carson Palmer. I decided to trade Palmer for Chris Johnson of Tennessee. I'm pretty sure I got the better end of that deal."
Matt in Easton, MA

Every one of the above is a ridiculous steal, but if I had to pick one, I'm giving the nod to Steve B. Ocho Cinco stayed healthy enough that his owners were tempted to keep starting him, so by dealing him and getting two every week starters in Jones and Evans, Steve's deal gets top billing.

Timed to perfection

There are some GTRs that only are possible for a moment, when one player's value skyrockets and another's is in the gutter. These were my favorite deals that were made at the only time they could've been.

"Between Weeks 1 and 2 I traded a one-week-wonder Dante Rosario for one piece of the Giants' rushing attack -- Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs has been starting for me all season while Rosario is now available on the waiver wire."
Brad in Atlanta

"Perfect storm occurred around Week 3 when Colston got hurt and Ronnie Brown was not getting the bulk of the workload. I traded Patrick Crayton and David Patten for Ronnie Brown and Reggie Bush. I kid u not."
Rob in Chicago

"I traded Larry Johnson, the week before his off-field troubles began, for Peyton Manning."
Dan in Amherst, MA

"Right before Steve Smith's return from suspension and after a good game by Larry Johnson, I traded LJ for Thomas Jones and Steve Smith"
Ross in Fargo, ND

"After losing Tom Brady Week 1, I desperately needed a QB. The other owners in my league laughed when I gave up both Ocho Stinko and Jeremy Shockey for Phillip Rivers. Who's laughing now?"
Joe in Albany, NY

I have a soft spot in my cold, thieving heart for Brad. Any man who can take one great game by a tight end no one had ever heard of and turn him into the lead back and sole goal line option for the defending Super Bowl champs is my soul-brother. Timing is everything.

One-for-one

Trading one player for another is a tough proposition because it either comes down to two teams needing different positions, or two owners who each think the guy they're giving is worse than the guy they're getting back. These four traders got it done, and got away with murder.

"I traded Selvin Young of Denver and got Calvin Johnson of Detroit."
Darrel in Utica, NY

"Bryant Johnson for Peyton Manning. End of story."
Alex in New York

"About 3 weeks ago I traded DeSean Jackson to someone that has McNabb for Anquan Boldin. He was coming off of his injury so it was a bit of a gamble but it has certainly paid off for me."
Bobby from parts unknown

"I traded Chris Perry for Roddy White. Nice!"
Eddie in Orlando

Eddie in Orlando, come on down! Dealing Perry, who had a ton of perceived value, even when he wasn't producing, for White, who was producing and earning no love, was delicious. Realizing that it was White, and not Perry, who had the pedigree and career arc to suggest he was ready to break out and stay at an elite level is what makes Eddie Grand Theft Royalty.

Megadeals

Sometimes, when several players are involved in both sides of a big trade, it's hard to see who got the best of it. But not for these owners.

"Back in Week 5 I traded Darren McFadden, LT, V. Jackson, and Donovan McNabb for Tony Romo, Clinton Portis, Roddy White, and an injured Marques Colston. Safe to say I GTR'ed my league."
Tim in Boston

"My best trade of the year put me over the top! I sent Ben Roethlisberger, DeSean Jackson, and Jonathan Stewart. I received Aaron Rodgers and Anquan Boldin. Talk about a steal!"
Chris in Malvern, PA

"Right after Brandon Marshall and Tony Sheffler had their huge games, I traded them away for Dwayne Bowe, MJD, Chris Johnson, and Carson Palmer."
Jared from Charlotte, NC

"Hey GTR, my best move of the year came after Week 2. I should have played the lotto too. I traded Carson Palmer, Steven Jackson and Plaxico for Rivers, Portis, Roddy White and Chris Johnson"
Johnny in Raleigh, NC

This one was closer than I expected it to be, but Johnny got a top passer, two of the top-10 running backs and an every week stud receiver for a broken quarterback, a dinged up runner and a wide receiver who bounces between injury and disciplinary issues. Honestly, I don't think I've ever made a deal that good … or that evil.

Warner? I hardly even know'er

No name turned up more often in the e-mails than Kurt Warner. Because he was drafted late or even went undrafted in so many leagues, owners that had him tended to deal him early on, trying to get what they could for him. Of course, those who traded for the Cardinals' signal caller reaped the benefit.

"With Steven Jackson, Fast Willie, Chris Johnson, Edge James, and Mendenhall at RB, I felt pretty good about my RB situation (a feeling which did not last long) and traded Edge straight up for Kurt Warner."
Jay in Squaw Valley, CA

"The week before Brady Quinn was announced the starter I traded Derek Anderson and Jerricho Cotchery for Kurt Warner."
Lane in Kansas City

"My best GTR for the year: I traded JT O'Sullivan and Sammy Morris for Kurt Warner!"
Joe in Milwaukee

"My best grand theft was trading Darren McFadden after Week 2 for Kurt Warner."
Dan in Salt Lake City

They're all winners, but Joe takes home the prize since he gave up a quarterback who lost this job and a banged up platoon running back in exchange for one of the two best fantasy quarterbacks in the land.

Go directly to jail

No explanation required.

"After Week 3, Anthony Fasano was the number one tight end. This guy in my league had a couple really good running backs but not one tight end to his name. So, jokingly, I proposed Anthony Fasano for Michael Turner. To my surprise, he accepted."
Colin from Salem, MA

"Julius Jones and Chris Cooley, between Weeks 4 and 5, for Matt Forte, myself being the recipient of Forte. This trade single-handedly turned around my season."
Adam in Baltimore

"In Week 3, I traded Santonio Holmes for Chris Johnson and Bernard Berrian."
JMart in San Diego

"On Sept. 25th, I traded Derek Anderson for a then struggling Thomas Jones."
Matt in Destin, FL

"I traded Carson Palmer for Kurt Warner and Roddy White."
Adam in Naples, FL

"In a PPR league, I traded Brandon Marshall and Willis McGahee after Week 2. I figured Marshall's value was probably already at its peak. In return, I got Adrian Peterson and talked the guy into throwing in Roddy White as a 'filler'."
Matt in Wheaton, IL

I know. All of the steals above would've been vetoed in any league that allowed for a league-wide vote. But they didn't get vetoed, and they are my final pieces of evidence that it is, in fact, possible to steal your league.

Which one was the biggest rip-off? I'll let you all decide on ESPN Conversation. I'm officially done for the season, but will return for GTR the baseball version in the spring. And for the first time ever, I'll be starting a league for my readers who are addicted to swapping and dealing. It'll be called the "Serious Traders, Everything Allowed League" or "The STEAL" for short, so keep an eye on ESPN.com for more details when baseball season approaches.

Here's wishing you success in your fantasy playoffs. With no more steals to be had, go ahead and just win your league.

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