Rules - Trade Overview

Updated: January 11, 2008, 3:59 PM ET

One of the more emotional topics in our e-mail from users is the subject of trades - both the process and the principles. Trading can be the most enjoyable part of the game, but it can also be a source of frustration for owners who don't understand certain policies. Here is a brief overview of the art of trading.

2007 FFL Trade Deadline:
ALL Trades must be accepted before Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. ET.

Trading
There is no limit to the number of trades a team can make during the trading period. Trades do not necessarily need to include the same number of players, though each team must stay within the restrictions of the 16-man roster.

Note that the Nov. 21 deadline is only for trades between teams. Owners are free to add and drop players via free agency and waivers throughout the entire season (including FFL playoffs).

The owner receiving the trade offer will then be sent an e-mail listing the player(s) involved and any reasons for it (your written support, if any), and asked to either accept or decline the proposal. If the trade is accepted, the transaction then moves onto the list of Pending Transactions for Peer Review. All league owners may review the trade for 48 hours after it has been brought up for Peer Review (see Trade Review below). All protested trades are sent to the League Office for review, and will be evaluated within 12 hours of their submission for review. Note that the 12 hour League Office review period does not necessarily begin at the time the trade is first protested, but will not delay a trade beyond the original process time.

Trade Schedule
Trades with a process time 60 minutes or less prior to the week's first kickoff will not process until Noon ET on the following Monday. This means that for a trade to process in time for the upcoming week's matchup, it must be accepted two days prior to the first game of the week, before Noon ET. Trades do not process at the exact time listed in pending transactions. Trades process at one hour intervals throughout the day.

Trade Review
Trades must be made in an attempt to benefit BOTH teams. If a trade is discovered that appears to be collusive, or one-sided to the point that it cannot benefit one of the parties involved, league members may protest the trade and send it on to the League Office for review. The League Office reserves the right to handle all such situations to preserve the integrity of the game.

In any situation where the League Office believes that a proposed trade is collusive or will not fairly benefit both teams, the League Office may reject the trade. The League Office further reserves the right to suspend or revoke a team owner's ability to propose or protest trades when the League Office believes, using reasonable discretion, that a team owner has acted in a collusive or unsportsmanlike manner or in any other manner which undermines the integrity of the game. Decisions of the League Office on all such matters shall be final and binding.

Turning off trade review
If a league has voted to turn off the protest capability of a trade through the league referenda service, that league's members will not be able to protest trades. Removing the protest capability of a league requires unanimous consent of all 10 league members.

Warning: Turning off trade review means that all trades in your league will pass, including one-sided or possibly collusive trades. The League Office will not reverse any trade made after the players have changed teams.

Trade Vetoes
The following are NOT sufficient reasons to veto a trade:

  • I changed my mind
    Once you complete a trade, it's too late to change your mind. It's unfair to the other owner involved.

  • I will quit if this trade goes through
    Sorry, this game is not about blackmail. We can't let statements like these make our decisions for us.

  • My little brother/mom/dog hit the button by accident
    It is your responsibility to keep your account access away from irresponsible people or pets.

  • The owners have the same e-mail address
    Collusion is against the rules. Sharing an account is not. Please have some amount of proof before you accuse another owner in your league of collusion.

  • A player is injured AFTER the trade was accepted
    As long as the player was healthy when the trade was made, we consider the trade to be in 'good faith.'

  • So-and-so is a proven veteran - how can you trade him for a rookie?
    We see this often. We judge a trade on how likely we think it is that it will help a team. If each team has a decent possibility to improve, we'll OK it.

Reasons the League Office will consider vetoing a trade:

  • Both owners protested the trade and asked us to cancel
    Simple enough - no explanation needed.

  • Collusion
    On rare occasions, collusion is very evident. We'll veto these automatically.

  • A recently injured player is involved, and the trade occurred right after the injury
    This is to protect an owner who leaves an offer on the table, that is snatched up by an unscrupulous trading partner right after an injury is announced.

  • We feel the trade is extremely unlikely to help one of the teams
    This is the most controversial responsibility of the League Office. Usually, no matter what the final decision is, one or more owners will be unhappy. The decisions are not personal. They are informed decisions made by a panel of ESPN.com experts and are based on empirical data and statistics. If, in the League's judgement, both teams have a reasonable chance to improve their position through the trade, and the trade is being made in good faith, the League Office will improve the trade. The people who review trades are ESPN.com experts who watch dozens of NFL games a year, either on TV or in person. They also examine stats, both past and present. Many owners automatically protest a trade if a "big name" player is involved - however, fantasy value can differ (sometimes greatly) from real value or reputation. The decisions are often very close. The panel's responsibility is to make the most informed decision it can, based on the data available when it reviews the protest.

Final thoughts:

Decisions on protests are final. We will never re-create a voided trade. If you feel the League Office's decision was in error, we recommend reproposing the trade and then registering a "protest" yourself, except you should include reasons to allow the trade instead of reasons to veto it. Situations can change - what was unfair last week may be fair this week. For example, a running back fighting for a starting spot would have his stock go way up if his competitor for the job was significantly injured.

Sending angry or obscene protests is a good way to get ignored. Pointing out that you protested a trade that was allowed, which turned out to be one-sided, is meaningless. Our decisions are not predictions of what will happen - nobody can know that. If we allow Larry Johnson for Frank Gore - well, either player could have a great year, and either could slump. Right now, their potential is comparable, and this season could be up or down.

Remember - the game is supposed to be fun. Get out there and make some deals!