The Rules of Negotiation

Updated: October 10, 2013, 5:57 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

The email came in at 1:04 p.m. ET.

The Talented Mr. Roto

His wide receiver for my running back. Do I want to do that?

I get out of my meeting at 1:20 and check my email. I, of course, blow past any actual work emails to the one about a fantasy football trade. It's a firm offer and am I interested?

You're damn right I'm interested. "I'll do that deal," I write back. It is now 1:21 p.m.; 17 minutes have elapsed since I received the offer.

He emails back about five minutes after that. "Sorry. I already dealt him."

Wait, what?

I mentioned this on my Facebook page and a few hours later, more than 700 of you had weighed in. Many agreed with me, but not all. "You snooze you lose Berry." "Don't be bitter." "What's the big deal?"

So I will tell what the big deal is. A firm offer means, you know, firm. As in, yours to accept or reject. If I can accept the deal and the deal does not go through, then it was not a firm offer, now was it class? If the player is being offered around the league, then it is a contingent offer. It is contingent on the trader not getting another offer he or she likes better, for example.

But the fact that some people on my Facebook page didn't realize the significance of the term, or worse, understood it but just didn't agree with it, let me know we have a real problem here. There is no guide to fantasy etiquette. There needs to be a set list of rules on how we act and behave in a fantasy league. It's the only thing separating us from animals. Well, that and a good Wi-Fi connection.

So here, now, is the official guide to fantasy football trade etiquette.

1. Be clear. Be crystal clear. Offering up a player to multiple teams is fine as long as you are clear about that. "Hey, any interest in Stevan Ridley for Maurice Jones-Drew? FYI, talking to some other teams about MJD" is a perfectly legitimate email. As is a group email saying MJD is on the block. If you are not sure you want to do the deal, make that clear. "Just thinking out loud here, not sure I'd do it, but if I offered it, would you do Ridley for MJD?" Also fine. Ridley's owner understands you're just talking. But if you say, "Wanna trade MJD for Ridley?" or something similar, well, then that's a firm offer and you need to give the other person a reasonable amount of time to respond.

Unless it's indicated up front that you are talking to other people, a negotiation should be between two teams and only two teams. Work it out or don't, but you owe it to that person (and to the negotiation) to not go outside the talks until it's resolved one way or the other. Think of it this way. You can date a person who has multiple partners or you can date someone in an exclusive relationship. Both are fine, but if one person thinks it's exclusive and the other is sleeping with everyone in town, you've got a problem. And probably a disease or something.

2. Your word should mean something. If you negotiate in good faith over text, email or on the phone and then say, "OK, done deal, offer it on the site," then you've got to accept the offer when it shows up. I don't care if you got a better offer an hour later. Or you found out the guy you're trading is now the starter instead of half of a committee. You agreed to a deal. It's done. The Web part is just the paperwork.

3. Take no for an answer. If you offer a trade to a league member and they say no, you are allowed one generic follow-up. "Well, I am still interested in so and so. Is there anyone on my team who interests you or could I put together another offer?" If the answer is still no, then that's it. Leave it alone. The only person who likes begging less than my editor when I get a joke rejected is another person in your fantasy league.

4. Respond. You don't have to do the deal you've been offered. You don't even have to counter if you're not into it. But you need to respond, even if it's with a simple yes or no. Are you in this league or not? Oh, you are? Then respond like a normal human being. Or as you would if this were a work email. Because let's face it. Your league is much more important than work.

5. Veto the veto. You've heard me say this before, but until this miscarriage of justice is abolished, you're going to keep hearing it. Unless you can prove actual collusion, no trade should ever be vetoed. It is not your job to manage someone's team for them. Everyone should be allowed to manage their own team their own way. Even if you don't agree with it. Even if it's badly. You don't think he got nearly enough for his star tight end? So what? Not your team, not your tight end. The guy dealing him thought he got a good deal, that's all that matters. There's a special level of hell reserved for the people who veto just because it's a deal that didn't involve them or because "it's part of their strategy." That's not strategy, it's being a jerk. Win on the virtual field, not in some technocratic loophole. The art of negotiation is a skill in fantasy and is part of the game. A big part.

6. Be human. Remember we play this game for fun. I got a note yesterday from Matt Boyd, the editor of my book "Fantasy Life," -- or as I like to call it "My New York Times Best-Selling Book Fantasy Life Which Makes A Great Columbus Day Gift" -- who asked my opinion on a trade that went through in his league. On Monday, a guy offers up Julian Edelman and Bilal Powell for Julio Jones. Tuesday, the news of Jones' injury breaks. And the Julio owner accepts the offer ... two hours after the news broke.

Now, my ruling on this is that the guy getting Julio is out of luck. It's not as though he didn't know Jones was banged up and clearly he was trying to buy low. He had two hours when the news broke to rescind the trade, he didn't, them's the breaks. But, I added ... from a human being standpoint, I thought it was a crappy thing to do. The second owner knows Julio is done for the year and accepts anyway. You know in your heart that no one is trading for a guy who is out for the year. And as I said, ultimately, this game should be fun. What fun is getting screwed by your friend? Stop with the damaged goods trades or being duplicitous. As my late, great Uncle Lester would like to say, a good deal is a deal where both sides win. I suggested they split the difference and either Edelman or Powell goes back, but the point is, be a rational human being above a cutthroat fantasy owner.

Repeat after me. We play for fun. With our friends. Friends we will want to trade with in the future. After I was told the firm deal that had been offered was now off the table, I sent a gentle rebuke.

"Dude!" I wrote him, "Gotta give me more than 15 minutes to accept an offer. Or at least give me a heads up that you're talking with others. Come on, man!"

He quickly responded. "Sorry. Bad GM etiquette on my part. I was just shooting from the hip a bit panicked."

To which I replied ... "No worries. I'll live. By the way, you mind if I write about this?"

He had no issue and here we are. He and I will trade again in the future and we're good. It really comes back to the golden rule, when you think about it. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. You wouldn't want a negotiation pulled from under you. You wouldn't want someone else to abuse the waiver wire, picking up guys and waiving them so no one else can get them. You wouldn't want to chase someone down for dues. You don't want to play with people who forget to set their lineup every week, and you wouldn't want someone to say something on a message board, Facebook or Twitter that they wouldn't say to someone's face.

So, you know ... just be people. Is that so hard?

Time now for this week's Love/Hate. Usual caveats apply, this is not a start-sit column. This is about players I expect to exceed or fall short of expectations. If you want my opinion on specific this payer versus that player, check my rankings, which get updated all the way up to Saturday night. Then follow me on Twitter and watch "Fantasy Football Now," as news changes Sunday morning and I can't update ranks while I am on TV. Do all that and then make your own decision; it's your team and I can't tell the future.

Big shoutout and thanks as always to Zach Rodgers and the gang at ESPN Stats & Information for their contributions to this column, and away we go.

Quarterbacks I love for Week 6

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III and Tony Romo
Rodger Mallison/Getty ImagesThe first time they met on the field -- last Thanksgiving -- RGIII and Tony Romo combined for 745 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Tony Romo, Cowboys and Robert Griffin III, Washington: Adding them together because they are on this list for the same, if overly simplistic reason: Two bad pass defenses and two good quarterbacks makes for fantasy goodness. Last four versus Washington, Romo has averaged over 300 yards and two scores. RG III averaged 22 points a game against the Cowboys last year and they've had two weeks to prepare for this game. Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it isn't true.

Jay Cutler, Bears: Nineteen. N-n-n-nineteen long weeks, Jay Cutler failed to throw for over 300 yards, dating back (ding!) to Week 1 of the 2012 season. But now ... 300 yards in back-to-back games, the emergence of Alshon Jeffery and the New York Giants are coming to town. I used to call them the New York Football Giants, but that no longer seems appropriate because, I don't know what they're doing, but it ain't football. Second-most passing touchdowns allowed, third-most fantasy points to opposing QBs, and seven members of their defense showed up on the injury report Wednesday night. I like Cutler's chances at a 300-yard game for the third week in a row.

Andrew Luck, Colts: I've been down on Luck as a fantasy quarterback this year because, as skilled as he is, the Colts are a power run team and I don't think his fantasy rushing is sustainable. Case in point, he's tied for 19th in passing attempts this year, the same number as Geno Smith. He's throwing a lot less (as I expected and predicted in the preseason), but one thing he is doing this year is being more effective downfield. Luck has completed 44 percent of his passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield after completing 39 percent of such throws last year. And only Drew Brees and Peyton Manning have more touchdowns of 20 or more yards. Meanwhile, only three teams have given up more completions of 20 yards or more than the San Diego Chargers.

If you're desperate: Joe Flacco is traditionally good at home, especially when he has to keep up with a high-scoring team like the Packers. ... With Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and 10 days to prep, I think Brandon Weeden is solid against the Lions' 20th-ranked pass defense.

Quarterbacks I hate for Week 6

Eli Manning, Giants: Bad offensive line, no run game, short week ... shouldn't even be owned in standard 10-team leagues. He might get some junk-time scoring in this game, but I can't see him finishing as a top-10 play this week.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: Since Week 2, he has averaged 139.3 passing yards per game. He's had fewer than 25 yards rushing in four of five games this year. San Francisco has gone back to what it does well: running the football, which is great for them but not for us. Arizona's defense is better than you think and they blitz on the second-most dropbacks in the league. Why is this important, you ask? Kaepernick has completed only 24 percent of his passes under pressure this season, 33rd among 34 qualified quarterbacks. Also not a top-10 play this week.

Sam Bradford, Rams: Bad matchup with Houston, which is the No. 1 pass defense in the league despite not ever getting to face Matt Schaub. But here's the stat that will make Rams fans tear their hair out, thinking about the fact they traded away the pick that Washington used to draft RG III: Since 2010, only Blaine Gabbert has a lower completion percentage on throws at least 15 yards downfield than Sam Bradford. Under 250 yards in three straight games, I'm not optimistic he breaks the streak Sunday.

Nick Foles, Eagles: I tend not to like going against teams off the bye, especially at home (two weeks to prepare, all that) and for all the dysfunction in Tampa, they actually have the eighth-best scoring defense and a defense that is giving up just over 12 points a game to opposing quarterbacks (and that includes games against the Saints and Patriots). Take out Michael Vick's rushing yards and scores this year and he's the 27th-best fantasy quarterback. Foles will throw more than Vick, but not that much more.

Running backs I love in Week 6

Doug Martin, Buccaneers: This is the week you remember why you drafted him in the first round. Obvious name, but putting him here because he's worth the money in a salary cap or daily format.

Broncos running backs: Yes, Peyton and gang will put up big numbers. But at some point, after they have a 28-point lead or so, probably mid-second quarter, they'll run some. Everyone's going to get a turn here. Knowshon Moreno is obvious, but I bet Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball get some run here as flex plays.

Giovani Bernard, Bengals: Since Week 3, Friend of the Podcast Giovani Bernard has played 112 snaps to BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 73. In addition to being part of the pass game -- the Law Firm isn't -- Bernard has averaged 5.4 yards per carry on rushes outside the tackles this season. The Bills have allowed 5.0 yards per carry on such carries. He's a top-20 play for me this week.

Willis McGahee, Browns: Despite not playing the first two games of the year and being used sparingly in Week 3, Willis McGahee has 13 red zone rushes this season, tied for sixth most in the NFL. Granted, that's because it takes him so many tries to move the ball, but it also shows you that the Browns have nobody else they think can do a better job, so he'll get the lion's share again against Detroit. Well, not the Lions' share: Those will go to Joique Bell and Reggie Bush. But he'll get the Browns' share. Detroit allows 3.3 yards per rush in the red zone, tied for sixth most in the league.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots: Gut call here, but it's easier to run on the Saints than it is to pass on them, Rob Gronkowski being back helps open up the offense (plus he's a good blocker) and I'm guessing that being this close to losing his gig last week motivates him. Flex play with upside this week.

Danny Woodhead, Chargers: Feel as if I've been mentioning this guy every week. I always like football players who are smaller than I am. Anyway, over the past two weeks, Woodhead has played twice as many snaps as any other Chargers running back (Woodhead 75, Ryan Mathews 37, Ronnie Brown 28). Now some of that is because Mathews got hurt, but you think that can't happen again? Here's the other crazy thing: During that span, Woodhead leads the Chargers in red zone carries. You read that right. Carries. At least five receptions in four straight games, it's a nice matchup with Indy, especially given the amount of passing the Chargers do. Still available in 20 percent of leagues.

If you're desperate: Andre Ellington continues to be the best back the Cardinals have, he's got at least three catches per game in his past three, and Arizona will be throwing against San Francisco. ... For those of you in PPR leagues, Pierre Thomas has more receptions (28) so far than Darren Sproles (26). ... With Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings at less than 100 percent, I could see Marcel Reece getting enough work to be decent in deep PPR leagues.

Running Backs I hate in Week 6

Chris Johnson, Titans: Last week, I predicted that Johnson's touchdown drought would end and he made me look good on a broken play, a desperate flip from Ryan Fitzpatrick that he turned into something. That's what Chris Johnson does -- turns nothing into something -- but when I went back to watch this game, I didn't like what I saw outside of the one play. They refuse to give him the ball at the goal line, Fitzpatrick doesn't stretch the field the way Jake Locker does and CJ had little to no room to run. He needs space to be Chris Johnson and they didn't create very much of it for him, I expect that trend to continue, especially at Seattle. Not a top-20 play.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars: Not a part of the passing game, so junk time is out and, while everyone is talking about Peyton, the Broncos quietly have the No. 1 run defense in the NFL. Now they've also had the sixth-fewest carries against them, a result of them getting big leads and teams needing to throw, but that's going to be the case here too. He's averaging 2.8 yards per carry on the year. Hope you sold last week.

Giants running backs: I mean, maybe Brandon Jacobs lucks into a rushing touchdown, but a time share behind a bad offensive line in a game they'll be trailing on a short week? Bleah. Don't get cute.

Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals: Less than 50 rushing yards in three straight; I prefer Andre Ellington.

Wide receivers I love in Week 6

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhIn the four games last season in which Jay Cutler targeted his star receiver in the single digits, he followed it up with at least twice as many targets the following week, all of them in double-digits.

Brandon Marshall, Bears: Alshon Jeffery is legit but so is Marshall's sensitivity. No one knows this better than Jay Cutler, who will make sure to feed his star receiver. Worth noting, however, is that Jeffery has been targeted in the end zone eight times, tied for most among wide receivers. Think both get theirs Thursday night.

Pierre Garcon, Washington: See Griffin III, Robert. Top-10 play this week.

Josh Gordon, Browns: Not worried about Brandon Weeden. Since 2012, when they've played together, Gordon has averaged two targets per game at least 15 yards downfield, including six touchdowns on deep throws in 16 games. And since his return in Week 3, Gordon is tied for the league lead in receptions at least 15 yards downfield. Does this bode well against Detroit? Yes indeedly-doodly. The Lions have allowed 613 yards on such throws, fourth most in the NFL. You can beat them deep, and beat them deep, Josh Gordon will.

Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, Buccaneers: Eagles horrible defense > Mike Glennon's terrible play. They've had a bye week to develop some chemistry so Jackson is a high-end WR2 and Williams a WR3 with upside. The Eagles have allowed the most receptions, yards, touchdowns, fantasy points, illegal downloads and free french fries to opposing wide receivers this season.

Reggie Wayne, Colts: Since 2012, only two receivers have had at least three receptions in every game: Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker. The Chargers have allowed the third-most receptions and fourth-most yards to opposing wide receivers this season. I also like T.Y. Hilton in this game for those reasons.

If you're desperate: I prefer Vincent Brown over Keenan Allen but both should be involved in a high-scoring "Monday Night Football" affair. ... In his past two games, Denarius Moore has averaged over nine targets and 104 yards a game, and he has scored in both. ... Even if Miles Austin plays, they like Terrance Williams in Dallas and against Washington, you should too. ... Speaking of that game, in 14 career games against the Cowboys as a member of Washington, Santana Moss has seven touchdowns and averages over 80 yards a game. ... Worth noting that Michael Floyd has at least six targets in every game this year and secondary wide receivers have had success against the 49ers.

Wide receivers I hate in Week 6

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: Basically, he needs a touchdown to have top-20 fantasy value this year. Under 65 yards in the three games this year without a touchdown, I don't love his chances this week on the road at San Francisco, especially given the state of the Cardinals offense. I have him outside my top 20 this week.

Steve Johnson, Bills: It's not that he's banged up, nor is it that his quarterback is named Thad, though neither helps. It's that Johnson lines up mostly in the slot. In fact, 74 percent of his targets and both touchdowns this year have come out of the slot. Bengals have not allowed a touchdown to a slot receiver since Week 1.

Tavon Austin, Rams: Austin has caught 83 percent of his passes out of the slot this season as his 34 slot targets are tied for the second most in the league. Austin leads the league with six drops this season, two more than any other player. The Texans have allowed three slot receptions per game to opposing receivers this season, fewest in the league.

Tight ends I love in Week 6

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: If Gronk plays for the Patriots, he plays for you.

Greg Olsen, Panthers: I'm back on Olsen. Look, he leads the Panthers in both receptions and receiving yards and no team has allowed more touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year than the Minnesota Vikings.

Garrett Graham, Texans: Two first names or two last names? You decide. While you mull, consider this: No team has targeted their tight ends this season more than the Texans (61). They also run the most two-tight end sets of any team in the NFL and they are tied for third-most tight end red zone targets in the league. No Owen Daniels, and given the issues at quarterback, I expect some checking down and a top-10 day from "two first names" over there. Or did we decide it was last names? Little help, please.

If you're desperate: If he were healthy, Martellus Bennett would be a full-on love. That said, if he's active tonight, I like the match-up against his former team. ... When your quarterback likes to check down and there are no other healthy tight ends out there, you could have a little bit of fantasy value, which is exactly what Sean McGrath has.

Tight ends I hate in Week 6

Jared Cook, Rams: Last time I put Cook on the hate list he went off, so maybe this will jump-start him. Bad matchup is obvious, but his receptions have dropped each of the past three weeks and he hasn't had more than 45 receiving yards in a game since Week 1. Want to hear something even worse? Since that Week 1 game, Cook has zero red zone targets. Lance Kendricks has three. He's also outscored Cook two touchdowns to zero over the past three.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings: Has yet to have more than 42 receiving yards in a game, has just one target inside the opponents' 10-yard line and Carolina gives up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Rudolph should not be owned in 10-team standard leagues. I'd drop him for Garrett Graham in a nanosecond.

Brandon Myers, Giants: Five. Friend of the Podcast Brandon Myers is no friend of Eli's, apparently. Just five total targets over his past two games, he's run a route on just 54 percent of the snaps he has played this year (and targeted on just 20 percent of those routes). Given the problems with the offensive line, he's staying in more and that's no good. Another guy who can be safely dropped in 10-team leagues.

Defense/special teams I love in Week 6:

Carolina Panthers: They've scored 31 points the past two games, this is a dominating front seven that should have no trouble with Matt Cassel and a Vikings team that has given up at least 11 fantasy points in three of four games this year. Admittedly, all those were Christian Ponder games and Cassel is going to start this one, but still. It's the third-best scoring defense in the NFL and it's legit.

New York Jets: Only two teams allow more fantasy points to opposing defenses than the Steelers, and the Jets are available in almost every league.

If you're desperate: The Cardinals just shut down Cam Newton and you know I'm not high on Kaepernick this week, so I expect this game to be low scoring. ... Detroit is going to be the best offense they've faced so far this year, but it's worth noting that the Browns have scored at least seven points in every game this year.

Defense/special teams I hate in Week 6

Green Bay Packers: During the five games Clay Matthews missed last season, the Packers averaged 1.8 sacks per game. In the games Matthews fully played in last season, the Packers averaged 3.5 sacks per game. No Matthews in this one, on the road at a Ravens team that has allowed just five points a game at home to opposing defenses.

Baltimore Ravens: It's not like it's the Packers offense that suffers without Matthews.

There you have it. Week 6 Love/Hate in the books. Good luck this week, but if for some reason it doesn't work out, remember: Fun. Friends. Be a human.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is rooting against the guy who backed out of the trade. I mean, he's nice, but he's not THAT nice. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. You may also have heard: He's written a book.

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"

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