Fantasy Football Definition of "Damaged Goods"
"Damaged goods" is a fantasy football term to describe the trade of a fantasy football player who has less value than it would seem, usually because of an injury. Some fantasy football owners will try to trade their injured players before other owners know about the injury. In the Internet age, it's a heck of a lot harder to trade damaged goods than before, but there are still ways to trade damaged goods that owners will use.
Fantasy Football Injury News
Most fantasy football leagues use a fantasy football site to host their league. Just about any fantasy football league management website worth its salt is going to get a fantasy football news feed from someone. These fantasy news and analysis will contain the latest injury updates on all players in the NFL, from the 1st round picks to the guys who aren't fantasy football factors. So if you pay any attention at all, you don't have to worry about other owners trading you damaged goods. When you get a trade offer, all you have to do is click on that player's link in the trade offer and see what the latest injury news is.
Trading Damaged Goods - Clueless Fantasy Owners
Unfortunately, not everyone pays very close attention to fantasy football injury updates. It seems every league has one league owner who either doesn't have the time or inclination to click on a player's link, or who seemingly doesn't know that you can click on a link and see fantasy football player news. The fantasy football owner willing to trade damaged goods seems to have a talent for figuring out who this owner is, because that's the first team he'll go to when he has an injured player he wants to trade.
That creates the moral dilemma for all the other owners in the league, when they see that one team has traded damaged goods to that clueless other team. Do you let the one owner know he's trading for damaged goods, thereby undermining the trade (in league's that require approval or a two-step trade process)? Do you just shut up and take note who the dumbass in the league is that you can unload injured players on? Or do you point out in anger and frustration on the message board that the one owner just traded damaged goods, so the clued-in and clueless fantasy football players alike will know what the one owner is up to and perhaps give him the reputation for trading damaged goods?
Damaged Goods and the Denial
In these cases, it's customary for the owner who traded the damaged goods to either play down the injury ("It's not as bad as you/the experts are making it out to be") or categorically deny any knowledge of the injury in the first place. In either instance, the proper reply is to politely ask that team owner why, if the injury isn't so bad or he knew of no injury at all, why he was offering that player. We all know the answer, but at least it's some satisfaction.
Good Fantasy Football Leagues and Damaged Goods
The best fantasy football leagues have no owners who will be taken advantage of in this way. But most local leagues have one or two guys we like to see at the draft every year, who are a bit more casual and who (truth be told) probably aren't so much interested in winning as in getting away from the wife a few hours, having a drink or two and spending some time with the guys. So just about every fantasy football league has one or two casual owners who are likely to get rooked by the damaged goods ploy every once in a while, because we might not get to see these old friends any other time in the year.
So if you are going to have clueless fantasy football owners, you either have to be a sport and ignore the occasional damaged goods trade, or have some trade rules to protect the clueless. Another option is to get rid of the owners who are known to trade damaged goods. No solution case is perfect, but your league needs to find a system that works for it.
Trade Rules and Damaged Goods
The simplest rule is to give the commissioner or a group of league owners the power to veto trades that involve players with major injuries. This cuts down significantly on the damaged goods trade. The problem is, a commissioner or group of owners will feel some social pressure not to veto trades. That's because it almost always leads to controversy. It's hard to veto a trade without telling one or both of the owners they are cheating. Or you're telling one owner he's cheating and the other is ignorant. So often, trades that should be vetoed are allowed to stand.
There's also the case of determining when damaged goods are too damaged. Most NFL players have nagging injuries, so if you never trade someone with an injury concern, you'll never trade. So if I offer a guy in a trade who has an injury, I'll generally add in the comments, "Full Disclosure: So-and-So has a nagging injury", or something to that effect, because I believe that's fair and because having a good reputation in trades helps me make more trades later in the year or in future years.
Finally, I've taken damaged goods in a trade before, hoping to sit on a player for 6 weeks and then get major production come playoff time. For certain fantasy football squads, it makes sense to add someone to their bench, if they have the depth or have already clinched a playoff spot. So damaged goods trades aren't always evil and always bad. They make sense in certain cases.
The key is making sure both parties to the trade know what they are getting in the swap.