First there was the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Central American Free Trade Agreement followed, and in summer 2004, President Bush signed into law the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

What, no Fantasy Football Free Trade Agreement?

Many fantasy owners would welcome such legislation to insulate them against becoming the victim of an unfair deal. Equity, many owners argue, is important for the integrity of their fantasy football leagues.

Nonsense.

"Do you think [insert trade of your choice here] is fair?" is among the most commonly asked questions during The Post's weekly fantasy football chats at washingtonpost.com.

The answer is that it doesn't much matter if a trade is fair. What's fair to one owner may not be to a dozen others. The question fantasy owners need to ask themselves is if they're making out in the deal. After all, gaining a competitive advantage is what NFL general managers strive for in real-life wheeling and dealing. It's what fantasy owners should aim for as well.

Take this recent transaction between colleagues in The Post's Sports department. Dave traded Carson Palmer, Jamal Lewis and Michael Clayton to Dan for Jake Delhomme, Steven Jackson and Antonio Bryant. If I'm Dave, I'm a very happy man.

Dave clearly gets the better deal among the running backs. Jackson has become a fantasy star since interim coach Joe Vitt has taken over the Rams. Jackson is getting plenty of touches and is a threat running and catching. Lewis is a shell of the player who ran for 2,066 yards two seasons ago.

At wide receiver, it's really not that close, either. In the same number of games, Bryant has 402 yards and two touchdowns while Clayton has been bothered by injuries and has 253 yards and no touchdowns.

Quarterback is the only position where Dan has an edge, but it's not outrageous to contend that Palmer and Delhomme are nearly even. Palmer has 360 more yards and three more touchdown passes, but he also has played in one more game than Delhomme.

Many owners have said they enjoy trading for trading's sake. They enjoy making a deal and watching the results unfold. That, in general, seems a puzzling strategy. Owners who are confident they had a productive draft are not looking to trade. They are content to go the season with their roster because they are confident they made the right picks.

Consider this: The teams that have won multiple Super Bowls were built mostly via the draft. In that respect, fantasy football and real football are not all that different.

A fantasy football trade involving Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, above, for Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme would pretty much be a fair exchange for both parties.