March 6, 2018
Whether it is childhood trophies, old photos or trading cards, we all like to keep mementos of our past (at least I do anyway but I’m nostalgic like that). Humans enjoy keeping the things that they like which includes productive players in Fantasy Football. In keeping with the dynasty philosophy of retaining players, as shown in my previous articles “Types of Dynasty Leagues”, I will be exploring a particular type of fantasy football league: Keeper Leagues.
Keeper is similar to re-draft in that every available player can be taken during the draft at the start of the season. However, like the name indicates, each owner gets to keep a certain number of players on their team. So each season, some players will not return in the pool of players to be drafted the following season.
There are a variety of types of keeper leagues. We shall begin with the common elements in these formats.
Number of players
As outlined in my previous articles “Types of Dynasty Leagues”, there are many ways a league can be run and they vary greatly depending on the type of league and what the league members are expecting / looking for. The first factor is the number of players being kept. There is no standard number as some sites allow between 1 and 10 keepers per team. Along with the number of owners in the leagues, the amount of keepers will be one of the first decisions that the commissioner will need to make. It might even be best to have the league decide as a whole once the amount of owners is known. Based on the research I have done, most people who write about keeper leagues usually have at least 3 keepers every season. Although there is certainly nothing wrong with having 1 or 2 keepers.
The next keeper decision is whether or not to put a limit on the number of times a player can be kept. One extreme is to keep a player an unlimited amount of times. This could potentially mean that one may own a player for his entire career. The advantage of unlimited term is that it puts more emphasis on the draft in the inaugural season as it the moment when owners will select the core of their teams for years to come. The disadvantage of this format is that the best players will not be available outside of trades, especially with a higher number of keepers.
If a commissioner decides to put a limit on the amount of seasons that a player can be kept, it would be an advantage to discuss that amount with the other owners, much like the number of players to be kept. Having a low limit (1 or 2 times) will allow elite players to be available more often, which is either a good or bad thing. This really depends on what leagues members and what the commissioner want. The same could be said for longer limits such as 10 times. The best leagues should always have active discussions about the way they are run, especially for start-ups. There are no right or wrong answers for limits. It all depends what owners are looking for in a keeper league.
Cost of the keep
The price of keeping a player is an option that is available on certain keeper formats. Some leagues operate with no cost to keep a player. Every owner simply selects their players and the next draft will operate normally with the available players. This can be done in one of two ways, the first of which is to put a fixed number of keepers that each owner MUST respect. If the number is 3, an owner who only wants keep 2 of his players has to keep a player he does not want to.
Another way to select keepers, one that allows owners more control, is to have each keeper spot represent a draft pick. Let’s say the limit is again 3 keepers. If an owner uses all 3, they will loose their first 3 draft picks. If they only use 2 picks, they loose their first and second draft choices and only the first in the event that they keep 1 player. An owner with a terrible team could conceivably decide to keep 0 players and retain all of their draft picks in the following season.
There is another element that can be added to the keepers in order to make for more difficult decisions. Owners are given a maximum number of players to keep. Which ever round those players were taken in is the draft pick that owners will loose in the subsequent draft. For example, if I were to keep my players who were 1st, 8th and 14th round picks, I would not a pick in those rounds. If a player was a waiver wire pickup during the season, then I would loose my pick in the last round. Commissioners need to have a plan in place in case a player is kept for more than one season. The seemingly obvious answer is that any player who is kept for a second time or more will require the owner to loose their first round pick automatically. Like most options that I am writing about, this is purely up to the discretion of the commissioner.
Personally, this is my favourite format for a keeper league. The reason for that is because deciding which players to keep can be a difficult proposition. There might be an advantage in letting your best players walk and focusing on the next tier players who broke out the season before. That being said, for this type of keeper league, players who are obvious candidates for 1st round selections (for instance Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliot or Antonio Brown in 2018) should still be kept as you will rarely be able to improve upon their value.
Like the first tier of fantasy players, I hope that you keep this article handy. And keep checking the Dynasty Dads website for great fantasy football content. I wonder how long I can keep using the word “keep”. Hopefully you can all keep up and keep on keeping on.
-Kyle Senra (Follow on Twitter)