Fantasy Football Keeper Leagues

Fantasy Football Keeper League Rules & Strategy

As the popularity of fantasy football grows and fantasy football owners stay on the lookout for even more complex and challenging games to add to their fantasy repertoire, more and more fantasy football keeper leagues are popping up on the fantasy landscape.

It seems that every day I hear about a buddy of mine making the switch to keeper leagues. For those of you not familiar with the ins and outs of keeper leagues, they are fantasy football leagues where fantasy owners are allowed to hold onto a specific number of “keepers” -- players they drafted that they are interested in keeping in their league. These players stay on that fantasy owner’s roster from one season to the next.

Why do keeper leagues attract so much attention? Simple – playing in a keeper league lets us regular Joes feel more like actual NFL general managers, making difficult decisions and placing “keeper” tags on players we value.

Fantasy Football Keeper League Rules

Fantasy Football Keeper LeaguesFantasy football keeper league rules differ from league to league. The main differences have to do with a keeper league’s relationship to the fantasy football draft. If your keeper league is “non draft related”, you are allowed to keep a certain number of players from year to year, and these kept players are not tied to the draft in any way. Your next year's fantasy draft proceeds as it would normally, except that all the league’s kept players are unavailable for draft selection.

Another popular fantasy football keeper league style is called “same draft round”. In this keeper league, fantasy owners are allowed to keep a specific number of players but the players you put the keeper tag on take up the same draft spot as the year you first drafted them. As an example, if you picked Randy Moss in the first sixth round in 2007 (and you place the keeper tag on him )he will always hold your first-round pick in future fantasy drafts.

There is one final (and less popular )form of fantasy keeper leagues, known as “rising draft round” leagues. In these leagues, fantasy owners are allowed to keep a specific number of players between seasons, but a player's draft spot moves up a certain number of rounds between seasons. This is an incentive to keep only the players you absolutely *must have*. These rules also make it impossible to keep any players taken in the top few rounds, depending on what number of rounds your pick “rises” between seasons.

Fantasy Football Keeper League Strategy

When playing in a fantasy football keeper league, the main difference in strategy is in the draft. My favorite way to approach a keeper league draft is to ignore the fact that you’re in a keeper league altogether. Sure, some fantasy analysts will instruct you to look at a player from all angles – his age, his injury history, his “workload” (whatever that means ), but I prefer top draft as though I were in a re-draft league.

Go ahead, pick up a guy like Shaun Alexander even though he’s probably at the end of his career. Most of the other fantasy owners in your keeper league draft will place a high premium on young guys with a little talent (after all, this year’s keeper draft could represent a good portion of next season’s keeper roster )but if you go in with a completely different (and some would say bonehead ) strategy, you might be able to snare some studs and run up the score this season.

Bragging rights are always more valuable than sound decision making, even in a long haul league like a keeper league. Draft for talent, ignoring a player’s staying power, and you may just outthink the rest of your draft. There’s lots of good (but old ) talent in the top few rounds of WRs and RBs, so go for it.

If you decide to avoid selecting young guys for your keeper league, you can always add youth to your fantasy football keeper league in the late rounds, after you’ve picked up the studs that other owners let land on the cutting room floor. Try to find some “keeper league sleepers” who could blow up in the next couple of seasons, guys like JaMarcus Russell, Michael Turner, Seneca Wallace, Jamaal Charles, or Keenan Burton. You never know where the next Larry Johnson is going to come from, so drop your late round picks on some potential sleepers – young guys who could rack up the fantasy points in seasons to come.

There are plenty of sources of keeper league strategy, including plenty of analyst’s picks of guys who may be a bit off the radar that you cannot miss in your keeper league draft. Remember that everything a keeper league fantasy owner does is in service of one of two goals – to win this season’s championship or to upgrade your keeper picks.

Many fantasy football keeper leagues find themselves trading much more often than standard redraft or dynasty leagues. This is probably due to the fact that fantasy owners in keeper leagues are always trying to either build a killer team for a run at the league title or to make trade deals that involve moving large numbers of players to acquire that all important stud – this will naturally “improve their keepers”.

Other trades common to fantasy football keeper leagues are the old player sales trades. Remember that each and every keeper league has a sort of independent economy for trades that will shake up draft picks. In keeper leagues, most trades seem to happen right at the keeper deadline. As that all important deadline looms large on the horizon, fantasy players traded for picks are worth even less as more fantasy teams start shopping players to the teams without good keepers like fifty dollar hookers. If you’ve ever studied economics, you’ll recognize this as a simple issue of supply and demand.

Fantasy football keeper leagues don’t always require a whole new strategy when transitioning from re-draft leagues. Just make sure you keep those two goals in mind – winning the championship and improving your keeper roster.


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