Fantasy Football Keeper Leagues
So you want to join a keeper league but you are not quite sure how it works or if it's for you. If this sounds about right, keep reading. Keeper leagues offer fantasy owners the opportunity to keep a certain amount of players from year to year.
Retaining players helps maintain continuity with each team and offers a new interesting dynamic for fantasy football. Keeper leagues bring new and exciting gameplay and lets owners "build" a team over the course of many seasons. If you play your cards right, you can create a winning tradition and become a dynasty in your league for years to come.
Sometimes the season may not go as you planned, and keeper leagues open up a new dimension to strategy that traditional leagues simply do not offer. If it becomes clear that your team is not going to be competing for trophies, the best you could do in a traditional league is be a good sport and try to play the spoiler role, or win your consolation playoffs.
In keeper leagues, you could instead focus on how to make your team better for future seasons. You could trade off one of your older, more productive veterans to teams competing for the playoffs, for one of their younger rising stars. There are many different ways to approach and be successful in a keeper league; keeping both the present and future in mind is always important.
How keeper leagues work
Keeper leagues work virtually the same as a normal fantasy league, except that each team gets to keep a certain number of players from year to year. Each fantasy owner will get to select which players they get to keep, and teams will keep the same number of players in most cases.
In the first season, the draft is performed as any other fantasy draft would be. Depending on the league rules, typically five to ten players are kept from each team, and all other available players plus any rookies will be available for the next available draft. In the extreme, dynasty leagues offer a chance for fantasy owners to keep all of the players from last season, and only rookies are drafted.
There are many different ways to implement keeper leagues — and no single correct way. Discuss the idea with your fellow league members, and decide what works best for you.
Common keeper league rules
In addition to keeping players from year to year, fantasy football keeper leagues can offer a wide array of other options and rules. Stipulations on keeping a player are commonly based on his tenure, total team tenure, draft position, or player salary, among other criteria in certain leagues.
Player tenure is a concept that means a player can only be kept for a fixed number of seasons before he has to be released back into the free agent pool to be redrafted. For example, a league might have rules that simply state "All teams can keep up to five players, but no player can be kept for more than four seasons in a row."
Team tenure is a concept that increases cost the longer a certain player is on the team. Instead of being allowed a fixed number of players, a team is allowed a fixed number of seasons during which they could keep any combination of players. For example, if the fixed number was ten seasons, you could keep one player ten years in a row, or ten players for one year, or any combination in between.
Draft position is a way of associating cost with the player whom is being kept. Generally, if you keep a player who was drafted in the 1st round of last season, you will have to give up your first round pick of this seasons draft.
Some leagues even stipulate that certain top tier rounds cannot be kept, or have a high cost associated with them in auction leagues, particularly for keeping a highly drafted player year after year.
Player salary, for these purposes, has to do with a player's auction value, not his actual personal salary. The cost may continue to rise for every season an individual player is kept without being released back into free agency. If a player is purchased for $5, that cost might double every season he is kept, making it impractical to keep players for several years.
In addition to these concepts, leagues may want to implement certain guidelines and rules for trading players. At times, teams may have wildly different goals, some trying to win now, some trying to build for the future, and this all must be kept in mind when regulating trades.
Some leagues may have some form of a salary cap, preventing teams from having too many protected, high-value players simultaneously. However, auction leagues might simply rise the cost associated with these players.
Other leagues might discourage giving up on the current season by having a draft lottery, making it not guaranteed you will get a high pick next season if your team performed badly in the previous season. Some leagues may be more forgiving and offer the lowest ranked competitors the highest draft picks the following season.
Tips/strategy for managing a keeper team
League rules can be among the most important factors in deciding strategy for your fantasy football keeper league. How many players start at each position, scoring modifications, and rules for keeping players are some of the more important factors in managing your keeper league season after season.
You should get to know your leagues rules and any scoring modifications, so you can make wise choices on which players to pick up and which to drop for the long haul of a keeper league.
You'll also want to keep players from year to year based on their past performances and projected performances for future seasons. A young star running back could be the mainstay of your team for several years, but if you see production or opportunity drop, along with rising age, the value for keeping that particular player may not be there after many years.
You will have to weigh your options among your returning players and decide which ones are most important to you.
To help strengthen your team, you could always try initiating trades with other members in your league. There are many situations where a trade can help both teams in keeper leagues. One side might benefit in the current season, while the other may be in better shape for the future.
Some fantasy owners might even intentionally pick up mostly younger players in the hopes that they culminate into a squad of fantasy superstars one day. Others may value experience and opportunity more, and attempt to be competitive every year. The choice is yours.