Fantasy Football Leagues: From Re-Draft to Keeper
Drew Loftis gives you his advice on how to properly change your fantasy football league from a re-draft fantasy football league to a keeper fantasy football league this season.
Complacency can be a difficult adversary. Sticking to the status quo is easy; change is hard. Living a dull existence requires little effort; manufacturing excitement is a chore. Sometimes you must be daring to spice things up. Maybe it requires a riskier investment in a pet project, or using some new technology you’re not familiar with, or buying a new toy that throws a twist into bedroom monotony.
Or maybe you just need to convert your old-timey friends-and-family fantasy league from a redraft to a keeper. After all, what could be riskier than that -- well, besides that new bedroom toy, anyway?
Keeper leagues add an extra level of intrigue and strategy. Who to keep? At what price? Who are others keeping? When drafting, how much should you focus on this season, and how much on the future?
First things first, put down that toy. Besides, you shouldn’t be using it when your significant other isn’t around.
Except for you Klaus. I see you bought a self-gratification device, so you’re good to go. Just do it elsewhere please. Thanks.
In order to give everyone equal opportunity to draft for the future, you should announce the league is converting to a keeper before actually assigning keepers. So if you are transitioning this season, you would not have keepers until next year. Otherwise, those who just happened to have rosters stocked full of young talent would be at an unfair advantage, since other owners were not planning for keepers.
Next, you need to iron out the details. How many will you keep: one, three, five, etc.? And you have to determine how those keepers will be represented come draft time: essentially replacing first three rounds or sacrificing draft pick according to previous value? And who is eligible: just players drafted, or also including in-season waivers pickups? Is there a cutoff for roster additions who are eligible, or how many seasons you can keep a player?
When deciding how many keepers, remember, the larger the league, the thinner the waiver wire. Thus, it makes competitive sense to have fewer keepers. Otherwise, stocked teams are positioned for long runs of success, and the weaker teams have a harder time playing catch-up. Keeper leagues are the compromise between redrafts and dynasty: You want to reward smart drafting/transactions, but you don’t want to guarantee sustained success for years on end.
So, let’s say you have decided on three keepers in a 12-team league. …
Ummm, sorry. Excuse me for a moment. …
No, Klaus, I don’t know how that works. … No, I don’t want you to show me. … No, I don’t have any batteries. Please return to the back room.
Where were we? Oh yes, three keepers in a 12-team league. You also need to decide if teams are required to keep three players, or if they can choose to keep less. This decision should be considered in unison with how you plan to address keepers in the draft. If you plan for keepers to just essentially replace the first three rounds (all keepers have equal value), then keeping less means you might have a sparse number of teams picking in rounds 1-3.
Make sure the site that hosts your league is capable of such draft manipulation, because not all are. One possible solution is to require every team keep three, but that could disproportionately penalize teams that might not have three players worthy of keeper status. One way around this is to attach an appropriate draft-pick value to individual players. If you have a draft-exchange value, then requiring a full allotment of keepers isn’t as punitive, since you can select players with minimal draft value to keep.
The best way to do this is based on the previous season’s draft. So, if you’re converting this year, wherever a player is drafted, you sacrifice the corresponding pick next year if you want him as a keeper. You take Joe Mixon in the third round this year, next year you lose your third-round pick to keep him.
This has pitfalls, too. What happens when someone drafts an immediate star in the 12th round? Do they get to keep them at such a bargain in perpetuity? A fix for this is to escalate the draft-exchange requirement each year – bumping up the pick one or two spots every year that player is kept. So if you go with just one round bump, and you draft Mixon in the third, he would cost you a third-rounder next year but a second-rounder the year after, then a first-rounder.
How many seasons is too many to carry the same keeper? There are ways to manufacture incentive to put players back into the pool. You could just arbitrarily assign a max number of years. You could, in a draft-exchange model, only allow one year as a first-round pick. Or you can allow for as long as they like, but they can keep only one first-round pick. Or you start adding on additional picks: After one year as a first-rounder, the next it costs a first and a, say, fifth. The next, a first and fourth, etc. That would encourage owners to utilize restraint, which is something Klaus apparently isn’t good at.
What are doing out here again, Klaus? … No, you aren’t done, otherwise you would be wearing pants. Away with you.
Apologies for the interruption. So you need to determine who can be kept. If including waiver picks, you need to have some guidelines. First, you certainly need to use a free-agent auction budget rather than just waiver claim rankings. This will allow everyone equal shot at potential waiver keepers. Otherwise, the team that has the best waiver pick on the week of a catastrophic injury could stumble on a keeper bargain by accident.
You also need to set a roster cutoff for keeper eligibility. Not unlike a trade deadline, this would ensure struggling teams don’t drop veterans late in the season to pick up keeper flyers. Competing teams might not be able to do this, and poor performance should not be rewarded with unfair advantages.
Another hurdle for draft-exchange keeper leagues is potential trading. Why would Owner X trade with Owner Y a pick to get Player Z when that player also requires you to sacrifice another draft pick? You want to encourage, not discourage, trade activity. One option is a one-year forgiveness, in which Owner X would give up just the draft pick assigned in the trade, then default back to Owner Y draft-exchange value every year thereafter. Another is to reset that player value to that included in the trade, so if Player Z had a draft value of a second-rounder but was traded for a fourth, the new owner begins his keeper tenure with a fourth-round value for Player Z.
Going from a redraft to a keeper isn’t easy. It takes preparation, some level of agreement among leaguemates, and it requires thinking about the details you probably overlooked. But sometimes, the extra effort is worth the reward. Just ask Klaus. Here he comes now.
No Klaus, I do not want to borrow your new toy. Go clean yourself up. Here’s a towel. … No, I don’t want it back. That towel is a keeper.