Fantasy Football Strategy: The Do’s and Don’ts of Keeper Selections
Every year between now and draft time, one of the most commonly asked Fantasy Football questions on social media channels, forums, message boards, and podcast mailbag segments is “Who should I keep?”. Fantasy Football owners are notorious over-thinkers and the decision on which player to keep for your fantasy roster is one of the most scrutinized decisions each year.
One of my favorite semi-obscure movie quotes is “Chance favors the prepared mind.” While much can and will change between now and your keeper declaration deadline, it’s always a good idea to start preparing as early as possible. Many of the occurrences that determine the outcomes of Fantasy Football seasons are outside of our control, but being fully prepared what you can control will position your team in the best chances for a successful season. If you have a difficult decision between two players, you’ll want as much time as possible to analyze every bit of information available on those players. Below you will find my top Do’s and Don’ts for Keeper Selection in your 2020 Leagues.
Do Your Research
Fantasy Football, and more precisely, access to information about Fantasy Football has dramatically changed the nature of this game we play. When I first started playing Fantasy Football, most owners did minimal research. It was so easy to have a big advantage in your drafts over the casual owners. Many owners simply bought a magazine and brought it to the draft. Most of the time, those magazines were printed in June and were severely outdated by the time draft day arrived in August. In today’s game, even the most casual fantasy owner has access to a myriad of content and information. Savvy owners now need to dig even deeper to find the real gems that will give them an edge on the competition. So start digging now. Follow your favorite analysts and podcast host on all the social media channels. I highly recommend checking out the award-winning Ultimate Draft Kit created by your favorite Fantasy Podcasters, the Fantasy Footballers.
Don’t Overthink Your Decision
As mentioned in the introduction, Fantasy Owners are some of the most notorious over-thinkers in the world. We simply can’t stop thinking through every possible scenario that we’ve seen play out over the years. While doing all that research above, it’s important not to let it overwhelm you. One of the most common trends in keeper decision questions is simply overthinking the options. Off-season hype trains get rolling and are hard to stop. The 2019 Browns are a great example of the hype overshadowing reality. Sometimes, the hype-train for a player gets so much steam that owners suddenly find themselves considering a player for keeper status that they never would have considered earlier in the off-season. It’s exciting when you can find this year’s breakout stud and keep him for a huge discount, but don’t overthink hyped up potential over a proven talent.
Do Consider Positional Value
Positional value is extremely important when making your keeper decisions. In a typical “Baller’s Preferred” setting league (1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1 FLEX with ½ PPR scoring), RBs carry the most value. Over the past few seasons, the WR position has become very flat, meaning there is far less difference between WR12 and WR24 when compared to RBs. Simply speaking, unless you have a true alpha stud WR like Michael Thomas, WRs have recently lost some value. Moving down the list, both the RB and WR are still far more important to your roster construction than QBs and TEs. Again, unless you’re keeping the elite of the elite at massive value, like Lamar Jackson, the difference between QB4 and QB14 is next to nothing. The top few TEs are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the TE ranks, so they may be keeper worthy.
Recently, the Superflex format has changed that view on positional value. There are still plenty of “Late Round QBs” available, but having a solid anchor QB is an enticing prospect. The most important thing to keep an eye on is the availability of QBs after keeper declarations. If your league is QB heavy, then you may find it necessary to follow suit. There are, however, plenty of counter-arguments to be made for going against the grain.
Do Pay Attention to Average Draft Position (ADP)
Most keeper leagues will have a “cost” for keeping a player. Many owners will be looking to reduce that cost to achieve the most “value”. Value, in this case, is the difference between the player’s keeper cost and their ADP. For example, if the keeper rules are to subtract two rounds from the player’s previous year’s draft position – IE a 2019 – 9th Round draft pick can be kept in lieu of your 2020 7th Round selection, owners will be looking to maximize their value. If the player being kept for a 7th Round pick has an ADP in the 5th Round, their two rounds of value are not as great as a player with the same keeper cost that has a 2nd Round ADP, or five rounds of value.
Owners must recognize that ADP value is not linear throughout the draft. The deeper you get into the player ranking, the more “value” must be present to select them as a keeper. A player with only 1-2 rounds of value, who has a 1stRound ADP is likely a much better keeper selection when compared to a player with 6 rounds of value, whose ADP is in the 9th Round.
Don’t Overlook the Tier-Based Approach
Part of the excitement of a keeper league declaration date in finding out which players other owners are keeping. If you are playing in the same league for a few seasons, you’ll begin to see trends amongst your fellow owners, which can bring additional strategy to the table.
If you can effectively project which players your competition will be keeping, you can begin to get a sense of which players are likely available to be drafted. Using this information, you may find that it is better to keep one player over another depending on where they fall within their player tiers.
As an example, there may be more value in keeping a “lower-ranked” RB over a higher-ranked RB, if you know that your league places a greater focus on RBs versus WRs. Knowing that the best available RB at the draft may be worse than your potential keeper, while a few WRs from the same tier as your potential keeper are likely to be available, can really swing your draft planning.
Don’t Worry About Roster Construction
To an extent, overall roster construction should have minimal impact on your decision making for most keeper leagues. Unless you are in a “deep keeper” where you’re keeping more than 4-5 players, your goal is to keep the most valuable players on your roster, in turn keeping them away from your competition. It’s better to keep a top player and use them in your flex than keep a mid-level player who is less beneficial to your team for the season.
There are my different variations of the keeper format, but these simple Do’s and Don’ts will assist you in a key area: staying out of your own way!