Offseason Strategies for Keeper Leagues
from Brandon Wilson
Making Deals to Maximize Your Keepers
In a keeper league, getting your team in shape during the offseason
is just as important in keeper leagues as it is in the major
leagues. The way to get a keeper league team in shape is to
have the best keepers possible going into the draft. For some
teams, cutting the roster down to the draft day limits will
be a challenge. For other teams, keeping as many good players
as allowed by the rules will be a challenge. No matter which
situation you are in, there are things you should be doing during
the offseason to make those decisions easy and maximize the
value of your keeper list.
Every league is a little bit different, but deciding whether
a player is keeper worthy involves basically the same process
in any league. In order to make that determination, compare
whether that player would be worth more than what you can get
on draft day (whether it is a draft pick or auction budget).
While that decision is often somewhat subjective, the point
is you need to know (before it is time to make your cuts) how
many keepers you have and the relative quality of those keepers.
Too Many Keepers?
After reviewing your team, if it becomes obvious you have more
players of keeper quality than your league rules allow you to
carry into the new season, do not worry. This is good news.
It means your team has quality players. It does, however, mean
that there is work to be done. You are not just going to cut
those keepers, are you? Maybe some of those players are marginal
keepers at best, but someone else in your league probably needs
to fill out the bottom of their keeper list with better players.
Take advantage of that knowledge, and use trade opportunities
to improve your team.
In auction leagues, rank your players based on their profit.
The first thing to do once you have determined that you have
more keepers than you can carry forward is rank them. If you
are in a budget or auction league, compare their salary against
their projected "profit". In making this calculation, it is
important to factor expected draft day inflation into the projected
value since that is what you would have to pay to get them back
if released. Without going into too much detail here, inflation
is created by players being kept below the salary at which they
would have been drafted. Next, rank the players not on their
projected value, but rather based on the difference between
their projected value and their salary. In other words, if you
have a player whose projected value is $30 and his salary is
$20, he is worth less to you on draft day (and should be ranked
lower) than a player whose projected value is $20 and his salary
is $4. Ranking players by their “profit” is the
best way to determine which ones are the most valuable to you
headed in the auction draft.
In straight draft leagues, rank your players based on the order
you would draft them. In a straight draft league, the decision
is slightly different. First, make sure you understand your
league’s rules. In order to determine the best keepers
you will need to know where your compensatory draft picks will
come if you do not keep the maximum and what players will be
available in those spots. In most leagues, this is easy since
the picks come at the end and, as a result, virtually every
team keeps the maximum number of players. Next, rank your own
players in the order in which you would select them (comparing
that ranking to which round they might be taken in a new draft).
Next, try to determine which players all the other teams in
your league will keep. Whereas in salary leagues your keeper
evaluation is internally focused (“profit” driven),
in straight draft leagues it will be based on which players
the other teams have in comparison. The ultimate goal of this
exercise is to determine which teams will be interested in the
players that do not make your cut list.
Make your moves. Whichever kind of league you are in, once you
have done your rankings, it is time to make moves. Remember,
you have more players than you can keep so the goal is to trade
two or more players for one better keeper if possible. This
helps you because you cannot keep all the players that have
keeper value, but you can “monetize” that talent
by upgrading the bottom part or total value of your keeper list.
This trade can help your trading partner because it also allows
him to upgrade the total value of his keeper list (see illustration
at the end of this article). Making offseason trades in keeper
leagues is also your best opportunity to make a win-win trade.
With only a few exceptions, trades made during the season are
zero sum trades (one team wins, the other loses), but offseason
trades can benefit both teams.