Keeper Leagues: Choosing your Keepers
fantasy football keeper leagues

Keeper Leagues: Choosing your Keepers

by | Jan 12, 2022 | 0 comments

Keeper leagues are a popular variation of Fantasy football where participants retain a number of players from their previous season’s roster. There are endless sets of rules and variations thereof, so we’re going to keep this guide really high level. If you have deeper, more specific questions reach out to us.

Know your League:

This is a simple couple of steps that will help you set out a clear set of guidelines to help inform your keeper choices.
1 – Review your leagues starting lineup and roster requirements and keep these numbers top of mind as you evaluate.
Prioritizing scarce positions is always a good idea. An example of this is keeping Quarterbacks in superflex or 2 Quarterback leagues. Given there’s only 32 starting Quarterbacks in the NFL there is a natural scarcity for the whole position and the really good ones are even more valuable.
2- Is there a penalty for keeping players?
Many keeper leagues have a “round penalty” for any kept player. This means that to keep a given player you need to sacrifice a draft pick. Most times this pick is from the round the kept player was drafted in. For example in 2022 you drafted Chris Olave in round 8, in 2023 you could keep him by giving up your round 8 pick in 2023. Elite or very good players who would come with later round keeper penalties would have an enhanced value. Remember, keeping an elite player with an early round pick should always be met with the question; “Can I get this guy back via my draft pick?” This matters because keeping Jonathan Taylor with a 1st round pick when you could just as soon get him back with your first round pick makes little sense but if you have Jonathan Taylor as a 4th round keeper, he comes with at a three round value and is a no brainer to keep.
What about Quarterbacks?
If you’re in a two quarterback or superflex league you should prioritize quarterback as we noted above. In single quarterback leagues you need to be leveraging extraordinary value. That means an elite player like Mahomes, Allen, Hurts, etc that also comes with a very late round keeper value. A typical guide I use is that I need to be getting at least 10 rounds worth of value on a quarterback. For example, Patrick Mahomes is a 2nd round quarterback (by ADP). If I need to give up a pick inside of the first eleven rounds then I’ll probably pass. The reason is that there’s likely other quarterbacks available. Generally, the top 12 quarterbacks or so are close enough in value that you don’t NEED to break your back to get an elite one. The hope is that you’ll have better overall values on your roster to keep.

…and Tight Ends?

Tight Ends can be a big time differentiator for your roster but you need to have the one or two top guys otherwise it’s hard to return value for those keeper slots. So basically, keep Kelce and if the value is right maybe Andrews. You can almost always get value back for any other tight end.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the key is to balance the value of the player with the draft pick cost of keeping them. Remember this is a high level view of how to choose keepers, if you have more specific questions don’t be afraid to reach out, we’re happy to help.
About Jeff DiMatteo
Jeff is the Founder of Gridiron Ratings and operates today as it's primary analyst. His experience includes years of working for high school and collegiate football programs. After playing fantasy for nearly 20 years he decided it was time to build some of his own content.


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