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Article 2

by Steve Stegeman (November 3, 1999)




     The current trend in fantasy football is to avoid anything that might detract from the fun of “Draft Day.”  While the intentions are good, other important and enjoyable aspects of the game are being tacitly forsaken.  This emphasis on the “Draft” has caused leagues to shy away from becoming “Keeper Leagues,” in which you protect a specified number of players from year to year.  The prevalence of free fantasy football services and fantasy football contests and challenges exacerbates this mindset, as well, because it is impossible to have “Keeper Leagues” in those situations.  All the while, “Keeper Leagues,” particularly those in which the teams protect a high amount of players like 40 to 80%, render the most competitive playing field.  Leagues in which each team keeps 20% or less of their roster at season’s end are not true “Keeper Leagues.”  When it comes to the option of becoming a “Keeper League,” choose it and promote establishing more; when it comes to the number of players to be protected in your “Keeper League,” go with more.


     The greatest of these aspects, which ends up neglected due to the preference of “Turnover Leagues” to “Keeper Leagues,” is trading.  Trading virtually is a non-issue in “Turnover Leagues,” relative to its influence in “Keeper Leagues” at least, when, in fact, it is the most intense and can be the funnest part of fantasy football, not to mention, the key to winning.  Only when trading can a great businessman find himself white-knuckled with sweaty palms on the telephone getting snookered by another team owner, an employee perhaps, who has almost succeeded in talking him into trading Stephen Davis for Jerry Rice and Jerome Bettis.  Trading is the one facet of fantasy football that necessitates and, thus, creates communication between owners and involves and rewards people skills.  Trading is where camaraderie develops and rivalries are made, and to limit its impact on a league is fantasy football heresy.


     “Keeper Leagues” also offer a much greater long-term challenge than “Turnover Leagues,” the challenge of building and then maintaining a team.  In “Turnover Leagues” just about anyone can win any given year.  So much depends on that draft.  On the other hand, it takes great effort, diligence and dedication to be consistently competitive, no less in contention, year in and year out in a “Keeper League.”  Accurately forecasting players’ statistics is more crucial in “Keeper Leagues” since each team has to protect at least 40% of the roster from year to year.  An owner could feel the repercussions of a bad move for years to come.  Owners do not have the luxury of starting from scratch each year.  Quite the contrary, picking up that late season free-agent who has been out all year with an injury and about whom everybody has forgotten, e.g. Robert Edwards or Garrison Hearst this year, can be a stroke of brilliance, particularly by a bottom team.  Obviously, all this along with the increased importance of trading combats potential owner apathy.


     This long-term goal also creates an incentive to maximize all roster spots, i.e., lose dead weight and fill up your whole roster with the best players available.  Invariably teams that are successful have depth, but in “Keeper Leagues” roster depth takes on even more importance through its impact on offseason trading.  The rule here is fairly basic, the more better players you have, the more players you have that other owners want and will be willing to trade for.  You may wonder how a team whose roster is full of good players can trade.  The answer is “easily” via uneven trades and trades for draft picks.  If you have done a good job collecting good players, a player who was your number 4 running back could end up being worth a 1st or 2nd round pick or maybe both.  Or, perhaps, you could package up a few good players for a superstar.  Whatever, the bottom line is that merely focusing on your anticipated week-in-and-week-out starters is much more costly in “Keeper Leagues.”  You are forced to look at the bigger picture.


     Finally, “Turnover Leagues” merely reshuffle the players every year.  The players to be selected in rounds 1 and 2 and, to a large extent, the order in which they are going to be selected can be scripted before the draft.  As for later rounds, accurately predicting the players to be selected, no less the order, becomes increasingly difficult.  However, it is still possible to do so roughly through the 6th to 10th rounds, depending on the size of the league and barring the presence of any absolute morons.  “Re-drafting” is not to be misconstrued as fairness to the bottom teams, as it often is.  Mid-draft rounds are usually the make or break rounds, and re-drafting every year de-emphasizes this and potentially dilutes these rounds.  If a re-draft is done each year, the “snake format” will most likely be employed, with the last place team getting the first pick and then the last pick of the 2nd round and the 1st of the third and so on.  No one would ever agree to use a “Last to first Restocking Draft” format every round at a re-draft, and, as most of us know, the first pick of a “snake format” draft is not really the best pick.  Whereas, after everybody's having protected 40 to 80% of their rosters, doing a “Last to first” format is fair to all and allows the bottom teams to have the best shot at those mid-draft players, while allowing the top teams to keep a lot of their players.  Since these mid-rounds become undiluted first, second, etc., rounds, rookies will be abound, and pre-draft homework can result in big dividends, obviously for the bottom teams, in particular, especially if they have dealt protection spots for draft picks.  Knowing your stuff when entering a “Re-stocking Draft,” where the mid-draft gems exist, as opposed to a “Re-draft” can mean getting Griese instead of Brister or Collins rather than Abdul-Jabbar, Davis in lieu of Hicks or the Martins or Alexanders over the McDuffies or Risons.  Given that, why waste time re-drafting all the usual top players of the recent past again?  Instead, do the fairest thing for all, and bring on those rounds where the stars of the future get taken by well-prepared owners.


     So, to all fantasy football owners out there, enough is enough of this sitting back knowing you are getting a “do-over” next year.  Stop worrying about “Draft Day,” which will be fun no matter what, and start playing the real man’s version of the game where you have fun all season long and participate all year round – the “Keeper League” version!




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Revised: 08 Oct 2014 11:56:24 -0700