If you play in a keeper-style fantasy football league, you likely know the frustration that ensues. You want to draft players who have potential to shine in the present season, but you’re not looking to have a quarterback on the verge of retirement because then you can’t build a dynasty. When the season is over, it’s time to mull over whom you will keep. In some leagues, you only keep one or two players, and those are the difficult decisions. But are they?
There’s no straightforward answer as to which player you should keep, but you need to be mindful of each player’s projected value above replacement. If you do not make your own full projections, looking at fantasy football experts’ projections will suffice. Preferably, using your own projections will better help gauge your team’s talent and value.
So the easy answer is to keep your most valuable players. But if you know your draft position, you have much more flexibility as to whom you should keep.
Look at the rest of your league’s teams and each of their top players. Who are they most likely to select? If it seems that they will be keeping their starting running backs, you’d be wise to keep non-running backs on your team. That means you’d be more likely to land a top WR or TE like Jimmy Graham.
Of course, that’s not logical because Graham is the most valuable TE, so he’ll likely be one of the kept players. What you need to do as well is look at the most valuable players’ draft positions.
Ask yourself, “Where are all my players most likely to go?” This is very important. Say you have Eric Decker as a top-10 WR this season, and he has the second-highest value on your team. He’s going in the eighth round in mock drafts. There’s no reason for you to take him as a keeper. If you really like him, reach for him. But keeping him is an extraordinary reach that will sacrifice you keeping your top running back or quarterback.
Value is one thing, but efficiency is what you really need to look at.
Look at the rest of your league’s projected keeper status so that you can look at the availability in front of you during the draft. If you have the first pick, you’ll have an idea of who you can draft, as well as who provides the most efficient selection(s) for you to keep. You’ll already know your top three players in that situation. But if you’re lower down the totem pole in the draft, it takes a little more predicting to estimate your roster.
It can be done, though; if you can nail the league’s kept players, you can analyze whom each team will take as well.
But the biggest piece of advice I have is not to draft for the future. It’s not as if your entire team is going to be terrible next season. They’re quality players who still have seasons left in them. So while it may sound intriguing to pick Johnny Manziel or another potential star rookie earlier than projected, it’s not worth keeping them for season upon season waiting for their historic season.
You can just as easily select them years down the road. Draft for the present, and the future will follow suit.