Commissioner’s Corner: Keeper Leagues and Parity

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Which one do you keep?
Which one do you keep?

There are 2 basic kinds of fantasy leagues when it comes to how players are chosen from year to year: keeper and re-draft.  (An auction where all players are put back in the pool is just a re-draft where the draft style is auction.) And when it comes to keeper leagues there are very many ways to set them up.

It could be as simple as keeping just one player from the previous season – A franchise player. Or it could be as complex as keeping the same roster year to year – a dynasty league. Or anything in between. Whatever way your league chooses to run things, there should always be an eye towards parity. 

Why is parity so important in fantasy leagues? Because the goal of any fantasy team should be to win the league this year. Not next year. Did you join your fantasy league mainly because you enjoy doing maths and managing and spending money on nothing? I doubt it. You probably joined for the same reasons everyone else is playing: your friends and the love of the sport. You don’t see me playing a fantasy fishing season (even though I get the damn emails). I’m not playing because I don’t enjoy playing fantasy sports (I clearly do, I’m writing a blog about it), but because I don’t particularly enjoy fishing — especially from a watching others do the fishing perspective.

I’m also not saying that a team that makes good decisions over the season shouldn’t get rewarded with good keepers. It should never get to the point where some teams don’t have a real chance of winning the league solely because of the keeper rules.

With that in mind, lets look at some of the methods of setting up and retaining parity in a keeper league.

  • First off is the number of players kept — With 1 player you get almost as much parity as a re-draft league, but what’s the point of even having the keeper league if it’s 1 player. With 70% or more of a team in keepers then you’re keeping every single one of your good players and leaving little room for lower teams to move up.
  • You can put limitations on what players can be kept by position — Only 1 of certain positions like running back or only 1 infielder would keep a team from having a monster RB or OF squad. 
  • A limit on the number a years a player can be kept — You can have Alex Rodriguez for 3 years, but after that he has to be traded or returned to the draft.
  • Keepers can be tied to the draft — Only players pick up after a certain round. Or players kept cost a draft pick usually the same or higher than they were drafted that season. E.g., Evan Longoria was picked up in the 10th round last season, this season to keep him it cost a 5th round pick.

That’s all the styles I’ve played in or read about, but I’m sure there are more. If you have ideas on parity that you use or just want to discus, feel free to comment.  

Remember, there is no particular right or wrong way to set up your keeper league. As long as you and your owners are having fun, then it’s the right way for you.