2017 Fantasy Baseball Keeper League Strategy: Don’t Overthink It

By on March 11, 2017
keeper league strategy Photo Credit: Keith Allison

On all Fantasy Baseball sites and twitter accounts, I see keeper league strategy and “who should I keep” questions. Keeper leagues always present owners with pressing questions of who to keep and who to draft. Owners are torn between pitchers vs batters, their favorite players, power vs. speed, and other tough questions.

Even with keeper rankings posted on every Fantasy sports site, every league has different rules, which can drastically change the value of any player. These keeper rankings are generally very useful, but I have a difference in opinion with them. Here are ESPN’s dynasty rankings from Tristan Cockroft for 2017 and on.

For keeper rankings, ESPN calculates value based on 20% of their 2017 projections, 20% of the 2018 projections, and 20% for each of the next three years. This allows them to plan for the next five years in the future.

Even though this is smart for dynasty leagues that you know will be around for years to come, I like to plan to win now and look for sure things. I personally pick my keepers based on a player’s value for this upcoming season and next season.

Now with that being said, I’m going to write some advice for picking your keepers, and how to draft in a keeper league. Hopefully this will help answer your pressing questions on creating your keeper league strategy. Be sure and read your league rules carefully, as my advice can only be general. Knowing what your league values the most can make the difference between good and poor keeper selections.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Keeper League Strategy

Hitters > Pitchers

 

I know it’s hard to value this with so many great pitchers in the game and with how valuable aces are. It’s also tough because I personally don’t plan for the future and try to win now. However, hitters will remain more valuable than pitchers because of consistency and health. Batters will generally stay healthier and have more predictable production than pitchers.

Batters are even more important in roto leagues, where batting categories are the more controllable categories. In points leagues, I would consider valuing pitchers as much as batters, especially if you’re in position to win now. Otherwise, hitters are better keepers than pitchers, so plan accordingly with your keeper league strategy.

 

Power > Speed

 

This should make more sense in almost all formats, as power contributes to more categories than speed. In roto and H2H categories, power contributes directly to home runs and RBIs, and also puts players in position for runs and helps their batting average. Speed only contributes to steals and can help with runs as well. In points leagues, steals can vary between one to half a point.

On the other hand, power can score many more points from home runs and RBIs. In addition to scoring, power lasts longer in aging players than speed and doesn’t regress as dramatically. For all these reasons, look for power over speed in your keeper league strategy.

 

Upside and Youth are Key

 

Even though I plan my keepers to win now, it’s hard to pass up on keeping elite prospects. These players have the chance of being big players on your team for years to come. This year’s youth and upside players include Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada, Byron Buxton, Alex Bregman, and others. Who knows where these players will be in five years, they are boom or bust keeper selections. However, all of these players have the talent worth gambling on, as the payoff could be huge. Keep these players in consideration when planning your keeper league strategy.

 

How to Draft in a Keeper League

 

Drafting in a keeper league can be tough because you can start overthinking your selections. The first round can present tough questions like Josh Donaldson or Manny Machado? Miguel Cabrera or Anthony Rizzo? I know Donaldson might be better than Machado right now, but if you know the league will be around for a while, go with Machado. You’re really not sacrificing enough right now to go with Donaldson. Just remember that Fantasy drafts are not won in the early rounds, but are won in the later rounds.

Now this doesn’t mean avoid all players ages 30 and up. If players fall in drafts to where you’re getting a steal in value, pull the trigger and draft him. But if you have the choice between two players with similar 2017 projections, and one is younger with a higher ceiling, go with that player. The moral of the story here is don’t lean toward either extreme when drafting. Don’t be afraid of drafting some older players if they fall, but feel confident in pulling the trigger on some future stars.

 

I know hitters are safer bets than pitchers, but don’t avoid pitchers in the early rounds, especially in points formats. Depending on the number of keepers in your league, it’s smart to at least have one ace you’ll have for years to come. For your later picks, ensure every player you target has great upside. I’ve preached this when selecting pitchers in late rounds, but it’s important with hitters in keeper leagues too.

You are purchasing lotto tickets at this point in drafts, and are hoping one will work out. I strongly encourage this in keeper leagues, especially with outstanding prospects who could become elite baseball players.

 

I understand keeper leagues can be tough and can present you with a lot of tough decisions. Follow this advice to help answer most of your questions on who to keep and how to draft. Keeper leagues with friends can be the most fun you’ll have in Fantasy sports. As much as experts want you to plan for the next five years, if you can win now, plan to win now.

If you have any other keeper questions, follow @Fantasy411 on twitter, as they answer Fantasy baseball questions every Monday from 12 PM – 1 PM EST. You can also reach out to me @Johnisthename if you have further keeper league questions.

What’s the best Fantasy Baseball draft tool ever created? Check out the details right here provided by David Gonos, where he discusses in great detail, the Draft Wizard and Draft Assistant. Voted the best Fantasy Baseball draft tool for 2017, the FantasyPros’ Draft Wizard is all you need for a successful draft, as well as in-season management, on your way to a championship.

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John Leinweber
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John Leinweber

Fantasy Sports Fanatic. Warriors, Lions, Raiders, Giants, A's.
John Leinweber
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