Win Your Fantasy Baseball Keeper League – Keeper Decisions

Strategies and tips for winning your fantasy baseball keeper league. Part One - Key decision factors for building your keeper list

Sean Chard delves into the many factors that can help you build a winning fantasy baseball keeper league in 2022 and into the future.

The MLB lockout continues, but the Fantasy Baseball draft season rolls on, with the hope that the season starts on time, and we can see how our fantasy teams do this season. There is an overwhelming amount of content out there for Fantasy Baseball leagues, but for those of us in Home Keeper Leagues, this segment of the industry seems to be under-represented.

Looking for more great fantasy baseball content? Then head on over to 1,001+ Awesome Fantasy Baseball Links for the top strategy, analysis and rankings the fantasy sports industry has to offer.

Keeper Decisions for your Fantasy Baseball League

With March nearly here, the keeper decision deadlines are approaching (although some might be pushed back until the lockout ends). Here are some key considerations for deciding on your keepers.

Am I Competing this year or Building for the Future?

This is the first decision that needs to be made, and as a Keeper league player, it is something you’re continually thinking about. Every year you should be in one of these two modes, or else you are spinning your wheels. While there is some value in starting out a season in “compete” mode and then pivoting if things don’t go your way, the trigger should be pulled early enough so you don’t miss key opportunities to make moves or trades.

Use Dynasty or 2022 Rankings as a Guide only

There are plenty of rankings out there for 2022 redraft leagues and for Dynasty – see the collection of fantasy baseball rankings here at FantasySportsResource.  Some sites use “Dynasty” and “Keeper” interchangeably, although as Keeper league fantasy players, we know there are some differences. The key thing we care about is how much a player can help our fantasy team mostly for this year (and to some degree next year), if we are competing for the league title, or 1-3 years if we are in build mode. Neither the 2022 nor Dynasty ranks seem to quite fit for what us Keeper Leaguers are looking for, although elements of both are helpful.

So how do we get rankings for “Keeper” leagues? Well, there is no perfect way, but what if we merged 2022 ranks and dynasty ranks?  Take a look at the step-by-step tutorial at the end of this article for how to do that.

Factoring in Player Ages

With Keeper leagues (like Dynasty leagues), the player’s age should play a big factor. Rebuilding teams will look to keep and draft many of the potential younger breakout candidate players (i.e. Jo Adell, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Alek Manoah). For a competing team, it is still a much better choice to keep younger players on the verge of a breakout like Dylan Carlson or Shane McClanahan than veterans like Michael Conforto or Yu Darvish (who are ranked higher for 2022). Although the veteran could still produce better numbers in the upcoming season, if the younger player shows signs of a breakout, you can likely trade him for much more value than the veteran anyway.

For prospects, players like Marco Luciano, Jack Leiter, or Jasson Dominguez will rank high in Dynasty leagues, but depending on your league format, they aren’t as valuable in Keeper leagues since their ETA is likely 2023 at the earliest.

Where will this player go in the draft, if I throw them back?

Every keeper league is different with its own rules and format. Knowing these and also knowing your league-mates (and their tendencies) is very important when deciding on your keepers. When you have multiple players you’re deciding between on your keeper bubble, one tie-breaker should be based on who would be picked first (or cost more) if you did not keep them. For Keeper leagues that cost you a draft pick for a specific round, the player should be worth at least a round more than that to keep them. For salary-based leagues, it comes down to the cost for the keeper, and what price they would go for in the draft.

A few scenarios:

  • Your league has 12 teams and 8 keepers, with no draft pick penalty attached, and you’re debating on keeping Ian Anderson or Carlos Rodon. During the early days of spring training, there is more buzz about Anderson after a strong 2021 postseason and he looked great in his first grapefruit league action. Even though Rodon is ranked higher, the perceived value in your league for Anderson is higher, and so he becomes the better keeper choice
  • You’re in a keeper league with 10 keepers and a salary cap draft, where closers are heavily valued and their price is high in the draft. In this scenario, it makes more sense to keep a reliever like Ryan Pressly over Mitch Haniger, even with the gap in their rankings
  • Your home league is full of friends of yours in San Diego with Padres fans. While Trent Grisham might be just outside your keeper bubble, he could be a keeper over a similar ranked OF, for future trade value

Build your own Keeper Rankings

Let’s create our own Keeper Rankings sheet, by merging 2022 and Dynasty ranks together:

Note: you’ll need MS Excel, or follow similar steps for Google docs

  • Go to FantasyPros.com Draft rankings (with their collection of Consensus Expert rankings), click “Options” and then “Download CSV”. Click on the CSV file from your downloads and open it up in Excel. Click “File” then “Save As”, choose your folder and change the file name to “Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep 2022”, and file type to “Excel Workbook (*.xlsx)” and click “Save”. Rename the tab as “Keeper Ranks”
  • Go to FantasyPros.com Dynasty rankings, and click on “Options” and “Download CSV” like before, and open that CSV file in Excel also. Then right-click on the tab name at the bottom and select “Move or Copy”, choose the “Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep 2022” workbook, then “(move to end)” and click “OK”. Save the Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep workbook. Lastly, rename the second tab as “FP_DR”, then on the “FP_DR” tab, Right-click on column “A” and select “Cut”, then right-click on “C” and select “Insert Cut Cells”
  • In the “Keeper Ranks” tab, follow these steps:
    • Right-click on column “A” and select “Cut”, then right-click on “C” and select “Insert Cut Cells”
    • Rename the B column from “Rank” to “2022 Rank”
    • Right-click on “C” and select “Insert”, and then do it again to add two blank columns for “C” and “D”
    • In cell “C1” type “DR Rank” as the column heading, and in cell “D1” type “KP Rank”
    • In cell “C2”, copy and paste this formula: =IFERROR(VLOOKUP(A2,FP_DR!A:J,2,FALSE),””). The formula looks up the rank value on the second tab for the player in the “A” column
    • Click on cell “C2”, then right-click and select “Copy”. Then click cell “C3” and drag your mouse downward, highlighting all the column “C” cells until you reach the end of the rows where players are listed. Right-click on the gray highlighted area, then click “Paste Special” and select “Formulas”. This will copy the formula from “C2” to all the rows in column “C”
    • In cell “D2”, copy and paste this formula: =IFERROR(AVERAGE(B2,C2),B2). The formula will average out the two ranks equally and form a new one (averaging the two is a good weighting for building teams). If you were competing though and wanted to add a weighting for one of the ranks over the other, you could use a formula like this instead as an example (with 2022 ranks weighted 65% to 35% over dynasty):  =IFERROR(B2*0.65+C2*0.35,B2)
    • Click on cell “D2”, then right-click and select “Copy”. Then click cell “D3” and drag your mouse downward, highlighting all the column “D” cells until you reach the end of the rows where players are listed. Right-click on the gray highlighted area, then click “Paste Special” and select “Formulas”. This will copy the formula from “D2” to all the rows in column “D”
    • Lastly, we want to sort by the new Ranking. Highlight all the columns from “A” to “L” by clicking on “A” and dragging your mouse to the right. Then in the top menu, click “Data”, then “Sort” and select “KP Rank” in the “Sort by” box
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