2022 Fantasy Baseball: Keeper League Draft Strategy & Tips

Strategies and tips for winning your fantasy baseball keeper league. Part Two - Draft Prep & Strategy

Sean Chard delves into the many facets of draft strategy that can help you build a winning fantasy baseball keeper team in 2022 and into the future. This feature focuses on Draft Prep and Strategy specific to Keeper leagues

It’s Fantasy Baseball draft season, with the MLB season hopefully starting on time on March 31st. A lot is written about Draft Strategy, and here at Fantasy Sports Resource, there are links to tons of great articles about this subject. In this article though, we’ll focus on some key Keeper League Draft Strategy and Tips that can put you in position to win your league in 2022 and carry it into the future.

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Keeper League Draft Strategy for 2022

Get to know the player pool really, really well

Remember mock drafts?  Well, some do still exist, but they are quickly becoming extinct or less relevant. The best way to get to know the player pool these days is to sign-up for a “Best Ball” or “Draft and Hold” league on FanTrax, NFBC or another site. These are money leagues (with the low of $10 at FanTrax and $50 at NFBC), and unlike Mock Drafts, they are played out through the season. Best Ball leagues are points-based and are truly draft-and-forget-it, with the system scoring your best players each week.  Draft and Hold leagues are typically 5×5 roto with 50 rounds, no in-season moves, and weekly (or twice-weekly) lineup setting.

By doing one or more of these drafts in advance of your keeper league drafts (and ideally before your keeper deadline date), it’ll allow you to get to know the player pool, and where players are generally being drafted.

What to note for Keeper leagues:

  • Players drafted well above the ranks on that particular site, or above their consensus ADP on FantasyPros.com or other sites. Specifically, the draft spots for young breakout candidates should be noted for keeper or draft decisions
  • The player pool for each hitter position, including when the runs take place, and when there is a notable value drop-off
  • For draft-and-hold leagues, these are a great learning experience for roster construction, in preparation for your roto league keeper drafts

Gain all the information you can

The volume of Fantasy Baseball content has exploded in the past few years, and the Fantasy Sports Resource website is a great hub for links to everything you need.

Podcasts are an essential tool in any Fantasy Baseball player’s tool belt, and a great way to hear information from many of the leading fantasy analysts, and while doing other things (driving, doing the dishes, shoveling snow, etc…). Listening to them at 1.25 or 1.5 speed is also good for getting through more of them quicker, and if you hear something that catches your ear, you can always skip back and listen to that part again.

Utilizing Advanced Stats and Statcast data, you can get an edge on your league-mates, who are more focused on traditional stats. Spend a good amount of research time on browsing through these sites and making notes in your prep sheet: Baseball Savant, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Roster Resource, others.

What to note for Keeper leagues:

  • Whenever you hear or read a useful piece of information about a team or a player (i.e. increased velocity for a pitcher, an injury note, or a batter got “unlucky” last year with their actual stats falling well below their expected stats), make note of it for later reference. Utilize a paper notebook, notes app on your computer or phone, or type it next to a player in your draft prep spreadsheet. If you don’t capture that info, it could be quickly forgotten
  • Filter the information for what is relevant in your league. For example, a lot of podcasts out there focus on high stakes leagues like NFBC. While some useful information can be gleaned from them (i.e. how high stakes players are using an “Aces” and “Bases” strategy), if they are talking about closers being pushed up the draft board and your league uses Saves + Holds, that is less useful and the “skip-30”button is a nice thing to have
  • Keeper league draft strategy and decisions should be influenced by data from the Advanced stats. For example, when deciding who to keep between two power hitting outfielders who have a similar rank, 2021 stats, and also age, player “A” with a lot of red percentiles on their Baseball Savant page might look better than player “B” with more blue percentiles. This also might come in handy in leagues where trading is permitted before keeper deadlines, and you could look to deal a player that out-performed their expected stats last year, in exchange for one that under-performed them

Prospects, Prospects, Prospects

There is more information on baseball prospects available than ever before, including scouting reports for them, advanced stats, and analysis. Prospects are a very important part of fantasy baseball draft prep and in-season management. For redraft leagues, the relevant prospects that are projected to play in the majors this year are the names to know. Dynasty league players need to go deep into MiLB and be drafting and rostering players across full top 200 and 300 prospect lists. Those in Keeper leagues should be researching prospects down to a level in the middle of those two, and related to their specific league format.

What to note for Keeper leagues:

  • Be mindful of your Keeper league format, for whether prospects are kept the same as regular keepers, or are handled separately for their contracts or a rookie draft. In every league there are going to be team managers that value prospects higher than others, so this information should be leveraged in your keeper decisions, draft prep and trading
  • It doesn’t take much for a top 20 (or even a top 50 or 100 prospect) to make an impact in their rookie year and become a viable keeper option. For most Keeper leagues, some of the top prospects will already be kept going into the year, and those ones available that have a good chance of playing this year should be taken in your upcoming draft. Reaching a little bit for these players in the draft isn’t a bad thing, especially if there is some buzz around them in the offseason or in spring training

If you liked this piece on keeper league draft strategy, make sure to check out Part 1 where I focused on Keeper Decisions.

Sean Chard is a 20+ year Fantasy Baseball veteran, as the Commissioner and league member for numerous Fantasy Baseball keeper leagues. He will be sharing information and strategies here for winning your Home Keeper league. For more great Fantasy Baseball analysis, follow him on Twitter @maxdoutdfs.

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