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Keeper Shakedown

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Breakout the champagne! It’s time to celebrate! From this point forward, football play actually means something! Finally, we get to put our well planned out, evil master-minded schemes to the test. No more mock drafts. No more scenarios. Like Al Davis says, “Just win baby.” But, as always in a keeper league, notes need to be taken for next season. Yeah, I just said next season before this season even started. But that’s what a good dynasty owner needs to do. Win now, but at the same time make sure that you do it consistently in the future. Don’t make yourself a one year wonder and become the Derek Anderson of fantasy owners. Some leagues, for example the one I’m in, require us to decide on our keepers as early as week nine. It adds an element of either complete dominance or future nausea. Regardless of when you have to decide on your keepers, the same ideas need to be taken into consideration. Here’s a rundown of what you need to pay attention to before investing your teams outlook into a single player.

1.       Team Situation.

The addition or subtraction of a single player could impact your keeper’s value tremendously. Teams can do this via free agency, trades, or the draft. However they do it, you could be in for a huge gain or a giant loss. The perfect example of this is the 49ers and Frank Gore. This offseason, the 49ers were rumored to be targeting CJ Spiller in the 2010 NFL draft. Could you imagine the value impact that would have had on Gore? Given the production that Spiller has shown with the Bills, Gore’s value could have been crippled. We’re talking going from top five pick to hopefully second round selection. The 49ers however, ended up raising Gore’s overall value instead of ruining it. The 49ers ultimately decided to select two first round offensive linemen to open the running lanes for Gore. Though these moves are as easy to predict as the winning lottery numbers, be mindful of the team’s needs and where they will most likely finish at seasons end. Maybe, if the Cardinals have a dismal season, they’ll be looking at taking Jake Locker to play under center, boosting Larry Fitzgerald’s stats. Know what the team needs are and keep tabs on the rumor mill.  

2.        Stats.

 Don’t over think next year based on this year. Yes, stats are a good indicator to gauge what a player is capable of doing. That is true. But, you don’t win this year based on last year’s numbers. How was Edgerrin James the season after he left Indianapolis? How great was Steve Slaton last year after his terrific campaign? How about Matt Forte? The point here is, don’t overlook true keeper talent based solely on last season’s stat line. Ricky Williams was a top ten fantasy back last season. Should he be kept? NO! Absolutely not! But, I guarantee you that some people out there in fantasy land did simply due to numbers. Be smart. Rank your players based on their future value, not their past value. Even if the guy had a down season, rank all of your players based on value for the next season. Don’t be “That” guy. Here’s what “That” guy sees. “I’ll keep this wide receiver with 1,000+ yards and seven touchdowns over this guy who don’t break 1,000 yards and only had five TDs.”   While that sounds like it makes sense, look closer. The player with the 1,000+ yards is actually Derrick Mason and the one with only five touchdowns is Calvin Johnson. Who has the most value?

Think outside the numbers.

3.       Fan-dom.

Like keeping religion out of politics, keep your hometown team feelings out of the picture. Don’t overvalue players due to the color of the jersey they wear. Wes Welker doesn’t have as much value as Steve Smith of the Giants. But, there will be a Patriot’s fan in your league that does because they still haven’t gotten over the Super Bowl perfection loss. Don’t keep Brady over Brees simply because you “believe” in the franchise, Pat’s fans. Don’t keep Ryan Grant over Ray Rice because you’re a cheese head, Pack fans. Don’t keep Steven Jackson over Chris Johnson because you’re a…….Rams' fan? Does such a thing exist any more? I think you’d have an easier time finding a Unicorn than a Ram’s fanatic, but the thought process is the same regardless. Be smart. Remember, it’s called fantasy football. It’s not “draft your favorite team” football. Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going to come to your house in Phoenix crying “I thought we had something special” if you take Andre Johnson, for you Cards fans out there. Like Herm Edwards says “You play to win the game…….HELLO!”

4.       League Evaluation.

Take some time, and look at all the other teams in your league. Look and see what players are the best on each owner’s roster. Now, make educated predictions as to who you think each owner will keep. You can break down who the keepers will most likely be and it’ll give you a snippet of what players will be left for next season. This will give you a sense as to what the free agent pool will look like. Will the top ten receivers be kept? Will the top fifteen running backs be gone? Will the only quarterback kept be Aaron Rodgers? Use this when making tough keeper decisions of your own. Yes, you want to keep the overall best value regardless of position. But if you have two players of relatively equal value, one may be a hotter commodity due to others at the same position being gone. If Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, and Brandon Marshall are all gone, a receiver like Miles Austin has tremendous value. Perhaps it makes sense to keep Austin over someone like say DeAngelo Williams due to the large amount of kept receivers versus a smaller amount of kept running backs. It also means that if you believe that the only quarterback to be kept will be Drew Brees, then you should be able to let go of Phillip Rivers and gain relatively equal value, if not better, on draft day. Be ready come keeper time. After you say keeper, that player is yours for the long haul.



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