How to Take Your League to the Next Level: Starting a Keeper League

Depending on the year, I (Matt) run 3-5 fantasy football leagues but my favorite is always my keeper league. Playing in a keeper league takes competition to the next level. It means that come trade deadline time there are buyers and seller just like the pros. It means you use your IR to hold onto players that are out for the season. It also means the trash talk is so much better. A keeper league, however, takes a lot of commitment from both the league manager and the players from year to year, so it can be a bit daunting to take a leap of faith and start that league; here’s 4 tips to help you take your league to the next level from someone who’s keeper league is currently on its 7th season. 

  1. Make Sure Everyone Knows Everyone

This may seem simple, but it’s crucial for a successful keeper league to work long term. My league is made up of a bunch of friends from my hometown. Through the 7 seasons we’ve played together we’ve formed understandings of how each other draft, who is the one that never offers a fair trade, and who consistently finishes at the bottom of the league. We have 3 keepers per year, which really gives our teams character. The sense of community that comes with this type of league makes it feel more authentic, almost like we’re managing professional teams.

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  1. Keep Track of League History

This helps up the smack talk and keep everyone competitive throughout the season. Even when players in my league are eliminated from playoffs they keep up with their teams and usually avoid tanking because they don’t want to drop in the overall league standings that I post after every season. I recommend tracking: overall record, division winners, regular season awards (if you have them), and of course, league championships.

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  1. Be Intentional About Divisions

 Since teams are more consistent year to year there’s a unique opportunity in to be intentional about the way you organize divisions. I mentioned above I keep track of each team’s combined regular season record from all 7 seasons. I use this record to organize my league into 3 divisions: DI, DII, and DIII; with the 4 best teams being in DI and the worst teams in DIII. Division winners are guaranteed playoff berths and then we have 3 wildcard spots (there’s 12 teams, and the top 2 seeds get byes). This makes it so the best fantasy players in the league get better by competing against each other for that guaranteed playoff spot and the worst players have a shot every year to finally make it to the playoffs. This seriously ups the competitive nature of the league, since players take pride in being ranked a “DI” player and “D3” players who are stigmatized as perennial underdogs can still be the champion of…something.

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  1. Switch it Up, Make Your League Unique

No matter how competitive it is, things can get stale if they’re the same from year to year. Don’t be afraid to be unique when making rules for your league. In this league we utilize the Offensive Player (OP) position. This usually means having a second starting QB on your roster and it adds a whole different element to the league. When thinking about making changes from year to year always ask your players for their opinions about what can be done to improve the league. They’ll appreciate having buy-in and it’ll make all the players feel like they contribute to the success of your keeper league. If your league is split about making a change, just do it!

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About Matt Hicks

Matt’s writing at Top2 is focused on dynasty fantasy football. He loves blending his experience writing research in the field of education with fantasy football stats. Matt currently lives in Baltimore, MD and graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. You can follow Matt on Twitter: @Top2Matt

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