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To keep or not to keep

Debunking common myths about keeper leagues

Posted: Tuesday March 27, 2007 5:41PM; Updated: Tuesday March 27, 2007 5:41PM
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A stud player such as Albert Pujols could upset the balance of keeper leagues depending on how owners decide to overspend for him.
A stud player such as Albert Pujols could upset the balance of keeper leagues depending on how owners decide to overspend for him.
John W. McDonough/SI

By Todd Zola, Special to SI.com, FantasyBaseball.com

Those who play in both keeper and redraft leagues undoubtedly know there is a big difference in the approach at the draft or auction. While it is always imperative to have an idea how one expects players to perform, their value to your squad depends completely on the dynamics of the league. Today we will debunk a couple of myths with respect to how many fantasy players approach keeper leagues.

MYTH: I have the best keeper list because I have the most money to spend at the auction.

FACT: Sometimes it's not what you can buy but rather what you can't buy.

EXPLANATION: While I will share my thoughts about inflation in a keeper format, for the sake of this discussion, let us consider a keeper league with 30 percent inflation. I'm protecting $220 worth of talent for $200. You're protecting $100 worth of talent for $60. Which of us has the better keeper list?

Going "by the numbers," I have $60 to spend in an economy with 30 percent inflation. This means I'll be able to buy $46 more worth of players, making my total roster valued at $266. Similarly, you have $200, meaning you can purchase $154 more talent, resulting in a team worth $254. So even though you had more money to spend, and started with $40 built-in profit compared to my $20, if every player was bought at their inflation-adjusted value, my team is $12 better than yours on Opening Day.

Just because the league begins the auction with 30 percent inflation, that doesn't mean every player has to go for his exact inflated price. You could have played the market and managed money to garner more value, so maybe your keeper list is superior. But the primary point is you need to survey the situation, see who's available and understand the landscape before deciding on your keepers. If there will be plenty of stars available that are likely to be bought for even more than their adjusted price, then lay off and buy when the inflation is 15 percent or 20 percent.

Let's redo the above calculation assuming we both were skilled enough to fill out our rosters at a 20 percent inflated price. Instead of $46, I now buy $50 worth of talent, making my total $270. But check this out: Your patience is rewarded with $167 worth of talent, bringing your total to $267, knocking $9 off my previous advantage. The longer you wait while leaving no money on the table, the better team you can buy.

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